Teachers’ strategies in the teaching of linear programming in selected secondary schools in Monze District - Zambia
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Mathematics plays a vital role in personal, national and global development. Despite its great importance to national development, the Zambia Grade 12 National Examination results reports low percentage passes in mathematics. The topics that continuously posed a challenge in Grade 12 Ordinary level Mathematics are linear programming, earth geometry, trigonometry and calculus. Therefore, this study interrogated teachers’ strategies in the teaching of linear programming in secondary schools; the constraints and the suggested measures to overcome the constraints in the teaching and learning of linear programming. Social constructivism approaches advocate for more interactive learning environment as the theoretical framework. The descriptive research design was used to collect qualitative data from three teachers and 15 pupils. Purposive sampling technique was applied to select the participants. Data were collected using the lesson observations, interviews and focus group discussions. The data were analyzed thematically by categorizing of major and sub-themes that emerged from the study. The findings of the study indicated that to a large extent, teachers used grade nine linear inequations when introducing linear programming. This strategy was used in order to bring the interaction of inequality signs/symbols that give the basis for formation of inequations from situational statements, plotting and shading to unveil the feasible region. In the formation of inequations, terms and their associated symbols were key. The table containing terms with their associated symbols were used to help the interaction of the two. The coordinates of the vertices of the feasible region were also used for finding both the maximum and minimum costs. The constraints included: the instruction for shading in grade nine and 12 were not consistent; the learners were not exposed to variety of situational problems under which the terms and their associated symbols would be used; and the use of trial and error method for finding the maximum and minimum cost as learners were overwhelmed with coordinates resulting from missing out on correct ones needed. The suggested measures to overcome the constraints were: shading of the unwanted region should be the instruction even in grade 9 and using the coordinates of the vertices of the feasible region in finding the maximum and minimum costs/profits. The study therefore, recommends that, there should be consistence in the instruction of the region to be shaded in both linear inequation and linear programming. Use of tables containing terms with their associated symbols can be a more precise strategy in providing a better understanding of the two. Teachers should consider giving a variety of situational problems to enhance learner interaction with the terms and their associated symbols used in linear programming. Teachers of mathematics should always include linear programming in their in-house continuous professional development (CPD) and cluster meetings to address the challenges in the effective strategies in the teaching and learning of it. Moreover, further research on strategies for effective teaching and learning of linear programming in secondary schools in Zambia could be explored and see how they compare with the ones established by this study. Keywords: Teacher strategy, Linear programming.
University of Zambia
- Education