SA Journal of Education, Vol 44, No 2 (2024)

Instructional time as social time: Teachers’ curriculum literacy and expertise in teaching mathematics

Mzamani Jully Mdaka, Maropeng Modiba


The study reported on here was conducted to explore four Grade 7 mathematics teachers’ understanding of the relationship between the objectives indicated in the CAPS for teaching different topics/concepts and instructional time stipulated for doing so. Seven lessons were studied in 4 primary schools in the Vhembe district of the Limpopo province, South Africa. A constructivist philosophical approach was used. The data collection methods included interviews and classroom observations. The main finding indicates teachers’ understanding of instructional time as either a regulatory or a teaching tool. The ability to translate instructional time into social time depends on the level of teachers’ curriculum literacy. Consideration of how CAPS objectives could be fulfilled based on the topic/concept to be taught and the stipulated instructional time, influenced the learners’ conceptual understanding, procedural fluency, and competency in mathematics. The conclusion underscores the importance of instructional time as both an essential authoritative regulatory tool and signal of a pedagogic device and communication required to advance the instructional objectives.

ORCiD iDs of authors:
Mzamani Jully Mdaka –
Maropeng Modiba -

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