Perceived Effectiveness of Online Learning for Mathematics Pre-Service Teachers in a Rural University During the Covid-19 Pandemic
In this article, we delve into the engagements of second-year mathematics pre-service teachers at a rural university who had to adapt to online learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through purposeful sampling and a questionnaire, we gathered quantitative data on how students coped with online learning engagements during that challenging time. Unfortunately, educational institutions in socio-economically challenged communities that lack resources contribute to education disparities. The pandemic has had an even greater impact on vulnerable populations residing in rural areas due to their limited access to online learning. The Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework was adopted as a lens to guide this study. UDL emphasises inclusivity in diverse rural demographics in South Africa through multiple means of engagement, action, and expression. To mitigate the learning disruptions, several online platforms such as radio, television, social media, Blackboard, Moodle, Zoom, and Skype were used. However, rural universities faced challenges when transitioning to online mathematics learning. The null hypotheses were rejected, suggesting that there is an effect of online learning engagements on mathematics pre-service teachers’ overall level of challenges and expectations of the second-year mathematics education module during the pandemic in a rural university. Findings range from less access to data and poor network reception in most areas, lack of engagement among students, and untimely as well as inadequate feedback with less support from lecturers. We recommend that policymakers should prioritise providing equal access to online education to empower underprivileged students, especially female students, and marginalised communities. As lecturers continue to adapt and fine-tune their approach, the future offers promising opportunities for an effective and efficient online mathematics teaching experience to enhance better online learning engagements. Furthermore, we advocate for policies that foster inclusivity, enhance learning outcomes, and empower teachers in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) era.
Copyright (c) 2024 Kereng Gilbert Pule, Mbazima Amos Ngoveni
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