Original Research

The use of workbooks in South African grade 3 mathematics classrooms

Manono Mdluli
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 4, No 1 | a118 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v4i1.118 | © 2014 Manono Mdluli | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 July 2014 | Published: 01 July 2014

About the author(s)

Manono Mdluli, WITS University

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The poor performance of South African learners on national and international benchmark tests in mathematics and literacy has prompted the South African Department of Basic Education (DBE) to devise intervention strategies, one of which is the provision of workbooks for learners. This paper is based on a case study of six Grade 3 teachers’ use of DBE workbooks. Data from classroom observations and interviews are reported and analyzed in relation to literature on mathematical and pedagogical resources. The key finding is that teachers use the workbooks in disparate ways as a resource and that the majority of the teachers in the case study use the workbooks in ways that do not resonate with the DBE’s intentions. We argue that the provision of resources alone may not lead to improved teaching and learning in primary school mathematics classrooms and that pre-service and in-service teacher education programmes need to include a focus on how resources such as workbooks can be utilized optimally


workbooks mathematical resources, transparent resources, visible, invisible resource, primary mathematics, structured / unstructured resources.


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