Scielo RSS <![CDATA[South African Journal of Education]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/rss.php?pid=0256-010020150002&lang=en vol. 35 num. 2 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/img/en/fbpelogp.gif http://www.scielo.org.za <![CDATA[<b>Cyberbullying in South African and American schools: A legal comparative study</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0256-01002015000200001&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Bullying conjures up visions of the traditional schoolyard bully and the subordinate victim. However, bullying is no longer limited to in-person encounter, having come to include cyberbullying, which takes place indirectly over electronic media. In this electronic age, cyber platforms proliferate at an astonishing rate, all attracting the youth in large number, and posing the risk that they may become subject to cyberbullying. Far from being limited to those individual learners being cyberbullied, the effects of this phenomenon extend to the learner collective, the school climate, and also the entire school system, management and education, thus requiring an urgent response. This article first provides a general overview of cyberbullying and its impact on learners, schools and education. This is done through a comparative lens, studying the extent of the phenomenon in both the United States and South Africa. The focus then shifts to the existing legislative frameworks within which the phenomenon is tackled in these respective jurisdictions, particularly the tricky balancing act required between learners' constitutional right to free speech and expression, and the protection of vulnerable learners' right to equality, dignity and privacy. The article concludes by proposing certain possible solutions to the problem. <![CDATA[<b>Human rights literacy: Moving towards rights-based education and transformative action through understandings of dignity, equality and freedom</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0256-01002015000200002&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en The twentieth century has been characterised by the proliferation of human rights in the discursive practices of the United Nations (Baxi, 1997). In this article, we explore the continual process of rights-based education towards transformative action, and an open and democratic society, as dependent upon the facilitation of human rights literacy in teacher training. Our theoretical framework examines the continual process of moving towards an open and democratic society through the facilitation of human rights literacy, rights-based education and transformative action. We focus specifically on understandings of dignity, equality and freedom, as both rights (legal claims) and values (moral action) across horizontal and vertical applications, considering the internalisation and implementation of dignity, equality and freedom towards transformative action. Our analysis of data stemming from a project funded by the National Research Foundation (NRF) entitled 'Human Rights Literacy: A quest for meaning', brought student-teachers' understandings into conversation with the proposed theoretical framework. In terms of understandings related to dignity, equality and freedom, participants seemingly understand human rights either as legal interests, or alternatively, as they pertain to values such as caring, ubuntu, respect, human dignity and equality. Legal understandings primarily focus on the vertical application of the Bill of Rights (RSA, 1996a) and the role of government in this regard, whereas understandings related to the realisation of values tended to focus on the horizontal applications of particularly dignity and equality as the product of the relation between self and other. We conclude the article by linking the analysis and the theoretical framework to education as a humanising practice within human rights as a common language of humanity. In so doing, we argue that human rights literacy and rights-based education transcend knowledge about human rights, moving towards transformative action and caring educational relations premised on freedom, dignity and equality. Finally, recommendations are made regarding human rights and rights-based education as transformative action within the South African context, towards an open and democratic society. <![CDATA[<b>Social justice praxis in education: Towards sustainable management strategies</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0256-01002015000200003&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Social justice, defined as an impetus towards a socially just educational world, is based on the assumption that all people, irrespective of belief or societal position, are entitled to be treated according to the values of human rights, human dignity and equality. Diverging from the classical positivist approach in social science research that takes injustice as its impetus, the researchers departed from a socio-rationalist approach into exploring sustainable management strategies for effective social justice praxis. This approach has enabled the construction of a conceptual-theoretical framework and an iterative qualitative inquiry, which has as its central principal the sustainable management strategies for effective social justice praxis. Four key findings affirmed the belief that good praxis was to be found in Gemeinschaft relationships, in the influence exerted by government and education systems and structures, where government and principals were found to be co-responsible in ensuring that the best interest of the child was served. This responsibility included practices found in collaborative efforts, where communities became the guardians of their schools due to a disciplined school that followed constitutional values. Lastly, these practitioners aligned their management strategies with human rights values, as well as human dignity and equality, and their strategies found pride of place in extant ubuntu principles. <![CDATA[<b>Principals' perceptions of the motivation potential of performance agreements in underperforming schools</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0256-01002015000200004&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en A formidable challenge most school leaders in South Africa face is to improve the academic results in state schools. In terms of their contracts, principals are accountable for the academic results as reflected in examination and test results for their schools. The National Department of Education (currently the Department of Basic Education) has made attempts to implement a performance agreement with principals and deputy principals, which would hold them directly and specifically accountable for the examination results. The article explores the proposed performance agreement and its potential influence on principals' motivation to improve their own, and therefore also the teachers' and learners' academic performance. The focus group interviews conducted with principals and deputy principals indicate