Scielo RSS <![CDATA[South African Journal of Education]]> vol. 31 num. 4 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>The development and application of the explanatory model of school dysfunctions</b>]]> This article develops the Explanatory Model of School Dysfunctions based on 80 essays of school principals and their representatives in Gauteng. It reveals the degree and kinds of school dysfunctions, as well as their interconnectedness with actors, networks, and domains. The model provides a basis for theory-based analysesofspecific dysfunctions, and for context and culture-sensitive interventions. The main dysfunctions relate to rules (dysfunctional rules, rule bending, and rule breaking), competences (management, finances, and conflict resolution), and roles (role confusion and conflict, abuse of power). The model was developed to invite researchers to explore these and other dysfunctions in relation to their antecedents, motivations, and consequences, as well as to formulate evidence-based interventions and policies. <![CDATA[<b>Short message service (SMS) language and written language skills</b>: <b>educators' perspectives</b>]]> SMS language is English language slang, used as a means of mobile phone text messaging. This practice may impact on the written language skills of learners at school. The main aim of this study was to determine the perspectives of Grade 8 and 9 English (as Home Language) educators in Gauteng regarding the possible influence of SMS language on certain aspects of learners' written language skills. If an influence was perceived by the educators, their perceptions regarding the degree and nature of the influence were also explored. A quantitative research design, utilising a questionnaire, was employed. The sample of participants comprised 22 educators employed at independent secondaryschools within Gauteng, South Africa. The results indicated that the majority of educators viewed SMS language as having a negative influence on the written language skills of Grade 8 and 9 learners. The influence was perceived as occurring in the learners' spelling, punctuation, and sentence length. A further finding was that the majority of educators address the negative influences of SMS language when encountered in written tasks. <![CDATA[<b>Evaluation of <i>Back to Basics</i> mathematics workbooks</b>: <b>a randomised control trial of the primary mathematics research project</b>]]> Can providing learner support materials, particularly custom-designed workbooks, improve primary mathematics achievement more cost effectively than providing conventional textbooks? To contribute to this debate, this paper reports on the findings of a study conducted in 2010 by a consortium of educational researchers at JET Education Services and University of the Witwatersrand. Between January and June 2010, the consortium undertook a randomised control trial of learning support materials in Grade 6 classes in 44 primary schools serving low income communities in Gauteng province. The study shows that Grade 6 learners exhibit the same degree of learning improvement in mathematics, whether they use a conventional textbook or a workbook specifically customised to address the problems exhibited by South African learners. From a policy perspective, no warrant can be issued on the relative effectiveness of the specific workbooks considered in the study. <![CDATA[<b>An examination of university-school partnerships in South Africa</b>]]> The purpose of the study was to examine university-school partnerships in the process of teacher education. The research question that guided the study was how teacher educators partner with schools in teacher training. A qualitative study was preferred because the aim was to gather information and opinions on how teacher educators trained student teachers as well as to provide a forum for pre-service student teachers to air their views about how they were trained. Twenty- six lecturers and nine student focus groups, purposively sampled, participated in the study. An interview was used for data collection and Holliday's thematic approach was used to analyse the data. The research revealed that there was a weak partnership between teacher education and schools. The study recommends the creation of third spaces in teacher education which involve an "equal and more dialectical relationship between academic and practitioner knowledge" in support of student teachers' learning. <![CDATA[<b>Semantic processing skills of Grade 1 English language learners in two educational contexts</b>]]> This paper reports on part of the first phase of a longitudinal project investigating the development of academic language in English as the Language of Teaching and Learning (LoLT) by Foundation phase learners in two different educational contexts. In the first context, the learners were all English additional language (EAL) learners taught by EAL teachers. In the second context EAL and English first language (L1) learners were taught by L1 teachers in integrated classes. The three groups of Grade 1 learners were assessed on the semantic subtests of the Diagnostic Evaluation of Language Variation Criterion, Referenced Edition, which evaluate the psycholinguisticprocessing skills underlying lexical acquisition and organization. Vocabulary learning is central to the development of academic language and literacy. There were statistically significant differences between the three groups on all measures. The EAL learners in the first context had significantly lower scores than the EAL and L1 learners in the second context, and the EAL learners in the second context had significantly lower scores than their L1 peers. Pre-school exposure to English and gender did not have significant effects, except on the subtest assessing fast mapping of novel verbs. The results provide information on what can reasonably be expected from EAL learners in Grade 1, suggest language skills that can be addressed to support the learners, and have implications for language in education practices with EAL learners in different educational contexts. <![CDATA[<b>Student teachers' views</b>: <b>what is an interesting life sciences curriculum?</b>]]> In South Africa, the Grade 12 'classes of 2008 and 2009' were the first to write examinations under the revised Life Sciences (Biology) curriculum which focuses on outcomes-based education (OBE). This paper presents an exploration of what students (as learners) considered to be difficult and interesting in Grades 10-12 Life Sciences curricula in the Further Education and Training (FET) phase. A sample of 125 first year, pre-service Life Sciences and Natural Sciences teachers from a university responded to a questionnaire in regard to their experiences with the newly implemented FET Life Sciences curricula. The responses to the questions were analysed qualitatively and/or quantitatively. Friedman tests were used to compare the mean rankings of the four different content knowledge areas within each curriculum, and to make cross-curricular comparisons of the mean rankings of the same content knowledge area for all three curricula. All four content areas of Grade 12 were considered as being more interesting than the other two grades. In terms of difficulty, the students found the Grade 10 curriculum