To improve the quality of 21st-century teaching and learning, readdressing the devastating effects of past education and finding new sustainable learning methodologies with increased flexibility to support learning outside the boundaries of traditional techniques.’
These are motivational aspects stipulated as by mathematics department’s Prof Jogymol Alex whose work on several mathematics projects has brought a positive impact on the teaching and learning for WSU and local schools.
“To change the situation, classrooms that create learner fluencies for a sustainable future are needed. Through my teaching and learning, research and community projects, I try my level best to see that we at WSU address the above issue,” she said.
In 2018, Alex and the Mathematics Education and Research Projects Center (MERC) partnered with the Govern Mbeki Mathematics Development Center in bringing the GammaTutor device to WSU. Designed for Mathematics and Physical Sciences subjects, the device provides a flexible platform where teachers are able to upload diverse ways of learning
“The educational affordance of the GammaTutor include structured video lessons, animated PowerPoint lessons, self-assessments with scoring and feedback, structured exam revision and interactive multiple support function that explains mathematical concepts in English alongside any one of seven other indigenous languages,” said Alex.
Five schools were deployed in 2019 to be part of the testing phase of this device and due to the tremendous success of the device, by the end of 2021 it will have been extended to at least 40 schools in 2021.
“The future depends on the innovation that is added in education today. The ever-growing need in South Africa to produce a workforce skilled in Mathematics, Science, Engineering and Technology requires radical action from stakeholders in education. Innovation, partnerships, and co-operation are needed for it. If we can contribute towards it, we will have a better South Africa,” She said.
Another developmental project that the Professor is involved in is the, MERC, that was established in 2018 for the advancement of teaching, learning, research and community service in Mathematics Education.
“The primary objective is to improve the content knowledge and teaching skills of pre-service and in-service mathematics educators within the university and surrounding community of WSU in the Eastern Cape,” said Prof.
Alex added that the center also contributes to national development through established programmes with partners, with a strong focus on the improvement of the achievement on mathematics school learners in the nearby underprivileged rural schools that can create an impact to their lives.
One of the center’s major projects, “The Family Maths Project,” is a community project which, in partnership with the University of Free State, seeks to address challenges of teaching and learning in Mathematics by training foundation phase educators, subject advisors and parents of Grade 3 learners.
“The Family Maths Project is underpinned by a social constructivist philosophy of teaching and learning, characterised by hands-on, minds-on activity sessions in a social context.”
She added, “The Project has a Memorandum of Understanding between University of Free State (UFS) and WSU. University of Kwazulu-Natal (UKZN), Nelson Mandela University (NMU), Sol Plaatje University (SPU), University of Mpumalanga University (UMP) and the University of Limpopo (UL) were identified by UFS as other collaborators in their Program.”
The professor has also been to another project based in the University of Johannesburg, “The PrimTed Project,” where she is the National Deputy Coordinator for Assessment Work stream to develop a teacher competency assessment for students entering the teaching. WSU will be one of the beneficiaries of the project to develop the capacity for teaching Mathematics in primary schools.
“The PrimTEd Project is a component of the Department of Higher Education and Training’s (DHET) Teaching and Learning Development Capacity Improvement Program (TLDCIP),” said Alex.
She added, “UJ is rolling out “Maths4PrimaryTeachers” project in response to the call and WSU will be one of the beneficiaries of the project to develop the capacity for teaching Mathematics in primary schools.”