Factors associated with learner choice of mathematics at Grade 10 level in a secondary school in KwaZulu-Natal.
Govender, Visvanathan Marimuthu.
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The purpose of the study was to investigate the factors that are associated with learner choice of mathematics at Grade 10 level at a secondary school in KwaZulu-Natal. It examined learners' experiences of learning and teaching in mathematics in the General Education and Training (GET) phase. The study was a narrative inquiry. The data collection technique focused on learners‟ stories of their experiences of mathematics teaching and learning. Forty learners participated in this study. Twenty (males = 10; females = 10) of the learners chose mathematics at Grade 10 level and twenty (males = 10; females = 10) did not. The findings of the study revealed that various factors affect learner choice of mathematics in Grade 10. These factors include: mathematics anxiety; perceptions that mathematics is boring and difficult to understand; classroom pedagogy; teacher attitudes; career aspirations; parental pressure; and course selection limitations. The findings indicate that the decision not to choose mathematics in the Further Education and Training (FET) band is influenced by various intersecting factors. It is impossible to single out a particular factor. The study suggests that there are not many differences in the mathematics learning experiences of boys and girls who chose not to study mathematics in the FET phase. Gender did not emerge as a significant mediating factor in the learners‟ experiences of learning mathematics, and in their decisions about whether to select mathematics as a subject in grade 10. Learner emotionality in the context of mathematics teaching and learning emerges as a significant factor in the study. The study has implications for teacher professional development and for future research.