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A case study of the relationship between students' home backgrounds and their mathematics performance.

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This is an investigation explaining the relationship between the home environment and mathematics performance of 12 grade eight students from a high school in Durban, South Africa. One of the data collection methods was a 25-question test, based on the TIMSS test, namely a TIMSS equivalent mathematics test. The test was analysed and its relation to the South African syllabus, the students' familiarity with the type of questions and the multiple-choice mode of answer used in the TIMSS study, was investigated. The test scores were also used to identify high performing and low performing students to be interviewed about their mathematical, personal and home backgrounds. A student questionnaire was administered to these selected students as a basis for the interviews. An in depth one on one interview and records of the students' achievements in grade 7 and grade 8 in languages and mathematics, as well as school family records were used for the analysis. The life stories of the six high performing and six low performing students were then constructed and analysed with respect to: their achievements in mathematics and language; their home backgrounds; how their mathematics performance is affected by their home environments; and the effect of parental involvement in their lives. Finally research findings from the interviews on the home lives and experiences of the 12 grade 8 students from a high school in Durban are presented. Implications are put forward and recommendations made.


Thesis (M.Ed.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, 2006.


Theses--Education., Home and school., Parent-teacher relationships., Academic achievement., Education--Parent participation--KwaZulu-Natal., Mathematics--Study and teaching (Secondary)--KwaZulu-Natal.