Academic insight on the Maths Literacy programme

28th February 2019

Sarah Haffenden

– by Chinedu Izuchukwu and Dr Maga Moodley

The mathematical literacy upgrade to grade 12 mathematics is a programme intended to convert mathematics literacy to mathematics (Grade 12 mathematics), thus bridging the gap between mathematics literacy and pure mathematics. The programme is meant for students who already passed mathematics literacy in the National Senior Certificate examinations with the hope of gaining access into universities to study any science or commercial related degrees, where Grade 12 mathematics is an entrance requirement.

The ongoing mathematical literacy upgrade which commenced on the 5th of February 2019 is   structured to run for 10 weeks (3 sessions / 6 hours per week). During this time, we the facilitators (lecturers and tutors) ensure that the students are engaged with intensive teaching and tutoring. Besides giving the students assignments, practice work and spot tests on a daily basis, we ensure that the students write a test at the end of the 3rd session of the week.

We are currently on the 4th week of this programme, and so far, my experience with the students have been wonderful, in the sense that the sessions have been very interactive. We allowed for ample discussions and peer group interactions, whereby the students are placed in a comfortable, non-threating environment. In addition to this, the tests written so far by the students depict that some of the students have consistently performed above 80 percent. However, some students are still struggling to get up to average marks for their tests.  On this note, we have devised different techniques to ensure that these students improve their marks in subsequent tests, which includes:

  • Giving the students portfolios where they compile the work for the course and record daily reflections, which they produce to us after every 3 sessions and we use it for continuous assessment
  • Students who performed poorly in tests are encouraged to do corrections with comments indicating that there are mistakes, and they are awarded 20 percent of the marks that they lost. This encourages them to work hard.
  • Extension of the time for extra tuition and for students to discuss their solutions
  • Encouraging the students to make note of errors and ask questions in class

I gathered from my interactions with the students that, at the beginning of the programme, most of them were uncertain about finishing the programme with good grades. But through constant encouragement, interactions (to identify their problems) and making sure that they do their work, we could see some significant amount of improvement both in their marks and confidence. This wouldn’t have been achieved if not for the support and assistance given to us by the administrators.

Thus, I believe that at the end of the programme, besides getting good grades, the students would have clear understanding of entire Maths syllabus. The importance of having this understanding, is that besides gaining access into the university for a Bachelor’s degree, it will strengthen the student’s ability in solving industrial problems. For instance, the understanding of linear programming, mathematics of finance, derivatives, among others, helps in decision making, quality controls and profit maximization in industries and firms. They also play vital role in the growth of financial institutions and the growth of a country’s economy.