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Exploring teachers’ scaffolding practices in the teaching of primary school mathematics at a school in Swaziland.

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The purpose of this study was to explore participants’ scaffolding practices in the teaching of primary mathematics at a school in Swaziland. Scaffolding refers to all the assistance a more knowledgeable other provides to learners in order to accomplish a task. The study was prompted by the observation that learners’ performance deteriorated as they progressed to upper grades. This study describes the participants’ understanding of scaffolding and how and why they implement scaffolding the way they do in the teaching of primary mathematics. This study is guided by an interpretive paradigm and a qualitative methodology. Two experienced primary school teachers were conveniently selected for the purpose of the study. Data were collected through a questionnaire, document analysis, lesson observations and one-on-one interviews. The captured data were later coded, organised analysed, and discussed. The participants understood scaffolding in the teaching of primary school mathematics to be diverse, developmental, fostering learning processes as well as being mediated in the zone of proximal development. They used scaffolding through practices such as excavating, questioning, explaining and parallel modelling, as well as collaboration. It also emerged that they sometimes used some of the scaffolding practices unknowingly. The participants’ personal conceptual understanding and contextual factors such as time, class size, availability of resources, the school’s expectations as well as their attitude influenced the implementation of scaffolding. This study contributes to a better understanding of teachers’ scaffolding practices in the teaching of primary school mathematics. It is envisaged that the findings will be of value to practicing primary mathematics teachers, professional development organisers, education officers, school principals and administrators.


Master of Education. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 2016.


Mathematics - Audio Visual Aids., Communication in Education., Mathematics - Study and Teaching., Theses - Education.