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Teachers' perceptions of the effectiveness of in-service education and training (inset) for senior secondary school mathematics teachers in the greater Durban area.

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The project of the Shell Science Centre (SSC) started in 1985, in response to the high failure rate in mathematics amongst black pupils, the perceived inadequacy of college mathematics curricula for prospective mathematics teachers, and generally because of the destructive policies of apartheid and the inferior system of education for black pupils. One of the programmes is to organise and run in-service education and training (INSET) courses for senior mathematics teachers, in collaboration with teachers' Action Committees, with the hope of effecting curriculum change and teacher behaviour in the classroom. It is important, therefore, for the SSC to know whether the INSET programmes meet the needs of the teachers, especially those who graduated from colleges of education in KwaZulu with a Secondary Teachers' Diploma, since they form the majority of the INSET participants. Hence, this investigaton aimed to survey and analyse: (i) mathematics teachers' and college mathematics lecturers' perceptions of the college mathematics curriculum; and (ii) mathematics teachers' perception of the effectiveness of INSET courses. Initial data, about the effectiveness of INSET courses and the pre-service training of prospective mathematics teachers, was gathered through informal talks with mathematics teachers during INSET courses. Issues and themes that emerged were "fleshed out" using unstructured interviews with five (5) mathematics teachers. From these it was possible to draw up a detailed structured interview schedule, which was administered to a further seventeen (17) mathematics teachers in senior secondary schools in Umlazi and KwaMashu townships. Data, about the college mathematics curriculum, was also gathered by means of structured interviews with college mathematics lecturers, in the two colleges of education in KwaZulu, and with graduate teachers with a Secondary Teachers' Diploma in mathematics. Among the significant findings were: o Limitations in the college mathematics curriculum in as far as the mathematics content and the methodology courses were concerned; o Problems with SSC INSET courses such as teaching methods suggested by INSET tutors, timing of INSET courses, group work, etc.; o Problems with teaching mathematics at school such as the shortage of mathematics textbooks, large classes, inadequate resources, etc.; and o Problems with incorrect 'overlearnt' rules from inadequate college mathematics textbooks. The implications of these findings for the SSC were considered. It is suggested inter alia that the SSC should adopt strategies which would emphasize direct contact with the pupils of INSET participants. It is hoped that these strategies will help correct the various problems experienced by mathematics teachers in the schools.


Masters Degree. University of Natal, Durban.