Toward a cooperative learning process in building social cohesion in a Grade 10 Geography classroom : an action research approach

Booysen, Barry (2015-03)

Thesis (MEd)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This mini-thesis documents two action research projects which I conducted as a teacher researcher in my Grade 10 Geography classroom. The research was an attempt to improve my teaching as a Geography teacher and to enhance social cohesion in my classroom. This mini-thesis investigated the following research questions: How can cooperative learning be used in a Geography classroom to build and improve social cohesion amongst students? And how can I improve my own teaching practice? The focus of the study was on cooperative learning as a teaching strategy, while action research was the research methodology. Two action research projects were completed and reflected upon within the action research framework. This mini-thesis, which include two action research projects, is based, underpinned and influenced by the critical theorists such as Darder (2007), Dewey (1938) Freire(1972), Habermas (1972), Giroux (1988), McNiff (2002, 2006, 2010) and Waghid 2011). In reflecting on my practice, I realise that there is a problem in terms of helping students to foster an promote positive social relationships and working together in the classroom. In this mini thesis I contend that cooperative learning holds the potential to improve social cohesion and social relationships amongst students. Cooperative learning emphasises cooperation as integral to students’ success and because of this cooperative learning has been found successful in fostering positive intergroup attitudes in classrooms. South-African teachers in recent years have been compelled to embrace a more learner-centred approach as opposed to a teacher-centred approach. I believe cooperative learning could be instrumental in enhancing learner performance and promoting positive social relationships amongst classmates. I consider my teaching practice to have certain defects and through action research I can investigate and reflect on this with a view of improving my practice. Self-reflection and introspection led me to critically examine my classroom practice. In this research I also tried to encourage students to interact with one another in a positive way. This study uses cooperative learning as a teaching strategy to enhance working together between students in a classroom and enhance social cohesion. At the time of this study the Department of Basic Education introduced Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS) as the official curriculum of South Africa. CAPS consequently has an influence on my teaching practice. We adhere to departmental policies and try to comply with curriculum delivery often to the detriment of the needs that learners might experience in the school, such as nation building and maintaining relationships that contribute to the total development of the learner. What further motivated me to address my classroom practice was that my teaching style was still very similar to the way my previous teachers taught me. I was still caught up in the traditional mode of teaching and learning where the “teacher talks and the learner listens” There was no innovation that characterised my teaching practice. In an attempt to address the issues that concern me, I asked the following critical research questions in this mini-thesis: 1 How can cooperative learning be used in a Geography classroom to develop social cohesion amongst learners? 2 How can I improve my own teaching practice? I would like to believe and set out to establish whether the cooperative classroom is different from the one in the traditional teaching environment; both the teacher and student adopt new roles. The teacher becomes a facilitator and the cooperative lessons imbue learners with confidence and enhance social relationships. In Chapter One I give a background to the study. I describe the educational challenges that face South Africa and I set out to locate what I would regard as the problem in my teaching. Chapter Two is my literature review. In this chapter, I give a detailed account of cooperative learning. Due to the limited scope of this study and the many facets of cooperative learning, I contend that as a researcher, I cannot deal with cooperative learning in its entirety. In Chapter Three I focus on action research as the research methodology which I employed in this study. I give a brief historical perspective on the development of action research, define it, explain how it operates and give an account of how action research works. Chapter Four and Five provide a description of the two action research projects that I undertook with my Grade 10 Geography classes. In these two chapters I give an account of my two action research learning projects. Chapter six is the concluding chapter. I reflect on the research projects and try to map the future of cooperative learning as an educational strategy that could transform the classroom and ultimately contribute to nation building.