Original Research

Students’ understanding of geometry terminology through the lens of Van Hiele theory

Jogymol Alex, Kuttickattu J. Mammen
Pythagoras | Vol 39, No 1 | a376 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/pythagoras.v39i1.376 | © 2018 Jogymol Kalariparampil Alex, John Kuttickattu Mammen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 May 2017 | Published: 18 October 2018

About the author(s)

Jogymol Alex, Faculty of Educational Sciences, Walter Sisulu University, South Africa
Kuttickattu J. Mammen, Faculty of Education, University of Fort Hare, South Africa

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After a long six-year lapse, the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement introduced in 2012 included geometry as part of the South African Grade 12 Mathematics Paper 2. The first cohort of matriculation students wrote Paper 2 in 2014. This article reports on the understanding of geometry terminology with which a group of 154 first-year mathematics education students entered a rural South African university in 2015; 126 volunteered to be part of the study. Responses to a 60-item multiple-choice questionnaire (30 verbally presented and 30 visually presented items) in geometry terminology provided the data for the study. A concept’s verbal description should be associated with its correct visual image. Van Hiele theory provided the lens for the study. An overall percentage mean score of 64% obtained in the test indicated that the majority of the students had a fairly good knowledge of basic geometry terminology. The students obtained a percentage mean score of 68% on visually presented items against that of 59% on verbally presented items implying a lower level thinking as per Van Hiele theory. The findings of this study imply a combination approach using visual and verbal representations to enhance conceptual understanding in geometry. This has to be complemented and supplemented through scaffolding to fill student teachers’ content gap.


Geometry; visual and verbal terminology


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