Scielo RSS <![CDATA[South African Journal of Childhood Education]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/rss.php?pid=2223-768220190001&lang=es vol. 9 num. 1 lang. es <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/img/en/fbpelogp.gif http://www.scielo.org.za <![CDATA[<b>Multiplicative reasoning: An intervention's impact on Foundation Phase learners' understanding</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2223-76822019000100001&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es BACKGROUND: Given the context of low attainment in primary mathematics in South Africa, improving learners' understanding of multiplicative reasoning is important as it underpins much of later mathematics. AIM: Within a broader research programme aiming to improve Foundation Phase (Grades 1-3, 7-9-year-olds) learners' mathematical performance, the aim of the particular research reported on here was to improve learners' understanding of and attainment in multiplicative reasoning when solving context-based problems. SETTING: The research was conducted in a suburban school serving a predominantly historically disadvantaged learner population, and involved teachers and learners from three classes in each of Grades 1-3. METHODS: A 4-week intervention piloted the use of context-based problems and array images to encourage learners to model (through pictures and diagrams) the problem situations, with the models produced used both to support problem solving and to support understanding of the multiplicative structures of the contexts. RESULTS: Cleaning the data to include those learners participating at all three data points - pre-, post- and delayed post-test - provided findings based on 233 matched learners. These findings show that, on average, Grade 1 learners had a mean score average increase of 22 percentage points between the pre-test and the delayed post-test, with Grades 2 and 3 having mean increases of 10 and 9 percentage points, respectively. CONCLUSION: The findings of this study demonstrate that young learners can be helped to better understand and improve their attainment in multiplicative reasoning, and suggest the usefulness of trialling the intervention model more broadly across schools. <![CDATA[<b>Early learning experiences, school entry skills and later mathematics achievement in South Africa</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2223-76822019000100002&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es BACKGROUND: The acquired skill set prior to school entry has emerged as an important issue in research and policy internationally. Much evidence exists advocating the importance of early numeracy and literacy skills in later academic achievement and economic outcomes of students. AIM: The goal of this study was to determine the association between parents' reports of engagement in pre-Grade 1 learning activities and school entry skills, and mathematics achievement in Grade 5. SETTING: This study was based on empirical evidence using South African data from the 2015 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study. METHODS: These relationships were investigated by using stepwise multiple regression analysis. RESULTS: It was found that parent reports of engagement in pre-Grade 1 activities and acquired school entry skills are positively associated with student achievement at the Grade 5 level. This held even when taking other contextual home factors into account: socio-economic status and the frequency of speaking the language of the test at home. CONCLUSION: The role of the home is important in preparing children for school and has an impact on their later achievement. The home context should therefore be a key consideration in enhancing the South African education system. Parent reports are a good indicator of engagement in early learning activities and acquired numeracy and literacy skills prior to school entry. <![CDATA[<b>Reflective self-study for an integrated learning approach to early childhood mathematics teacher education</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2223-76822019000100003&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es BACKGROUND: This article gives an account of what I learned through the process of a self-study research project. Self-study teacher research allows teacher educators and teachers to improve their learning, plan new pedagogies and impact students' learning AIM: The aim of this self-study research was to improve my own practice in early childhood mathematics teacher education through interaction and collaboration with others, such as colleagues and students. SETTING: As a South African university-based teacher educator, I piloted an integrated learning approach (ILA) in the teaching and learning of early childhood mathematics in a selected undergraduate programme. METHODS: I began by tracking my personal development in mathematics education and in so doing was able to recognise my personal learning of mathematics as a child growing up in an African township context. I then worked with a class of 38 student teachers to create collages and concept maps to explore their understandings and experiences of ILA. RESULTS: Through this project, I discovered that colleagues in the role of critical friends provided essential feedback on my work in progress. I also learned that student teachers need to be equipped with knowledge and hands-on experience of how integration can take place in teaching and learning early childhood mathematics. I realised that it was essential to constantly reflect on my own personal history and my professional practice to explore new ways of teaching mathematics. CONCLUSION: Teacher educators may consider engaging in self-study research that includes art-based self-study methods to reflect on their practices and see how they change for the benefit of their students and ultimately for the benefit of the learners. <![CDATA[<b>Distribution of additive relation word problems in South African early grade Mathematics workbooks</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2223-76822019000100004&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es BACKGROUND: Workbooks were introduced by the South African Department of Basic Education (DBE) in 2011. Although the workbooks were designed as supplementary materials, in some schools they are used as the sole teaching text. Therefore, an analysis of the content coverage of the workbooks is warranted. This article provides such an analysis in terms of additive relation word problems AIM: This article aims firstly to expound on the existing literature to propose a comprehensive additive relation word problem typology and secondly to analyse the prevalence of particular word problem types in the foundation phase Mathematics workbooks SETTING: This research was conducted in South