The effectiveness of a teacher professional learning programme: The perceptions and performance of mathematics teachers
Centre for Pedagogy, Faculty of Education, Stellenbosch University, Private Bag X1, Matieland, South Africa
The purpose of this article is to report on an investigation of the perceptions and performance of mathematics teachers in a teacher professional learning (TPL) programme based on realistic mathematics education (RME) principles, which included a topic on transformations, undertaken by the researcher. Forty-seven Senior Phase (Grade 7-9) teachers took part in the mixed-methods study in which they answered a questionnaire with both closed and openended items. Fifty teachers took an achievement test at the end of the programme. The TPL programme used the RME approach in the design and delivery of mathematical tasks intended to enhance teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching. The sessions were conducted in a manner that modelled one way in which RME principles can be adopted as a teacher professional development strategy. The significance of the study is that continuing TPL is acknowledged to contribute to improvement in teaching and learning to address the concern about unsatisfactory learner achievement in mathematics. The responses suggested that the majority of teachers experienced the sessions positively in relation to all but one of the six RME principles. The teachers reported that they took an active part both as individuals and in small groups and expressed their willingness to adopt the type of activities and materials for their classrooms, which is an essential first step in Guskey's first level of evaluation of a teacher TPL programme. The teachers' average performance in an achievement test at the end of the topic was 72% which was indicative of modest learning gains at Guskey's second level of TPL effectiveness. © 2014. The Authors.