Perspectives in Education - latest Issue
Volume 34, Issue 3, 2016
Author Loyiso JitaSource: Perspectives in Education 34, pp vii –ix (2016)More Less
Many of the articles published in our 2016 edition have focused on the issue of quality education from a number of different perspectives. The current issue continues this journey and exploration but focuses more closely on three important aspects of the quality education debate: first, the focus is on higher education. Zeroing in on two professional programmes, one for teachers and another for engineers, several of the articles probe pertinent questions about the graduates' knowledge, competences and attributes. Taking the position that universities are critical to the development of knowledgeable, competent and well-disposed graduate professionals, the studies raise important concerns that challenge the entire higher education community to reflect more deeply on the relevance, designs and outcomes of the current programmes on offer, especially the professional programmes in teacher education and chemical engineering, in particular. Second, the focus is on exploring the possibilities and likely impact of more innovative designs and strategies, including new technologies and work- or school-based learning for teaching and learning of various subjects in the schools and universities. Third, the focus is on the broader question of quality education for what? Several of the articles begin to answer this question by pointing towards the overall objective of promoting quality education in pursuit of a broader social agenda on social justice.
Ontologies and possibilities of human rights : exploring dissensus to facilitate reconciliation in post-conflict education contextsSource: Perspectives in Education 34, pp 1 –14 (2016)More Less
In light of growing critique of human rights and human rights education, this article explores ontologies of human rights, the possibilities they present for dissensus and how this could influence human rights education in post-conflict education contexts towards reconciliation. We draw on Dembour's (2010) categorisation of the different schools of human rights and Ranciere's (2004) two forms of rights to explore possible constructing points of dissensus. The data obtained in a NRF funded project Human rights literacy: A quest for meaning (Roux, 2012), indicate that student-teachers are disillusioned by human rights and perceive a conflict between what human rights are (contextual) and could (idealistic) be. While we concur with Keet (2015) that there is a need for "Critical Human Rights Education" (Keet, 2015) we focus on human action and the structuring of dissensus within political, social and educational spaces as crucial to the continual formulation, claims, rejection, amendments and recognition of human rights. In conclusion, we pose that human rights education should be a continual dissonant process, enabling moments of dissensus within intersecting spaces of (non)existing rights.
Pre-service teachers' competence to teach science through information and communication technologies in South AfricaAuthor Thuthukile JitaSource: Perspectives in Education 34, pp 15 –26 (2016)More Less
Research suggests that there is a need for better training of prospective teachers on information and communication technologies (ICTs) in order to encourage their use for teaching and learning in schools. This paper presents findings on the self-perceptions of competence by pre-service teachers to use ICTs for teaching science content. A mixed method approach was used where 103 final year pre-service teachers completed a questionnaire on their competence to use ICTs for teaching and 21 of them participated in focus group interviews concerning their experiences with ICTs during teaching practice. Results show that pre-service teachers seem to be more competent in the non-technology related skills compared to the technology related knowledge fields and that there are significant variations in their ICT competences. These variations largely result from the uneven opportunities to learn that are provided to the pre-service teachers. More significantly, the directional trend shown by the correlations indicates that the more lecturers or mentor teachers use ICT tools to teach, the more pre-service teachers learn to use ICT tools in their own teaching. The paper concludes with a discussion on the implication of these findings for policy and practice and specifically suggests that there is a need to review the policy guidelines on the development of the teacher education programmes to be more deliberate in their inclusion of ICTs. The key recommended contribution is for teacher preparation programmes at universities to be restructured in order to improve the training of future teachers on the use of ICTs to teach science.
Source: Perspectives in Education 34, pp 29 –42 (2016)More Less
The gap between student teachers and their ability to adapt to the school situation remains a challenge. The literature further indicates that there is an under-utilisation of students' abilities in an ever-changing curriculum that should be responsive to the challenges with which communities are faced. This paper aims to report on the students' adaptive capabilities through a school-initiated community engagement project. Approximately nine students were placed at schools on Saturdays while offering lessons to grade nine learners. A focus group interview was held with the students who offered natural sciences, mathematics and social sciences after the initiative. Findings of this study included raising the students' awareness for the need and ability to improvise in order to attend to the needs of the school and their ability to go out and seek information from other schools, the university and experienced teachers. The students were also able to leave the handouts they had designed for the school. The study provides insights into the adaptability of students in schools and recommends further empowerment spaces for student teachers and the school community.
