Robert Changwe and Innocent Mutale Mulenga: Mathematics Teacher Education Curriculum at a University in Zambia: Student teachers’ acquisition of appropriate competencies for teaching mathematics in secondary school
Learners’ performance in mathematics in Zambian secondary schools has remained unsatisfactory for several years (ECZ, 2016). Studies by Mwape and Musonda (2014) as well as Kafata and Mbetwa (2016) revealed that lack of appropriate teaching and learning materials and learners’ negative attitude towards mathematics were among the factors that had led to poor learner performance in mathematics. However, there seem to have been no study done regarding the appropriateness of the mathematics teacher education curriculum. This study therefore, sought to investigate whether the mathematics teacher education curriculum at a one university in Zambia adequately prepared student teachers in mathematical content knowledge and mathematical pedagogical content knowledge.
The mixed method approach and in particular the concurrent triangulation research design was used. Questionnaires were employed to collect data from university graduates of mathematics education and fourth year (final year) student teachers who were on the programme. Lecturers of mathematics content and mathematics teaching methods and the Standards Officers for Mathematics were also interviewed. Mathematics lessons were as well observed.
The main findings of the study indicated that the university mathematics teacher education curriculum did not adequately prepare student teachers to teach mathematics. Graduates lacked the relevant mathematical knowledge and the mathematical pedagogical knowledge upon graduation. Results also suggested that this had contributed to the poor mathematics learner performance in secondary schools.
Hence, it was recommended that the university mathematics teacher education curriculum should be reviewed after conducting a job analysis of the teacher of mathematics. It was also recommended that the Ministry of General Education should conduct in-service training of teachers of mathematics using the already existing continuous professional development structures within the ministry.