Journal of Educational Studies - Special issue 1, January 2015
Special issue 1, January 2015
Going back in order to go forward - recovery of mathematical foundations for intermediate phase improvementAuthor Mellony GravenSource: Journal of Educational Studies 2015, pp 1 –15 (2015)More Less
Local, regional and international research consistently points to a crisis in primary mathematics learning whereby grade 4 learners are already almost two grades behind grade level expectations. Research across local contexts points to a failure of progress for the majority of learners beyond concrete one-to-one counting methods, even well into the intermediate phase. Yet systemic teacher support largely ignores this learning gap and the fact that since mathematics is a highly hierarchical subject learner progress is constrained if earlier grade concepts are not established. This paper shares the empirical findings of a 5 year research and development project that focused on supporting grade 3 and 4 numeracy and mathematics teachers in developing foundational knowledge of learners (not achieved in earlier grades), through focusing active participation, connection of concepts and sense making, in order to support learner progress. The paper points to both successes and challenges of improving numeracy performance of learners across a wide range of schools.
Author Mutendwahothe Walter LumadiSource: Journal of Educational Studies 2015, pp 16 –31 (2015)More Less
The notion of school underperformance is relative and contestable. For many schools, it is a label that is applied and removed as curriculum policies change and the concomitant political imperatives alter. This article is a brainchild of the Community Engagement Project undertaken with six high schools in Limpopo province which had been labelled as chronically underachieving. These rural schools were in extremely pathetic circumstances, as the percentage of learners achieving success in gateway subjects was zero. The project, commissioned by Unisa's Department of Curriculum and Instructional Studies, aimed to develop a strategy that would turn around learner performance. With the assistance from the Vhembe district, the best teachers in mathematics from a number of dinaledi (star) schools where seconded to the six failing schools to assist temporarily with the intervention and enrichment programmes for three years. After the first year, results in all schools started to creep up, and by the time the project finished, all schools were well in line with South Africa's NSCE norms. The project was held up as a great success and the schools rightfully celebrated. Yet this success story was short-lived and improvement was fragile. This study employed a qualitative approach to attempt to assess what actually transpired before and after the intervention programme. As the number of variables bearing on the situation in the schools is very large, three variables (technical jargon, lack of clear target and professional development of teachers) were chosen as the primary focus of attention in the study.
Endowing self directed learning in learning environments : interrelated connection between students' environments and self directed preparednessAuthor Charlene Du Toit-BritsSource: Journal of Educational Studies 2015, pp 32 –52 (2015)More Less
There has been a major focus on redesigning curricula and with this in mind, self-directed learning (SDL) also has also become a more imperative feature within the curriculum, and more emphasis is placed on the effective implementation of SDL within teaching and learning communities (classrooms). The aim of this theoretical article is to present a framework that is intended to create an awareness of the impact of the environment of students on SDL. This proposed framework has the potential to empower students when applying SDL in their learning and to act as guide or source for educators who want to development the SDL skills of students. The questions that provide the focus for this paper are: why do students struggle to deal with SDL and or to be prepared for employing SDL in their studies, and secondly: Which factors (domains) of a student's existence influences his/her preparedness to be an effective self-directed student and if educators ought to accommodate students differences for the effective development of SDL skills? The author will present a collection of her ideas about how SDL can be conceptualised in an educational environment to cultivate and empower students as self-directed students. In South Africa, we are looking for instructive methods that could support students. If SDL is effectively employed by educators, and students'backgrounds/environments are kept in mind, SDL can be seen as the opening of the doors of learning and should not to become a trap in an ever-revolving gate of disappointment and despair. The potentials of the acceptance of this proposed framework includes (a) effective self-directed learning in underprepared SDL student; (b) increase these students, as well as other students in the same learning classroom, self-regulatory and self-directed learning skills, where students can take accountability for their own learning; and (c) an increase in these students' academic, emotional and/or cultural preparedness which can improve the ability and or preparedness to be a self-directed practitioner for life.
