Original Research

Novice mentors versus mentees: Mentoring experiences in mathematics at General Education and Training phase

Ernest Mahofa, Stanley A. Adendorff
Pythagoras | Vol 43, No 1 | a641 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/pythagoras.v43i1.641 | © 2022 Ernest Mahofa, Stanley A. Adendorff | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 July 2021 | Published: 19 August 2022

About the author(s)

Ernest Mahofa, Research Department, Faculty of Education, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town, South Africa
Stanley A. Adendorff, Department of Mathematics (GET), Faculty of Education, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town, South Africa


In the South African educational system, student teachers are deployed to schools for practical experience, where they are monitored by lecturers from their universities. Student teachers are also mentored by teachers allocated to them by the school principal. Some of these mentoring teachers are themselves newly qualified and may have little or no teaching experience. This study analysed the relationship between these various role players during the teaching of mathematics in General Education and Training (GET) phase, at secondary schools in the Western Cape. The theoretical framework for the study was provided by Lave and Wenger’s Communities of Practice. An ethnographic qualitative research design was used for collecting data from classroom observations and semi-structured interviews. The selected participants comprised four novice mathematics teachers, four mathematics student teachers in the GET phase, two lecturers and one school principal. The purposive selection method was used to select these participants. The findings revealed that novice mentor teachers were challenged by facing (1) no or little communication and collaboration between themselves and lecturers, (2) limited cooperation between mentor and mentee in the teaching of mathematics in GET phase, (3) limited mathematics content knowledge by student teachers and (4) limited mentoring skills of novice mentors. It is recommended that universities create a sound educational partnership with mentor teachers. Universities should also consider the voices of novice mentor teachers in their mentoring of student teachers.


Communities of Practice; ethnography; General Education and Training; mentee; mentoring; novice mentor; student teacher; teaching practice


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