Scielo RSS <![CDATA[South African Journal of Education]]> vol. 35 num. 3 lang. es <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Teacher knowing or not knowing about students</b>]]> Based on a critical ethnography of an urban high school that exemplifies the many changes of post-apartheid South Africa, this paper presents data about two teachers who propose opposing perspectives and practices of knowing students. The analysis of the teachers' narratives shows that they came to know their students through solicited, unsolicited and professional knowing processes. A surprise finding for successful teaching, in what may be considered difficult yet not uncommon conditions of schooling in South Africa, is that knowing about students can be dangerous, and that not knowing students can be useful for teachers. These counter-intuitive findings are generative of questions requiring further exploration. <![CDATA[<b>Enacting understanding of inclusion in complex contexts: Classroom practices of South African teachers</b>]]> While the practice of inclusive education has recently been widely embraced as an ideal model for education, the acceptance of inclusive education practices has not translated into reality in most mainstream classrooms. Despite the fact that education policies in South Africa stipulate that all learners should be provided with the opportunities to participate as far as possible in all classroom activities, the implementation of inclusive education is still hampered by a combination of a lack of resources and the attitudes and actions of the teachers in the classroom. The main purpose of this paper was to develop a deeper understanding of a group of South African teachers' personal understanding about barriers to learning and how their understanding relates to their consequent actions to implement inclusive education in their classrooms. A qualitative research approach placed within a cultural-historical and bio-ecological theoretical framework was used. The findings, in this paper, indicate that the way in which teachers understand a diversity of learning needs is based on the training that they initially received as teachers, which focused on a deficit, individualised approach to barriers to learning and development, as well as contextual challenges, and that both have direct and substantial effects on teachers' classroom practices. As a result, they engage in practices in their classrooms that are less inclusive, by creating dual learning opportunities that are not sufficiently made available for everyone, with the result that every learner is not able to participate fully as an accepted member of their peer group in all classroom activities. <![CDATA[<b>Meaning in work of secondary school teachers: A qualitative study</b>]]> In order to identify specific, shared sources of meaning and mechanisms with which individuals attempt to make meaning, the objectives of this study were to explore the way in which secondary school teachers perceive, conceptualise and attain meaning in their work. A qualitative design with a phenomenological strategy was used with a convenience sample (n = 20) of teachers. Semi-structured, one-to-one interviews with open-ended questions were used to gather data. Participants were asked to diarise related issues for five working days following the interview, in order to strengthen and validate the interviews' results. The results showed that the participants conceptualise meaning as purpose and significance, and that the main sources of meaning related to work include the transfer of knowledge, and making a positive difference in the learners' lives. Forming relationships based on trust and receiving feedback was also important. The main mechanisms identified were putting effort into preparations, while this group of participants reported that meaning leads to the experience of happiness and personal satisfaction. Although most of these findings support those in the broader literature, there are differences in the emphasis placed on some of the findings, due to the context of education in South Africa. From the results, recommendations were made to create opportunities for teachers to experience more meaning in their work. <![CDATA[<b>The nature of workplace bullying experienced by teachers and the biopsychosocial health effects</b>]]> This article reports on the nature of workplace bullying experienced by teachers in South African schools and the bio-psychosocial health effects that may arise from such victimisation. Voluntary victimised teachers who wanted to share their experiences were sampled using a lifestyle magazine and online articles. Twenty-seven teachers participated in the study. Data was collected through telephonic semi-structured phenomenological interviews and personal documents. Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was further used to analyse and interpret qualitative data. Findings indicated that bullying is mostly perpetrated by principals, who often use colleagues as accomplices, and that the bullying mostly tends to be psychological in nature. Participants reported experiencing various physical, psychological and social health problems after being victimised. It was further recognised that health problems do not occur in isolation, but if contextualised, may form part of a list of psychiatric conditions, such as depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and in isolated cases, panic attacks. Victimised teachers' health may have a significant impact on the teaching-learning process, acting as a barrier to learning, which may consequently have a negative impact on the organisational culture and the South African emerging economy. <![CDATA[<b>Climate change science: The literacy of Geography teachers in the Western Cape Province, South Africa</b>]]> One of the universal responses to tackling global climate change is teaching climate change concepts