Original Research

Teachers’ perceptions about collaboration as a strategy to address key concepts in mathematics

Simon A. Tachie
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 12, No 1 | a952 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v12i1.952 | © 2022 Simon A. Tachie | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 16 October 2020 | Published: 21 July 2022

About the author(s)

Simon A. Tachie, School of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: The aim of the study is to investigate teachers’ perceptions about peer collaborative work in designing lessons as a team helped them to identify threshold concepts in the teaching and learning of foundation phase mathematics in Motheo District of Education.

Methods: A qualitative approach, with a case study design, was used to combine data from observation and focus group discussions, interviews and group task sheets.

Classroom observation was conducted during a workshop conducted by a subject advisor from the Motheo District of Education in collaboration with the researcher. Teachers were purposively selected from seven schools in the Motheo District of Education based on cluster sampling as a way of reviving their professional development through acquisition of mathematical teaching skills involving innovative approaches to teaching and learning of early childhood mathematics. Seven mathematics teachers, one from each school, were interviewed during the workshop.

Results: Underpinned by a collaborative theory, the findings of the study revealed that peer collaboration in mathematics teaching was key to helping them (participant teachers) identify threshold concepts in mathematics that they had initially found difficult as individual teachers. This assisted them in teaching the subject effectively at the foundation phase level. The study, furthermore, established that collaboration by mathematics teachers was necessary in order to overcome the paucity of global mathematics teaching skills for early childhood mathematics, to foster learners’ knowledge of mathematical concepts and to stimulate their interest in the subject.

Conclusion: It is recommended that more structured collaborative work amongst teachers in general should be encouraged to enable teachers overcome the problem of content gap in their area of specialisation.


Keywords

collaboration; key concepts; mathematics teaching and learning; teacher perceptions; learners; Motheo Education district; South Africa

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