Mathe​matics Education Unit​

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Mathematics Education Unit, showcasing the importance of Science and Technology Education in the Faculty of Education.

About us

The Mathematics Education Unit at the University of Johannesburg is a vibrant and dynamic place to study. We are engaged and dynamic in advancing the quality of teaching and learning of mathematics in South Africa. We are at the cutting edge of teaching, research and community service that promotes freedom, democracy, equality and human dignity. Our environment is supportive and student-focused and our courses are challenging. We believe when all students have an equal chance to obtain quality mathematics education, learning drives economic growth, fuels innovation and creates jobs. We are committed, through effective collaborations, to:

  • the preparation of caring, accountable and critical-reflective mathematics educational practitioners who are able to support and nurture learning and development in diverse educational contexts
  • the systematic pursuit and advancement of dynamic education knowledge of local relevance and international standing
  • community engagement that anticipates and is responsive to the needs of communities as partners in learning

The Mathematics Education Unit at UJ shapes the future of secondary school Mathematics teachers and expand the knowledge economy via authentic teaching, learning and research. Jerome Bruner (2000) distinguishes learning about, which comprises most of the learning in educational institutions, from learning to be. The Unit has a deliberate emphasis on learning to be. This involves exposure to the day-to-day practices within the knowledge domain of Mathematics Education focusing on the principles, dispositions, attributes, competencies, activities, skills, procedures and values of knowledgeable, reflective and caring Mathematics educators. The Mathematics Education Unit is involved in community projects, such as Numeric, a non-profit company bringing Khan Academy to previously disadvantaged communities.

Programmes – The Mathematics Education Unit offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes fulfilling a key role in the Initial Teacher Education (pre-service) and the continuous professional development of in-service teachers.

In the professional undergraduate programmes on the Auckland Park campus, teachers qualify for posts in the senior (SP) and further education and training phase (FET) of schooling. In addition to the class work, the undergraduate programme is extended by a practicum component where students spend time in secondary schools.

The post-graduate programmes (PG Dip in Education with specialisation in FET Mathematics, BEd Hons in STEM Education with specialisation in Mathematics, and Masters and PhD in Mathematics Education) are characterised by studies that prepare students to conduct research whilst engaging with contentious issues and current trends and debates, practice and research approaches in Mathematics Education.

The Team

Teaching and supervision are currently offered in the following research niches by our unit members:

Prof. Erica D Spangenberg

Research niche: Mathematics Education in blended learning environments to foster 21st-century competencies with a three-way focus: (1) teaching and learning approaches in mathematics; (2) affective characteristics to shape behaviour in the 21st century; and (3) the use of technology.

Research interests:

  • Mathematics (Senior Phase and Further Education and Training Phase)
  • Social-psychological imperatives in the teaching and learning of mathematics, including affective constructs, growth mindsets, and values in mathematics.
  • Ethno-Mathematics
  • Pedagogical content knowledge in mathematics
  • Problem-solving-based learning, including mathematical modelling.
  • Visualisation
  • ICT in the teaching and learning of mathematics.

Dr. Viren Ramdhany

Research niche: I am interested in the preparation of pre-service mathematics teachers, and the professional development of in-service mathematics teachers to develop learners’ 21st-century skills. Central to this is my strong belief that mathematics teacher knowledge and practice are the most important factors to focus on.

Research interests:

There are many ways of looking at the issues of teacher knowledge and practice, but I am interested in reframing teacher knowledge – taking the traditional views and looking to change perspectives.

  • Do teachers have the knowledge to engage learners in mathematically rich lessons?
  • Are learners given the opportunity to participate equitably in mathematical practices, and to develop 21st-century skills?
  • Do mathematics teachers have the knowledge to develop learners’ mathematical identities?
  • Are teachers’ assessment practices aligned with progressive pedagogies?

Some of these issues align with my other research interest, the sociology of mathematics education, which looks at teacher practice and whether mathematics teachers provide epistemic access to all learners equally and equitably, regardless of their socioeconomic status. In other words, are all learners afforded equal opportunities to gain access to high-quality mathematics education and knowledge?

Dr. Sfiso Mahlaba:

Research niche: Mathematical problem-solving, specifically with a focus on multiple solutions tasks and computational thinking. I focus on investigating the different ways in which we can enhance problem-solving in mathematics education within learners, preservice teachers, and in-service teachers. I am also interested in how enhancing and guiding learners, preservice teachers, and in-service teachers to be self-directed learners can enhance their problem-solving competencies.

Research focus and interests:

  • Multiple solution tasks to enhance mathematical problem-solving.
  • Computational thinking to enhance mathematical problem-solving and digital skills.
  • Self-directed learning as a method for enhancing mathematical problem-solving.

The role of Information Communications and Technology (ICT) in enhancing mathematical problem-solving.

Prof. Mdu Ndlovu

Prof Ndlovu is currently the Vice Dean, Research and Post-graduate Studies but remains an integral member of the Mathematics Education Unit. Interests include technology integration into the teaching and learning of mathematics, blended learning, problem-based learning, teacher professional learning, bridging the gap between school and university, university-school partnerships for social justice.