Original Research-Special Collection: Teaching and learning in the Early Years

Distribution of additive relation word problems in South African early grade Mathematics workbooks

Ingrid Mostert
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 9, No 1 | a655 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v9i1.655 | © 2019 Ingrid Mostert | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 16 April 2018 | Published: 27 March 2019

About the author(s)

Ingrid Mostert, Centre for Education Practice Research, University of Johannesburg, Soweto, South Africa


Background: Workbooks were introduced by the South African Department of Basic Education (DBE) in 2011. Although the workbooks were designed as supplementary materials, in some schools they are used as the sole teaching text. Therefore, an analysis of the content coverage of the workbooks is warranted. This article provides such an analysis in terms of additive relation word problems.

Aim: This article aims firstly to expound on the existing literature to propose a comprehensive additive relation word problem typology and secondly to analyse the prevalence of particular word problem types in the foundation phase Mathematics workbooks.

Setting: This research was conducted in South Africa, focusing on additive relation word problems in foundation phase Mathematics workbooks.

Methods: A comprehensive typology of additive relation word problem types was developed based on typologies used in previous studies. All the additive relation word problems in the 2017 Grades 1–3 foundation phase Mathematics workbooks were categorised according to this typology.

Results: In total there were 61 single-step additive relation word problems with numerical answers across the three grades. This is a small number in comparison to other countries. There was also an uneven distribution of problem types, with more problems in the easier subcategories and fewer or no problems in the more difficult subcategories.

Conclusion: This article provides evidence for the need to revise the word problems in the DBE workbooks. It also provides a theoretical framework to use in the revision of the workbooks and in any supplementary teaching material developed for teachers.


foundation phase; word problems; additive relations; workbooks;typologies


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