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An exploration of a visualization intervention in a Grade 7 mathematics classroom in the Pinetown District.

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With the growing research on visualization in mathematics, it is important to understand how visualization intervention strategies impact learners' solving and success of mathematical word problems. This study focused on exploring a visualization intervention in a grade 7 mathematics classroom in the Pinetown District of KwaZulu-Natal. The methods used by learners and their effectiveness in solving word problems were investigated as this formed the basis of this study. Their understanding of the methods and strategies chosen was revealed through an interview, leading to a visual intervention on how they (learners) can become better visualizers. Boonen, Van der Schoot, Van Wesel, De Vries, and Jolles, (2013, p. 57) asserted that the difficulties learners encounter in solving word problems emancipate from lack of understanding of the problem text, identifying solution-relevant components, the relations between them, and making a complete and clear representation of the situation described in the problem. Good problem solvers ought to have a good understanding of the text and strategies required for every given problem, and for this to take place, learners are required to think visually. Visualization and its importance in mathematics or in solving mathematical word problems cannot be overstressed. It is a skill that learners ought to possess to become good problem solvers. Therefore, it is not enough for learners to possess these skills and form visual images, but they also should be able to use the skills when required and for analytical reasoning. Hence, the reason for conducting this study is for learners to be taught these skills and strategies through an intervention process and determine the effectiveness of the intervention given to them. Data was gathered using a qualitative research method. An interpretative approach was used, which helps to understand what is being understudied. Learners were given word problems to solve, and a one-on-one open-ended interview was conducted on randomly selected learners from the class. This research was conducted in the naturalistic setting of theparticipants; the sample was purposive and convenient. The conclusion drawn from the investigation findings has shown that learners do not have a natural inclination to use diagrams or any visualization form before the intervention strategies were introduced. Secondly, evidence suggested that learners' strategies in completing the initial task administered were not all effective. Finally, there was a significant improvement in learner’s performance, their use of visuals, and the accuracy of their methods after the intervention process.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.