Scielo RSS <![CDATA[South African Journal of Education]]> vol. 38 num. 2 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>A study of school adjustment related variables of young children</b>]]> The school adjustment of children is the cornerstone of their development, and has been known to be influenced by a variety of factors. This study investigated the effects of peer relationships, theory of mind (ToM), hot executive function (hot EF), and cognitive ability on young children's school adjustment. Participants were 183 children with a mean age of 62.6 months attending ten kindergartens in Korea. Data was collected using the Preschool Adjustment Questionnaire, the Penn Interactive Peer Play Scale, three theory of mind tasks, two hot executive function tasks, and the Korean version of the Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children. School adjustment was found to correlate with peer relationships, cognitive ability, hot EF, and ToM. Using Hierarchical Regression analyses, hot EF was found to contribute unique variance in predicting school adjustment, even when variance due to peer relationships and cognitive abilities was excluded. This study has implications for identifying relevant variables that affect the school adjustment of young children, which can have a significant impact on future research on school adaptation. <![CDATA[<b>Homework in the Foundation Phase: Perceptions of principals of eight public primary schools in Johannesburg</b>]]> This article reports on a qualitative study done in Johannesburg, South Africa, which investigated attitudes of primary school principals of eight public primary schools towards the use of homework in teaching and learning in the Foundation Phase (which comprises the first three grade levels of primary schooling). Using a semi-structured interview, the study focused on the principals' perceptions of homework in general, whether homework policies existed in their schools, and the extent to which parents were involved in their children's homework. To obtain a representative set of findings, purposive sampling was used to recruit two participating principals from schools in each of the following geographical and socio-economic settings: inner city, peri-urban, suburban and township. The findings indicated that although the purpose and value of homework remains debatable, the participating principals viewed homework as a valuable tool in teaching and learning. The principals expressed the belief that parents from low-income environments regarded homework as important, as did their higher-income counterparts, but poorer parents were less involved in their children's homework. The study concludes with recommendations for education policy-makers, as well as primary school administrators and parents, regarding the use of homework in primary schools. <![CDATA[<b>South African public school teachers' views on right to discipline learners</b>]]> In South Africa, the common law principle of in loco parentis entitles teachers, as the guardians in the school environment, to discipline learners. However, in view of new legislation advancing children's rights, it is unclear as to the extent to which teachers can or do enact the loco parentis role. This study employed a qualitative research approach to explore public school teachers' views related to disciplining learners. A convenience sample of eight teachers (four females and four males) was interviewed using a focus group strategy. A thematic data analysis was applied to identify strands emerging from the discussions. Findings suggest diminished teachers' rights to discipline learners as characterised by learners' lack of respect, morals and values, teacher safety and personal protection, teacher sense of disempowerment, poor classroom management and teaching strategies, and ineffective parental involvement. <![CDATA[<b>Perceived collective teacher efficacy in low performing schools</b>]]> The challenge of low performing schools continues to rear its ugly head in many countries, including South Africa. The responses to low performance differ from country to country, but none of these have included the enhancement of collective teacher efficacy in their repertoire. Research shows that collective teacher efficacy is positively related to improved academic performance of learners. Schools with a higher sense of collective efficacy outperform schools with a lower sense of collective efficacy. Schools with high efficacy are characterised by strong work ethic, and teachers who persist in the face of difficulty. Moreover, teachers in these schools are more persistent in their efforts, plan more, and view failure as a temporary set-back that does not discourage them. Therefore, if principals and their management teams could find a way to enhance collective teacher efficacy, the challenge of low-performing schools may be overcome. In view of this, quantitative research was conducted with the aim of determining the strength of collective teacher efficacy in low performing schools. Ten randomly selected schools in the Kenneth Kaunda Education District were involved in the research and in each selected school all the teachers were involved (N = 217). Data was collected using a questionnaire (The Collective Teacher Efficacy Scale: short version). The questionnaires were delivered and collected in schools by the researchers. Data was analysed using descriptive statistics, frequencies, percentages and mean scores. The results show that collective teacher efficacy in these schools is medium to high pertaining to group competence, but lower in task analysis. <![CDATA[<b>Quality management in schools: Analysis of mediating factors</b>]]> The objective of this study is to contribute to Quality Management Systems (QMS) and their impact on schools in the Basque Country, Spain. Specifically, it analyses two models: the EFQM Excellence Model, which originated in the business world, and the Integrated Quality Project (IQP) Model, which has a humanistic focus and arose from an educational research perspective. To do so, 14 schools were analysed by means of a sample of 315 subjects (42 managers and 273 teachers) who utilise one of these two QMS. The results show that the longer the period of time for which schools had had quality certification, the greater the perception of quality among the teaching staff, regardless of the model used. This