According to the latest research conducted by the Department of Education, fewer students opted to write Matric mathematics in 2019 compared to learners between 2014 and 2018. At the same time, academic performance amongst learners who did write Mathematics decreased significantly, with 54,6% of candidates achieving 30% and above in 2019, and a mere 35% of learners achieving 40% or above.[ii]
For Grade 12 Mathematics learners to ace their exams, they need to feel confident in their mathematical ability. To do so, they need to attempt more difficult questions, which means teachers need to challenge their students. However, this starts with developing confidence in educators.
According to Anne Eadie, who is the Co-Founder of The Answer Series – which creates study guides for students and teachers alike – knowledge is extremely important for building teacher confidence: “For teachers to impactfully educate their students and inspire interest in Mathematics, they need to have knowledge of Mathematical language, theory, concepts and contexts, and be able to apply this with ease. Only then can they successfully transfer these concepts to learners and help them to develop recognition for mathematical logic and ultimately self-directed learning. However, this all begins with confidence.”
Explains Eadie: “The reason for this poor performance is that students do not fully comprehend key areas such as functions and graphs, calculus, probability, geometry and trigonometry. Learners do not understand the logic behind these Mathematical concepts, which is compounded by an over-reliance on past examination papers for revision. Hence, we see students struggling with complex procedures and problem solving, which together form 45% of the exam.”
In helping build teacher confidence, The Answer Series recently held a series of free workshops in which teachers were given tips and tricks on how to better approach questions in mathematics with their students, during which they also announced the launch Maths Majors, a new community forum for Maths teachers to share knowledge, grow confidence and work together to overcome common challenges in the classroom.
For any teachers who were unable to attend the workshops, you can watch a recording here.