Assessing learner needs for student academic support and development in the Early Childhood Education Department of the South African College for Teacher Education (SACTE)

Phatudi, Nkidi Caroline (2001-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--University of Stellenbosch, 2001.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: SACTE is a distance education provider for practising educators in the Republic of South Africa. As a distance education provider, SACTE has to rely on teaching and learning media other than the tutor for providing service to its students. Study manuals are the main means of subject delivery the college employs. The college, however, cannot always reach its students through the media used, which in this instance is the study manual. This conclusion was reached after numerous telephone calls and letters from students requiring urgent assistance in connection with their studies. The researcher therefore felt that a need existed to find out the type of problems students encountered that prevented them from optimal performance as students and as teachers. The purpose of this study was to determine learner needs in the department of Early Childhood Education, and how they can be dealt with to improve the academic performance and the classroom practice of its students. The premise the researcher worked from, was that students of SACTE experience learning problems, thus they are unable to attain good academic performance, and this affects their classroom practice. A research survey was carried out to determine the type and the nature of problems that existed amongst the students. Two questionnaires were sent out to the ECE students and the academic staff. The following key questions were posed in the questionnaire for students: • What type of educational background do students have? • How long have students been registered with SACTE? • To what extent do they benefit from a tutor system if they have access to it? • To what extent are the study manuals 'accessible' to them? • If study manuals are not accessible, what are the problems and what suggestions do students have to eradicate those problems? • What type of intervention would they like to have from SACTE? The aim in asking these questions was to probe the root problem which might exist, to analyse the responses and to make appropriate conclusions and recommendations based on the data gathered. The questionnaire for the ECE academic staff was based on the following aspects: • The academic staffs experience in teaching teachers; • The academic staff's experience in distance education; • What the academic staff regard as problems inhibiting students from effective learning; • Suggestions and recommendations on how to deal with the problems identified. The questionnaire for students was sent out by mail with a self-addressed envelope included for the return mail. It took almost two months before the responses reached the sender. Almost 70% of the responses reached the sender. Data analysis was done by the Statkon Service of Rand Afrikaans University. The conclusions reached from the data analysis were divided into the following categories: Social background of students: Students do not have study rooms, thus they use dining-rooms and bedrooms as study places. An average household has more than ten members. This type of a situation does not promote effective learning. Educational background of students: Almost 90% of the respondents studied in the former Department of Education and Training (DET). Their highest qualification is M+2 (matric plus two years of professional training), which implies that 56,3% of teachers are not fully qualified to be teaching, as the minimum requirement is M+3. Experience of students at SACTE: Students expressed their desire for the upgrading of the total learning environment in order to enhance learning and classroom practice. Students wanted contact sessions with tutors as they felt that they do not benefit much by studying on their own without external assistance Recommendations made on these conclusions were the following: SACTE must establish Regional Learning Centers (RLC) to alleviate the students' problem of studying in overcrowded homes. RLCs, besides being places to study at, would also serve the purpose of being resource centres as well as discussion places where study support groups can meet. Study manuals should be written with the needs of the learner in mind. The language of the study manual, examples given and the context in which they are written, should reflect the learner and not the lecturer. The 'distance' between the student and the lecturer, that is created by the physical distance, can be narrowed by introducing interactive media. Based on the survey findings, it can be concluded that there is a need to establish student support measures at SACTE that would provide for students by answering to their needs as learners and educators.