Can University Mathematics be Taught Differently? Possibilities and Challenges

  • Maureen Kanchebele-Sinyangwe
  • Harrison Daka
Keywords: Modes of teaching, Mathematics, perceptions


The aim of this study was to explore the perceptions of first year Mathematics undergraduate students of the modes of teaching that might be seen to support them in learning Mathematics. The study originates from an initial tracking of first year undergraduate students, taking Mathematics as part of the programme they enrolled in, over a period of three years before the start of this research study, whereby this first year Mathematics course was considered a ‘killer course’ and the most feared one. Explanatory sequential design was used where qualitative data was used to explain quantitative data. The target population for this study was 182 students taking Mathematics as one of their first year courses at Kwame Nkrumah University in Central Zambia. Data was collected via questionnaires, with open and closed questions, and semi-structured interviews. Student’s responses indicate that the way Mathematics is taught affected them in learning it. They identified modes of teaching that could support them in learning Mathematics and overcoming their fears. The paper concludes that the identified ways of teaching may need to be considered alongside the lecturer’s characteristics and perceptions of teaching Mathematics at University level as well as the student’s personal perceptions related to learning Mathematics at University level. From the findings, the study recommends that lecturers need to adjust the ways of teaching by allowing students to get more involved during lessons, speak words of encouragement to students so as to change their negative perception about the subject and lastly lecturers should use appropriate teaching aids to help students understanding.