leads to the conclusion that having in place a quality model in a school makes the teaching staff more aware of the existence and importance of quality management systems and models and leads them to aspire to higher educational quality. <![CDATA[<b>The development of a training model for the formation of positive attitudes in teachers towards the inclusion of learners with special educational needs into the educational environment</b>]]> The relevance of the problem presented in the article is based on the implementation of the rights of learners with special educational needs for obtaining an education. They must have architectural and methodological access to education, and also benevolent, tolerant, non-judgmental attitudes towards them on the part of teachers. This phenomenon determines the formation of learner's necessary competencies, as well as the success of their socialisation and adaptation. The purpose of the article is to examine the attitude of teachers towards the inclusion of learners with special educational needs into the educational environment and to subsequently develop a training model for the formation of teachers' positive attitudes towards the idea of inclusion. The leading method of research into this research question and aim is a survey presented to teachers in order to identify their attitudes towards the inclusion of learners with special educational needs into the educational environment. The results showed that teachers' attitudes towards learner's inclusion into the educational environment is determined, above all, by the level of teachers' personal and professional commitment, as well as by the constraints of a learner's performance. The authors suggest a training model for the formation of a positive teacher attitude to the inclusion of learners with special needs in educational environment. The model is a training project comprising methods that could be implemented to develop positive teacher attitudes to the idea of including learners with special needs into an educational environment. The findings of the research and the model developed on the basis of the findings of this research project may be useful for teachers, inclusive education practitioners and for training institutions preparing student teachers for inclusive environments. <![CDATA[<b>Filling gaps and expanding spaces - voices of student teachers on their developing teacher identity</b>]]> It has often been said that any student engagement that is poorly monitored during teaching practice (TP) will not necessarily contribute much to their professional development and teacher identity. This applies specifically to initial undergraduate teacher training. This concern became the main focus of the study on which this article is reporting, as part of a broader project - FIRE (Fourth-year Initiative for Research in Education), which commenced in 2015. We wanted to determine how we could complement a community of practice engagement by using Participatory Reflection and Action (PRA) as intervention that could eventually contribute to the development of student teachers' teacher identity during teaching practice. This article reports on the outcomes of a study conducted on a sample of 2,309 final-year student teachers between 2015 and 2017 at a tertiary institution in Pretoria. Data were generated by participating student teachers during three-hour, on-campus workshops approximately a quarter of the way into their teaching practice. They were required to respond to a single question by addressing how student teachers perceive the roles of expert teachers in terms of their curriculum and subject knowledge, their expertise in teaching and learning, caring and providing learner support, and the managerial and professional skills of teachers. The results confirmed that PRA is a dynamic research and data collection strategy to create networks through which participants can benchmark their experiences against peers and other stakeholders. Furthermore, it is again confirmed that traditional TP experiences often fail to expose student teachers adequately to the full dynamics of the educational landscape, as certain interactions and activities are conflict-dependent, and only emerge when opposing and conflicting forces create imbalances and inequity. PRA drew our attention to serious flaws in our teacher training programmes, urging a reassessment of the objectives and actions of TP. <![CDATA[<b>Assessment of group work in initial teacher education and training</b>]]> This study records findings of a study carried out in a group of 100 students at a South African university. This study examines the group's assignments as a way of gathering evidence about pre-service teachers' achievements in the process of education and training. The empirical study was based on comparative analysis of scores obtained by students in group tasks and scores obtained by the same students doing the same task. The results indicated a discrepancy between marks obtained in the group task and marks earned through individual effort. Findings based on assessment of the results are displayed in the frequency distribution tables: inconsistency in the scores, trustworthiness of group assessment, and equitable allocation of marks to undeserving individuals in groups. High marks are allocated to students who did not warrant them. Moderation of marks (obtained by a group on the task is necessary to validate the reality of students' performance in a group assignment). Findings highlighted that group assignments do not provide a valid reflection of student performance which could mean that some fourth-year students obtain the qualification without earning it. <![CDATA[<b>Teacher education students engaging with digital identity narratives</b>]]> Teaching English with digital technology has exacerbated the process of teaching and learning. In youth leisure, computers are more than information devices: they convey stories, images, identities, and fantasies through providing imaginative opportunities for play, and as cultural and ideological forms. In this paper, I report on a project conducted with teacher education students at a university in Johannesburg, South Africa. The focus of the project is to examine how students construct their identities digitally through the multimodal narratives they create in the English classroom. To do this I report on two narratives, as