An evaluation of a model of teacher professional development in a science and mathematics intervention programme for teachers and learners

Fair, Andrew George (2015-03)

Thesis (MEd)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: South Africa is in the midst of a mathematics and science education crisis that challenges all key role-players. The Institute for Mathematics and Science Teaching at the University of Stellenbosch (IMSTUS), was involved in several university-school partnership (systemic intervention) projects that sought to provide continuing professional development to mathematics and science teachers and to help them make a greater impact on the learners that they teach. One of these intervention projects was the Sciences and Mathematics Initiative for Learners and EducatorS (SMILES) that targeted mathematics and science teachers and learners in under-resourced schools in the Western Cape. The effects of an intervention aimed at supporting and enhancing teacher professional development will only be seen in the learners once teachers have accepted and mastered the pedagogies proposed. Professional development that does not “enthuse, support, train and renew, and encourage” will probably fail. When considering this, the question that must be asked is whether the SMILES project was in fact enthusing, supporting, training, renewing and encouraging. The purposes and aims of the SMILES project with specific reference to professional development of science teachers were to enhance teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge and address the critical issues confronting science education of which three are: constructivist teaching, understanding the nature of science, and scientific argumentation. The characteristics of effective professional development, the core features of professional development and the theoretical constructs to evaluate professional development of teachers were used in this study to evaluate the effectiveness of the model used in the SMILES project. A concurrent version of the mixed method approach was adopted for the collection and analysis of the data. Although causality is always difficult to prove in a school setting because of the many variables that affect student performance, improved student achievement is the ultimate litmus test for teacher professional development effectiveness. Analysis of the National Senior Certificate results of the project schools compared with the National and Provincial results indicated that the project schools on the whole fared better than the National results. The project schools outperformed the national and provincial results for Life Sciences in 2011, 2012 and 2013 by at least four percentage points. The highest result achieved was 85,5% in 2011. In 2012 and 2013 these results were 82,7% and 83,0% respectively. In Physical Sciences the project schools started with results below that achieved nationally (34,7%) and then ended up with a pass percentage within half a percentage point of the provincial result (72,1%). The Mathematics results were not as positive. The project schools started by achieving a 63,4% pass rate and ended with a percentage pass rate of 63,3% having initially taking a dip down to 51,3%. At the end of the intervention the Mathematics results were better than the national results but were 10% lower than the Provincial average. Although it is difficult to pin down the results solely to the effects of the intervention, the comparison with provincial and national results reasonably controls for most of the extraneous variables including variations in enrolments in these subjects. On the affective side it is almost certain that the attitude of the learners and the teachers toward their respective subjects improved during the tenure of the project. This could have had a positive effect on the National Senior Certificate results achieved by the project schools.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Suid-Afrika is midde in 'n wiskunde en wetenskap onderwyskrisis wat alle sleutelrolspelers uitdaag. Die Instituut vir Wiskunde en Wetenskaponderwys aan die Universiteit van Stellenbosch (IWWOUS), was betrokke by verskeie universiteit-skool vennootskapsprojekte (sistemiese intervensie) wat gepoog het om voortgesette professionele ontwikkeling te bied aan wiskunde en wetenskap onderwysers en hulle te help om 'n groter impak op die leerders wat hulle onderrig, te maak. Een van hierdie intervensie-projekte was die Wetenskappe en Wiskunde-inisiatief vir leerders en opvoeders (SMILES) wat wiskunde en wetenskap onderwysers en leerders, in hulpbronarm skole in die Wes-Kaap, geteiken het. Die impak van 'n intervensie wat daarop gemik is om onderwyser professionele ontwikkeling te ondersteun en bevorder, sal eers in die leerders waargeneem kan word, wanneer onderwysers die voorgestelde pedagogieë aanvaar en bemeester. Professionele ontwikkeling wat nie "begeester, ondersteun, oplei en vernuwe asook aanmoedig” nie, sal waarskynlik misluk. Hierdie stelling in ag genome, is die vraag wat gevra moet word, of die SMILES-projek werklik onderwysers begeester, ondersteun, opgelei, vernuwe en aangemoedig het. Die doelstellings en doelwitte van die SMILES projek, met spesifieke verwysing na die professionele ontwikkeling van Wetenskap-onderwysers, was om onderwysers se pedagogiese inhoudelike kennis te versterk en om kritieke kwessies waarmee wetenskap-onderwys gekonfronteer word, aan te spreek. Drie van hierdie kwessies is, konstruktivistiese onderrig, begrip van die aard van wetenskap en wetenskaplike argumentering. Die eienskappe van effektiewe professionele ontwikkeling, die kern kenmerke van die professionele ontwikkeling en die teoretiese konstrukte om professionele ontwikkeling van onderwysers te evalueer, is in hierdie studie gebruik om die doeltreffendheid van die model wat in die SMILES-projek gevolg is, te evalueer. 'n Gelyklopend gemengde-metode benadering is gevolg vir die insameling en ontleding van die data. Hoewel oorsaaklikheid altyd moeilik is om in 'n skoolopset te bewys, as gevolg van die baie veranderlikes wat studente se prestasie beïnvloed, is verbeterde studente prestasie die uiteindelike lakmoestoets vir doeltreffendheid van professionele onderwyser-ontwikkeling. Ontleding van die Nasionale Senior Sertifikaat-uitslae van die projek-skole, in vergelyking met die nasionale en provinsiale resultate, dui daarop dat die projek-skole oor die algemeen beter gevaar het as die nasionale uitslae. Die projek-skole het die nasionale en provinsiale skole se resultate vir Lewenswetenskappe in 2011, 2012 en 2013 met ten minste vier persentasie punte oortref. Die hoogste resultaat behaal was 85,5% in 2011. In 2012 en 2013 was hierdie uitslae onderskeidelik 82,7% en 83,0%. In Fisiese Wetenskappe het die projek-skole met resultate onder wat nasionaal behaal was (34,7%) begin, en geëindig met ʼn uiteindelike slaagpersentasie binne 'n halwe persentasiepunt van die provinsiale resultate (72,1%). Die wiskunde-uitslae was nie so positief nie. Die projek-skole het begin met 'n 63,4% slaagsyfer en geëindig met 'n slaagpersentasie van 63,3% na ʼn aanvanklike insinking na 51,3%. Aan die einde van die intervensie was hul Wiskunde-resultate beter as die nasionale resultate, maar 10% laer as die provinsiale gemiddelde. Alhoewel dit moeilik is om die resultate slegs vas te pen aan die gevolg van die intervensie, dien die vergelyking met provinsiale en nasionale resultate as redelike kontroles vir meeste van die eksterne veranderlikes insluitend variasies in inskrywings in hierdie vakke. Op die affektiewe vlak is dit byna seker dat die gesindheid van die leerders en die onderwysers ten opsigte van hul onderskeie vakke verbeter het tydens die projek. Dit kon moontlik 'n positiewe uitwerking op die projek-skole se Nasionale Senior Sertifikaat resultate gehad het.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/97135
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