Author Chih-Min ShihSource: Perspectives in Education 34, pp 43 –44 (2016)More Less
Although it has been argued that knowledge on initial motivation for choosing teaching as a career is necessary for improving teacher education programmes and teacher education policies, there is a lack of research investigating this issue in the fields of English as a second language (ESL) and English as a foreign language (EFL). Grounded in Watt and Richardson's (2007) Factors Influencing Teaching Choice (FIT Choice) framework, which laid its foundation on expectancy-value theory, this study fills that research gap by examining why EFL teachers chose teaching as a career. Thirty-eight EFL teachers with diverse backgrounds were interviewed. The results indicated that the participants became EFL teachers mainly for complicated, multi-layered reasons. They were attracted to teaching because of its intrinsic career value and its salary. The former refers to the fact that they enjoyed English or that they wanted to become a teacher since childhood. The latter applied to those who were either pleased with the salary or who could strike a balance between work and life, work and study or work and health while earning a competitive salary. Surprisingly, the participants rarely mentioned personal utility value (e.g., job security) as motivation. This study suggests that ESL/EFL teachers require intrinsic and extrinsic motivations to commit to teaching.
Author Thobeka Pearl MakhathiniSource: Perspectives in Education 34, pp 56 –71 (2016)More Less
Research on student-learning outcomes indicates that university graduates do not possess relevant skills required by the industry such as leadership, emotional intelligence, problem solving, communication, decision-making skills and the ability to function in a multicultural environment. Currently, engineering graduates are expected to perform within a diverse working environment, hence the need to possess appropriate professional competencies and attributes. This paper seeks to identify strengths and potential shortfalls of work integrated learning (WIL) for students placed in the engineering sector. It presents findings from a study of workplace supervisors of chemical engineering students at one university of technology on the coastal seaboard. Supervisors from a variety of chemical industries completed a WIL students' competency assessment, which measures 23 work-related competencies using a 4-point Likert scale. The competencies were organised under two broad themes of cognitive and behavioural skills. The two themes were further broken down into five sub-themes, namely ability, performance, judgement, attitude and suitability. This defines the common characteristics of superior performers within the workplace. The results show that most students meet the standard expectation on the cognitive or 'hard' skills but seem to lack the behavioural or 'soft' skills. There were statistically significant differences between cognitive and behavioural skills. The findings from this study suggest that cooperative education programmes need to do more in developing the students' soft skills before they go out for WIL placement to ensure effectiveness and broad-based technical competence.
Source: Perspectives in Education 34, pp 72 –85 (2016)More Less
Many schools in South Africa ban smartphones. The decision does not take into account the views of the learners. The purpose of this paper was to elicit learners' views regarding smartphones in schools. A survey design was used and data were collected from 93 learners using a questionnaire consisting of closed- and open-ended items. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics for the closed-ended items and taxonomical analysis was used for the open-ended items. The results indicate that 55.9% of learners are of the view that smartphones should be allowed in schools. The results from the open-ended items show that information searching and processing were the most prevalent views among learners. While the learners acknowledged possible distractions using smartphones in classrooms, their views included setting rules to limit any misuse of smartphones in schools. This study recommends further study on learners' views regarding smartphones in schools.
Source: Perspectives in Education 34, pp 86 –93 (2016)More Less
Previous research suggests that enhanced cognitive and metacognitive skills are achieved when translanguaging techniques are applied in a multilingual classroom. This paper presents findings on the effects of translanguaging techniques on teaching grade 4 learners how to apply relevant background knowledge when drawing inferences during reading. It examines the efficacy of simultaneously using the learners' home language and second language in reading development among bilingual Xhosa-English readers in a rural school in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. The study adopted a quasi-experimental design where the participants attempted pre-tests in the targeted languages and then after an intervention were provided interventions using translanguaging techniques, thereafter they attempted post-tests. The findings indicate improved performance in terms of learners' use of background knowledge when drawing inferences, instead of heavily relying on the reading text. The researchers argue for a literacy model that integrates skills and practices drawn from all accessible linguistic repertoires of learners when dealing with reading development at elementary grades since this helps learners develop a sense of self, which in return allows them to be active participants in their learning.
Dialogical habitus engagement : the twists and turns of teachers' pedagogical learning within a professional learning communitySource: Perspectives in Education 34, pp 98 –105 (2016)More Less
The focus of this article is on the pedagogical learning of five teachers in a professional learning community (PLC). The PLC was conceptualised as a means of generating pedagogical learning and change among the participating teachers in consonance with a socially just educational orientation. The two authors of this article participated in the PLC as participants and facilitators. This article discusses the difficulty that the PLC encountered as it engaged with the 'hardness' of pedagogical change among the teachers. We suggest that the dialogical approach of the PLC, as a form of 'habitus engagement', has the potential to capacitate the form of adaptation and change required by the teachers. The article discusses the twists and turns involved in the PLC's struggle to deliberate productively about pedagogical change. It describes an absence of a didactic language and pedagogic reflexivity among the teachers that caused the PLC conversations to remain 'stuck' in discussions that revolved around issues external to pedagogical knowledge transfer, mainly regarding keeping order and discipline in their classes. We describe how introducing a pedagogical tool into the PLC deliberations enabled the teachers to move towards a more participatory approach in their teaching practices. The exemplifying basis of our article is our deliberations with the five teachers in the PLC and the article describes the 'methodo-logic' of the PLC process that incorporated an emphasis on reflexive dialogue and ongoing interaction to establish a generative pedagogical platform for social justice pedagogies.