Teacher learning during the implementation of the Index for Inclusion in a primary school

Oswald, Marietjie M. (Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2010-03)

Abstract

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study was designed to explore affordances and constraints to teacher learning as workplace learning during a time of change as initiated by the Index for Inclusion process. In particular the study investigated features on the macro-social and macro-educational level that impact on teacher learning in the workplace and the affordances and constraints to teacher learning that could be identified on the institutional-community plane as the pivotal plane of analysis for this study. It also explored features on the personal plane that impact teacher learning in the workplace. The theoretical framework of cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT) provided a broad platform from which to engage with the study. In particular, the work of Engeström, as a contemporary contributor in the field of CHAT, informed this study. The investigation into teacher learning in the workplace during a time of change was designed as a critical ethnographic study and was conducted in a primary school in a disadvantaged community in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. A qualitative methodology was employed. The study allowed for a critical in-depth analysis of affordances and constraints to teacher learning in the workplace by making use of an abductive process of data analysis and presentation, which implies a movement between an inductive and deductive process of knowledge creation. The data was presented in broad themes, an ethnographic narrative using the triangular structure of activity as developed by Engeström, and in pen sketches depicting the learning trajectories of two teachers. The data revealed that the Index for Inclusion employed as tool of change in this study did indeed allow for teacher learning for inclusion in the workplace. It raised awareness of inclusive education, contributed to a shared language for inclusion in the school and created the platform for teachers to engage with own attitudes and practices in a safe and supportive environment. Certain teachers attested to significant learning gains. However, the study also highlighted how a school could act as a restrictive environment for teacher learning and the complex processes involved in changing such an environment to become more expansive in support of teacher learning for inclusion. Several factors acted as severe constraints to teacher learning. On the macro-social level, poverty and the consequences of apartheid in South Africa acted as significant constraints to expansive teacher learning. With regard to the macro-educational level, teachers struggled with innovation overload and the absence of meaningful training and support for change that negatively affected their morale, motivation and self-efficacy. On the institutional level the leadership approach in the school proved particularly detrimental to expansive teacher learning. Teacher cognition, attitude and emotion also constrained their own engagement with the learning opportunity afforded by the Index for Inclusion process in the school. The students were not allowed a platform for their voices to be heard. Furthermore, neither their parents nor the community was invited into collaborative partnerships with the staff. On the personal level the study engaged with the possibility that individual teachers could gradually bring the necessary changes into the school on the grounds of their own positive learning experience through the Index for Inclusion process. The hope for change in the school was thus embodied in individual teachers’ agency, energy and incentive to work towards sustaining the progress that had been made by means of the Index for Inclusion process in the school. Keywords: teacher learning, workplace learning, inclusive education, Index for Inclusion, culturalhistorical activity theory (CHAT).

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die studie is ontwerp om ondersoek in te stel na die eienskappe van ʼn skoolomgewing wat onderwyser-leer in die werkplek moontlik maak in ʼn tyd van verandering soos deur die Index for Inclusion-proses geïnisieer, asook na die beperkinge binne dié omgewing (Engels: ‘affordances and constraints’). Daar is in die besonder ondersoek ingestel na die eienskappe op die makro-sosiale en makro-onderwysvlak wat onderwyser-leer in die werkplek beïnvloed, na die geleenthede en beperkinge vir onderwyser-leer wat op die institusioneel-gemeenskapsvlak as die kritieke vlak van analise vir hierdie studie geïdentifiseer kon word, asook na eienskappe op die persoonlike vlak wat ʼn invloed het op onderwyser-leer in die werkplek. Die teoretiese raamwerk van die kultureel-historiese aktiwiteitsteorie (Engels: ‘cultural-historical activity theory’ oftewel CHAT) het ʼn breë platform gebied vanwaar daar met die studie omgegaan kon word. Die werk van Engeström, as ʼn kontemporêre bydraer op die gebied van CHAT, het veral die studie gerig. Die ondersoek na onderwyser-leer in die werkplek in ʼn tyd van verandering is as ʼn kritiese etnografiese studie ontwerp en is in ʼn laerskool in ʼn benadeelde gemeenskap in die Wes-Kaap Provinsie van Suid-Afrika uitgevoer. ’n Kwalitatiewe metodologie is gebruik. ʼn Kritiese diepte-ontleding is gedoen van geleenthede en beperkinge vir onderwyser-leer in die werkplek deur ʼn abduktiewe proses van data-analise en -aanbieding, wat ʼn beweging tussen ʼn induktiewe en deduktiewe proses van kennisskepping impliseer. Die data is op drieërlei wyse aangebied: in breë temas en patrone; as ʼn etnografiese narratief wat Engeström se driehoekstruktuur van aktiwiteit gebruik; en in die vorm van pensketse wat die leertrajekte van twee onderwysers uitbeeld. Die data het aangetoon dat die Index for Inclusion wat as instrument vir verandering in hierdie studie aangewend is, wel onderwyser-leer vir insluiting in die werkplek tot gevolg gehad het. Dit het ʼn bewustheid rakende inklusiewe onderwys verhoog, die onderwysers is blootgestel aan die terminologie van inklusiewe onderwys en ʼn veilige en ondersteunende omgewing is geskep waarin onderwysers aandag kon gee aan hulle eie gesindhede en praktyke. Sekere onderwysers het van betekenisvolle leerwinste getuig. Die studie het egter ook duidelik gewys hoe ʼn skool ʼn beperkende omgewing kan wees vir onderwyser-leer en vir die komplekse prosesse wat betrokke is by die verandering van so ʼn omgewing om dit meer omvattend te laat word ter ondersteuning van onderwyser-leer vir insluiting. Verskeie faktore het onderwyser-leer erg beperk. Op die makro-sosiale vlak het armoede en die gevolge van apartheid in Suid-Afrika die onderwyser-leer beduidend beperk. Op die makro-onderwysvlak het onderwysers weens innovasieoorlading probleme ervaar. Die afwesigheid van betekenisvolle opleiding en ondersteuning vir verandering het ook ʼn negatiewe uitwerking op hul moraal, motivering en selfwerksaamheid gehad. Op die institusionele vlak het die leierskapsbenadering besonder nadelig geblyk te wees vir uitgebreide onderwyser-leer. Onderwyserkognisie, -houding en -emosie het ook daartoe bygedra om hul eie betrokkenheid by die leergeleentheid wat deur die Index for Inclusion-proses gebied is, te beperk. Die studente is nie ʼn ruimte toegelaat waar hulle stemme gehoor kon word nie en nóg hul ouers nóg die gemeenskap is uitgenooi om deel te hê aan kollaboratiewe vennootskappe met die personeel. Op persoonlike vlak het die studie die moontlikheid ondersoek dat individuele onderwysers op grond van hul eie positiewe leerervaring tydens die Index for Inclusion-proses geleidelik die nodige veranderinge in die skool invoer. Deur individuele onderwysers se toedoen, energie en aansporing bly die hoop bestaan dat die goeie werk wat deur die Index for Inclusion-proses in die skool bereik is, volhou sal word. Sleutelwoorde: onderwyser-leer, leer in die werksplek, inklusiewe onderwys, ‘Index for Inclusion’, kultureel-historiese aktiwiteitsteorie.

Thesis (PhD (Educational Psychology))--University of Stellenbosch, 2010.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/1293
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