An exploration of the challenges facing underperforming schools in the Vhembe district, Limpopo province, South AfricaAuthor Sethusha Mantsose JaneSource: Journal of Educational Studies 2015, pp 53 –71 (2015)More Less
This paper explores challenges facing underperforming schools in the Vhembe District of Education in Limpopo Province, South Africa and how these challenges influence effective teaching and learning. The study employed a qualitative approach and semi-structured interviews and observations were used as data collection methods. A review of literature shows that school underperformance is complex and multi-faceted and that teachers often function under poor and unhealthy working conditions. My study draws on the Opportunity to Learn (OTL) theory as described by Kilpatrick, Swafford and Findell (2001). This theory suggests that OTL is a predictor of learner achievement and that learners in underperforming schools are not given sufficient opportunities to attain the minimum objectives of the curriculum. Four secondary schools in Vhembe District of Education in Limpopo were sampled and specifically Grade 12 Mathematics and Science teachers participated in the study. These were schools that had already been identified by the Vhembe District Department of Education as requiring intervention based on their underperformance status. Textual data was analyzed using content analysis. The major challenges that emanated from the findings of this research were support, parental involvement, language barriers and lack of resources. These challenges contribute towards ineffective teaching and learning which leads to underperformance in schools. The findings therefore have implications for overall results for Grade 12 at the sampled schools.
Author Muchativugwa HoveSource: Journal of Educational Studies 2015, pp 72 –89 (2015)More Less
This paper takes on a polemic stance towards the urgency of re-calibrating the English Language curriculum in South Africa. It identifies a systemic avoidance by curriculum designers to consult published research in the social sciences and in education which does not support the curriculum changes that have been made from the National Curriculum Statements in 1996, the Revised National Curriculum Statements in 2007 and the current Curriculum and Assessment Policy in 2012. The article analyses and critiques the English Language curriculum specifications across the years and identifies critical gaps that have generated both epistemic hazards and general inequalities. Inequality is a word that makes populist and conservative politicians feel uncomfortable because addressing and arresting inequality invokes the spectre of equality, which has redistributive connotations offensive to free market ideologies. Equality implies reworking the epistemic deficiencies of the curriculum, with an urgent call to create enduring opportunities for successful matriculants. This article connects learner under-achievement to curriculum content deficits and how such inadequate content is unsatisfactorily taught and assessed. Both content and pedagogical approaches need re-calibration in order to break the walls of underachievement, especially in multiply deprived rural and township schools.
A South African educational crisis? Promoting quality education through the elimination of out-of-field teachingAuthor Elsabe CoetzeeSource: Journal of Educational Studies 2015, pp 90 –108 (2015)More Less
After having encountered the phenomenon of teaching out-of-field in South Africa (teaching a subject that teachers are under-qualified for or even unqualified), the authors felt compelled to research the manifestation thereof in two adjacent provinces in South Africa namely KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga. Quality teaching is directly affected by this phenomenon but it appears as if the influence of this phenomenon has so far been overlooked. The two areas that were selected in these two provinces are in close proximity but because they are controlled by two different provincial administrations, the study made use of triangulation to render credibility to the results. The researchers followed a qualitative research approach with open-ended interviews, observation and document analysis as data collection instruments. The social learning theory, as well as the social development theory formed the theoretical framework for this research. The research sample was selected from 10 different schools in northern KwaZulu-Natal and eastern Mpumalanga. Fourty participants, including teachers, head of departments (HODs), and principals, participated in the research. The actual extent of the out-of-field placing of teachers exceeded the expectations of the authors. Given the fact that there is a quantifiable shortage of competent and qualified teachers, the miss-placement of teachers would appear to be extremely counterproductive.The research culminated in an important recommendation that a professional licensing system be devised by the authorities in order to address and to terminate this situation and expectantly promote quality education.
