Teaching strategies have a significant influence on students’ academic performance. This paper presents results from a qualitative study that examined the effects that performance ranking in Mathematics has on teaching strategies employed in Mathematics classrooms. In particular, the paper demonstrates how performance ranking disguises and legalizes inappropriate Mathematics teaching strategies. The participants for the study were Mathematics teachers and students in secondary schools in Embu County in Kenya. Face-to-face semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions were employed in data collection. Results showed that due to competition by teachers to achieve a higher mean score, they engaged in examination malpractices such as leaking examination questions to students. Secondly, teachers’ desire for excellence in their subjects, and achieving top rank to receive prizes was found to be another reason behind teaching students to pass examinations rather than for conceptual understanding. Additionally, the study revealed that performance ranking promoted private tuition to offer assistance to the weak students in Mathematics to improve performance in the subject. This paper recommends that the practice of ranking should be tailored to include all the aspects.
Key words: Performance ranking, mathematics, teaching strategies, learning.
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