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Exploring Grade 11 mathematics learners learning of trigonometric identities: a case study of one school in KwaZulu-Natal.

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The purpose of this study was to explore the learning of trigonometric identities in grade 11 mathematics. The study sought to discover and understand the learning of trigonometric identities by grade 11 mathematics learners. This study was guided by qualitative methods, framed within the interpretive paradigm and employed case study methods. The study was underpinned by the principles of Kilpatrick’s strands of mathematical proficiency. In the study, ten grade 11 mathematics learners were purposively selected at a high school in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The study generated primary data through semi-structured interviews and an activity worksheet. In interpreting data that was collected, the researcher applied both inductive and deductive approaches to data analysis. Thematic data analyses methods were employed for analysing data. The findings in this case study indicated that learners had an understanding of the fundamental trigonometric identities, and were able to prove these identities making use of the unit circle. In addition, the results showed that learners experience challenges when they have to apply algebraic manipulations in the learning of trigonometric identities. The findings of this study were similar to other research studies regarding the learning of trigonometry and how learners experience difficulty in this topic. Hence, making use of the unit circle when trigonometric identities are introduced was seen as a tool to develop conceptual and procedural understanding of mathematical concepts. Also, the use of knowledge from other topics when teaching trigonometric identities was seen as crucial.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.