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Factors associated with high school learners' poor performance: a spotlight on mathematics and physical science

Andile Mji
Moses Makgato


This study, using a non-experimental, exploratory and descriptive method, established learners' and educators' views about factors that contribute to poor performance in mathematics and physical science. Participants were purposefully selected from seven schools with poor pass rates in District 3 of Tshwane North. Focused group interviews with ten Grade 11 learners from each school were used as a means to collect data. In addition, one-on-one semistructured interviews were conducted with ten educators from the participating schools. Results indicated that two factors were identifiable. The first identified to have a direct influence related to teaching strategies, content knowledge, motivation, laboratory use, and non-completion of the syllabus in a year. The second factor, associated with indirect influences, was attributed to the role played by parents in their children's education, and general language usage together with its understanding in the two subjects. Recommendations as well as suggestions for further research aimed at addressing the identified factors are advanced.

South African Journal of Education Vol. 26(2) 2006: 253–266

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2076-3433
print ISSN: 0256-0100