An Error Analysis of TVET Students’ Responses to Optimisation Problems

Puleng Motseki, Kakoma Luneta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Among the problems identified at Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges, low achievement in mathematical subjects is the most prominent one. This paper documents a qualitative case study undertaken at TVET College in Gauteng with the purpose of exploring the National Certificate Vocational (NC(V)) Level 4 students’ errors and associated misconceptions when answering optimisation questions in differential calculus. The participants were 60 students who were registered for a course in mathematics. Data were generated from the written student responses to two non-routine test items followed by interviews. Using the Newman error hierarchical model to analyse the data, it was discovered that students errors were conceptual and procedural as well as systematic and non-systematic. The literature also alluded to instructional approaches as some of the causes of students’ misconceptions and the errors and that interventions should target students as well as the instructors.


  • Differential calculus
  • error analysis
  • mathematics modelling
  • Newman error hierarchy model
  • optimisation
  • rate of change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Mathematics
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Computer Science Applications


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