Optimising the use of Trac Pacs in science education in South African Schools

Daniels, Trevor Bernard (2007-03)

Thesis (MEd (Curriculum sStudies))--University of Stellenbosch, 2007.


The TRAC PAC is a micro computer-based laboratory that allows learners to collect real-time data about a particular event and then displays the information graphically. It was brought to South Africa from the United States of America in an attempt to increase the low number of learners from previously disadvantaged communities entering the Science, Engineering and Technology fields. Anecdotal evidence has shown that the TRAC PAC has not been optimally utilised in classrooms. Subsequently a TRAC laboratory was established at Stellenbosch University and hence this study, which focused on identifying factors that would contribute towards the optimal use of the TRAC PAC. A qualitative case study research method was used, which relied on different techniques to gather data on how the TRAC PAC is used in classrooms and at the TRAC laboratory. The analysis of this data was largely an intuitive process; it relied on the development of categories which provided insights on the advantages and disadvantages of using the TRAC PAC. The thesis concludes with a number of recommendations that can lead to the optimal use of the TRAC PAC. One of the findings of this study was that even grade 12 Physical Science learners lacked certain basic skills such as the ability to take accurate measurements. Addressing this lack amongst South African learners is also a priority of the National Education Department, following its adoption of an outcomes-based education approach. The design of a detailed, well structured series of activities that addresses the required educational outcomes should result in the optimal use of the TRAC PAC.

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