Perspectives in Education - latest Issue
Volume 34, Issue 1, 2016
Source: Perspectives in Education 34, pp 1 –9 (2016)More Less
Initial teacher education (ITE) programmes are expected to prepare teachers who have the capacity to develop conceptually strong, responsive and inclusive teaching practices. The extent to which ITE programmes have been successful in this endeavour has been questioned both internationally (e.g. Lancaster & Auhl, 2013) and within the South African context (Council on Higher Education [CHE], 2010). In retrospect, it is not surprising that the review of initial teacher education (ITE) programmes conducted by the CHE between 2005 and 2007 found that the sector was experiencing tension between "the theoretical and conceptual rigour expected of a professional degree and the vocation-specific training of teachers" for classroom readiness (CHE, 2010: 103). The institutional mergers between teacher training colleges, faculties of education and universities of technologies meant that teacher educators were encountering approaches to the preparation of teachers very different to the ones they had previously used (Gordon, 2008; Kruss, 2008). The first national policy governing the provision of teacher education, the Norms and Standards for Educators (Department of Education, 2000) posed additional challenges to the newly merged sector: it stipulated that ITE programmes should prepare prospective teachers for 7 different 'roles of the educator'. By the end of their ITE, qualifying teachers should have achieved 10 exit level outcomes, verified against a set of 89 assessment criteria. South African teacher educators thus found themselves grappling with how to organise coursework and practicum expectations around these (extensive) lists of discrete roles, outcomes and competences (e.g. Fraser, Killen & Nieman, 2005). The CHE review noted that tensions around academic depth and contextual relevance were particularly prominent in programmes where a conceptual framework was absent.
Author Nick TaylorSource: Perspectives in Education 34, pp 10 –26 (2016)More Less
Initial teacher education (ITE) serves as a bridge between prospective teachers exiting the school system to enrol in teacher education faculties, on the one hand and newly qualified teachers (NQTs) who are embarking on a career in schooling on the other. The present paper describes the language and thinking skills student teachers bring to their ITE programmes and the conditions faced by NQTs when they enter schools on the other side of the chalk face. This is the context within which we ask the question: To what extent are the universities providing the teachers required by the school system? While a review of the literature, together with new evidence emerging from the Initial Teacher Education Research Project (ITERP) study, indicates that the answer to this question is by no means unequivocally positive, the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) has issued new regulations aimed at addressing the gap between current programmes and the demands of schooling. We conclude by arguing that the quality of ITE will only be improved once teacher educators move their practices closer to those of practitioners in the strong professions, which are characterised by the development of a strong theoretical knowledge base, from which effective protocols of practice may be derived and which is continuously interrogated by the practitioners themselves. We suggest that the place to start on this quest is the instruction of prospective primary school teachers in early literacy and numeracy.
Ensuring academic depth and rigour in teacher education through benchmarking, with special attention to contextSource: Perspectives in Education 34, pp 27 –39 (2016)More Less
Benchmarking is one way of ensuring academic depth and rigour in teacher education. After making a case for setting benchmarks in teacher education based on the widely recognised intra-education system contextual factors, the importance of also taking into account the external (e.g. the national-social) context in which teacher education occurs is highlighted. A five-step plan is offered for ensuring academic depth and rigour in teacher education through benchmarking. The process is illustrated with examples from the South African situation. The article concludes with an outline of the contextual conditions with which teacher educators in South Africa have to cope.
Humanising pedagogy : an alternative approach to curriculum design that enhances rigour in a B.Ed. programmeSource: Perspectives in Education 34, pp 40 –52 (2016)More Less
The minimum requirements for teacher education qualifications (MRTEQ) draws attention to the complexity of teaching as an activity that is premised upon the acquisition, integration and application of different types of knowledge practices or learning. As such, all initial teacher education programmes in South Africa should be designed such that they include disciplinary knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, practical knowledge, fundamental knowledge and situational knowledge. These types of knowledge underpin a teacher's ability to facilitate meaningful learning in the classroom, which in turn facilitates higher education's responsiveness to societal needs.
In this article, we reflect on the faculty's recent curriculum renewal journey towards designing a coherent and rigorous B.Ed. programme. We locate our curriculum renewal journey in critical theory and our new curriculum itself is grounded in humanising pedagogies, critical reflection and inquiry. We also describe the consultation and collaborative processes we engaged in to ensure that our new B.Ed. programme would be responsive to the needs of our students and society.
