South African Journal of Education - Volume 31, Issue 1, 2011
Volume 31, Issue 1, 2011
How an analysis of reviewers' reports can enhance the quality of submissions to a journal of educationSource: South African Journal of Education 31, pp 1 –14 (2011)More Less
Not only has the number of scholarly journals worldwide increased substantially in recent years but also the number of articles published in them. However, closer examination reveals that the percentage of articles actually published has remained in the region of 25%. This implies that much of researchers' time and energy has been wasted because of failure to have their research findings published. This has been occurring despite the availability of a surfeit of publications on the theme of 'How to write and publish a scientific article'. Analysis of the process of article writing and publishing reveals that it consists of four phases: writing and submitting an article, processes followed by the editor, actual review process by the reviewers, and how authors deal with the feedback. A literature survey shows that the last phase has not been discussed in the same detail as the other three. The authors contend that if prospective authors gave greater attention to this phase and learned from the findings outlined in this article, it would lead to an improvement in the quality of future submissions to a journal, of education in this particular case.
Source: South African Journal of Education 31, pp 15 –30 (2011)More Less
We document the efforts of the faculty of education of a large research-oriented university in supporting doctoral learning. The development of a space for doctoral learning is in line with the need to develop a community of researchers in South Africa. We describe the historical origins of this cohort model of doctoral supervision and support, draw on literature around doctoral learning, and analyse a cohort of doctoral students' evaluation of the seminars over three years. The findings indicate that the model has great value in developing scholarship and reflective practice in candidates, in providing support and supervision, and in sustaining students towards the completion of their doctorates.
Source: South African Journal of Education 31, pp 31 –43 (2011)More Less
There is increasing recognition that effective leadership and management are vital if schools are to be successful in providing good learning opportunities for students, and emerging evidence that high quality leadership makes a significant difference to school improvement and learning outcomes. However, in many countries, including South Africa, a teaching qualification and teaching experience are the only requirements for school principals. In the 21st century, there is a growing realisation that headship is a specialist occupation that requires specific preparation. In 2007, the former South African Department of Education introduced a new threshold qualification for aspiring school principals as part of its wider strategy to improve educational standards. The course, badged as an Advanced Certificate in Education: School Leadership (ACE), was piloted in six provinces from 2007-2009. This paper reports the main findings from the evaluation of the pilot ACE programme and links them to the South African and international literature on leadership development.
Author Geoffrey LautenbachSource: South African Journal of Education 31, pp 44 –54 (2011)More Less
I report on postgraduate students conducting survey research on information and communications technology (ICTs) in South African schools, focusing on the notion of e-maturity. The dual emphasis of the paper is on students' collaborative experience of the authentic research process including their experience of e-maturity within the target schools and leads to a discussion in two parts around notions of novice student research and e-maturity. Fifty students, most of them practising teachers, participated collaboratively in the design and implementation of the survey. Discussion in this paper is based on the qualitative analysis of 50 research reports submitted on completion of the survey field work. I analysed the reports inductively for their content using simple in vivo coding techniques and structured quotations into flowing narratives to illuminate both issues. Findings show that the participatory and collaborative nature of the research process contributed markedly to the composition quality of student research reports. Student understanding of the research process through meaningful engagement in authentic field work has also greatly improved their insights into ICTs in education and the current e-maturity of participating schools.
Source: South African Journal of Education 31, pp 55 –73 (2011)More Less
There is an inextricable link between democracy, education and the law. After 15 years of constitutional democracy, the alarming percentage of dysfunctional schools raises questions about the efficacy of the system of local school governance. We report on the findings of quantitative and qualitative research on the democratisation of schools and the education system in North-West Province. Several undemocratic features are attributable to systemic weaknesses of traditional models of democracy as well as the misapplication of democratic and legal principles. The findings of the qualitative study confirmed that parents often misconceive participatory democracy for political democracy and misunderstand the role of the school governing body to be a political forum. Despite the shortcomings, the majority of the respondents agreed that parental participation improves school effectiveness and that the decentralised model of local school governance should continue. Recommendations to effect the inculcation of substantive democratic knowledge, values and attitudes into school governance are based on theory of deliberative democracy and principles of responsiveness, accountability and justification of decisions through rational discourse.
A comparative perspective on teacher attitude-constructs that impact on inclusive education in South Africa and SwedenSource: South African Journal of Education 31, pp 74 –90 (2011)More Less
This article is based on joint research, between academics from South Africa and Sweden, comparing the influence of South African and Swedish teachers' attitudes towards the practical application of inclusive education (IE) in the classroom. The aim of the study was to identify and investigate problem areas pertaining to teachers' attitudes to IE. Attitudes often relate to interaction with others. This study departs from Festiger's theory of cognitive dissonance, which deals with the influence of people's attitudes and attitude change. In this research teachers from South Africa and Sweden completed the same questionnaire on perceptions pertaining to IE in their school system. A number of attitude-constructs were derived from the data via exploratory factor analysis methodology. Attitude-constructs included policy issues and specialised support; practical implementation of IE; teacher support structures; teachers' receptiveness of IE implementation; feasibility of proposed IE practices; and role of special schools in an IE environment. Negative responses to some of the attitude constructs identified problem areas in Swedish and South African inclusive systems. The comparative nature of the work enabled the researchers to suggest remedial action within each country's socio-economic setting, and in this way affect change in teacher attitudes.
