An exploration of the utilisation of mathematics skills by technology education pre-service teachers to enhance conceptual understanding of electronic systems.
Thabethe, Bhekisisa Maxwell.
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The study focused on an exploration of utilisation of Mathematics skills by Technology Education pre-service teachers to enhance conceptual understanding of Electronic Systems during the design and construction of artefacts. This study attempted to discover Mathematics concepts that pre-service teachers utilised in the completion of their artefacts and it encapsulated design and making of a model of a house and an electronics circuit. Data were collected through qualitative participant observation, semi-structured interviews and the submission of working artefacts. A sample considered for this study was the whole cohort in the EDTE 210 Electronic Systems course at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Data were collected through observation of construction of a model house and design of a circuit for Electronic Systems in different phases. In each phase of design, observations and notes were supplemented by semi-structured interview questions as design and construction unfolded. Observation looked for the geometry involved in design of a model house and algebra involved in the design of electronic circuits. Data from interviews with the pre-service teachers indicated mathematical connotations in both the modelling of the house and electronics circuits. It was imperative to know how and why certain measurements, angles and shapes were used for their model houses. Furthermore, it was essential to understand the motives behind particular manipulation of different formulas, conversions and fraction implications by pre-service teachers in their design of effective circuit diagrams. Pre-service teachers at a university level have arithmetic experience which can be used in Technology and may be extended to mainstream Mathematics. It was observed that design and making of this project exposed concepts of Mathematics that made Electronic Systems manageable and comprehensible. Use of projects was discovered to have a positive impact on enhancing understanding of abstract concepts in Mathematics that are essential for Electronic Systems. It is believed that these skills of integrating different areas of learning through interdisciplinarity are paramount for pre-service teachers, as they will soon assume autonomous professional positions for curriculum design in Technology. This provides a diverse approach to conceptual understanding of Electronic Systems through participative learning. Findings and recommendations for effective teaching of Electronic Systems through mathematical skills/concepts are outlined.