Exploring in-service Zimbabwean mathematics teachers’ preparedness to incorporate ethnomathematics approaches to geometry teaching and learning.
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Geometry teachers and learners in Zimbabwe come from a wide range of cultural and social backgrounds. This provides opportunities and challenges in the teaching and learning of geometry. The wide variety of cultural and social backgrounds that the learners bring into the geometry classroom point towards the teachers’ use of learners’ prior knowledge and other cultural experiences as well as activities to improve their performance. The integration of ethnomathematics approaches into the teaching of geometry is beneficial for pedagogical purposes, specifically for improving learners’ performance in geometry. This study explored in-service mathematics teachers’ preparedness to integrate ethnomathematics approaches into the teaching and learning of geometry. The research was grounded, hypothetically, in social constructivism views of mathematics teaching and learning. Using a pragmatist research paradigm, this convergent parallel mixed methods study involved a questionnaire and focus group discussions with forty second year in-service teachers enrolled in a three-year Bachelor of Science Education Honours program. Proportional stratified random sampling was employed to select the participating teachers for the questionnaire, whilst research based recruitment was used for the focus group discussions. The forty teachers who were involved in the completion of the questionnaires formed the five focus groups. Data was analysed in an endeavour to determine the teacher’s training on geometry and ethnomathematics approaches. Further, teachers’ views towards the integration of ethnomathematics approaches and challenges faced on the integration of ethnomathematics approaches into the teaching of geometry were also analysed. Inductive data analysis and interpretive data analysis were employed in this study for qualitative and quantitative data analysis respectively. Findings show that both traditional and learner-centred approaches were used by their lecturers during their teacher training period. The approaches that were used during their training were the same that they were using in schools to teach geometry. Findings also show that some of the teachers were not adequately trained to teach geometry. Teachers indicated that they did not do any specific course on ethnomathematics approaches and on how to integrate it into the teaching of geometry. The study also reveals that most of the teachers were of the view that ethnomathematics approaches should be integrated into the teaching of geometry because of the various benefits associated with its use. The study reveals that some of the teachers are using the principles of ethnomathematics approaches such as teaching geometry that builds on learners’ prior knowledge, background and the role that learners’ cultural background as well as the environment play during their learning. However, teachers face various challenges in the integration of ethnomathematics approaches into the teaching of geometry, such as, lack of resources, cultural diversity, lack of geometrical content knowledge, lack of knowledge on ethnomathematics approaches and resistance to change by both teachers and learners. The role of teachers in the integration of ethnomathematics approaches into the teaching of geometry is of great significance. It is suggested that the government should take greater responsibility to involve the teachers in syllabus development with clear goals and content, develop teachers’ capacity in integrating ethnomathematics approaches when teaching and provide teaching and learning resources for successful integration.