Renewing South Africa’s Maths Hope’s

What We Learnt
  • Learners have the ability to catchup 4-6 grades of knowledge in Mathematics within a single year
  • Personalised diagnostic assessment can be used to actively engage learners in their own learning process
  • The building of knowledge along logical learning trajectories helps learners make sense of the subject they are learning.
The Background

As part of their commitment to the community after building a windfarm in the Northern Cape province, a renewables construction company partnered with Harmattan Renewables and a local high school to invest in the education of young learners. With only eight learners in Grades 10 to 12 studying pure Maths as a subject in 2018, the school identified that increasing this number, along with improved achievement in Maths, as key goals for the programme.

The Baseline Results in Maths

At the start of June that same year, Reflective Learning diagnostics were run as a baseline with Grade 8 and 9 learners. The High School diagnostic benchmarks each learner’s mastery of 81 critical Maths concepts, plotted along seven conceptual threads. Their overall results showed that the majority of learners (71%) functioned between Grade 3 and 6 level, with 5% being below Grade 3 level. There also appeared to be difference in the base levels of learners across the two Grade 8 classes. The average attainment for the Numbers thread was 48%

The Intervention

Based on the learning gaps identified by the diagnostics, Reflective Learning provided personalised catchup material in print form to build the learnersconceptual understanding in the Numbers thread of Mathematics, while embedding selfreflective activities to develop metacognitive skills. The teacher for the Grade 8 and 9 classes created opportunity for the learners to work through the modules in a selfstudy format on two afternoons and a Saturday morning each week, assisting them where required. The regular school curriculum was followed in class time, while an additional tutor was employed to assist learners with gradelevel content on a monthly basis

Overall Improvements

The overall mark of learners increased by 12% on average, equating to an advancement 1.25 grades in the space of four months. Grade 8A had the largest improvement (17%) while Grades 8B and 9 had a lesser improvement (9% each). The majority of learners functioned between Grade 6 and 9 level (up from 23% to 54%) with no learners below Grade 3 level anymore.
Overall improvement in Maths results with the utilisation of the Reflective Learning tool

Problems of Engagement 

It should be noted that some learners scored below their original score. This appears to be due to a lack of engagement across the two lesserperforming classes both during the intervention and when performing the summative assessment. When investigated further, it was discovered that the majority of these learners had specific family circumstances which is likely to have been a moderating factor.

Improvement in Numbers

When examining the Numbers thread (the specific concepts targeted for remediation), average achievement increased by 16% across all classes, with Grade 8A improving by 25% on average. Again, Grade 8B and 9 improved by lesser degrees. Perhaps a telling figure is that 55% of learners achieved more than 70% for the target thread (up from 15%) indicating that the majority of learners had reached a suitable level of mastery to move onto further work.


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