n South African Journal of Higher Education - Student engagement in chemistry supplemental instruction : representations of learning spaces




The Faculty of Engineering at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) has a rich diversity of first year students who present themselves as under-prepared for tertiary study. This is because many students have not yet developed the abstract reasoning skills that allow them to learn new ideas simply by either reading a text or listening to a lecture. Supplemental instruction (SI) was thus introduced as an academic support programme for the first year students. The focus of this article is to theorise the engineering students' engagement within the SI learning space. This is done using the concepts of relate, create and reflect adapted from theories of engagement. The findings suggest that social learning spaces encourage explanations, conceptual understanding and reflective thinking. In theorising engineering students' engagement within the SI learning space, it is argued that the notion of engagement created representations of physical, cognitive and safe cultural spaces for learning chemistry.


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