Learner - centered approach in mathematics teaching and learning in Tanzanian secondary schools: a case of secondary schools in Mvomero Ddistrict
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This study explored Learner-Centered Approach (LCA) in mathematics teaching and learning in two selected Tanzanian secondary schools. The specific objectives covered by the study were (1) To find out teachers’ understanding of LCA in mathematics teaching, (2) To find out the mathematics teaching methods used by teachers, (3) To explore challenges teachers experience in employing LCA in mathematics teaching, and (4) To find out the learning environment for promoting the use of LCA in mathematics teaching and learning. The study used case study research design which was qualitative in nature. It involved fourteen (14) participants who were selected purposively. The data were collected through semi-structured interview, classroom observation, focus group discussion and documentary review. The data were analyzed by inferential coding through thematic analysis. Results from the study revealed that, despite the fact that mathematics teachers were aware of LCA of teaching, as they can explain it clearly as a concept, they were incapable of applying LCA in mathematics teaching. Thus, what they knew about LCA of teaching could not be put into action. The study also showed that, most of the mathematics teachers prefer Teacher Centered Approach (TCA) in mathematics teaching and learning to Learner Centered Approach (LCA). Reasons for that preference were included; time, insufficient teaching and learning material, insufficient classroom space and shortage of mathematics teachers which lead to heavy workload to mathematics teachers Various challenges were found to hinder mathematics teachers to apply LCA in mathematics teaching and learning. These challenges included pressure from National Examination Council of Tanzania (NECTA) on much emphasis of completing the syllabus than teaching methodology, perception of mathematics teachers to learners, big classes, shortage of mathematics teaching and learning resources, teachers’ level of education and the use of English as a language of communication. Furthermore, the study highlighted strategies of promoting LCA for better use in mathematics teaching and learning which included training of mathematics teachers the different ways of applying LCA of teaching in teaching mathematics, mathematics teachers should provide chance for student participation, to promote Kiswahili as language of communication, the government to employ sufficient mathematics teaching resources such as employing more mathematics teachers, provide more instructional materials, and to enhance mathematics teachers for improvisation. The study recommends that the government, through the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, supervises effectively the use of education policy of 2014, which directs the use LCA in secondary school education. It also recommended the use of technology to improve participation of learners in the learning process and to upgrade more mathematics teachers from diploma education level to bachelor degree level. However, since the study was done in the community secondary schools, it was recommended that further study be undertaken in three areas; employing LCA in mathematics teaching and learning to the former schools which existed before the establishment of community secondary school in 2006, replicating the same study using quantitative approach to compare the results, and undertaking the same study in another Tanzanian region apart from Morogoro to ascertain whether the same problems exist.