Reconstructing English Studies in South Africa through blended learning

Van der Westhuizen, Millie Elisabet (2016-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2016.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Facing declining student enrolment, budgetary constraints, questions regarding the discipline’s relevance, and a student body inadequately prepared by secondary education, English Studies educators in South Africa require innovative pedagogical approaches to ensure that the discipline’s potential outcomes are optimally achieved. Whilst a blended learning approach might assist in overcoming budgetary constraints, research on employing this approach in literary studies education is limited, with the sense of this approach’s alignment with ‘factual’ knowledge often discourages its use in the so-called ‘soft’ sciences. Hoping to contribute to this field of research, this study examines the discipline’s potential relevance, as well as the ways in which cognitivist learning theory’s principles might assist English Studies educators, in order to determine the potential means of adopting a blended learning approach in the discipline. As such, the study commences with an exploration of the discipline’s potential for developing students’ sense of social awareness, critical thinking skills and creativity. Given the subsequent sense of the relationship between critical thinking and literary criticism, identification of the latter as requiring complex procedural knowledge leads to considerations on cognitivism’s perception on the relationship between factual, conceptual, procedural and meta-cognitive knowledge. Establishing the need for factual and conceptual knowledge in assisting procedural knowledge development, the ways in which information and communication technology (ICT) might be employed in English Studies education are then investigated. The results suggest the need for strategic course design and text selection. In addition, since a move towards a blended learning approach stimulates reflection on the nature of physical instruction, the increased level of immediacy and flexibility afforded by such interaction leads to an interest in flipped classroom models as a means of increasing the degree of interactivity in these sessions. In this, the possible use of webpages to disseminate factual knowledge, wiki pages to assist in conceptual knowledge development and screencasts for modelling procedural knowledge is established, whilst the need to monitor and encourage students’ participation in online activities is also determined. In addition, the possibility of using online ‘communities of enquiry’ in English Studies, suggest an additional potential benefit whereby developing online resources might serve to establish a body of authorised knowledge, thereby countering a lack of clarity regarding the nature of the discipline.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: In die lig van dalende studentegetalle, beperkings op begrotings, vrae rondom die relevansie van die vakgebied en ’n studentekorps wat onvoldoende voorberei is tydens hulle sekondêre skoolfase, het English Studies-dosente in Suid-Afrika vernuwende pedagogiese benaderings nodig om te verseker dat die vakgebied se moontlike uitkomste optimaal bereik word. Terwyl ’n gemengde leerbenadering nuttig sou kon wees om begrotingsbeperkings te oorkom, is navorsing wat hierdie benadering in die onderrig van literatuurstudie toepas beperk, in die sin dat die skakeling van hierdie benadering met “feitekennis” dikwels die gebruik daarvan in die sogenaamde “sagte” wetenskappe ontmoedig. In die hoop om ’n bydrae te lewer tot hierdie navorsingsgebied, ondersoek hierdie studie die vakgebied se moontlike relevansie sowel as maniere waarop die beginsels van die kognitivistiese leerteorie dosente in English Studies sou kon help om die potensiële metodes vas te stel waarmee ’n gemengde leerbenadering in die vakgebied geïnkorporeer sou kon word. In dié verband begin die studie met ’n verkenning van die moontlikhede in die vakgebied om studente se sin vir sosiale bewustheid, kritiese denkvaardighede en kreatiwiteit te ontwikkel. In die lig van die logiese uitvloeisel van die verhouding tussen kritiese denke en literêre kritiek lei die identifikasie van laasgenoemde, wat komplekse prosedurale kennis vereis, tot oorweging van die sienings in die kognitivisme aangaande die verhouding tussen feitelike, konseptuele, prosedurale en metakognitiewe kennis. Deur die noodsaaklikheid van feitelike en konseptuele kennis vas te stel as ondersteuning vir die ontwikkeling van prosedurale kennis, word die maniere waarop informasie- en kommunikasietegnologie (IKT) in die aanbieding van English Studies gebruik sou kon word, ondersoek. Die resultate dui op die behoefte aan strategiese kursusontwerp en seleksie van tekste. Aangesien ’n skuif in die rigting van ’n gemengde leerbenadering nadenke oor die aard van werklike onderrig aanmoedig, lei die verhoogde vlak van onmiddellikheid en vloeibaarheid wat deur ’n dergelike interaksie gebied word boonop tot ’n belangstelling in omgekeerde (“flipped”) klaskamermodelle as ’n metode, om die vlak van interaktiwiteit in hierdie sessies te verhoog. Hierdeur word die moontlike gebruik van webblaaie om feitelike kennis te versprei, wiki-blaaie om konseptuele kennis te help ontwikkel en skerm-sendings (“screencasts”) om prosedurale kennis voor te hou, gevestig, terwyl die behoefte om die studente se deelname aan aanlyn-aktiwiteite te monitor en aan te moedig, ook vasgestel word. Verder doen die moontlikheid om aanlyn-ondersoekgemeenskappe in English Studies te gebruik ’n bykomende potensiële voordeel aan die hand, waardeur die ontwikkeling van aanlyn-hulpbronne sou kon dien as ’n manier om ’n korps van goedgekeurde bronne saam te stel, wat die gebrek aan duidelikheid omtrent die aard van die vakgebied sou kon teëgaan.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/100123
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