Focus of the study: Investigating primary school teachers’ approach to Project-based learning (PBL) through the Lesson Study

The issue of teaching learners to produce projects is a requirement of the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS). As such, teachers are required to tailor their instruction to make it possible for learners to achieve this goal, however, as with many teaching endeavors, this has its challenges. There are many uncertainties with regard to planning, teaching, administering and assessing projects. The proposed research seeks to confront some of those challenges by exploring the manner in which mathematics teachers use Project-Based Learning (PBL) as a teaching strategy to equip learners with the skills to undertake project work and produce artifacts that communicate mathematical concepts. Primary school teachers’ approach to PBL in mathematics teaching will be investigated through the Lesson Study (LS) approach where the stages of the cycle will guide the implementation of Project-Based Learning in teaching  Grade 4 mathematics at local primary schools.



Focus of the study – Examining the attributes of teachers’ questions in mathematics lesson in the context of Lesson Study

There hardly goes a day in the life of a Mathematics teacher without posing questions in one form or another during a lesson. Questions posed are necessary ingredients to: guide learners’ learning, ignite discussions, and to lead learners towards discovery of mathematical concepts. These are very significant basic cognitive actions which are intended to promote conceptual understanding and to maximise learning opportunities for learners. For that reason, the quality of questions that a teacher poses is very to contribute to the attainment of the lesson objective(s). My sense is that often teachers’ questions appear not be purposeful such that they do not elicit learners mathematical thinking and do not promote conceptual understanding. In some instances teachers answer their own questions; pose many questions which are not very useful and even ignore responses that do not appeal to them.  This observation prompted me to examine the nature of questions posed by teachers during a mathematics lesson. The focus of this study is therefore to explore the attributes of questions posed by teachers during mathematics lessons in the context of Lesson Study; and it will focus on the following stages of the Lesson Study cycle: lesson planning, lesson presentation & observation; and post-lesson reflection. The study will, therefore, contribute meaningfully to the professional development enterprise by firstly promoting dialogue about and plan for the purposeful questions before teaching and secondly fore-grounding the importance of purposeful questions to promote conceptual understanding.



Focus of the study – Teacher engagement with teaching materials (Kyozai kenkyu)

Textbooks are intended to support teaching and learning, however there is a risk of teachers over-relying on them to the extent of not engaging thoroughly with the content thereof when planning the mathematics lessons. The Lesson Study provides a platform for teachers to engage meaningfully with all the teaching and learning materials (including textbooks) when planning the lesson. The Lesson Study is a Japanese model of professional development where teachers jointly plan a lesson; select one member to present the lesson while others observe it and then reflect jointly on the lesson with the aim of improving it. The emphasis is on teaching mathematics for conceptual understanding. This study seeks to explore the teachers engagement with the teaching materials (kyozai kenkyu) when they plan and teach the lesson. Although there are numerous teaching and learning materials that teachers are likely to use in one lesson, the specific focus of this study is on textbooks. Exploring teachers engagement with textbooks is particularly important given that, generally, a textbook is the most common teaching material in almost all mathematics classrooms in South Africa, and probably globally. The study will therefore focus on only two stages of the Lesson Study cycle, viz. Lesson Planning and Lesson presentation & Observation. It is hoped that the study will contribute meaningfully towards redefining or reconceptualising teachers’ practices of engaging with the textbooks, subsequently enhance their professional learning.



Focus of the study: Formative assessment practices within the Lesson Study cycle

The benefits of formative assessment in Mathematics classes are often undervalued as focus is placed primarily on summative assessment. Formative assessment provides a fertile platform for a teacher to gain insight into learner understanding and determine if any misconceptions occur. Essentially, the primary purpose of formative assessment is to provide insightful and timely feedback to the learners, and so benefiting both the learner and the teacher alike.

Through the proposed research, I aim to shed light on Mathematics teachers’ use of formative assessment in Grade 8 Mathematics classes to develop and strengthen learners mathematical thinking and problem-solving skills. The study will be conducted during three consecutive stages of the Lesson Study cycle, namely: collaborative lesson planning, lesson presentation and observation, and post-lesson reflection.

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