Understanding University of Technology foundation students' perspectives on their learning in mathematics, with a focus on group work

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This study investigates students' perceptions of their learning experiences at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) as well as their perceptions of their previous high school learning experiences. Eight first time entering Black township-schooled foundation Civil Engineering students were interviewed. The students indicated that they had difficulties with the medium of instruction, English. It also appears that certain teaching and learning practices at school do not prepare students for study at a tertiary institution. Social factors, such as transport and residence issues, were also named as issues influencing students' learning. An important focus of the study was on students' perceptions of group work, since the study took place during a period in which a group work intervention was conducted in the class from which the eight participants were selected. Seven of the eight participating students in the study made use of some form of group work at high school. The students had a positive disposition towards group work at school and towards the group work intervention programme at CPUT. They also had particular views of what group work is. The study also claims that students benefited from group work and that group work had a positive effect on students' performances in Mathematics. This study advocates for and contributes to a theoretical perspective on student communities, an aspect of the community perspective (Allie et al., 2007) on student learning. Group work as a form of participation that was investigated in this study was beneficial in student learning. Thus the theoretical perspective for the study, student communities, is appropriate. The study makes a contribution to the existing theoretical perspective in that it provides some insight into the school communities from which students entering higher education come; it suggests what classroom communities at tertiary level might look like; and it argues for the importance of the development of student communities outside the classroom.

Includes abstract.|Includes bibliographical references (leaves 94-99).