Professional development in environmental education : case studies in primary schools

De Vries, Heleen (2005-04)

Thesis (MEd)--University of Stellenbosch, 2005.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study was contextualised in the broad process of change and transformation in education in South Africa In this study I investigate how SWAP (Schools Water Project) as a resource could possibly enable teachers to use the local environment as a means of promoting environmental learning in their classes: a professional development process for teachers. The purpose of this study is to understand and give meaning to the processes of professional development that might be made possible through using SWAP as suggestion materials for teaching about water quality issues in a local water source close to schools. This process was framed in my research question, "could an in-service process using SWAP as learning support material enable professional development in teachers working at rivers in a local environment?" It is organised as a number of delimited or bounded case studies within an interpretive paradigm. In this study the bounded systems are primary schools represented by a selection of teachers from the participating schools. The research process involved a short period of training for teachers to familiarise themselves with the resource, a supported field trip to provide an opportunity for hands on application and follow-up support visits to assist teachers with field trips and implementation of SWAP activities in their classroom practice. Data was generated at various stages and suggests that materials are an important facet of professional development and the SWAP materials proved to be a useful tool in this regard as evidenced through the development of new skills, acquisition of new knowledge and new ways of teaching. Issues that emerged were that in-service processes need to be organised over long periods of time and support is needed at school level to ensure meaningful implementation of curriculum innovations. An important insight developed is that professional development processes in schools occur in complex systems and are thus influenced by many factors that either support or hinder the process. These factors need to be recognised as impacting factors and taken into account during such processes so that they can benefit the process maximally and not hinder initiatives.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie is globaal geraam binne die transformasie proses in onderwys in Suid Afrika, met die fokus op die nuutgevonde belangrikheid van omgewingsopvoeding in die hersiene Kurriulum 2005. Die studie fokus op hoe "n waterkwaliteitmoniteringstoetsstel (SWAP) moontlik kan bydra tot leerkragte se gebruik van die onmiddelike omgewing om omgewingsopvoeding in die klaskamer te bevorder; "n professionele ontwikkelingsproses vir leerkragte. Die doel van die studie is om die prosesse betrokke by die professionele ontwikkeling van leerkragte te verstaan, verklaar en daaraan betekenis te verleen. In die geval is die prosesse gekataliseer en ondersteun deur SWAP materiaal te gebruik om onderrig te gee oor waterkwaliteitknelpunte wat dalk bestaan rondom "n varswaterbron naby die skool. Hierdie proses word gestel in die navorsingsvraag: kan "n indiensopleidingsprogram wat SWAP as leerondersteuningsmateriaal aanwend bydra tot die professionele ontwikkeling van leerkragte om hulle onmiddelike omgewing as "n onderrigmiddel te gebruik? Verder, hoe verloop hierdie proses en wat verhinder of ondersteun die proses? Wat is die invloede op die leerkragte wat professionele ontwikkeling ondersteun of verhinder? Die navorsing is georganiseer in die vorm van 5 gevallestudies binne "n interpretivistiese navorsingsraamwerk. Die navorsingsproses het 'n kort werkswinkel vir leerkragte, "n uitstappie na hul naaste rivier waar hulle die toetse gedoen het en "n kritiese refleksie daarna, ingesluit. Die leerkragte is verder bygestaan deur opvolgbesoeke waar die fasiliteerder hul bygestaan het op uitstappies na die rivier en klasbesprekings. Data is gegenereer tydens verskeie stadiums van die proses en wys dat SWAP materiaal "n baie goeie ondersteuning was vir die ontwikkeling van nuwe vaardighede, die verkryging van nuwe kennis en die gebruik en ontwikkeling van nuwe strategiee in die klaskamer. Om sinvolle implementering van kurrikulum innovasies te verseker het ek gevind dat sulke professionele ontwikkelings projekte oor langer periodes geimplementeer moet word en dat gekonsentreerde ondersteuning by die skool nodig is om te verseker dat die indiensopleiding optimaalondersteun word. 'n Baie belangrike bevinding was dat die professionele ontwikkelingsproses plaas vind midde in die komplekse sisteem van 'n skool wat deur "n groot aantal faktore beinvloed word, beide ondersteunend of afbrekend. Hierdie faktore/invloede moet erken en in ag geneem word as beinvloedende faktore sodat die proses in leerkragte maksimaal kan gefasiliteer word.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/50429
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