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UJ boosts learning in maths and science to prepare students for teaching in the primary school

The University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) Centre for Education Practice Research and the Department of Childhood Education will on Monday, 31 October host a Public Lecture and a Mini Conference at Resolution Circle Tower, Milpark, Johannesburg.

The one-day conference will report on the research of over four years, which led to the standardisation and South African norming of an interview-based test for school beginners, assessing their numeracy competence.

According to Professor of Educational Linguistics and Director of the Centre for Education Practice Research (CEPR) in the Flagship Programme Area of Childhood Education, Elizabeth Henning, “The test is a diagnostic tool that captures children’s number concept development between the ages of 4 – 8 years. It will be used by teachers, counsellors and psychologists to describe a child’s numeracy competence.

“The test can pinpoint, with psychometric precision, at what level a child’s numeracy has developed. This can be helpful for teacher who are concerned about a child who is not progressing,” explained Prof Henning.

The conference topics will cover an overview of the research: 2011 – 2016. The main focus is on the research that led to a mathematics test to assess conceptual knowledge of number in the early grades: Topics of the test will be” Theoretical basis, evaluation and interpretation of test results; Cognitive testing in South African schools; MeerkatMaths – a teacher development programme for adaptive pedagogy in early grades mathematics; Translation for validation of items: From German to English, isiZulu, Sesotho and Afrikaans, and filming of test procedures for future training.

It is expected that the conference will enable the Institution and stakeholders to share experiences, lessons learnt and to stimulate robust engagement with the sector’s policy in South Africa’s primary education and also in evaluation studies, where SA standardised instruments to assess children’s learning and reading of maths and science texts are scarce.

The evening lecture at 18:00 will also inaugurate the South Africa Research Chair (NRF-DST). The title of the lecture is Reading science and maths in the primary school. The chair holder is Prof Elizabeth Henning.

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