Background to the study
Accomplished teachers use multiple paths to knowledge to help students learn and facilitate understanding. Such teachers know that students learn in different ways and use different modalities to take in information and demonstrate knowledge. In order to meet these needs, accomplished teachers use a variety of strategies and methods to ensure that all students have equal opportunities to learn (Clarke, 1989).
Teaching in the twenty -first century faces many challenges. A proficient teacher should have a broad grounding and knowledge of the subject(s) to be taught. He should also know the skills to be developed, and the curricular arrangements and materials that organize and embody that content: knowledge of general and subject-specific methods for teaching and for evaluating student learning; knowledge of student and human development, skills in effectively teaching students from diverse backgrounds, and the skills, capacities and dispositions to employ such knowledge wisely in the interest of students (Allwright, 1990).
Teachers are these days challenged to know and communicate their subject matter, design curriculum and instruction, and be knowledgeable about diverse student populations and effective uses of data and technology to conduct action research to improve their own practice and to implement existing research.
Gaining confidence in teaching and, for that matter, the teaching of mathematics takes time and requires goal -setting, reflection, dialogue and collaboration with students and colleagues. The two biggest challenges facing teachers are adequate planning and classroom management. Certainly, new teachers benefit from the wisdom of their experienced colleagues who are better able to integrate and draw connections between current, past and future learning and relate their content to other curricular areas. They tend to be able to better use such classroom management skills as voice, gesture, improvisation, reading, student facial expressions, body language and proximity. They can use the picture in planning, anticipate problems and need for alternative plans.
The teaching of mathematics in Ghanaian Senior Secondary Schools (SSS) seems to be a problem. This stems from the fact that either the children find it difficult to grasp some mathematical concepts or the teachers find it a problem getting the children to understand these basic concepts. The problems that these students face may start from the Primary and the Junior Secondary Schools (JSS) where these concepts are sometimes not properly taught or made clear to the children. The problem may also be that some of the teachers who handle these students at those levels are untrained teachers who lack the right methodologies and, therefore, cannot get the children to understand what they teach most of the time. Another possible cause may be that although the teachers may be professionally trained, they do not expose the children to classroom situations that may help to facilitate the understanding of these concepts (for example, making the students handle improvised objects and finding other Teaching and Learning Materials (TLMS) to help bring out the real meaning of these concepts to them). Other factors like class organization, teacher’s relationship with students, the tradition and the academic tone of the school also affect teaching of mathematics either positively or negatively.
The teaching and learning process has this time become student or learner-centred. The process should be such that the child is the focus and that everything that goes on during a lesson should centre on the child. Modern methods of teaching and learning have created a conducive atmosphere in classroom situations where many opportunities have been placed at the disposal of the child to enhance his or her ability to understand the concepts.
The onerous task now lies on the teacher who should explore every...