Extent of use of problem solving approaches in the teaching of O-Level Mathematics in secondary schools in Mutsago cluster of Mutare West Circuit in 2015 – 2017
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This project was designed to establish the extent of use of problem solving approaches in the teaching of O-Level Mathematics in secondary schools in Mutsago Cluster of Mutare West Circuit in 2015 – 2017. The study employed the mixed method research design which integrates quantitative and qualitative approaches to generate new knowledge and can involve either concurrent or sequential use of these two classes of methods to follow a line of inquiry. The sample population of the survey comprised of 45 O-level Mathematics students, 15 each from the three sampled schools. The researcher used quota sampling in conjunction with simple random sampling to select the students from the secondary schools. The students participated in the questionnaire survey. Purposive sampling was applied to choose the HODs who were also involved in interviews. One of the main findings was that that teachers’ self – belief on use of problem solving approaches in teaching O-Level Mathematics was high and significantly contributed to application of the problem solving strategy purposeful teaching-learning in the mathematics lessons. Another finding was that the level of confidence among Mathematics teachers made teachers use of problem solving approaches in the mathematics education of learners. Mathematics teachers were recognized as specialists who desired to ensure that learners were well equipped with the anticipated mathematics knowledge and skills. It was also revealed that Mathematics anxiety among students did not at all make teachers lose hope in using use problem solving approaches in teaching O-level Mathematics. Application of the problem solving approach drew a lot of excitement among learners and the approaches seemingly made learners to easily grasp intended concepts. Furthermore. it emerged that teachers’ use of problem solving approaches was instrumental in motivating learners to concentrate in their teaching mathematics studies. It was revealed that associated with the problem solving approaches was the learner centred approach which greatly promoted collaborative learning. Another finding was that Mathematics departments in schools were however not adequately staffed with teachers that had some knowledge on skills on problem solving skills which compromised use of the approach. , temporary graduates lacked adequate skills to use problem solving in lesson delivery. They added that that teachers sometimes failed to follow all the relevant stages which compromised vi 7 effective use of the problem solving approaches in the O-level mathematics. It was concluded that some teachers failed to adequately use the problem solving approach in the teaching-learning of students. It was further revealed that schools’ lack of a wide variety of textbooks in O-level mathematics to some extent compromised teachers’ use of problem solving approaches. The situation was worsened by lack of books in school libraries further compromising teachers’ use of problem solving approaches in teaching O-level Mathematics.The main recommendations were that school authorities and Heads of Departments should staff develop their departmental members to improve on use of the problem solving approaches. Teachers were encouraged to apply the approach in conjunction with other strategies to maximize success. Parents were encouraged to provide their children home tuition in mathematics using the problem solving approaches. It was hoped that they would be able to cultivate in them interest in mathematics and provide them with effective help.Lastly, Learners were urged to raise their level of hard work in mathematics following the problem solving approach. It was hoped that this would improve their mastery of concepts in the subject.