Africa, focusing on additive relation word problems in foundation phase Mathematics workbooks METHODS: A comprehensive typology of additive relation word problem types was developed based on typologies used in previous studies. All the additive relation word problems in the 2017 Grades 1-3 foundation phase Mathematics workbooks were categorised according to this typology RESULTS: In total there were 61 single-step additive relation word problems with numerical answers across the three grades. This is a small number in comparison to other countries. There was also an uneven distribution of problem types, with more problems in the easier subcategories and fewer or no problems in the more difficult subcategories CONCLUSION: This article provides evidence for the need to revise the word problems in the DBE workbooks. It also provides a theoretical framework to use in the revision of the workbooks and in any supplementary teaching material developed for teachers <![CDATA[<b>Phonological awareness and reading in Northern Sotho - Understanding the contribution of phonemes and syllables in Grade 3 reading attainment</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2223-76822019000100005&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es BACKGROUND: The role of phonological awareness (PA) in successful reading attainment in Northern Sotho has received some attention. However, the importance of developing an awareness to the different phonological grain sizes that underlie decoding (i.e. to different dimensions of PA) has not been established in this language AIM: This study assessed different levels of PA in Northern Sotho learners in order to determine the relationship between phoneme awareness, syllable awareness and reading SETTING: The research was conducted in Atteridgeville, a suburb in Tshwane. The participants were Grade 3 learners who spoke Northern Sotho as home language, and who received their literacy instruction in Northern Sotho in the foundation phase METHOD: The research was cross-sectional, with a correlational component. Phoneme awareness was assessed via a phoneme identification and elision task, whereas syllable awareness was assessed with a syllable elision task RESULTS: Statistical analyses revealed that Northern Sotho learners are significantly better at identifying syllables than phonemes, but that phoneme awareness predicts reading outcomes more accurately CONCLUSION: This study suggests that phoneme awareness does not necessarily develop early or automatically in languages with a simple syllable structure and a transparent orthography and evaluates this finding against the predictions of the Psycholinguistic Grain Size Theory. The importance of explicitly teaching phoneme-grapheme correspondences to Northern Sotho learners is highlighted <![CDATA[<b>Countering linguistic imperialism with stories in the languages of Africa: The African Storybook initiative as a model for enabling in and out of school literacies</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2223-76822019000100006&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es BACKGROUND: In South Africa, and in many other African countries, official language-in-education policy supports the use of learners' primary language(s) in early schooling. In reality, texts in the language(s) of the former colonial power are dominant, with high-interest texts in languages familiar to young learners in short supply or non-existent. Where government education departments have begun to address this shortage, it is mainly by producing graded readers in the 'standard' variety of a language AIM: The main aim of this paper is to demonstrate how quality texts can be provided in a wide range of African languages to stimulate children's interest in reading, across the African continent and beyond SETTING: The African Storybook (ASb) initiative of the South African Institute of Distance Education (Saide) aims to provide illustrated texts in local languages and language varieties that enable children to read for pleasure and for learning. This is done through a publishing model that makes these texts available, cost-effectively, as needed, by teachers, librarians and caregivers METHODS: Internal reports, external evaluations, two interviews with the initiative's co-ordinator and a review of selected texts on the ASb website provided data for analysis RESULTS: The analysis enabled reflection on the challenges faced and the successes achieved, identification of factors that have enabled many of the challenges to be addressed and finally consideration of what the initiative offers as a model for supporting literacy development in local languages CONCLUSION: While the paper tells a story that includes elements of a cautionary tale, it is primarily a story that offers inspiration and guidance to other organisations already involved in, or wishing to embark on, the important project of providing texts for young readers in a wide range of languages <![CDATA[<b>Early reading skills related to Grade 1 English Second Language literacy in rural South African schools</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2223-76822019000100007&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es BACKGROUND: Many South African children attend African language medium of instruction (MOI) schools, learn English as an additional language and switch to English MOI three years later. There is still much to be researched about how a child's first and second language literacy develops over time in South Africa. AIM: This study aims to outline the first and second language skills at the start of Grade 1, which are associated with English Second Language literacy at the end of Grade 1 through the use of a longitudinal design. SETTING: Data was collected from 80 predominantly rural no-fee isiZulu and Siswati MOI schools in Mpumalanga. METHODS: A total of 1347 learners were randomly selected from these schools and were individually assessed on various first language (isiZulu or Siswati) and English skills at the start and end of Grade 1 RESULTS: The data show that learners begin school with varying first and second language oral language proficiency levels, and most learners are pre-literate. Decoding skills improved over the year, but 45.7% and 35% of learners were still unable to read a first language or English word correctly in 1 min. CONCLUSION: The data confirm the importance of first language phonological awareness and letter-sound knowledge for later word-reading abilities in isiZulu, Siswati and English, as well as their importance for English spelling. The study highlights the importance of the systematic development of English oral proficiency during the Foundation Phase especially for rural children who are not exposed to English in their communities. <![CDATA[<b>From 'sheep' to 