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: SAGTE is 'n afstandsonderrigvoorsiener vir praktiserende opvoeders regoor die RSA. As 'n afstandsonderrigvoorsiener moet SAGTE, behalwe vir tutors, ook staatmaak op onderrig- en leermedia vir diensverskaffing aan sy studente. Studiehandleidings is die hoofwyse waardeur vakinhoud oorgedra word. Die kollege kan egter nie altyd studente deur middel van studiehandleidings bereik nie. Hierdie gevolgtrekking is bereik na vele· oproepe en briewe van studente wat dringende hulp ten opsigte van hulle studies benodig het. Die navorser het dus gevoel dat 'n behoefte bestaan vas te stel watter soort probleme wat studente ervaar, verhoed dat hulle optimaal kan presteer as studente en onderwysers. Die doel van hierdie studie was om leerderbehoeftes in die Aanvangsonderrigdepartement te bepaal en om vas te stel hoe die akademiese prestasie en klaskamerpraktyk van sy studente verbeter kan word. Die navorser se aanname was dat SAGTE-studente leerprobleme ervaar, wat veroorsaak dat hulle nie goed op akademiese gebied presteer nie, wat dan hulle klaskamerpraktyk beïnvloed. 'n Opnamenavorsing is uitgevoer om die tipe en aard van die probleme wat tussen studente bestaan, vas te stel. Twee vraelyste is uitgestuur, naamlik een vir Aanvangsonderwysstudente en een vir akademiese personeel. Die volgende sleutelvrae is in die vraelys vir studente gevra: • Watter tipe onderwysagtergrond het studente? • Hoe lank is hulle al by SAGTE geregistreer? • Tot watter mate trek hulle voordeel ~it die tutorstelsel, as hulle toegang daartoe het? • Tot watter mate is die studiemateriaal 'toeganklik' vir hulle? • Indien nie, wat is die probleme wat hulle ervaar en watter voorstelle het hulle om die probleme op te los? • Watter tipe ingryping wil hulle graag van SACTE hê? Die doel van hierdie vrae was om die wortel van die probleem te ontbloot, om die response te ontleed en toepaslike gevolgtrekkings en aanbevelings, gebaseer op die data wat ingesamel is, te maak. Die vraelys vir die Aanvangsonderrigdosente is op die volgende aspekte gebaseer: • Die akademiese personeel se ervaring in die onderrig van onderwysers; • Die akademiese personeel se ervaring in afstandsonderrig; • Wat die akademiese personeel as probleme beskou wat keer dat studente effektief leer; • Voorstelle en aanbevelings oor hoe om die geïdentifiseerde probleme te hanteer. Die vraelys vir studente is, tesame met 'n geadresseerde koevert deur die pos uitgestuur. Dit het amper twee maande geneem voordat response terug ontvang is. Byna 70% van die vraelyste is terug ontvang. Data-analise is deur die Statkon-diens van die Randse Afrikaanse Universiteit gedoen. Die gevolgtrekkings uit die data-analise is in die volgende kategorieë verdeel: Sosiale agtergrond van studente: Studente het nie studeerkamers nie, daarom gebruik hulle eetkamers en slaapkamers as studeerplekke. 'n Gemiddelde huishouding het meer as tien lede. Hierdie tipe situasie moedig nie effektiewe leer aan nie. Opvoedkundige agtergrond van studente: Byna 90% van die respondente is deur die voormalige Departement van Onderwys en Opleiding opgelei. Behalwe hiervoor, is hulle hoogste kwalifikasie M+2 (matriek plus twee jaar professionele opleiding), wat impliseer dat 56,3% van die onderwysers nie ten volle opgelei is om onderwys te gee nie, aangesien die minimum-vereiste M+3 is. Ervaring van SACTE-studente: Studente het die begeerte uitgespreek om die totale leeromgewing te verbeter om sodoende leer en klaskamerpraktyk te verbeter. Studente wil kontaksessies met tutors hê, aangesien hulle voel dat hulle nie voordeel trek uit selfstudie sonder eksterne bystand nie. Aanbevelings wat uit hierdie gevolgtrekkings gemaak is, is die volgende: SACTE moet Streekstudiesentrums (SSSe) vestig om die probleem van studeer in oorvol huise, te verbeter. SSSe kan as studeerplekke en hulpbronsentrums dien, sowel as 'n plek waar studie-ondersteuningsgroepe bymekaar kan kom vir besprekings. Wanner studiehandleidings geskryf word, moet die behoeftes van die leerder voorrang geniet. Die taal in die studiehandleiding, sowel as die voorbeelde en die konteks waarin dit geskryf is, moet die leerder en nie die dosent nie, weerspieël. Die 'afstand' tussen die student en dosent, wat deur fisiese afstand geskep word, kan deur middel van die bekendstelling van interaktiewe media verminder word. Gebaseer op die bevindings, kan daar afgelei word dat daar 'n behoefte bestaan om studente-ondersteuningsmaatreëls by SACTE te vestig wat in die behoeftes van studente, as beide leerders en onderwysers, sal voorsien.

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