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: In hierdie mini- tesis dokumenteer ek twee aksienavorsingprojekte wat ek as onderwysernavorser in my Graad 10 Geografieklas uitgevoer het. Hierdie navorsing was ʼn poging om my onderrigpraktyk as Geografie-onderwyser te verbeter om sosiale samehorigheid in my klaskamer te verbeter. Hierdie mini-tesis het die volgende navorsingsvrae beantwoord: Hoe kan koöperatiewe leer in ʼn Geografie klaskamer gebruik word om sosiale samehorigheid tussen leerders te verbeter en te bou? En hoe kan ek my eie onderrigpraktyk verbeter? Die studie het op koöperatiewe leer as onderrigstrategie en aksienavorsing as navorsingsmetodologie gefokus.Twee aksienavorsingsprojekte is binne die aksienavorsingsraamwerk voltooi en oor besin. Hierdie mini-tesis wat twee navorsingsprojekte insluit, is gebaseer, onderskryf en beinvloed deur die kritiese teoriste soos Darda(2007), Dewey (2008). Freire (1972), Habermas (1972), Giroux (1988), McNiff (2002, 2006, 2010) en Waghid (2011). Deur te reflekteer op my onderrigpraktyk, het ek besef dat daar n probleem is in terme van hulpverlening aan leerders om hulle te help om positiewe sosiale verhoudings te promoveer en saam te werk in die klaskamer. In hierdie mini-tesis is ek egter van mening dat koöperatiewe leer die potensiaal het om sosiale samehorigheid en sosiale verhoudings te verbeter tussen leerders Koöperatiewe leer beklemtoon samewerking as noodsaaklik tot die sukses van leerders en as gevolg daarvan is gevind dat koöperatiewe leer positiewe houdings tussen groepe in klaskamers suksesvol bevorder. Oor die afgelope jare was Suid-Afrikaanse onderwysers verplig om ʼn meer leerdergerigte benadering te volg eerder as ʼn onderwysergesentreerde benadering.Ek is van mening dat koöperatiewe leer is bevorderlik vir die verbetering van leerders se prestasie en die bevordering van sosiale verhoudinge tussen klasmaats. Ek aanvaar dat my onderrigpraktyk sekere gebreke het en met aksienavorsing kan ek dit ondersoek en daaroor besin met die oog op die verbetering van my praktyk. In hierdie navorsing het ek gepoog om studente te ontwikkel om op ʼn positiewe wyse met mekaar in wisselwerking te tree. Hierdie studie gebruik koöperatiewe leer as onderrigstrategie om samewerking tussen leerders in ʼn klaskamer te verhoog en sosiale samehorigheid te bevorder. Toe die studie onderneem is, het die Departement van Basiese Onderwys die Kurrikulumen Assesseringsbeleidsverklaring (KABV) as die amptelike kurrikulum vir Suid-Afrika bekendgestel. KABV het ʼn invloed op my onderrigpraktyk. Ons kom departementele beleide na en poog om aan kurrikulumaflewering te voldoen tot nadeel van die behoeftes wat leerders op skool mag ervaar, soos nasiebou en behoud van verhoudings, wat bydra tot die algehele ontwikkeling van die leerder. Besinning en introspeksie het daartoe gelei dat ek my klaskamerpraktyk krities ondersoek. Wat my verder gemotiveer het om my klaskamerpraktyk aan te spreeek was dat my onderrig styl baie dieselfde was as die van my vorige onderwysers wat my onderrig het. Ek was vasgevang in die tradisionele manier van onderrig en leer waar die “onderwyser praat en die leerder luister” My klaskamerpraktyk was dieselfde as die van my onderwysers. Die manier waarop ek onderrig, was dieselfde as wat my onderwysers gebruik het om my te onderrig. My onderrigstelsel is nie deur innovering gekenmerk nie. In ʼn poging om die kwessies waaroor ek bekommerd was aan te spreek, is die volgende kritiese navorsings vrae gevra in hierdie mini-tesis: 1 Hoe kan koöperatiewe leer in ʼn geografie klaskamer gebruik word om sosiale samehorigheid tussen leerders te ontwikkel? 2 Hoe kan ek my eie onderrigpraktyk verbeter? Ek wil graag glo en vastel of die koöperatiewe klaskamer verskillend is van die tradisionele onderrig omgewing; beide die onderwyser en leerder neem verskillende rolle aan. Die onderwyser word ʼn fasiliteerder in die leer proses. Die koöperatiewe lesse ontwikkel leerders met selfvertroue en verbeter sosiale verhoudinge. In Hoofstuk Een gee ek die agtergrond tot die studie. Ek bespreek die opvoedkundige uitdagings wat Suid- Afrika in die gesig staar en wil graag vastel wat ek beskou as die probleem in my onderrig Hoofstuk Twee is my literatuur studie. In die hoofstuk gee ek n gedetaileerde verslag van koöperatiewe leer. As gevolg van die beperkte omvang van die studie en die baie fasette van koöperatiewe leer is ek as navorser van mening dat ek nie koöperatiewe leer in sy totaliteit kan behandel nie Hoofstuk Drie fokus op aksienavorsing as die navorsingsmetodologie wat in hierdie studie gebruik work. Ek gee ook n kort historiese perspektief van die ontwikkeling van aksienavorsing, definieer dit, verduidelik hoe dit opereer en gee n verslag van hoe aksie navorsing werk. Hoofstuk Vier en Vyf gee n verduideliking van die twee aksienavorsingsprojekte wat ek met my Graad 10 klasse onderneem het. In hierdie twee hoofstukke doen ek verslag van my twee aksienavorsingprojekte Hoofstuk Ses is die slot hoofstuk. Ek reflekteer op die aksienavorsingprojekte en prober om die toekoms van koöperatiewe leer uit te stippel as n opvoedkundige strategie wat die klaskamer kan transformeer en n bydrae tot nasiebou kan maak.

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