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The impact of university students’ perception of mathematics on their curriculum choices: a case study of the University of KwaZulu Natal - Howard College Campus.

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Mathematics is one of the most important subjects in ensuring the stability of the country’s economy. There is a general perception that mathematics is a difficult subject, this perception has led to a decline in the number of students taking mathematics and pursuing careers related to it. The South African science industry is highly affected by poor performance in mathematics by learners and poor mathematics education delivered to students. The aim of this study is to present the key factors shaping the general perception of mathematics being difficult in South Africa, focusing particularly on the introduction of mathematical literacy learning subject. The key objective of this study is to assess how the students' perception has landed them to where they are today, in terms of studies. This is a survey research study; the researcher used interviews and distributed survey questionnaires to collect qualitative and quantitative data. The main population of this study was the students from the University of KwaZulu Natal. They were randomly selected from the College of Agriculture, Science and Engineering and College of Humanities. This study found that many students intended to or left mathematics for mathematical literacy. This study also found that teachers exert the most influential role on students’ perception, attitude and performance in mathematics. Students’ perception of mathematics has been explored showing that it is affected by various factors including the school capacity to deliver - that covers up for the teachers’ competency and level of qualification- , the availability and unavailability of resources and education policies related to mathematics curriculum. This study recommends that mathematics and science teachers should be screened thoroughly before their appointment. In addition to that, they should be trained continuously to improve the standard of their competency in teaching subjects of this nature.


Master of Science in Public Policy. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 2016.


Theses - Public Policy.