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Title:Exploring the gender gap in Tanzanian secondary school mathematics classrooms
Author(s):Zilimu, Johndamaseni
Director of Research:Crockett, Michele D.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Lubienski, Sarah T.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Crockett, Michele D.; Greene, Jennifer C.; Westbury, Ian
Department / Program:Curriculum and Instruction
Discipline:Secondary & Continuing Educ
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Formative assessment
problem solving
classroom discussions
gender achievement gap
mathematics achievement
secondary school mathematics learning
Tanzanian secondary school classrooms
Abstract:This dissertation is a multiple case study, which follows from my early research study in which I established that there is a mathematics gender gap in Tanzanian secondary schools favoring males (Zilimu, 2009). The purpose of this case study was to explore the teachers’ perceptions of their teaching practices in classroom contexts and how their perceptions might perpetuate gender gaps. Although many factors inside and outside of school influence students’ level of achievement, the quality of teaching is important for improving students’ learning (Hammouri, 2004). Because formative assessment (FA) practices and problem solving approach (PSA) have been shown to improve the performance of lower achievers, the integration of FA and PSA framework guided the data collection methods in this dissertation study. I sought to answer the following two research questions. First, how do Tanzanian secondary school mathematics teachers’ understandings of their own teaching reflect a problem solving approach (PSA) and formative assessment (FA) in the context of their instructional practices? Second, how might their teaching practices, the perceptions of their teaching practices, and their classroom contexts perpetuate gender gaps in mathematics achievement? Three mathematics teachers, each from a different secondary school in the northwestern region of Tanzania participated in this study. In accordance with the characteristics of qualitative research, the evidence for this case study came from multiple data sources a strategy that also enhances data credibility (Merriam, 1997; Patton, 2002; Stake, 1995; Yin, 2009). The data sources for this case study were semi-structured interviews and classroom observations. Interviews with the teachers revealed that the government, school administrators and the teachers were aware of the existence of gender gap in mathematics and there were efforts to help all students learn mathematics. The results of this dissertation study suggest that more efforts are needed to improve learning environments, such as reducing the number of students per class and improving instructional practices. Recommendations for further studies include students’ (especially girls’) understanding of gender gaps. Further research is recommended on whether the students acknowledge the existence of gender achievement gaps in mathematics.
Issue Date:2014-09-16
Rights Information:Copyright 2014 Johndamaseni Zilimu
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-09-16
Date Deposited:2014-08

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