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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: lis.zou.ac.zw:8080/dspace /handle/0/355

Title: The Zimbabwe ‘O’ Level Mathematics Curriculum And Students' Career Aspirations In Shurugwi and Gweru Districts, Midlands Province: A Casual Comparative Analysis.
Issue Date: 2016
Abstract: This study which was conducted in Shurugwi and Gweru districts of the Midlands Province of Zimbabwe, soughtthrough a causal comparative analysis, to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of the ‘O’ level mathematics curriculum and its influence on the career aspirations and employer expectations of school leavers. The mixed methods approach was chosen to guide the methodology of the study because of its pragmatic nature and ability to produce desired, practical, workable and more justifiable results.Fourteen secondary schools in the two districts and eleven employers in Gweru district were visited for the study. The actual study sample consisted of 285 ‘O’ level students, twenty-eight mathematics teachers, twenty-eight parents, two subject education inspectors, two district education officers, and eleven employers (or their representatives) making a total of 356 respondents and informants.Students were subjected to a standardised mathematics achievement test and a questionnaire while at each school a sub-group of four to nine ‘O’ level mathematics students were involved in the focus group discussions. Parents and employers participated in face to face interviews conducted by the researcher using prepared interview schedules as guides. Teachers, subject education inspectors and district education officers completed different questionnaires. All the questionnaires had both structured questions of the five-point Likert type as well as open-ended questions to supplement the quantitative data. The statistical package SPSS 16.0 was used to analyse data through some t-tests for comparison of means, correlations, analysis of variance (ANOVA), chi-square tests for testing independence/dependence between some variables, and regression analyses to test which curriculum factors or variables could be best explained by the regression models. Qualitative data from interviews, focus group discussions and open-ended sections of the questionnaires were analysed by first noting frequencies of each response, categorising the responses and then finding the emerging themes from those responses. After the causal comparative analyses and trial tests had been done, the results were triangulated with qualitative data and with previous research findings and secondary statistics cited from Government agencies such as ZimStat. Results of the study revealed that in general there were more weaknesses than strengths in the current ‘O’ level mathematics curriculum. In particular students and teachers had negative views about the syllabus and national assessment issues while students were concerned with teachers’ attitudes, professionalism and general assessment and lesson delivery styles. Education officers and inspectors were also worried with the issues of resource shortages and teachers’ lack of morale and professionalism.Parents and employers strongly voiced the importance of mathematics in industry and for the country at large and offered suggestions on curriculum changes which they wished to be implemented. Quantitative results confirmed that students performed low in mathematics with an average of 39%, that there were significant gender differences in mathematics achievementwith boys performing better than girls, that most students had very high career aspirations with those of girls being slightly higher than those of boys. It was also found that there were significant differences in students’ views towards the syllabus (STDSYLB), teaching styles, assessment methods, and mathematics anxietywith respect to location, type, ownership and level of the school. The linear regression modelwas a better approximation of the anticipated relationships because it wasable to model more equations than the other functions.For example, one linear regression model explained 56.9% of the variability in student achievement (STDACHV) with type of the school, level of the school, teacher’s qualifications, student’s mathematics anxiety (STDMA), and theviews of students on assessment techniques (STDASSTECH) and on teaching methods (STDTCHM) as independent variables (F=40.29, p=0.00). Another linear iviv model explained 54% of the variability in students’ mathematics anxiety (F=109.822, p=0.000) with STDTCHM, STDASSTECH and STDACHV as independent variables. Also STDACHV, STDSYLB and STDMA were found to be significant factors affecting career aspirations, the model accounting for 15.2% of the variance (F=16.807, p=0.000). The suggestions and opinions which were voiced by the respondents, discussants and interviewees were corroborated with thestatistical findings from the quantitative data. The conclusion of the study was that the current Zimbabwe ‘O’ level mathematics curriculum is too theoretical and not quiterelevant for the economic and technological development of the country. It was also concluded that this curriculum does not matchwith students’ career aspirations and should therefore be reviewed. It is from these conclusions that recommendations for a new ‘O’ level mathematics curriculum, and proposals for a new policy on mathematics education (for all grade/form levels) were made in this study. It is strongly anticipated that if the recommendations are implemented, Zimbabwe can once again become the food or ‘bread basket’ of Southern Africa and also the ‘giant’ of Southern Africa in terms of technological and economic productivity and development.
License: http://www.oceandocs.org/license
URI: lis.zou.ac.zw:8080/dspace /handle/0/355
Appears in Collections:Master of Philosophy (M.Phil) and Doctor of Philosophy (D.Phil)Theses

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