Determination of classroom discourse patterns that enhance mathematics learning in selected puplic secondary schools in Nakuru district, Kenya
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Students' poor performance in mathematics in national examinations at secondary school tier remains a major concern to teachers, students, parents, curriculum developers and the public worldwide and Kenya in particular. In an attempt to respond to this problem, the Kenyan mathematics scholars have carried out many studies in mathematics education. Despite these studies, students' performance still remains poor. This means that the main reason for this poor performance has not been established. The reason could probably be that the classroom discourses used during mathematics lessons discourage students' interaction during teaching and learning processes. The main purpose of this study was therefore to establish whether or not the problem of poor performance lies in the discourse patterns used during mathematics lessons in secondary schools. Specifically, the study aimed at determining the type of teacher-student discourse patterns in mathematics classrooms and how resources influenced these discourses. The study was a cross-sectional descriptive survey focusing on form 3 students and their mathematics teachers. Disproportionate Stratified sampling technique was used to select 9 secondary schools (3 for each school type) from 67 public schools in Nakuru District. Form 3 students were purposively selected. Simple random sampling was used to select a form 3 stream from each of the 9 sampled schools where there was more than one stream; otherwise the stream was purposively selected. Data were collected using three main instruments: Mathematics teacher questionnaire (MTQ, mathematics student questionnaire (MSQ) and Flanders Interaction Category (FIAC) system. Audio recordings of live classroom verbal discourses were done and observational notes taken to reinforce collected data using the three instruments. Data from the questionnaires and classroom observation were analyzed both qualitatively and quantitatively. Qualitative analysis involved making inferences from teachers and students' responses from the open-ended questions. The data involving classroom observation were further analyzed using FIAC to reveal the distribution of various discourse patterns, teaching techniques and teaching resources. This was later reduced to percentages and proportions. Quantitative analysis used descriptive statistics such as means, percentages and frequencies to show the type of classroom discourse patterns during mathematics lessons. One-way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) was used to determine the differences between the discourse patterns in the three types of schools. The study revealed that mathematics teachers use different discourse patterns in their classes. The teachers' direct discourses dominated the mathematics classrooms while students' discourses were mainly determined by the teacher and were mostly in form of responses to teacher-initiated questions. This denied the students the opportunities to verbally express their thinking processes. The calculated I/D ratios showed that boys' classrooms were democratic while girls and mixed classrooms were autocratic. In view of this, it was recommended that teachers should use more of indirect discourses especially in girls and mixed classrooms so that students are free to initiate and express their ideas freely. The study also revealed that there was a tendency of teachers in boys' classes touse more student-centered techniques than did the teachers in mixed or girls' classrooms. Thus, it was recommended that cooperative learning be emphasized among students and the teachers especially in girls and mixed classrooms through mathematical discourses such as discussion in which students listen to, respond to, and question the teacher and one another so that the leaming of mathematics is improved.