Original Research

Discourse-based mathematics instruction on Grade 11 learners’ mathematical proficiency in algebra topics

Kakoma Luneta, Mekonnen Y. Legesse
Pythagoras | Vol 44, No 1 | a686 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/pythagoras.v44i1.686 | © 2023 Kakoma Luneta, Mekonnen Y. Legesse | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 March 2022 | Published: 07 July 2023

About the author(s)

Kakoma Luneta, Department of Childhood Education, Faculty of Education, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Mekonnen Y. Legesse, Department of Mathematics, College of Natural and Computational Sciences, Haramaya University, Ethiopia, Ethiopia


School algebra serves as the language of mathematics and a foundational subject for learning advanced mathematics courses. This makes developing learners’ proficiency in algebra the most desirable instructional goal of school mathematics. Despite having such importance emphasis, however, studies indicate that the vast majority of learners are characterised by inadequate mathematics proficiency levels in general and in the algebra syllabus topics in particular. Consequently, this quasi-experimental study attempted to investigate the efficacy of using discourse-based instruction as an instructional approach to developing proficiency in algebra unit topics. One hundred and six (N = 106) Grade 11 learners participated in the study and were randomly grouped into an experimental group (n = 52) and a control group (n = 54). Using a test instrument that consisted of 24 Rasch-validated items, both pre-test and post-test data were collected from both groups under similar conditions. The Mann-Whitney U statistical analysis of the pre-test data revealed no significant difference between the control and experimental groups. The Mann-Whitney U analysis performed on the post-test data demonstrated that the experimental group scored significantly higher in the post-test scores when compared to the control group after the intervention. The study findings provided evidence of the efficacy of discourse-based instruction over teacher-centred instruction for developing learners’ algebra proficiency.

Contribution: The study has contributed to the conceptual and practical understanding of how discourse-based instruction can be used to concretise learners’ proficiency in basic algebra.


Classroom discourse; discourse-based approach; mathematical proficiency; experimental study; teaching method.


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