that principals do not want to be held accountable, because there are too many factors outside their control. They perceive a performance agreement of this kind as potentially demotivating because they do not feel they would be able to achieve the goals it sets. <![CDATA[<b>Developing educational leaders: A partnership between two universities to bring about system-wide change</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0256-01002015000200005&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en This study investigated a system-wide change strategy in a South African school district, which sought to build the leadership capacity of principals and district officials to improve instruction. The three-year venture was called the Leadership for Learning Programme (LLP). A distinctive feature of the LLP was that it was based on a partnership between two universities, a local one with understanding of the local context of schools, and an international institution, which brought international expertise, experience and repute/branding. Both universities had a shared vision to contribute to the ailing South African school landscape by using leadership development to leverage change. The LLP was implemented in a single school district, where the overall learner performance was unsatisfactory. A qualitative approach was used to research this change intervention. One of the main findings was that collaboration between principals collectively and district officials, as well as among principals, was lacking. It is recommended that collaborative structures such as professional learning communities, networks and teams are established to reduce isolation and fragmented work practices in the school district. This may speed up system-wide change towards improved learner performance. <![CDATA[<b>Becoming professionally qualified: The school-based mentoring experiences of part-time PGCE students</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0256-01002015000200006&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en This paper reports on a study which explored the mentoring experiences of professionally unqualified practicing teachers enrolled in a part-time Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) programme at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The study sought to understand the mentoring experiences these students received from their teacher mentors, who were also their colleagues. Data was collected through interviews towards the end of their programme. Drawing on the concept of teacher knowledge, findings indicate that some students experienced subject-specific mentoring, others received only feedback on generic pedagogic issues, and some received minimal mentoring. They reported content-specific and pedagogical mentoring as the most useful, indicating that this significantly assisted them in improving their teaching, even though they had been teaching for some time. It also emerged that some students received very limited mentoring, where mentors simply complied to fulfil university assessment requirements. The study suggests a need for more focused, comprehensive and ongoing mentor training for mentor teachers. The success of this would require collaboration between all stakeholders involved in departments of education and universities. This paper further suggests that university-school partnerships required strengthening, along with appropriate strategies put in place, towards ensuring mentoring effectiveness. <![CDATA[<b>Student teachers' understanding and acceptance of evolution and the nature of science</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0256-01002015000200007&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en The focus of this study was student teachers at a South African university enrolled in a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) programme and a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), respectively. The purpose of this study was to explore students' understanding and acceptance of evolution and beliefs about the nature of science (NOS), and to discover if these understandings and acceptances changed with the level of their studies. In so doing, we wished to determine if there is a relationship between their understanding of evolution and the NOS, and their level of acceptance of evolution. The study is located within a quantitative framework. Questionnaires were administered to pre-service teachers, who were enrolled in the School of Education. All participants had chosen Biology as their teaching specialisation. Three instruments were included in the questionnaires. The findings revealed that students in the B.Ed. programme have a poorer understanding of evolution and NOS than the graduate group (PGCE), and that there is no significant difference in understanding between different levels within the B.Ed. group. A further significant finding was that acceptance of evolution is independent of changes in conceptual understanding of evolution and independent of changes in beliefs about the NOS. <![CDATA[<b>Learning environments matter: Identifying influences on the motivation to learn science</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0256-01002015000200008&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en In the light of the poor academic achievement in science by secondary school students in South Africa, students' motivation for science learning should be enhanced. It is argued that this can only be achieved with insight into which motivational factors to target, with due consideration of the diversity in schools. The study therefore explored the impact of six motivational factors for science learning in a sample of 380 Grade Nine boys and girls from three racial groups, in both public and independent schools. The students completed the Student Motivation for Science Learning questionnaire. Significant differences were identified between different groups and school types. The study is important for identifying the key role of achievement goals, science learning values and science self-efficacies. The main finding emphasises the significant role played by science teachers in motivating students for science in terms of the learning environments that they create. This has important implications for future research, aimed at a better understanding of these environments. Such insights are needed to promote scientific literacy among the school students, and so contribute to the improvement of science achievement in South Africa. <![CDATA[<b>From challenging assumptions to measuring effect: Researching the Nokia Mobile Mathematics Service in South Africa</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0256-01002015000200009&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en This paper reports on the analysis of the voluntary uptake and use of the Nokia Mobile Mathematics service by 3,957 Grade 10 learners. It measures the effect of the service on the school Mathematics attainment of 1,950 of these learners over one academic year. The study reveals that 21% of