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Grade 10 learners’ experiences of the teaching strategies in algebra used by their mathematics teachers: a case study of two schools in the Pinetown District.

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This study makes use of social constructivism theory as the lens to explore Grade 10 learners’ experiences of learning algebra in two selected High Schools in one township in Pinetown Education District, KwaZulu-Natal Province. The purpose was to examine learners’ perceptions of strategies that their teachers use in teaching Grade 10 algebra and the way it supports or inhibits their learning of the topic. algebra is considered to be an important topic in mathematics. In High School mathematics curriculum, algebra is particularly important at Grade 10 because, it is at this time the Grade 10 learner moves to higher concepts and advance in their learning of algebra. However, observations indicated that among other areas that posed challenges to High School learning of mathematics in the district, learners’ perception of algebra as difficult topic was a major factor. This prompted interest in the present study that used qualitative research approach and a case study design to explore in-depth, the learners’ experiences in order to better understand the issues in teaching and learning Grade 10 algebra in the township schools. Questionnaires were developed for purposes of individual interviews given the limitations the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions imposed on conducting physical contact interview and focus group methods originally designed. Hence the remote use of qualitative questionnaire instruments was employed to collect the data. Participants were purposively selected through written correspondence assisted by school administration in both schools. The sample comprised of 20 Grade 10 learners, 5 male and 5 female learners, each from the two schools. Choice of the schools was decided based on convenience because of their nearness to the researcher. The data was analysed using thematic analysis and triangulated at data source level. Findings show that some of the Grade 10 learners found algebra as a boring topic because they do not understand the algebraic concepts due to the teachers teaching approach. It was also found that these experiences impacted them negatively and positively in their perceptions of learning algebra. The findings implications for teaching Grade 10 algebra are that (a) given that element of algebra is important in high school mathematics, finding ways of improving teachers’ ability to use effective strategies to teach for learners’ understanding of the topic at this crucial level is important for the township schools, (b) in addition, in the teaching algebra concepts, teachers should consider how to effectively differentiate for those learners that struggle to understand the teaching in English language. Deliberate efforts should be made to explain concepts in ways, and using examples and in language levels that connect with these learners. Therefore, this study recommends the following: (a) the Grade 10 teachers are encouraged to always use variations of teaching strategies to teach the Grade 10 algebra so that learners can appreciate the learning; (b) Home language need to be involved in teaching mathematical concepts at Grade 10 curriculum so that both languages, i.e., home and second language would be simultaneously used to enable the learners consolidate their learning.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.