The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Teacher Professional Development for the Teaching of Mathematics: MERLO Items Design in the South African Schools

Marien Alet Graham, University of Pretoria (South Africa)

Lydia Omowunmi Adesanya, University of Pretoria (South Africa)


Meaning equivalence reusable learning objects (MERLO) artefacts are a new type of didactical tool that can be framed by teachers and utilised in the classroom to engage students in rigorous mathematical reasoning, discovery, and discussion. Before MERLO can be successfully implemented in classrooms, teachers must get training on it. MERLO has evolved and has been validated, tested and implemented across different countries (Australia, Canada, Israel, Italy, Russia and the Netherlands) and across various content areas and disciplines, but not yet in African countries until this study. South African mathematical teachers were introduced to the pedagogical tool, MERLO, as an assessment strategy to promote and support teachers’ professional growth in using assessment practices in the classroom. The Meta-Didactical Transposition (MDT), a theoretical model for teacher education programmes (Arzarello et al., 2014), was used, and the study investigated how teachers engaged in professional development using the MDT framework, which gives an interpretative model of teachers’ praxeologies. The study adopted qualitative participatory action research as it seeks to bring together action and reflection, theory and practice, and collaboration with others on practical solutions to issues of concern to individuals and their communities. Reporting on the professional development of the teachers is only a part of a larger study; another part of this study has been reported on by Adesanya and Graham (2022), which involved gaining insight into South African teachers’ beliefs and practice of effectively communicating learning intentions and success criteria to their learners. This current study contributes to the body of knowledge as it introduced South African teachers to a new assessment strategy to promote and support teachers’ professional growth in using assessment practices in the classroom. Due to the fact that COVID-19 prompted several teachers to withdraw from the study, leaving only 12 teachers in the end, future research should involve more teachers in similar studies. The study further advised that teachers in various nations should be supported in an intensive professional training programme on the MERLO approach. Future studies will include creating an online professional development course in MERLO to reach more South African teachers.


[1] Adesanya, L. O., & Graham, M. A. “Effective communication of learning intentions and success criteria in the mathematics classroom: MERLO pedagogy for senior phase South African schools”, Pythagoras, 2022, 43(1), Article a666, 1-13.

[2] Arzarello, F., Robutti, O., Sabena, C., Cusi, A., Garuti, R., Malara, N., & Martignone, F. “Meta-didactical transposition: A theoretical model for teacher education programmes”, In A. Clark-Wilson, O. Robutti, & N. Sinclair (Eds.), The mathematics teacher in the digital era: Mathematics education in the digital era (pp. 347–372). Springer, 2014.

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