An investigation of the skill level that learners demonstrate when answering questions on proportional relationships in Grade 5 at Khwezi Primary School, Pietermaritzburg and the strategies that these learners use in solving proportional problems.
Memela, Dennis Sibongiseni.
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The original aim of this study was to assess the effectiveness of a teaching approach based on the Means of Assisting Performance (MAP) by Tharp and Gallimore (1988) in the teaching of science to Grade 5 (Standard three) level. The basic method was to compare performance of three Grade 5 classes using pretest and post-test. One class (Grade SA) was taught for three weeks using an intervention programme which was based on the MAP teaching approach. A second class (Grade 58), received a teaching approach which was based on a "traditional teaching" technique. 80th classes were taught by the researcher. A 3rd class (Grade Se) was not taught by the researcher and this class was included in order to measure test effect. The information obtained from these tests was supplemented by qualitative observation of the pupils at work, interviews with teachers and pupils at the school. A general science topic (soil) was chosen with a focus on proportional reasoning skills. Because of the difficulties which arose, the study concentrated on investigating the skill level which learners demonstrated when answering questions on proportional relationships in Grade 5 at Khwezi Primary, and looking at strategies that learners at this level of development use in solving proportional problems. The results obtained in this study suggest the following. (i) Learners tested in this study showed a low-level use of the intuitive skills which are needed in laying the necessary foundation for the development of advanced proportional reasoning abilities. (ii) The strategies which were used by the learners tested were those referred to as incomplete, qualitative, and additive strategies as well as guessing. (iii) Strategies used by the learners tested in this study were similar to the strategies used by similar learners tested by other researchers in other parts of the world. The intervention was short, and no substantial gains in the skill of proportional relationships were observed. The teaching methodology based on MAP brought about changes to the learning styles of the learners. Learners were not just recipients of information but were active role players in the learning process.