A study of learners conceptual development in mathematics in a grade eight class using concept mapping.
This study encompasses the use of concept maps to investigate learners' conceptual understanding of mathematics of a grade eight class in the predominantly Indian suburb of Shallcross. The grade eight learners that were the participants of this study were in the secondary school for the first time. They were in the middle of the Senior Phase within the General Education and Training Phase of their schooling career. This study is embedded in an action research methodology and is conducted from an interpretivist paradigm. Operating on a mixed methods theory, concept maps constructed by learners were analysed through the duration of the study. Towards the end of the study learners completed a questionnaire. Based on certain responses in the questionnaire and the analysis of the concept maps, six learners were then selected and interviewed to probe learners' conceptual understanding of concept maps. The results of the study reveal that most learners find concept maps enjoyable, fun and a creative way to learn mathematics. Further analysis of the questionnaire indicates that learners enjoy the social dynamics that group work provides and they found that working together also enhances their understanding. Further analysis of individual and group concept maps reveals that group work is effective in the use of concept mapping. The results of the study suggest that concept maps might be successfully used in assessing learners' declarative knowledge. An important implication of this study is that concept maps can be practically and effectively applied to a variety of outcomes within the constraints of the classroom.