Grade 10 Mathematics learners voluntarily and regularly made use of this mobile learning resource outside of school time, with little involvement from their teachers. We found that across the group of 1,950 learners, there was an average decline in Mathematics attainment from Grade 9 to Grade 10 of 15 percentage points. We further found that there was a significant difference in the percentage point shifts of the group of non-users (zero questions), where there was a mean decline of 19 percentage points compared to the group of regular/extensive users (151+ questions), where the mean decline was 11.5 percentage points. This difference in means was significant (t (1344) = 8.0, p = 2.2 x 10-15), with a small to medium effect size (d = 0.45). Research limitations and directions for future research are discussed in light of these findings. <![CDATA[<b>The relationship between multiple intelligence profiles and reading strategy use of successful English as a Foreign Language (EFL) readers</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0256-01002015000200010&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en This study relied on Sheorey and Mokhtari's (2001) metacognitive knowledge about reading strategies,which was influenced by a number of factors, including previous experiences, beliefs, culture-specific instructional practices and proficiency in a second language (L2). This study is thereby built on the premise that EFL readers' metacognitive awareness of reading strategies was also influenced by their multiple intelligence profiles. The purpose of this study is to explore the integrated impact of multiple intelligences and reading strategies on EFL learners' reading performance. This was an explanatory sequential study, combining quantitative and qualitative research design. A convenience sample of 60 high school EFL learners from one of the Anatolian high schools in Istanbul, Turkey participated in this study. Two quantitative surveys and an achievement test, followed by a qualitative observation checklist, were used in this study to collect the data. The results of the study indicated that females were found to be more successful than males in EFL reading in addition to employing more support and problem solving reading strategies. In addition, this study also found that successful readers in EFL seemed to use more global strategies and tended to support reading strategies if they were dominant in musical, intrapersonal intelligences. Moreover, successful musically or verbally intelligent readers were found to use more problem-solving strategies. As a result, this study provides EFL teachers and curriculum designers with valuable information that will foster awareness of the role of these intelligence-strategy relations may play in triggering success in EFL reading, and thus, in their overall proficiency in the language. <![CDATA[<b>Meaningful work and secondary school teachers' intention to leave</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0256-01002015000200011&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en The study investigates the relations between secondary school teachers' work-role fit, job enrichment, supervisor relationships, co-worker relationships, psychological meaningfulness of work and intention to leave. A cross-sectional survey was used. The participants were 502 secondary school teachers in Namibia. The following measuring instruments were used: Work-role Fit Scale, Job Enrichment Scale, Co-worker and Supervisor Relationships Scales, Psychological Meaningfulness Scale and Turnover Intention Scale. Work-role fit and job enrichment both had direct positive effect on experiences of psychological meaningfulness at work, while poor work-role fit and low psychological meaningfulness both had a direct effect on teachers' intentions to leave. An analysis of the indirect effects showed that poor work-role fit and poor job enrichment affected intention to leave due to the concomitant experience of low psychological meaningfulness. These findings have implications for the retention of teachers in secondary schools. <![CDATA[<b>Exploring the possibility of introducing Supplemental Instruction at secondary school level</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0256-01002015000200012&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Globally, mathematics and science pass rates at school level have been a much discussed and researched issue. Teachers are tasked with the responsibility of alleviating learners' challenges associated with the learning of mathematics and science. Thus, teachers are pursuing innovative techniques for improving the understanding of and increasing the pass rates in mathematics and science. Academics in higher education have recognised that first year students experience difficulty with high-risk courses such as mathematics and science. One successful innovative strategy used at university level is Supplemental Instruction (SI). This is a peer support programme, which targets high-risk courses, and is aimed at developing subject-specific learning skills to foster independent learners, who will take responsibility for their own learning. This article explores the SI context at university level, with the aim of adapting this type of support programme at secondary school level. Data was collected via a questionnaire administered to selected academics, interviews with academics, as well as interviews with university students who have participated in SI sessions at university level. An analysis of the data suggests that schools may be able to adapt the SI model with the aim of assisting learners to develop key study skills to improve understanding in mathematics and science. This improved understanding of content could lead to an improvement in mathematics and science pass rates at secondary school level. <![CDATA[<b>Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD): Primary school teachers' knowledge of symptoms, treatment and managing classroom behaviour</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0256-01002015000200013&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en ADHD is one of the most common chronic conditions of childhood. Teachers are a valuable source of information with regard to referral and diagnosis of the disorder. They also play a major role in creating an environment that is conducive to academic, social and emotional success for children with ADHD. The aim of this study was to examine primary school teachers' knowledge of the symptoms and management of children in their classrooms who were diagnosed with ADHD. The participants were 200 South African primary school teachers (178 female, 22 male; mean age = 43 years) of children enrolled in Grades One to Four. A self-administered questionnaire, the Knowledge of Attention-Deficit Disorder Scale (KADDS), which measures the misperceptions and understanding of the disorder, was used to collect the data. The results indicated that overall, 45% of the teachers correctly identified the responses to the items asked in the questionnaire. The "don't know responses" accounted for 31% of responses, while 22% of the responses were incorrectly identified. Furthermore, teachers were more knowledgeable of the general associated features of ADHD than of symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. A majority of teachers indicated that they had received training. These findings suggest a need to consider improving evidenced-based classroom interventions for ADHD among South African teachers. <![CDATA[<b>Teachers' perceptions of school nutrition education's influence on eating behaviours of learners in the Bronkhorstspruit District</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0256-01002015000200014&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Qualitative investigation can provide invaluable information towards understanding the influence of school nutrition education (NE). The study explored teachers' perceptions of the immediate impact of NE on learners' eating behaviours. Twenty-four primary school teachers in the Bronkhorstspruit district, Gauteng, South Africa, who taught nutrition topics to grades four to seven learners, participated in three focus group discussions. Transcript data obtained was analysed using the thematic approach of the framework method. Findings indicated that school support for NE was limited, which undermined the capacity of school NE to influence healthy eating behaviours of learners. The need to strengthen teachers' capacity to model positive eating behaviours was identified. Learners were perceived as being not completely ignorant of healthy eating, with limited capacity to effect changes within the resource-constrained environment. Negative influences like unhealthy choices of food from food vendors and peer influences were identified as needing to be discouraged. Positive influences like the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) and the school vegetable garden were to be encouraged. Understanding the prevailing school situation and environment and teachers' perceptions and roles in school NE is important in addressing issues that weaken the influence of NE on learners' eating behaviours. <![CDATA[<b>Children's agency in Grade R: A case for a child participation focus</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0256-01002015000200015&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en This article addresses a theme that is slipping from the early childhood education agenda in South Africa, namely, child participation. It foregrounds different forms of agency as children participate in teacher-created learning spaces. This view is important to consider in the context of young children as active participants in learning, concerns about improving academic performance, working within the confines of a standardised curriculum, and high teacher control. A qualitative approach was undertaken with observations collected through video recordings as the main method of data collection. Fifteen children between the ages of five and six at three Grade R sites in urban Western Cape participated in the study. The findings suggest that the children function as agents in social processes, where teaching offers many possibilities for engagement with them. This often eludes teachers, who are pressurised to focus on indicators of learning in a prescriptive curriculum. The article concludes with a brief discussion on the development of the professional role of Grade R teachers. <![CDATA[<b>A bio-ecological interpretation of the relationship challenges in the context of the reconstituted family</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0256-01002015000200016&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en From an educational psychology perspective, family life - as a child's primary educational situation - is changing drastically as divorces increase worldwide. Various challenges to relationships accompany the restructuring of family systems after divorce. When remarriage occurs, children's shared membership of two family microsystems and the resultant complexity of the mesosystem cause the reconstituted family situation to come to differ radically from that of a nuclear family. The purpose of this article is to extend Bronfenbrenner's bio-ecological model in order to construct a deeper understanding of the relationship challenges in the context of the reconstituted family, specifically noting the importance of effective parenting at mesosystemic level. Data from two separate qualitative studies was interpreted, based on Bronfenbrenner's bio-ecological model, to form an integrated understanding of the complexity and influence of the mesosystem. The findings indicate that sound proximal interactive processes in the primary and secondary family microsystems depend on an effective mesosystem, and hence, on at least a functionally co-operative relationship between the biological parents after a divorce. Since the biological parents primarily control the effectiveness of the mesosystem, Bronfenbrenner's extended bio-ecological model can be fruitfully applied in all professions dealing with the contextual relationship challenges of reconstituted families. <![CDATA[<b>What do parents really want? Parents' perceptions of their children's schooling</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0256-01002015000200017&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en International evidence confirms that parental involvement has substantial benefits for families and schools, as well as long-term economic benefits for developed and developing countries. To implement sound parental involvement two-way communication between home and school is essential. Schools worldwide tend to focus on communication from the school to the home, and afford parents fewer opportunities to express their perceptions of the quality of schooling. However, researcher-based, national and international surveys of parent opinion indicate that school endeavours to improve learner outcomes depend to a large extent on the data provided by parents. This article examines parents' perceptions of their child's schooling, gathered by means of an annual questionnaire administered in a public primary school in Gauteng, South Africa. A researcher-designed questionnaire administered annually over two consecutive years (2012 and 2013) was used to gauge parents' opinions of school culture, home-school communication, classroom instruction and classroom organisation. The results indicate that parents were generally satisfied with all four areas. However, parents indicated concerns about reporting on an individual learner's progress, academic achievement, and social and emotional wellbeing, as well as academic enrichment opportunities, and ways for parents to assist learning at home. In terms of classroom instruction and organisation, variations in parent responses emerged according to grade levels, and over the two-year reporting period. Recommendations were made, which could benefit other schools wishing to improve two-way communication with families through parent questionnaires.