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Innovative New Mathematics Workbooks for Matric Pupils

Author: Professor Cyril Julie

The Local Evidence-Driven Improvement of Mathematics Teaching and Learning Initiative (LEDIMTALI) devised unique mathematics workbooks for pupils who cannot access online learning tools.

(Published - 3 September 2020)

The challenges schools faced during the lockdown were widely reported. A substantial body of resources – most of which were electronic - was made available to teachers and parents through the Department of Basic Education and the provincial departments of education. Although much effort was made to make it possible for parents and teachers to access these resources for use by learners, schools catering for learners at the lowest rungs of the socio-economic ladder had other concerns. 

A significant issue these schools had to contend with was the lack of financial resources to avail learners, particularly matriculants, of printed resources to prepare for the National Senior Certificate examination. Past examination papers are popular resources used to prepare for the National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations. These must, however, be printed for learners to use, otherwise, they first have to copy the questions from the available websites before they can engage with the questions.

To alleviate this problem, a project called the Local Evidence-Driven Improvement of Mathematics Teaching and Learning Initiative (LEDIMTALI) - spearheaded by the NRF SARChi in Mathematics Education - designed unique workbooks. They focus on Grade 11 mathematical topics which are presented in the NSC Mathematics examination. Emphasis was placed on Grade 11 topics since more than 50% of the NSC mathematics examination comprises work completed in that grade.

The workbooks are not merely a compilation of past examination question papers. Rather, the activities are such that learners must productively engage with key mathematical constructs. Furthermore, errors and mistakes candidates made in previous examinations were highlighted in the diagnostic reports. These were then used to draw up activities for learners. 

In addition, the workbooks are in a worksheet format so that learners work directly in them, thus saving time. More than 500 printed workbooks, in English and Afrikaans, were couriered to 22 schools on the Cape Flats and the Ashton/Robertson area. The schools are participants in the LEDIMTALI project, and the workbooks are available on the project’s website. 

Teachers expressed high appreciation and viewed the workbooks as a valuable resource. A teacher from Heideveld Senior Secondary School said: “Thank you for the wonderful booklet. It will assist learners in improving their cognitive skills as required to answer the NCS papers in November. This booklet is immensely appreciated and valued.” 

Teacher hands out workbooks to matriculants

The HOD of Mathematics at Chris Hani High School wrote: “As Chris Hani High School, we just want to say thank you so much for the study material that you sent us. The material is also relevant to the current Grade 11. We would appreciate any kind of help that you could offer us as a school.”

After being made aware of the workbooks, the chief curriculum specialist for Mathematics at the Western Cape Education Department informed her fellow Mathematics curriculum advisors of the availability of the workbooks.

• Cyril Julie holds a masters degree in Applied Mathematics from the University of the Western Cape. He completed a doctoral degree in Mathematics Education and Computer- based Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is currently the FirstRand Foundation and NRF Chair in Mathematics Education at the University of the Western Cape. His research interests span the Continuous Professonal Development of high school Mathematics teachers, the teaching of the Applications of Mathematics and Mathematical Modelling and the development of teaching school Mathematics. ​​​

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