Original Research

Ascertaining Grade 10 learners’ levels of mathematical modelling competency through solving simultaneous equations word problems

Rajendran Govender, Dzivaidzo Machingura
Pythagoras | Vol 44, No 1 | a728 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/pythagoras.v44i1.728 | © 2023 Rajendran Govender, Dzivaidzo Machingura | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 October 2022 | Published: 08 December 2023

About the author(s)

Rajendran Govender, Faculty of Education, School of Science and Mathematics Education, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa
Dzivaidzo Machingura, Faculty of Education, School of Science and Mathematics Education, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa


Possessing mathematical competence is a pre requisite for independently comprehending, understanding and applying all features of mathematical modelling in a particular setting. This research study thus explores the mathematical modelling competencies that Grade 10 learners exhibit while solving contextual problems in a mathematics learning and teaching context, with specific reference to using mathematical modelling. Since mathematical modelling is a fairly new teaching strategy used in mathematics teaching some teachers may be ignorant of the skills and competencies required for learners to solve problems efficiently. A mixed-methods approach to this study was decided upon and a case study design used within an interpretative paradigm in an effort to ascertain the levels of mathematical modelling competencies of a non-random sample of 20 Grade 10 learners. Participant learners who attended a Western Cape school were requested to solve a set of word problems involving the use of simultaneous equations. Task based activities and observations were used as a means to collect data, as well as semi-structured interviews to gauge participating learners’ views and experiences. Qualitative content analysis methods were employed together with basic descriptive statistical methods.

Contribution: Research findings reveal the limited competence and abilities of the participating Grade 10 learners to make sense of, understand or constructively progress in solving contextual problems, and the challenges they experience to progress through particular stages of the modelling process, such as building and solving models and interpreting the solutions thereof.


mathematical modelling; problem-solving; quadratic equations; Grade 10 learners; word problems

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