Mathematical Modelling Approaches and the Learner’s Conceptual Understanding of Mathematics at Secondary School level in Kisii County, Kenya
Research has shown that Mathematical Modelling promotes teaching and learning of mathematics in secondary schools. This is because Mathematical Modelling, when applied, it mathematizes real-world situations with the aim of seeking a solution for the initial problems hence making the subject relevant to students resulting to better performance in the subject. The purpose of this study was to investigate Mathematical Modeling and the learner’s conceptual understanding of mathematics at secondary school level in Kisii County, Kenya. The objectives of the study were: to establish mathematical teachers’ knowledge in Mathematical Modelling; to determine the extent to which teachers apply Mathematical Modeling in teaching mathematics; and to establish the relationship between Mathematical Modelling and learners’ performance in mathematics. The study was pegged on Constructivism theory which draws its arguments from Piaget’s cognitive theory and Vygotsky’s social critical theory that emphasizes on the active role of learners in building understanding and making sense of the world. A convenient sample of two hundred and seventy students and forty mathematics teachers from ten sampled schools in Kenyenya Sub-County, Kenya participated in the study. Mixed method research design was used to collect data for the study. Data was collected from teachers and students using questionnaires, classroom observation schedule and interview schedules. Both descriptive and inferential statistics was used to analyze quantitative data collected from teachers and students. The research study revealed that more than 75% of teachers have no adequate knowledge in Mathematical Modelling approach as an instructional strategy. Majority of teachers are not familiar with Mathematical Modelling approach. Most Teachers rely on traditional mathematics teaching approach which is teacher-centered whereby a teacher expect students to follow a particular procedure to produce one right answer. The study also revealed that almost all teachers (85%) entirely depend on mathematics text books when teaching a mathematics whereas inclusion of modelling task in students’ activities is not given any substantial attention by teachers. Less than 25% of teachers engage students in groupwork and mathematics learning activities in class. The study also revealed that Mathematical modelling instruction had a positive impact on student’s achievement in mathematics performance. A single class of 44 form two students exposed to mathematical modelling instruction had a positive change in the performance of mathematics test administered to them as compared to the test they did before Mathematical Modelling instruction. The study therefore recommends to the ministry of education (MoE), Teacher service commission (TSC) and Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) to train teachers on Mathematical Modelling. Teachers to attend in-service training programs to deepen their knowledge on Mathematical Modelling. Equally, Mathematical Modelling to be implemented in secondary school mathematics classrooms and Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) to infuse Mathematical Modelling skills as an outcome for secondary school mathematics curriculum.