Mathematics teachers’ constructions and enactments of learner-centred practices.
Ndlovu, Henry Cedric Mfanuzile.
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An important aspect of effective teaching is the personal understandings that teachers have of theories about teaching and learning. In this qualitative case study, I sought to explore Mathematics teachers’ constructions of learner-centred practices and the extent to which their personal enactments of “learner-centred” practices enabled meaningful learning at Grade 6 level in Eswatini. The sample was convenient, involving three grade 6 Mathematics teachers from three urban schools in the Shiselweni region of Eswatini. Data was collected through lesson observations, semi-structured interviews and field-noted observations. The three teachers were observed teaching a Mathematics topic. All their lessons were video-recorded and were followed by a one-on-one interview with each teacher. The interviews were based on the teachers’ observed lessons. The audio-recorded interviews with the teachers were transcribed verbatim and thereafter analysed thematically. The study is broadly informed by a socio-cultural framework and Meaningful learning theory. Furthermore, the study is located within an interpretative paradigm to gain an insight into the teachers’ constructions of learner-centred practices and the extent to which their personal enactments of learner-centred practices enabled meaningful learning. The study found that the three teachers shared some common understandings that within learner-centred teaching, the teacher takes on the role of a guide. To them, guiding learners basically involved walking around the class and watching the groups working on a problem without making any meaningful intervention, while encouraging them to participate. The study also found that the teachers’ enactment of what they considered as “learner-centred practices” prioritised the outward forms and sidestepped the main function of learner-centred practices which is to enable meaningful learning. The teachers stressed the importance of group work in their personal enactments of “learner-centred” practices. Their belief was that engaging learners in group work would enable meaningful learning in their learner-centred teaching without attending to the matters underlying it. The study recommends that teacher professional development programmes be introduced by the in-service department to ensure that teachers get the required training on the important ideas that underpin learner-centred practices in order to enable meaningful learning. .