How teachers use instructional materials in teaching junior primary mathematics, with specific reference to the Maths Centre for Primary Teachers.
Dlamini, Thulisile Cheryl.
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This is an empirical study of how teachers in the Maths Centre for Primary Teachers project use instructional materials in teaching mathematics in junior primary schools. The key question of the study is whether teachers use instructional materials in ways that promote quality education. Instead of being guided by the "school effectiveness" paradigm, one which is based on a production function model, this study adopts an approach used in "quality education" research which argues that it is not simply the availability of instructional materials, but the effective use of instructional materials that determines quality instruction, and in turn quality education. Huberman's model of a teacher as an independent artisan describes the role of a teacher I envision as one that is likely to bring about improvements in the quality of instruction. The approach adopted in Huberman's model emphasises teacher-centred methods. (Teacher-centred does not mean "not child-centred", but simply focuses on what role the teacher needs to play). In this study it was found that, with regards to certain aspects, teachers used instructional materials in ways that were appropriate and contributing to improvements in the quality of education. Teachers valued MCPT materials for their power to illustrate and teach mathematical concepts. Teachers applied methodologies that were informed by a constructivist theory of learning, within a classroom environment conducive for this. However, teachers hardly prepared and used their own materials, and they presented MCPT materials in ways that deprived them of opportunities for teacher development in curriculum management. It is argued, therefore, that there is need for advanced training of teachers on the use of instructional materials - training that enables teachers to use materials in ways that fit in with their design of classroom curriculum.