Source: Perspectives in Education 34, pp 53 –67 (2016)More Less
This article explores the meaning of academic rigour in relation to a fourth year assessment education course for pre-service teachers. We present the requirements for a course to be considered academically rigorous, describe the course we offered in the light of these criteria and then present the students' responses. Our findings indicate differing perspectives between lecturers and students on what it means to learn about assessment and to be academically rigorous. Whereas the lecturers were expecting engagement with assessment theory and practice from all students, many students 'tuned out' whenever the course did not engage them in practical examples related to their subject specialisation. Only exceptional students moved beyond compliance with course requirements. The struggle for academic rigour involves developing a better alignment between lecturer and student expectations. This has implications for more explicit explanation of course purposes as well as increased cooperation with subject specialisation methodology courses.
Source: Perspectives in Education 34, pp 68 –83 (2016)More Less
Designing assessment rubrics has become an important pedagogical practice for lecturers in the Wits School of Education (WsoE) in the recognition of writing as a valuable tool for teaching and learning across disciplines. This paper describes and reflects on the process of adapting the SOLO taxonomy (Structure of Observed Learning Outcomes) devised by Biggs and Collis (1982) into assessment criteria for two assessment tasks in Social Science Methodology and Inclusive Education (Learning Support 1) courses. Through a collaborative relationship between the course presenter (Rembach) and the WSoE teaching and learning advisor (Dison) over a four-year period, a number of rubrics based on the SOLO taxonomy were created, revised and refined for specific tasks in order to determine how students were responding to the set tasks at different levels of cognition. The paper demonstrates several learning benefits that emerged from the process of adapting the SOLO taxonomy for different task requirements, such as better scaffolding of tasks, enhanced student learning, collaborative professional development and better modelling.
Given the diverse student population in the School of Education, there is a strong need to establish a deeper and more nuanced understanding of how course and assessment tasks influence student learning. As assessment plays a fundamental role in shaping student learning in a course (Biggs, 2011), we need to understand how it can contribute meaningfully to promoting higher order thinking outcomes in education courses.
The paper illustrates the central role of assessment criteria in strengthening the relationship between lecturer and student development in designing assessments for these two courses in the Wits School of Education.
Approaches to assessing preservice teachers' learning in authentic and rigorous ways : the case of an inclusive education moduleSource: Perspectives in Education 34, pp 84 –101 (2016)More Less
Initial teacher education programmes offer inclusive education modules that seek to prepare teachers for teaching diverse learners. While there is growing research on the content and pedagogy of inclusive education modules, relatively less attention has been given to the assessment of these modules. This paper focuses on the challenges of promoting authenticity, academic depth and rigour in inclusive education through assessment tasks. Drawing on Cochran-Smith and Lytle's (1999) concepts of knowledge for-, in- and of- practice in education, we critically reflect on three approaches used to assess an inclusive education course over a number of years. The first approach required pre-service teachers to articulate their understanding of important concepts associated with inclusive education, the second required them to provide evidence of their ability to use inclusive strategies, while the third approach provided opportunities for them to participate in a research project about inclusionary and exclusionary practices in schools. We find that these approaches represent inclusive education knowledge with different degrees of conceptual integrity and provide opportunities for pre-service teachers to participate in authentic academic and professional practices to different extents. We conclude by suggesting how the assessment of inclusive education can be approached so that neither academic rigour nor authenticity is compromised.
How much of what? An analysis of the espoused and enacted mathematics and English curricula for intermediate phase student teachers at five South African universitiesSource: Perspectives in Education 34, pp 102 –119 (2016)More Less
Regulatory bodies such as the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) provide a framework of formal criteria to be addressed by providers of initial teacher education (ITE) but these criteria can be interpreted in many different ways. The Initial Teacher Education Research Project (ITERP) has investigated the preparation of intermediate phase (grades 4 to 6) teachers of mathematics and English at five South African universities, selected as representative of the major 'types' of institutions offering ITE. In this article we draw on our analysis of data from this research to describe and discuss the courses in mathematics and English offered by each of the five universities to student teachers specialising in mathematics or English and to 'non-specialists'. We suggest that while there are examples of excellent curriculum design and implementation, none of the universities in the study is fully addressing the challenges of teaching and learning in diverse intermediate phase classrooms. While acknowledging that answering the question "how much of what?" is particularly complex in teacher education contexts in which some students enter university with an inadequate knowledge base from which to develop content and pedagogic knowledge in a number of disciplines and inter-disciplinary fields, we offer some curriculum suggestions for teacher educators to consider.
Source: Perspectives in Education 34, pp 120 –134 (2016)More Less
This article explores how course design and assessment in a first year pre-service teacher education course for English students can be imbued with academic depth and rigour in ways that enable students to take intellectual and textual risks. We argue for a conceptualisation of risky writing in which we open up student critical engagement with sociolinguistic issues by juxtaposing academic and creative genres in curriculum course material and assessment. Academic writing in its current form is problematised and questions are raised about the extent to which academic courses provide students with an apprenticeship into compliance, conformity and silence. We present the possibilities of using a heteroglossic pedagogy (Blackledge & Creese, 2014) for learning, teaching and writing. The principles underpinning the course (linguistic diversity as a resource, the value of lived experience and the interrelation of epistemological access and academic rigour) constitute a heteroglossic pedagogy. We illustrate these principles using two examples, one from student performance during the course and the second from independent writing for an assignment. Together, the two data snapshots illustrate the pedagogic possibilities of fluid movements between distantiation and appropriation using flexible genres, which ultimately facilitate deeper student engagement and understanding of disciplinary knowledge. The two data snapshots are not "mere descriptions or anecdotes" detached from principles (Slonimsky & Shalem, 2004: 92). They facilitate academic depth and rigour because of the carefully staged moves between the strange and the familiar in a context that encourages students to take creative and intellectual risks.
Deepening pre-service secondary teachers' mathematical content knowledge through engaging with peers' mathematical contributionsSource: Perspectives in Education 34, pp 135 –149 (2016)More Less
Depth and rigour in mathematical knowledge for pre-service secondary school mathematics teachers may be found in particular experiences of learning and doing school-level mathematics. Drawing on two cases from a course on financial mathematics for secondary school teachers, I illustrate opportunities for exploring compound and exponential growth. I show that when some students unexpectedly produced a quadratic model for an exponential relationship, opportunities are opened up to study the usefulness of the quadratic function as a model of the given situation. Further opportunities are also opened up to explore the relationship between the quadratic and exponential functions, which in turn require students to draw on advanced mathematics. I also argue that the use of the compound growth formula in a situation where it is not typically used provides opportunity to deepen knowledge of the essential features of the formula. Finally, I reflect on how suitable opportunities for engaging with peers' mathematical contributions might be included in a pre-service programme for secondary school mathematics teachers.
Making a case for exact language as an aspect of rigour in initial teacher education mathematics programmesAuthor Pieter Van JaarsveldSource: Perspectives in Education 34, pp 150 –166 (2016)More Less
Pre-service secondary mathematics teachers have a poor command of the exact language of mathematics as evidenced in assignments, micro-lessons and practicums. The unrelenting notorious annual South African National Senior Certificate outcomes in mathematics and the recognition by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) that the correct use of mathematical language in classrooms is problematic is reported in the National Senior Certificate Diagnostic Reports on learner performance (DBE, 2008-2013). The reports further recognise that learners do not engage successfully with mathematical problems that require conceptual understanding. This paper therefore highlights a need for teachers to be taught and master an exact mathematical language that for example, calls an 'expression' an 'expression' and not an 'equation'. It must support the call of the DBE to use correct mathematical language that will support and improve conceptual understanding rather than perpetuate rote procedural skills, which are often devoid of thought and reason. The authentic language of mathematics can initiate and promote meaningful mathematical dialogue. Initial teacher education programmes, as in the subject methodologies, affords lecturers this opportunity. The language notions of Vygotskian thought and language, Freirian emancipatory critical consciousness and Habermasian ethical and moral communicative action frame the paper theoretically. Using a grounded approach, after examining examples of student language in a practice based research intervention, the design and development of a repertoire of language categories, literal, algebraic, graphical (Cartesian) and procedural (algorithmic) emerged from three one-year cycles of an action research methodology. The development of these repertoires of language was to assist teachers in communicating about mathematical objects through providing a structured framework within which to think and teach. A course model encompassing small group discussions, an oral examination and a self-study action research project, that helped sustain the teaching of an exact mathematical language, is presented. This is supported by student reflections on the usefulness of implementing them.
Thinking together through pictures : the community of philosophical enquiry and visual analysis as a transformative pedagogySource: Perspectives in Education 34, pp 167 –181 (2016)More Less
This qualitative study explores how a community of enquiry pedagogy in combination with a social semiotic approach to visual analysis influenced the changing knowledge and concepts of knowledge experienced by students in an undergraduate teacher education course. The art of the Constitutional Court of South Africa was the focus of our study and students developed structured and logical frameworks for analysing artworks as well as playing with laterally extending concepts such as art, justice, equality and humanity. The findings suggest that the dialogical and embodied practice of a community of enquiry pedagogy and the meaning-making strategies offered by a social semiotic approach to visual analysis strongly influenced my students' and my own awareness of knowledge as a creative and experiential opening up and as a companion to the equally valuable experience of not knowing. Visual and embodied forms of knowledge explored through artworks forged a link between 'self' and 'learning self'. These findings have implications for the selection of appropriate teacher education pedagogies.
Author Georina WestraadtSource: Perspectives in Education 34, pp 182 –198 (2016)More Less
Art education develops literacy through the 'reading' of visual texts. This entails the exploration of images, how they were produced and the experience of those who view and interpret them. Multi-literacies such as the skills, knowledge and the ability to interpret varying texts and artefacts and the negotiating of meaning generated by texts develops in the process.
Social semiotics explores the potential of art to develop literacy practices in which thinking through sign systems is necessary to read and produce a semiotic system or text. Learning through sign systems enables students to perceive their world in new ways, solve problems, read and write, and create interesting texts.
Visual literacy studies prove to be a problem for many students. Undergraduates often find it difficult to read and interpret visual information and produce an art appreciation and analysis assignment on that information. Many education students find it difficult to analyse the art elements and visual symbols.
The use of metacognitive reading strategies deepens the experience and improves the visual literacy of B.Ed. students, enabling them to present assignments of a higher quality. This achievement can positively affect their entire academic performance due to the intensification of the learning process and acuity of perception.
From theory to practice : beginner teachers' experiences of the rigour of the Postgraduate Certificate in Education programmeSource: Perspectives in Education 34, pp 199 –215 (2016)More Less
This article focuses on how recent graduates perceive the rigour of the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) initial teacher education (ITE) programme. The article is based on qualitative data collected from a purposely selected sample of 19 beginner teachers who graduated from two higher education institutions that offer PGCE programmes in the Western Cape. Data were primarily collected by means of open-ended semi-structured interviews and triangulated through document analysis. Results revealed how beginner teachers' conceptions of rigour of the ITE programme differ considerably from those advocated by experts on teacher education. The authors of this paper recommend that if rigour in teacher education programmes is to be understood, voices of student teachers and other stakeholders (e.g. teachers, school principals, communities, policy makers) should be included in the design and development of teacher-education curricula. Inclusion of these voices might constructively complement existing conceptions of rigour and influence ITE curriculum policy for the benefit of all stakeholders. Nonetheless, it should be borne in mind that some of these conceptions of rigour might not be informed by theoretical underpinnings and can therefore not supersede those of the experts.
Towards a theoretical framework for understanding PGCE student teacher learning in the Wild Coast Rural Schools' Partnership projectAuthor Jane PennefatherSource: Perspectives in Education 34, pp 216 –229 (2016)More Less
This article focuses on a theoretical model that I am developing in order to understand student teacher learning in a rural context and the enabling conditions that can support this learning. The question of whether a supervised teaching practice in a rural context can contribute to the development of student teacher professional learning and their preparation to teach in a range of contexts needs to be researched in an academically rigorous way in order to understand student teacher learning in the Wild Coast Rural Schools' Partnership Project and the implications for teacher education. The article aims to go beyond the "story" of the project and a description of student teacher experiences, to focus on a theoretical framework for understanding student teacher learning. Previous work with Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) students has indicated that immersion in rural contexts in a supported way can provide opportunities for the interruption of the knowledge of many of the students (such as their existing schemata of rurality and of teaching in rural areas). Furthermore, it can facilitate the creation of new knowledge and altered mindsets through social participation in rural communities and with each other in communal living and teaching. The article explains the construction of a theoretical model, which addresses situational and contextual elements needed to understand student teacher learning.