PSP’s support of science education through teacher development : a case study

Dharsey, Zorina (2015-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2015

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: An analysis of a teacher development programme known as the Cluster Project is central to this research. Study of the form, processes and outcomes of the project model draws attention to teacher professional development (TPD) as a critical strategy for improving science education in primary schools. High quality teaching at the foundational level supports children develop the appropriate level of knowledge that would allow them to take up and succeed at science at higher levels. With the object of strengthening primary science education the Primary Science Programme (PSP) implements a Cluster Project in Western Cape schools. The project model offers training workshops, classroom guidance and essential resources to support teachers develop both their knowledge and teaching competencies to teach science well. Training workshops are designed to build teachers’ understanding of critical science concepts, improve science content knowledge, and offers guidance with curriculum implementation and assessment of learning. In-classroom support and team-teaching, supported with teaching and learning materials and other resources, assists with improving teaching practice in context. This interpretive case study analyses the Cluster Project model and its processes within three theoretical frames: activity theory, complexity theory, and a research-developed qualitative framework to trace teacher professional development. Activity theory is applied to the purpose, organization and function of the Cluster Project, while complexity theory probes the meaning and implications of educational change for teachers and TPD. The qualitative framework with its five critical indicators of autonomy, knowledge, practice, and collaboration and continuing development analyses empirical evidence of TPD with respect to six teacher participants. Activity theory draws attention to the use of flexible adaptive teacher professional learning models which can accommodate frequent change to curriculum and context, and further highlights the importance of promoting collaboration and reducing contradictions in order to improve learning outcomes. Complexity theory expands understanding of teacher professional learning through its focus on the critical concepts of pedagogy, holism, learning as a nonlinear process, the unpredictability of teaching and learning, networking and connectedness, change by emergence and self-organization, changing environments, and teacher development programmes as open, complex adaptive systems. This research observed the six teacher participants were able to improve aspects of their teaching of science, thereby achieving a measure of professional development, although this was not a general observation within the Cluster Project teacher population. Research findings show that teachers’ active participation in meaningful practical science experiences promotes teacher learning, improves practical science in the classroom, and encourages the ready take-up of helpful and innovative science teaching ideas and strategies. This research recommends that practical science teaching, integrated with language and mathematics teaching, should form an essential part of education and training programmes for both pre-service and in-service primary and high school science teachers.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die analise van`n onderwyser-ontwikkelingsprogram, bekend as die Groepsondersteunings Projek, is die kern van diè navorsing. Studie van die vorm, prosesse en uitkomste van die projekmodel, vestig die aandag op onderwysers se professionele ontwikkeling as `n kritiese strategie vir die verbetering van wetenskaponderrig in primêre skole. Hoë gehalte onderwys in die grondslagfase, ondersteun die kinders se ontwikkeling op `n geskikte vlak van kennis wat hulle in staat sal stel om wetenskap verder te neem en daarvan `n sukses te maak op senior vlak. Met die doel om wetenskaponderrig te versterk in die primêre skool, implimenteer die Primêre Wetenskap Program (PSP) tans `n Groepsondersteunings Projek in die Wes-Kaapse skole. Die model voorsien opleiding deur slypskole, klaskamerleiding en noodsaaklike leerhulpmiddels om onderwysers se kennis en onderrigvaardigheid, om wetenskap as vak goed te onderrig, te ontwikkel. Opleidingsslypskole fokus daarop om onderwysers se begrip van kritiese wetenskaplike konsepte en opgradering van wetenskapinhoudskennis op te bou en ook om te help om die kurrikulum te implimenteer en kinders se leerwerk te assesseer. Klaskamer ondersteuning en span-onderrig, met die hulp van onderrig-en leerhulpmiddels, help met die verbetering van die onderwyspraktyk in konteks. Diè interpreterende gevallestudie analiseer die Groepondersteunings Projek model en die prosesse binne drie teoretiese raamwerke, die aktiwiteits-teorie, kompleksiteits-teorie en `n stel aanwysers wat ontwikkel is om bewyse van onderwysers se professionele ontwikkeling te ontleed. Die aktiwiteits-teorie is toegepas op die doel, organisering en funksie van die Projek, terwyl die kompleksiteits-teorie die betekenis en implikasies van die opvoedkundige verandering vir onderwysers en onderwysers se professionele ontwikkeling ondersoek. Die stel aanwysers met vyf kritiese fokuspunte: outonomie, kennis, praktyk, samewerking en voortdurende ontwikkeling, lei die analise van ses onderwyser-deelnemers se professionele ontwikkeling. Die aktiwiteits-teorie beklemtoon die belangrikheid van aanpasbare professionele leermodelle wat gereelde verandering aan die konteks en kurrikulum kan akkommodeer, en beklemtoon ook die belangrikheid om samewerking bevorder, teenstrydigheid te verminder en om sodoende die leeruitkomste te versterk. Die kompleksiteits-teorie verbreed die insig van onderwyser se professionele leer deur die fokus te plaas op die kritiese konsepte van pedagogiek; holisme; leer as `n nie-lineêre proses; die onvoorspelbaarheid van onderrig en leer; netwerk en aaneenskakeling; verandering deur die ontstaan en self-organisasie; veranderende omgewings en onderwyser-ontwikkelingsplanne as oop, komplekse aanpasbare stelsels. Diè navorsing het waargeneem dat die ses onderwyser-deelnemers in staat was om aspekte van hul wetenskap-onderrig te verbeter en sodoende was hulle in staat om `n mate van professionele ontwikkeling te behaal alhoewel dit nie `n algemene waarneming binne die Groepsondersteunings Projek se onderwyspopulasie was nie. Navorsingsbevindings dui aan dat onderwysers se aktiewe deelname aan betekenisvolle, praktiese wetenskapondervindings, leer kan bevorder en begrip kan bevorder van `n praktiese implimentering daarvan in die klaskamer en moedig die geredelike opname van nuttige en innoverende leer-idees en strategieë aan. Die navorsing beveel aan dat praktiese wetenskap-onderrig, integreer met tale en wiskunde, `n noodsaaklike deel moet vorm van onderwys-en opleidingsprogramme vir voor-diens en in-diens primêre en hoërskool wetenskaponderwysers.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/97981
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