at all levels of formal education. This response requires, among other things, teachers who are fully literate about climate change science, so that they can explain the concepts underlying the causes, impacts and solutions of climate change as accurately as possible to learners. The main intention of this study was to understand high school Geography teachers' levels of knowledge about climate change science. A 15-item, criterion-referenced, multiple-choice Climate Change Literacy Questionnaire with a reliability coefficient of 0.74 using the Guttman's spit-half test was administered to 194 high school Geography teachers in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. Data collected were analysed with the Pearson's Chi-square test and One-Way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA). The results showed that the majority of the participants demonstrated significantly high literacy levels in climate science, with their literacy levels higher in climate processes and causes of climate change than climate change impacts and solutions. Misconceptions were found in all three categories of climate change science as represented in the survey instrument. These findings suggest that teacher educators and policymakers should improve professional development programmes and support interventions in teacher knowledge and understanding of climate change concepts, so as to enhance climate change education in schools. <![CDATA[<b>Extent of ESL teachers' access to, utilisation and production of research</b>]]> This study employed the survey design on a purposive sample of 100 English Second Language (ESL) teachers from Swaziland and South Africa's Eastern Cape Province, to investigate the extent to which they accessed, utilised and conducted research to better their practice. A survey questionnaire and follow-up structured interviews generated quantitative and qualitative data. Findings pointed to grossly restricted physical and intellectual access to research findings and correspondingly low engagement with, and in research, by teachers. Respondents attributed this to inaccessible and inapplicable research, the nature of the school system, which is characterised by conservative examinations and leadership, time and material resource constraints, as well as inadequate teacher preparation and support. Recommendations for improving teacher knowledge, school support system, as well as accessibility and relevance of research are proffered to provide incentives for teachers' study, actualisation and generation of research findings to inform classroom practice. <![CDATA[<b>Can improving teachers' knowledge of mathematics lead to gains in learners' attainment in Mathematics?</b>]]> It is wellknown that the majority of South African learners achieve extremely poorly in Mathematics. Many claim that one of the causes of this poor attainment is teachers' weak knowledge of mathematics, and propose that improving teachers' mathematical knowledge would improve learner attainment. However, the evidence-base for this proposed solution is currently relatively weak. We report on a quasi-experimental study examining the learning gains of Grade 10 learners from five secondary schools in the Johannesburg area, whose teachers participated in a year-long professional development course aimed at improving the teachers' knowledge of mathematics for teaching. Statistical analyses of pre- and post-test results show that the intervention group of learners (N = 586) taught by teachers who had participated in the professional development (N = 14) outperformed a matched control group of learners (N = 217) taught by teachers in the same schools (N = 7). An effect size of d = 0.17 for the intervention group is equivalent to two months' additional progress. While the learning gains are small, they are statistically significant. These findings provide empirical support for claims that attending to teachers' mathematical knowledge can impact learners' attainment. Suggestions are made regarding the form and substance of such professional development. <![CDATA[<b>Factors affecting Mathematics achievement of first-year secondary school students in Central Uganda</b>]]> This study explores the sources of variability in Mathematics achievement of Ugandan students at the student, classroom and school level. The Mathematics score and questionnaire responses of 4,819 first-year secondary school students (Grade Seven, about 14-15 years old) from 78 classrooms of 49 schools were analysed. A three-level linear model was used. The results indicate that out of the total variance in Mathematics achievement 68.8%, 14.2% and 17.0% are situated at student, classroom and school level, respectively. Of all the considered explanatory variables at the three levels, i.e. socio-economic status, gender, prior Mathematics achievement, parental support, peer influence, class mean of prior Mathematics achievement and of students' perception of good classroom assessment, school mean of class climate (class mean of attitude toward mathematics) and of parental support were significant predictors of Mathematics achievement. The relevant factors could explain 7.6%, 73.1% and 84.3%, respectively, of student-, classroom- and school-level differences. Implications of our study are considered. <![CDATA[<b>Psychosocial support for orphans and vulnerable children in public primary schools: Challenges and intervention strategies</b>]]> Much has been written about orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) with regard to their education and living. However, relatively few studies have documented the psychosocial support provided for OVC in public primary schools to enhance their psychosocial well-being. This study therefore contributes to the understanding of the challenges experienced by teachers in providing psychosocial support for OVC and the possible intervention strategies that