How can teachers be helped in dealing with students' conceptual problems in algebra at lower secondary level
Date of Award
Master of Education (M. Ed.)
Institute for Educational Development, Karachi
This study dealt with confusions in the context of teaching of algebra at the lower secondary level. A major problem in the present situation in the teaching of mathematics in Pakistan is that many students of mathematics do not have a conceptually sound understanding of algebra. That is, some students do not know how to solve certain problems, as they are not given the opportunity to develop their thinking skills. Some students want to ask questions but many teachers do not encourage them to do so. This study was conducted in one government higher secondary school, with two mathematics teachers and eight students of classes seven and eight. The specific question that guided the investigation was "How can teachers be helped in dealing with students' conceptual problems in algebra at lower secondary level”. This study consisted of three stages, the pre-intervention stage, the intervention stage, and the post intervention stag. In the pre-intervention stage I interviewed the study teachers and students, tested the students, and observed the specific mathematics lessons to explore problems which students faced during the conceptually learning of algebra, and how teachers delt with these problems. At this stage I found that students had several conceptual problems like, the use of wrong signs, smaller and greater numbers, like and unlike terms, and misconceptions about power and base. These problems may be related to the teaching methods because the teachers were using inappropriate methods of solving equation. It was further noted that teachers held limited knowledge of teaching algebra, and were emphasising the completion of the syllabus, which created a tense environment in the class, where learning without understanding and reasoning occurred. In the intervention stage, an attempt was made to try to solve some of the problems While there was a shortage of time, there was evidence to indicate that change was taking place in the teaching and understanding of basic concepts in algebra. In the post intervention stage, I co- planned lessons with teachers and found a change in attitude of the teachers. During this study, I faced many problems and constraints and sometimes felt frustrated, but slowly and gradually, I overcame these problems. The results of the study showed that while there was a slight change in teacher's attitude, any significant effect have to take place over a much longer period.
Najumsehar, K. (1998). How can teachers be helped in dealing with students' conceptual problems in algebra at lower secondary level (Unpublished master's dissertation). Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan.