The role of African literature in enhancing critical literacy in first-generation entrants at the University of Namibia

Smit, Talita C. (2009-03)

Thesis (PhD (Curriculum Studies))--Stellenbosch University, 2009.

Thesis

ENGLISH SUMMARY: In this research project the profile and academic literacy proficiency of a group of First-Generation entrants at the University of Namibia were explored in order to obtain insight into the development of their critical literacy proficiency during the course of 2008. The project was undertaken against the backdrop of a Higher Education sector in Namibia that is facing an increasing influx of first-year students – often students who are the first in their families to pioneer the alien territory of tertiary studies. Such students predominantly come from marginalised and poorly resourced educational environments far from the capital of Namibia. These English second language First-Generation students consequently enter Higher Education with insufficient levels of academic literacy proficiency in English, the medium of instruction in tertiary institutions in Namibia. An important aspect of such under-preparedness is their academic literacy which is often still regarded only as knowing how to speak and act within a particular discourse, and the reading and writing that occurs within the discipline as the only skills through which to facilitate learning in the mainstream; this, however, is not enough to assist them in problem-solving and high levels of critical thinking. In response, the University of Namibia has implemented academic support programmes to address the needs of students who enter university with poor school results. One such support programme is the ULEG course for those students who qualified for admission to the university but whose school-end marks for English were a D-symbol. Survey results showed that the majority of the students in the ULEG course in 2008 were First-Generation entrants into Higher Education. It was thus decided to conduct this project with one class group of ULEG students. Only data collected from the FG entrants were employed in this case study. This qualitative, interpretive inquiry was characterised by multiple data collection methods. Qualitative data concerning the perceptions of the participants were generated via semi-structured interviews, observation and content analysis. In addition, quantitative data were collected and this further contributed to the triangulation of rich, in-depth data. An awareness-raising programme about the use of metaphoric language in order to draw appropriate inferences was designed and implemented, the rationale being to enhance the participants‟ critical thinking proficiency. As source material short stories, novels, a play and poetry by African authors written in English were employed. To establish the value of such a programme a mixed methods research methodology was employed where qualitative and quantitative data were collected concurrently. The results of this case study question prevailing notions about under-prepared students as well as the mainstreaming of students, as all of the participants in the project attested to the significant challenges that entry into the academic community posed for them. The findings of this project, while specific to the context in which it was undertaken, contribute to the growing body of knowledge in the field of academic development within Higher Education and the role of critical literacy in student learning.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie navorsingsprojek ondersoek die profiel en die vlakke van akademiese geletterdheid van „n groep Eerste-Generasie eerstejaar studente aan die Universiteit van Namibiȅ om insig te bekom oor die ontwikkeling van hulle vlakke van kritiese geletterdheid gedurende 2008. Die projek is onderneem teen die agtergrond van „n Hoër Onderwys sektor in Namibiȅ met „n toenemende invloei van eerstejaar studente. Hierdie studente is dikwels ook die eerstes in hul families wat die onbekende wêreld van tersiëre studie betree. Hierdie Namibiese studente kom meerendeels van gemarginaliseerde en swak-toegerusde onderwys-omgewings ver vanaf die hoofstad, en die enigste universiteit in Namibiȅ. Hierdie Engels tweede taal Eerste-Generasie studente betree gevolglik Hoër Onderwys met onvoldoende vlakke van akademiese geletterdheid in Engels, die medium van onderrig in Namibiȅ. „n Belangrike aspek van sulke akademiese onvoorbereidheid is die studente se akademiese geletterdheid wat dikwels steeds beskou word as slegs die vermoë om korrek te praat en korrek op te tree in „n spesifieke diskoers, sowel as om te kan lees en skryf na gelang van die vereistes van verskillende hoofstroom akademiese dissiplines. So „n vaardigheidsbenadering is egter nie genoeg om studente te help met problem-oplossing and gevorderde vlakke van kritiese denke nie. Die Universiteit van Namibia het as teenvoeter teen die akademiese onvoorbereidheid van studente akademiese ondersteunigsprogramme geimplementeer. Een so „n program is die ULEG-kursus vir studente wat kwalifiseer vir toelating aan die universiteit maar met slegs „n D-simbool in Engels. „n Vraelys het getoon dat die meeste van die studente in die ULEG-kursus in 2008 Eerste-Generasie studente was. Daarom is besluit om hierdie projek met „n klasgroep ULEG studente te onderneem. Slegs data van die Eerste-Generasie eerstejaar studente in die klas is gebruik vir die doeleindes van hierdie navorsingprojek. In hierdie gevalle-studie is die hoofsaaklik beskrywende ondersoek gekarateriseer deur meervoudige data-versamelingstegnieke en -instrumente. Kwalitatiewe data vi aangaande die persepsies van die studente in die projek is versamel deur middel van semi-gestruktureerde gesprekke, observasies en die interpretasie van geskrewe en mondelinge bydraes van studente. Kwantitatiewe data is versamel en ge-analiseer om by te dra tot die triangulasie van ryk en gedetaileerde bevindings. „n Program om studente bekend te stel aan die gebruik van metaforiese taalgebruik om meer effektiewe gevolgtrekkings te kan maak is ontwerp en geimplementeer. Die beweegrede was om die studente se vlakke van kritiese denke te bevorder. As material vir die program is kortverhale, romans, „n drama en gedigte geskryf in Engels deur skrywers uit Afrika gebruik. Om die effektiwiteit van so „n program te evaluaeer is gebruik gemaak van „n gemengde navorsingmetodiek waar kwalititatiewe tegnieke en kwantitatiewe instrumente gelyktydig en aanvullende gebruik is. Die bevindinge van die projek bevraagteken die heersende opvattings in verband met swak-voorbereide studente sowel as hoofstroom-onderrig, aangesien al die studente in hierdie projek bewys gelewer het van die aansienlike persoonlike probleme wat toegang tot die akademie vir hulle ingehou het. Alhoewel die bevindinge spesifiek is aan die konteks van die projek, dra dit by tot die groeiende korpus van kennis in die veld van akademiese ontwikkeling in Hoër Onderwys, sowel as die rol van kritiese geletterdheid in akademiese studies.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/1211
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