themes the most difficult, followed by the Grade 12 and the Grade 11 curricula. Most of the students found the themes under the content area Diversity, change and continuity (Grades 10-12) more difficult to learn than the other three content areas. It is recommended that more emphasis needs to be placed on what learners are interested in, and on having this incorporated into Life Sciences curricula. <![CDATA[<b>The community of learning is in the Baobab tree</b>: <b>how the branches stay together in the context of professional preparation</b>]]> This article explores how participation in a community of learning supported transformation on a personal and professional level in a Master's programme at a South African university. It draws on the concept of transformational learning in the professional preparation of educational psychologists, and how such learning plays out in the development of critical perspectives and shifts in personal paradigms. We report on a two-year ethnographic study that involved 13 of a total of 15 students enrolled for an Educational Psychology Master's course. One of us (CW) acted as participant observer in the study and recorded the experiences of the participants through reflective letters that included symbolic metaphors, semi-structured group focus interviews, as well as a verification questionnaire. In our analysis and interpretation we used the metaphor of the Baobab tree, 'the tree turned upside down', because it is known for its resilience, holding capacity and continuous growth. We found the image to powerfully represent the dynamics of professional preparation and transformation in higher education. <![CDATA[<b>The Foundations for learning campaign</b>: <b>helping hand or hurdle?</b>]]> The education system in South Africa has failed to produce competent learners. The effect thereof is intensely felt by higher education institutions. Many of the country's first-year students cannot read, write and comprehend satisfactorily. Public outcry has forced the Department of Basic Education to go back to the drawing-board. One initiative taken by the Department was to launch the Foundations for Learning Campaign, a four-year national literacy and numeracy programme, in 2008. The Campaign entails amongst other things providing teachers with lesson plans and the resources needed for effective teaching and assessment. In view of the immense importance of this initiative for South African education, the aim of this research was to investigate teacher perceptions about the Campaign, and the provisional impact of the Campaign on the literacy levels of the Grade 3s of three urban schools, located in different socio-economic circumstances. A combined quantitative and qualitative approach was used, the former through an analysis of the results of the 2008 and 2009 literacy assessments, and the latter by the incorporation of observation and interviews at participant sites. The findings suggest that the Campaign is a necessary and welcome initiative but that attention should be paid to simplifying particular aspects of the Campaign. The impact of the Campaign, although slight, did indicate an improvement in literacy levels. <![CDATA[<b>Democracy in schools</b>: <b>are educators ready for teacher leadership?</b>]]> The aim of this research was to determine educators' perceptions of and readiness for teacher leadership. A total of 283 educators in the Eden and Central Karoo Education District in the Western Cape participated in the study. The participants included district officials, principals, and members of school management teams, as well as veteran, middle, and novice educators. A series of instruments was used to determine educators' perspectives, perceptions and readiness for teacher leadership, including the Teacher Leadership Readiness Instrument (TLRI). The results indicated that educators held positive assumptions about teacher leadership. Educators' preliminary leadership perceptions, assumptions about and readiness for teacher leadership proved that the majority of educators are ready for a more distributed, deep democratic leadership practice in schools. Educators acknowledged the need for continuous professional development in the area of teacher leadership. It was also found that as preliminary leadership perceptions of educators improve or strengthen, readiness for teacher leadership is also likely to improve or strengthen. These findings have significant implications for leadership practices, collaboration, capacity-building and improvement in schools, educators' self-esteem, motivation and productivity, as well as student outcomes. <![CDATA[<b>Multivariate differential analyses of adolescents' experiences of aggression in families</b>]]> Aggression is part of South African society and has implications for the mental health of persons living in South Africa. If parents are aggressive adolescents are also likely to be aggressive and that will impact negatively on their mental health. In this article the nature and extent of adolescents' experiences of aggression and aggressive behaviour in the family are investigated. A deductive explorative quantitative approach was followed. Aggression is reasoned to be dependent on aspects such as self-concept, moral reasoning, communication, frustration tolerance and family relationships. To analyse the data from questionnaires of 101 families (95 adolescents, 95 mothers and 91 fathers) Cronbach Alpha, various consecutive first and second order factor analyses, correlations, multiple regression, MANOVA, ANOVA and Scheffè/ Dunnett tests were used. It was found that aggression correlated negatively with the independent variables; and the correlations between adolescents and their parents were significant. Regression analyses indicated that different predictors predicted aggression. Furthermore, differences between adolescents and their parents indicated that the experienced levels of aggression between adolescents and their parents were small. Implications for education are given. <![CDATA[<b>The international impact of Education research done and published in South Africa</b>]]> The aim of this article was to determine the international impact of Education research in South Africa, through a citation analysis of articles published in the South African Journal of Education from 2000 to 2010 The citation impact (nationally as well as internationally) was found to be low. The international impact has been particularly poor, both quantitatively (in terms of the number of citations) and qualitatively (in terms of the standing of the publications in which this research does get cited, seen in the context of the hierarchy of scholarly publications). The article shows that certain topics of research in South Africa fail to break through to the international arena at all, such as research on the current restructuring of education in South Africa. Research that was cited most often in international journals dealt with research methodology, creativity and entrepreneurship education, beliefs and perception studies, and language-in-education in South Africa. In conclusion, a number of recommendations are made for raising the international profile of Education research that is done in South Africa and for further research in pursuance of that objective.