Author Pierre Du PlessisSource: Journal of Educational Studies 2015, pp 109 –122 (2015)More Less
The study of school turnarounds is a relatively new phenomenon that borrows from the concept of business turnaround. School turnaround is a process that fully reforms the environment and practices in the lowest performing schools. The purpose of this comparative study is to examine the implementation of turnaround strategies and to determine the factors during the implementation of the turnaround strategies that caused the strategies either to succeed or to fail. To do this, the researcher probed the lived experiences of principals in two types of chronically low performing schools:
a) Schools that have shown clear and unambiguous growth, and
b) Schools that have regressed.
Surveying the perspectives of principals, relative to the implementation of turnaround strategies should lead to a better understanding of how such strategies could be appropriately implemented. The qualitative research design for this study included in-depth, semi-structured interviews with teachers and the principals of the two low-performing schools.
Pre-school mathematics intervention curriculum : developing the genesis for future learning of mathematicsAuthor Duncan MhakureSource: Journal of Educational Studies 2015, pp 123 –141 (2015)More Less
In South Africa's post-apartheid era, there is growing evidence of an increase in government support for intervention programs, particularly those aimed at preschool education in poor to low-income communities. This study argues that whilst there is consensus with regard to the rationale of implementing an early childhood mathematics intervention curriculum, not much research has focused on the actual constructs of mathematics teaching and the mathematics curriculum at pre-school level, hence not much is known about them. In this study, I also explore, and operationalise through an example, what could constitute a balanced mathematics intervention curriculum for pre-schoolers in poor to low-income communities. Data for this study was collected by analysing video-recorded episodes of pre-schoolers engaged in mathematical activities in a pre-school setting. The findings show that pre-schoolers can be taught and are capable of learning mathematics in a similar way as older children. This study contributes to the body of research knowledge that already exists with regard to pre-school mathematics education, by proposing a structured mathematics intervention curriculum that could be used to develop the informal mathematical knowledge of pre-schoolers from poor to low-income communities who are at risk of failing to cope with future mathematics learning in primary school and high school.
Author L.D.M. LebeloaneSource: Journal of Educational Studies 2015, pp 142 –162 (2015)More Less
The Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Act No. 181 of 1993 provide that private and/or public institutions like a formal school, place of work, etc. must provide for the Occupational Health and Safety standards of the people who use those amenities. That is, every formal school and or work place considers the Occupational Health and Safety standards hereinafter also referred to as OHS standards as an important component which ensures the welfare and wellbeing of all its occupants who in this case includes learners and teachers. Like most employees spend at least eight hours of their day at their places of employment, learners and teachers spend most of their time on the school premises thus making it important for the latter to ensure that the occupational health and safety (OHS) standards thereof are adhered to for the well-being of all learners and teachers.
It is however important to note that the Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Act No. 181 of 1993 does not explicitly advise on the Occupational Health and Safety standards of learners in formal schools. Teachers are thereby the ones who are covered by the act in schools. It is thus important establish to what extent are the learners and teachers' health and safety standards taken care of in schools. It is against this background that this article attempts to evaluate the extent to which the learners and teachers' health and safety standards are taken care of in schools. The study took the form of a case study. A mixed method of research was used to evaluate teachers' occupation of space, safety and health standards at a school in Vhembe district, Limpopo province. Developed instruments of the mixed method research were used to gather data for the study. Data were analyzed and interpreted and conclusions drawn.
Author Keshni BipathSource: Journal of Educational Studies 2015, pp 163 –180 (2015)More Less
The aim of this paper is to examine the instructional leadership practices of school principals that would enhance management and leadership. Structured questionnaires (n=228) completed by deputy principals and departmental heads, showed that instructional leadership was composed of four sub-dimensions, which could be used to identify areas for possible improvement. Using multiple regression analysis, the sub-dimension of "Monitoring and providing feedback on the teaching and learning process" was the best predictor of instructional leadership. Furthermore, self-confidence of the principal and knowledge of current developments in the curriculum regarding instructional leadership, attending and participating in curriculum-related workshops, and communicating curriculum goals to teachers were considered crucial to ensure that principals become instructional leaders.
