HomeAsia Pacific Journal of Multidisciplinary Researchvol. 1 no. 1 (2013)

In-service Mathematics and Chemistry Teachers’ Preparedness for Mathematics and Chemistry Courses at the University of Botswana: Issues and Challenges

Lesego Tawana | Alakanani A. Nkhwalume



This research study’s aim was to track the paths of chemistry and mathematics in-service students studying for a degree at the University of Botswana who seemed to struggle with degree level concepts in their respective programmes despite holding diplomas in their fields. The authors are lecturers of both methodology and content courses in science and mathematics who became concerned about the seeminglyunderpreparedness of most in-service students for degree courses over the years. The study can be located within a social structuralist theoretical perspective where learning is viewed as a social entity, social structure referring to the ways people are interrelated or interdependent within their cultural mores as is the norm in an academic setting.

The research team identified four categories of operational challenges that the students are most likely to face as university leaners, namely academic, social and emotional, economic and environmental challenges and these formed the basis on which the data collection process ensued. The qualitative methods paradigm was found to appropriate and the study was conducted within the framework of an action research approach. A qualitative research was relevant to the study because it had the capacity to enable the researchers to identify the cognitive views held by in-service students and the meanings they made of their experiences concerning their studies or the program (Hancock, 2004). The research sought to identify where the identified challenges emanated from with a view to make those involved in the academic paths of these learners to take heed of their problems.

The study found that in-service learners are faced with all sorts of problems including lack of accommodation on campus, uncooperative lecturers, the university system which lumps them together with pre-service students making them academic prisoners, large class sizes which render learning a near impossibility for some, and the fast learning pace which does not give some a chance to challenge issues of concern.