Author Umesh RamnarainSource: South African Journal of Education 31, pp 91 –101 (2011)More Less
I examine how teachers employ a questioning strategy in supporting Grade 9 learners doing science investigations in South African schools. A particular focus of this study was how teachers use questioning in contributing towards the autonomy of these learners. The research adopted a qualitative approach which involved the collection of data by means of classroom observations and interviews with five teachers at schools resourced for practical work. The analysis of transcript data revealed that teachers support learners by asking probing questions at all stages of the investigation. The teachers used a questioning strategy in enabling the learners to understand more clearly the question or hypothesis they intended investigating, to review and reconsider their planning, to rethink some of their actions when collecting data, to make sense of their data, and to revisit and amend their plan after generating incorrect findings. The significance of this study, in making explicit teacher questioning at the stages of the investigation, is that it provides a guideline for teachers on how to support learners attain greater autonomy in doing science investigations.
Author Johanna G. FerreiraSource: South African Journal of Education 31, pp 102 –113 (2011)More Less
South Africa has eleven official languages and legally learners receive tuition in their mother tongue until the end of Grade 3. From then on teachers are required to teach through the medium of English or Afrikaans. The implication is that the majority of learners in the senior secondary school phase study Life Sciences in their second language, which is English. This has a major effect on the performance of learners in Life Sciences. A review was done of possible strategies teachers could use to assist English second language learners. Focus group interviews were held with Life Science teachers in an attempt to determine what the impact of teaching Life Sciences to English second language learners is and what teachers can do to assist English second language learners master concepts and terminology. The findings and recommendations of this research are reported here.
Source: South African Journal of Education 31, pp 114 –126 (2011)More Less
Many learners living in townships require protection and resilience to overcome obstacles and adversities in their context of development. The literature on resilience indicates strongly that resilience is embedded systemically. In the absence of constructive and supportive conditions in the home environment, the school would logically appear to be the next resource in line to be tapped. We investigated the contribution of two South African township schools to the resilience of their middle-adolescent learners. Case studies with focus groups of resilient and less-resilient Grade 9 learners were used, following the Interactive Qualitative Analysis method, to determine the participants' perceptions of how the school contributes to the degree and nature of their resilience. The influence of the school varied depending on the degree of the learners' resilience, but also depending on factors within the school itself, suggesting that schools play a distinctive and determining role. Contributions particularly highlighted included creation, or failure to create, a supportive teaching and learning environment with effective implementation of rules and educational policy to provide care and safety for its learners and develop them to reach their future goals. Resilient learners were more ready than less resilient learners to acknowledge and utilise these characteristics. All focus groups placed much emphasis on goal attainment, suggesting a strong relationship with resilience.
Relationships between the school-level and classroom-level environment in secondary schools in South AfricaSource: South African Journal of Education 31, pp 127 –144 (2011)More Less
We report research into associations between the school-level and classroom-level environment in science classrooms in South Africa. An instrument, developed to assess students' perceptions of their classroom learning environment as a means of monitoring and guiding changes towards outcomes-based education, was administered to 2,638 Grade 8 science students from 50 classes in 50 secondary schools in Limpopo province. In addition, the teachers of each of the 50 classes responded to a questionnaire developed to assess factors in the school-level environment (such as the adequacy of resources, parental involvement and collegiality). The data collected using the two questionnaires were analysed to examine whether the environment created at the school level was linked to the likelihood of teachers successfully implementing outcomes-based education at the classroom level.
Developing a cognitive theory from student teachers' post-lesson reflective dialogues on secondary school mathematicsSource: South African Journal of Education 31, pp 145 –159 (2011)More Less
This article describes phases of post-lesson reflective dialogues that were enacted by secondary school mathematics student teachers with their peers. Five pairs of student teachers on 12 weeks of teaching practice provided data through lesson assessments, post-lesson reflective dialogues, and end-of-teaching-practice reflective interviews. A cognitive theory of collaborative reflection with a peer that encapsulates phase characteristics of a post-lesson reflective dialogue is proposed. Dialogue at each of the phases of the theory may not easily change student teachers' conceptions of teaching, but could provide a platform and structure for reviewing, modifying, or even maintaining teaching cognitions. While the older and more familiar 'apprenticeship' models are based on an expert teacher coaching a novice student teacher instructional skills, this fresh 'social' model is based on novice student teachers and their peers coaching each other teaching skills. An important implication of this observation is that current discourse on strategies for improving the quality of student teaching may move towards a consideration for a fresh school attachment model.