The primary purpose of the study was to utilize postcolonial theorizing (Bhabha, 1990; Kanu, 2002) to examine the use of games in mathematics teaching among primary school teachers in Ghana. The secondary purpose was to determine the use of traditional African games in mathematics teaching in Ghanaian primary schools. Participants included a purposive sample of 156 (53 males and 103 females) primary school (K-6) teachers from 30 schools (11 rural and 19 urban) in one district of the Upper West Region of Ghana.
A questionnaire, consisting of close-ended and open-ended items, (Schensul, Schensul & LeCompte, 1999) served as the primary source of data. In addition to demographic information, the questionnaire sought information on participants' experiences with games in mathematics classes as children; teachers' use or non-use of games in teaching mathematics; types of games used; and teachers' awareness of the relationships between games and mathematics.
The close-ended items were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics, while the open-ended items were content analyzed. Results indicated that 47.44% of the teachers used games in mathematics teaching. Approximately 31.41% of the teachers used Western-oriented games, while 22.44% incorporated traditional African games into their mathematics lessons. A chi-square (Χ2) test of independence showed a statistical significance (Χ2 =37.62; p < .05) between experiencing games as a child in mathematics classrooms and using games in mathematics teaching as a teacher. However, school setting (rural or urban) was independent (Χ2 = .13; p >.05) of a teacher's use of games in mathematics teaching. Similarly, school setting was independent (Χ2 = .22; p >.05) of the type of game (Western-oriented or African) used. Content analysis indicated that the most commonly used traditional African games involved jumping, hopping, and rhythmic activities. Finally, data showed that teachers used indigenous African games in the following mathematics content areas: number and number operations, measurement, shapes and space, problem solving and investigations, and collecting and handling data.
In spite of the inclusion of games in the Ghanaian mathematics curriculum (MOE, 1997); coupled with most of the teachers experiencing games as mathematics students, few of them used games as teachers, especially traditional African games. Thus, the teachers were not responsive to the inclusion of games, especially traditional African games in their mathematics curricula. Teachers need to be encouraged to utilize learners' culture as a vehicle for learning to make education culturally relevant and meaningful to students (Dei, 2004; Kanu, 2002; Ladson-Billings (1995).
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