Using fluency activities in after school maths clubs to enhance learner performance in the primary gradesAuthor Debbie StottSource: Journal of Educational Studies 2015, pp 181 –202 (2015)More Less
A predominance of finger counting strategies in South Africa's primary learners indicates a need for learners to develop a flexibility and fluency of working with numbers. One aspect of my recent doctoral research study investigated learners' mathematical proficiency progress whilst participating in Grade 3 after school maths clubs over the course of a year. Drawing on literature, I designed a series of written activities aimed at supporting club learners to improve their fluency in a range of ways. These activities provided me as researcher and club facilitator with a fast way of evaluating and encouraging learner progress, whilst enabling the learners to practice the fluency they were developing through other activities of the club. Whilst the dual focus proved successful in the research clubs, an earlier publication investigated the emergent issues with the use of these activities in the clubs. This article extends that earlier work in that I explore the rationale for the design and development of these fluency activities by locating them in the broader literature, pointing to their usefulness as one way to enhance learner performance in early grade classrooms. Additionally, I report on findings of learner progress from learners in the two research clubs with regard to these activities.
Catching up with the fast lane : a focus on societal change and educational reform in the life of the adolescentAuthor F.E. GouwsSource: Journal of Educational Studies 2015, pp 203 –218 (2015)More Less
Adolescents living in the 21st century find themselves in a changing environment. The changing life world of the adolescents places them in the fast lane of living. They need not only cope with their own development but also with the challenges of societal change and educational reform. In the research on which this article is based, particular emphasis was on current adolescents, who are also known as generation Y. Developed and developing countries around the world have revised their school curricula in recent years to take into account the knowledge and skills needed by earners in a globalising 21st century. One of the most dramatic changes in the lifeworld of the South African adolescent has been the implementation of Curriculum 2005 and outcomes-based education. The general aim of the research was to investigate the role of societal change and educational reform in the life of the adolescent. By way of a literature study and a qualitative investigation into the problems or issues experienced by adolescents, this article describes how societal change and educational reform change and influence the life world of the adolescent. The research highlights the role of parents and teachers in their attempts to support adolescents in coping with the demands and challenges presented by societal change and educational reform. This paper also reports the findings of this research and makes recommendations to answer questions, namely: how can teachers and parents assist adolescents to cope with societal change and educational reform?
Complicated curriculum conversations : reflections of curriculum decision-makers engaged in the restructuring of national teacher education frameworksAuthor Pryah MahabeerSource: Journal of Educational Studies 2015, pp 219 –233 (2015)More Less
The year 2011 saw the introduction of a new policy framework of the Minimum Requirements for Teacher Education Qualifications (MRTEQ) and the development of the National Integrated Strategic Policy Framework for Teacher Education and Development (NISPFTED). For this purpose, decision makers from various constituencies were brought together to deliberate, discuss and negotiate the restructuring of the curriculum for the national teacher education frameworks. The intention of the paper is to interrogate and examine the reflections of the decisionmakers engaged in the restructuring and development of the national teacher education curriculum frameworks in South Africa. This was achieved throughinterviews of selected decision-makers. In theorising the data, Pinar's idea of "complicated conversation" is used and it is argued that these reflections represent "complicated conversations" of the processes of restructuring that have transpired. "Complicated conversations" occur through dialogical engagement within a context of language and dialogue, the absence of deep philosophical engagement and finally evidential tensions.
Source: Journal of Educational Studies 2015, pp 234 –252 (2015)More Less
In this study the researchers discuss how they continue to learn from the reflective journals that are submitted by their students at the end of each final year of study in the research methodology class. These reflective journals provide opportunities to learn about different ways of simplifying a university curriculum in order to improve the rate and quality of student learning and success. Constructivist instructional methods were preferred because they are all learner centered in that they not only place the student at the center of learning but they impose more responsibility on students for their own learning to enable active learning through focused and real life instructional activities. Although the case that is reported in this paper is contextualised within the Postgraduate Diploma in Higher Education class of 2015 in one university of technology (UOT), the teaching and learning strategies used are applicable to both secondary and higher education classroom environments. The insights from the students' reflective journals indicate that the students not only learnt effectively but they enjoyed learning because they could also fit in new information learned from the research module into existing cognitive structures that enabled them to apply the learning strategies to other modules.