could be adopted to mitigate these challenges. Seven public primary schools from Soweto participated in the study, comprising 42 educators and 65 OVC in Grade Seven. Findings that emerged provide supporting evidence that minimal psychosocial support is offered, and it is marred by numerous challenges in public primary schools, including lack of professionals to provide guidance and counselling services, few teachers trained in life orientation, and a lack of support from parents/guardians for OVC. Based on the findings, several intervention strategies are presented. <![CDATA[<b>Teaching problem-solving competency in Business Studies at secondary school level</b>]]> The high unemployment rate in South Africa compels potential entrepreneurs to start their own businesses in order to survive. Often this is with little or no formal training or education in entrepreneurship. Since problem recognition and problem-solving are amongst the most crucial competencies required for a successful entrepreneurial career, this study aimed to determine whether the application of an extended curriculum with a strong focus on active learning in a business-simulated set-up will enhance this competency. The performance of a specific group of Grade 11 Business Studies learners in this study was measured, both before and after they had been exposed to such an extended curriculum in different experimental settings (intervention). Assessments were done qualitatively through observations and interviews, and quantitatively, by means of question-based scenarios. The findings revealed that the intervention enhanced learners' entrepreneurial competencies concerning problem recognition and problem-solving considerably. This also contributed to these learners' positive approach towards Business Studies. In this article, it is argued that practical exposure in a business-simulated set-up will not only result in enhanced entrepreneurial proficiency in school learners, but also contribute to an accelerated pace of economic growth and job creation in our country. <![CDATA[<b>A study of the transition pathways of school level scholarship recipients into work and tertiary education</b>]]> School-level educational interventions targeting learners from low socioeconomic backgrounds often have the long-term goal of enabling access to, and successful completion of tertiary studies. This study tracked the progress of alumni of an educational intervention two or three years post school, in order to investigate their pathways to their destinations of work and study. Forty percent of the alumni were successfully traced, and asked to fill in an online questionnaire. Of the 104 traced alumni, 80% reported good academic progress, despite false starts and changes in direction, which resulted in complex transitional pathways. The main factor disrupting a direct pathway through tertiary studies was a lack of finances. The alumni reported that many of the enabling factors for their tertiary success were legacy benefits of the school-level intervention. The benefits reported included a sound preparation for life and academic studies, and other benefits that the researchers categorised as developing resilience and grit. <![CDATA[<b>The influence of role-players on the character-development and character-building of South African college students</b>]]> The present world is in a moral crisis and it seems as though educational institutions experience both challenges and enormous behavioural problems. Statistics prove that there is a drastic decline in morals, values, standards, ethics, character and behaviour and schools, where colleges and even universities seem to indulge in crisis after crisis. It is perceived that behavioural problems such as substance and drug abuse, violence, theft, vandalism, bullying, aggression, immorality, examination fraud, amongst others, are increasing among students. The goal of this article is to determine how college students' lives are influenced by involved role-players in character-development and in character-building. Value and character education provides the building blocks for the inherent preservation of a healthy society. It is the art of life that keeps the environment friendly, free and safe, allowing earth's inhabitants to work, live and play together in peace. The influence of relevant role-players and institutions with regard to values and character-developmentare likely to be able to ensure the provision of a successful life and future for South African college students. The conclusions arrived at in this research indicate parents, lecturers and other specific individuals to be important role-players when it comes to character-development and character-building. <![CDATA[<b>The scholarly impact of doctoral research conducted in the field of education in South Africa</b>]]> The aim of this study is to investigate the scholarly impact of knowledge generated as part of doctoral studies in the field of education in South Africa. The transition rate of the 97 doctoral theses completed in the various fields of education in South Africa in 2008 into peer-reviewed articles and chapters in scholarly books, as well as the citation impact of these theses, were studied. It was found that the transition rates of these theses to journal articles and book chapters were low, as was their citation impact. Eighty three of the 97 theses did not transfer into any kind of publication, 70 out of the 97 made no citation impact, and 65 theses neither transferred to an article/a book chapter, nor did they receive any citation. The low scholarly impact of doctoral research in education in South Africa is related to a number of contextual and field-specific factors, identified in the survey of literature. The main recommendation made is the mapping of fields of education scholarship, making possible the identification of lacuna for research with high impact potential.