An exploration of how teachers deal with secondary school students’ errors and misconceptions in mathematics teaching and learning in Dar es salaam, Tanzania

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)

First Supervisor/Advisor

Peter Kajoro

Second Supervisor/Advisor

Dr. Fredrick Mtenzi


Institute for Educational Development, East Africa


Errors are a common phenomenon in the mathematics classroom. It is therefore, important that the teacher has the knowledge of being able to unravel the errors in the course of curriculum implementation as well as employ strategies that are appropriate in alleviating these errors. This study explored how mathematics teachers deal with students’ errors and misconceptions in the teaching and learning of mathematics in secondary schools in Tanzania. The research questions guiding data collection sought to establish some of the error’s students make, ways in which teachers identify those errors and the instructional strategies that teachers employ to alleviate those errors. A qualitative approach and case-study design was employed in collection of data for this study in one public secondary school which involved four mathematics teachers, through conducting interviews, class observations, informal conversations and document analysis. The study found out that participating teachers identified students’ errors by giving tasks, observing and listening as the students illustrate and demonstrate, verbal responses and marking written assignment and formative assessment tests (exams). This indicates that the teachers understand errors and misconceptions, thus able to come up with instructional strategies that could be employed to alleviate the errors. It was also found that teachers employ strategies such as peer correction, group work, desk teaching, review of pedagogy and use of teaching Aids to address students’ errors which is dependent on the teacher’s subject content knowledge as well as pedagogical content knowledge. Large classes and heavy workload burden on teachers were some of the challenges that hampered their effectiveness in correction of students’ errors and misconceptions. Therefore, the study recommends that, the curriculum developers and teacher educators need to incorporate effective error handling instructional strategies in the pre-service curriculum, as well as organize in-service training for mathematics teachers to expose them to better error handling strategies and refresh their pedagogical content knowledge.

This document is available in the relevant AKU library