An exploration of the role of the advanced certificate in education on the professional development of mathematical literacy teachers.
Thembela, Thandimfundo Eugene.
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Mathematical Literacy (ML) was introduced as a new subject in 2006, as an alternative to Mathematics for learners in Grade 10 to 12 in South African schools. The challenge of the shortage of Mathematics teachers (and hence Mathematical Literacy teachers), was exarcebated. Hence the KwaZulu Natal Department of Education (KZNDoE) jointly with the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) initiated a programme designed to re-skill teachers to teach this new subject. This study explores the professional development of such teachers as a result of their participation in the Advanced Certificate in Education (ACEML) course at UKZN. Their professional development is explored in terms of their content knowledge, a content specific pedagogy and their professional identity and beliefs. The study was informed by a naturalistic, interpretivist orientation. Two versions of semi-structured questionnaires were completed by a total of twenty-three teachers. The first version, called Questionnaire A, was completed by fifteen teachers while the second version, Questionnaire B, by eight teachers respectively. Later, semi-structured interviews with four of the teachers were conducted. Their previous academic records were also used as data sources. The key findings of the study revealed that all teachers interviewed perceived improvement in their content knowledge as a result of their participation in the programme. Examples of improvements in their content-specific pedagogies were their increased repertoire of teaching strategies, their increased confidence, their focus on learners‟ prior understanding and their ability to link their teaching to real life applications. Findings also indicate that many teachers developed strong identities as Mathematical literacy teachers. A shift in identity was also evident with some teachers switching over from previous specialisations to teaching only Mathematical Literacy. Many teachers also felt that the generic modules helped them gain a broader understanding of their role. Claims that Mathematics teachers who have not studied the ACEML cannot teach ML as successfully as those who have, were made by most teachers.