Teachers' perspectives on the integrated quality management system in South African secondary schools of Limpopo provinceAuthor Segoe BoboSource: Journal of Educational Studies 2015, pp 253 –269 (2015)More Less
The purpose of this study was to investigate the perceptions and attitudes of teachers concerning the implementation of the Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS) in South African secondary schools of the Limpopo Province (Vhembe District). This was done by interrogating the context and the content of policy documents as well as focussing on the training and the functioning of the structures involved in the implementation of the IQMS in five secondary schools. Thereafter, the perceptions, feelings and experiences of teachers regarding IQMS were captured. A literature study, observation as well as documents analyses and individual interviews were used to gather information through a qualitative method. Five secondary schools were randomly selected from one South African province, namely Limpopo Province. Six teachers were purposefully selected from each school and were subjected to a focus group semi-structured interview which lasted for 40 minutes. Thereafter, two teachers, from each group, were randomly selected and were involved in an individual semi-structured interview which lasted for 30 minutes. The results of the interviews were integrated with those of the analyses of the policy documents and records at those schools. Although it appears from findings that the appropriate structures for implementation are in place in some schools, the policy document and prescribed steps were not followed. Furthermore, teachers cited some anomalies and difficulties with regard to the implementation of IQMS. It was discovered that some teachers have a negative attitude towards the IQMS. The majority of the schools do not have management plans for the implementation of the IQMS. Consistency, feedback reports and follow-ups are sadly lacking. Most teachers indicated that the success of the implementation depends largely on whether the District Office, the school principal, the Staff Development Team and the Development Support Group play their roles effectively.
Source: Journal of Educational Studies 2015, pp 270 –287 (2015)More Less
Can teaching large classes in a teacher-education university programme offer lessons for large classroom teaching in rural schools? In this paper we highlight successful student-centred practices in teaching large undergraduate classes, predominantly from rural areas, at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. We do this as we hope to contribute to the debate on the improvement of teaching and learning in rural schools, for the purpose of addressing under-achievement in rural schools. Cognisant of the great resource disparities and differences that exist between universities and rural schools, we maintain that universities have much to offer on the management of large classrooms and creative methodologies, particularly given the imperatives for access that drive the provisioning of post-apartheid higher education. Using narrative research practices and principles, we draw from our own subjective experiences as three academics with a collective experience of more than 15 years in teaching and coordinating large core education modules in pre-service teacher education. In the main, we show how successful teaching of large classes should be understood as a process that unfolds at three interdependent stages namely: preteaching, teaching and post-teaching. We then conclude by presenting practical suggestions on what rural teachers can do to enhance their classroom teaching practices and thus improve l learner performance.
Author Judah MakonyeSource: Journal of Educational Studies 2015, pp 288 –313 (2015)More Less
This article is about ways on how to increase mathematics learning for low achieving students via a teaching intervention strategy that used learners' errors andmisconceptions in elementary algebra as a resource. The focus of the investigation was the extent to which a pedagogy which focused on identified learner errors and misconceptions in algebra could help learners to overcome their errors. Data collection was done in three phases: (i) a pre-test to locate learners' errors and misconceptions in elementary algebra; (ii) a pedagogical intervention which discussed identified learner errors with the whole class, and a further in-depth focus subgroup of learners who were identified as the worst performers and, (iii) a post test to measure the learning gains. The study found that some types of learner errors in elementary algebra can be reduced as a result of the pedagogical intervention. Some of the errors, for example, the cancellation error, persisted despite the intervention. An implication of this research for removing barriers to mathematics achievement is that teacher education curricula should consider including courses that support teaching anchored on learners' errors and misconceptions on specific mathematics topics to enable successful learning of mathematics to learners from disadvantaged communities.