well as a recurring theme, decolonisation. The latter theme is significant because it was during the time of this project that South African universities found themselves in the grip of decolonisation and free education protests. I use New Literacy Studies as a framework to theorise literacy practices, and the work of Hall and others to theorise identity. The paper presents further possible implications of digital identity construction for teaching and learning. <![CDATA[<b>Assessing students' beliefs, emotions and causal attribution: Validation of 'Learning Conception Questionnaire'</b>]]> Students' conceptions of learning represent an influential factor for learning, yet the few existing studies used measures with limited validity and lacked to provide a model for middle school students. This research aimed to provide a preliminary validation of 'Learning Conception Questionnaire' (LCQ) by Liverta Sempio and Marchetti (2001) aimed to measure conceptions of learning in a holistic way by including belief, academic emotion, and causal attributions. In the current study, the factor structure was tested in a sample of 212 middle school students. Exploratory factor analysis (EFAs) and Confirmatory factor analysis (CFAs) showed that the factor structure of the comprehensive measure of conceptions of learning used could be described across three domains (Belief: Comparative Fit Index [CFI] = .98, Standardised Root Mean Square Residual [SRMR] = .06; Emotions: CFI = .89, SRMR = .07; Causal attribution: CFI = .92, SRMR = .06), with significant relationships. Implications and future ways of research were discussed. <![CDATA[<b>The factors influencing Mathematics students to choose teaching as a career</b>]]> Prompted by the poor state of mathematics education in South Africa and the shortage of competent mathematics teachers, this study sought to identify what factors influenced 40 Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) students at three universities in the Western Cape Province, with Mathematics as a major subject, to choose teaching as a career. The respondents were asked to articulate reasons for their career choice by answering an open-ended question and completing an internationally validated FIT-choice questionnaire. The motivations presented in the questionnaire are based on the concepts of Self-efficacy, Self-determination Theory (SDT) and Expectancy Value Theory (EVT). The research has shown that student responses regarding their motivations were remarkably consistent, regardless of the respondents' home language or social class. Student rating choices were based mainly on intrinsic motivations. The study concludes, therefore, that understanding student choices with respect to Mathematics teaching as a career will assist in the planning and management of the recruitment and retention of quality Mathematics teachers. It is clear from this research that when student teachers with intrinsic motivation are identified and recruited, they will be more likely to perceive teaching as a lifelong career choice. <![CDATA[<b>The role of leadership practices in establishing a curriculum policy platform at working-class schools</b>]]> This article focuses on the way in which the school management teams (SMTs) of three selected working-class schools have developed and implemented a range of leadership practices within their schools in order to provide a platform for optimal teaching and learning. The article is based on qualitative research conducted in schools on the outskirts of Cape Town. Employing the policy enactment theory advanced by Ball, Maguire and Braun (2012), the article illustrates the way in which the context of these working-class schools impacts on the type of leadership practices that are employed; these practices, in turn, have an impact on the type of curriculum policy platform established in these schools. The article elucidates how governmental curriculum policy reform is 'received' by the SMTs, which are the schools' formal leadership structures, and implemented in the 'messy' reality of the selected schools. We present the argument that the leadership practices of the selected schools' SMTs are determined by the schools' 'materiality,' in reference to the impact of the schools' contextual circumstances on their curriculum processes and leadership practices. The findings show that the schools' leadership practices are based on a narrow and one-dimensional enactment of the curriculum policy, which has negative consequences for teaching and learning in the schools. This article contributes to an understanding of the challenges of leadership practices in working-class schools and the enactment of curriculum policy reform in them. <![CDATA[<b>Novice rural principals' successful leadership practices in financial management: Multiple accountabilities</b>]]> Research studies on financial management in South African public schools expands recurrent literature, most of which have largely pathologised school leadership and management, and rural schools in particular. This article instead draws from a qualitative case study of success, which examined how five novice principals in a rural setting went beyond the prescriptive administrative requirements to generate context-responsive and creative ways of managing school finances, working with the parent community, with educational peers and the departmental policies to activate situated relevant governance relations. The data is drawn from interviews and documents produced within the setting. Our findings reveal a new set of accountability relations, which counter the hierarchical relations between schools and the community, or between the department and the rural context. These principals began a trajectory of overt training in financial management to ensure their own and collaborating participants' clarity and involvement in a participative management approach. Whilst the school-formulated policies serve as a backdrop to the terms of operations, these principals generate multiple accountabilities in their role as chief financial officers. The study recognises vertical, horizontal and downward accountabilities, which are underpinned by self-driven motivation, moral integrity and social developmental responsibilities. Rather than being a pathological problem, school financial management offers policy and practice potential to develop co-responsible governance.