'amphibian': English vocabulary teaching strategies in South African township schools</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2223-76822019000100008&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es BACKGROUND: South African learners have performed consistently poorly in reading assessments. This paper addresses two key components in improving reading literacy: vocabulary development and teacher knowledge and skills required for quality vocabulary instruction. AIM: This small-scale exploratory study reports on the English vocabulary teaching strategies of eight Grade 3 teachers in South African township schools serving poor communities and their implementation of these strategies in practice. SETTING: The Western Cape teachers taught English Home Language (HL) learners. The Eastern Cape teachers taught Xhosa HL and English First Additional Language (FAL) learners. METHODS: Teacher interviews and classroom observations. RESULTS: The teachers used a range of basic vocabulary teaching strategies that complied with evidence-based vocabulary teaching strategies identified in the literature. However, most of the strategies employed did not reach an advanced level of active learning in which students were challenged and took ownership of their own vocabulary learning. Results showed that especially the English FAL teachers relied heavily on their L1 for vocabulary instruction. CONCLUSION: Grade 3 teachers in South African schools that serve poor communities are capable of providing rich print exposure in their classrooms showing that schools can, to a certain extent, play a compensatory role for the limited literacy opportunities in homes of children from low socio-economic backgrounds. However, in order for the learners to develop a more durable, rich vocabulary their teachers would need to engage in more interactive and in-depth instruction. Implications for policy are discussed. <![CDATA[<b>A comparison of the early reading strategies of isiXhosa and Setswana first language learners</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2223-76822019000100009&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es BACKGROUND: A large amount of evidence highlights the obvious inequalities in literacy results of South African learners. Despite this, a sound understanding of how learners approach the task of reading in the African languages is lacking. AIM: This article examines the role of the syllable, phoneme and morpheme in reading in transparent, agglutinating languages. The focus is on whether differences in the orthographies of isiXhosa and Setswana influence reading strategies through a comparative study of the interaction between metalinguistic skills and orthography. SETTING: Data was collected from Grade 3 first-language and Grade 4 Setswana home-language learners attending no fee schools in the Eastern Cape and North West Province respectively. METHODS: Learners were tested on four linguistic tasks: an open-ended decomposition task, a phonological awareness task, a morphological awareness task and an oral reading fluency task. These tasks were administered to determine the grain size unit which learners use in connected-text reading. RESULTS: The results indicated that syllables were the dominant grain size in both isiXhosa and Setswana, with the use of morphemes as secondary grains in isiXhosa. These results are reflected in the scores of the metalinguistic tasks. CONCLUSION: This research contributes to an understanding of how linguistic and orthographic features of African languages need to be taken into consideration in understanding literacy development. <![CDATA[<b>Barriers and bridges between mother tongue and English as a second language in young children</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2223-76822019000100010&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es BACKGROUND: Social and economic aspirations held by parents can reflect a desire for their children to learn English as a second language. Bilingual education has the potential for empowering traditionally disadvantaged groups, particularly through competence in English, a language that positions identity with power, privilege and status, thus being a political and an economic issue. AIM: The aim was to look critically at the language development of young second-language learners within their social context SETTING: An early childhood centre in Durban, South Africa. METHODS: Methodologically, a qualitative praxeological framework was used. Parent partnership in sustaining the mother tongue was sought and explored in focus group interviews, using an action-reflection cycle to understand the dilemma of young second-language learners in South Africa. Ways of overcoming language barriers using the strengths of the child were explored using persona dolls. These methods helped to develop sustained, shared thinking between children, their parents and the researcher. RESULTS: Young children found their own means of engaging in meaning-making processes both at home and at school. The issue of linguicism was tackled by encouraging parental participation in sustaining the mother tongue while children learned English as a second language CONCLUSION: As long as English means access to improved economic opportunities, there will be a bias against those whose home language is not English. The dilemma of the young English language learner remains an issue of equity, access and redress for past injustices. <![CDATA[<b>From active joining to child-led participation: A new approach to examine participation in teaching practice</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2223-76822019000100011&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es BACKGROUND: The new core curriculum for basic education in Finland emphasises the interrelation between learners' participation and multidisciplinary learning. Each learner must be provided with an opportunity to join at least one multidisciplinary learning module each year. Hence, student teachers also implement a multidisciplinary learning module as part of their teaching practice at the University of Helsinki AIM: In this article, I describe how two multidisciplinary learning modules were implemented by four third-year student teachers in a teacher training school and how they were educated to analyse the different forms of participation in their teaching. SETTING: The research question of this article is as follows: How do different teaching practices used in multidisciplinary learning modules support learners' participation? METHODS: The data of this study consist of two documentation forms: two semi-structured group interviews and a field note diary RESULTS: The results showed that most of the practices used in multidisciplinary learning modules supported an active joining form of participation and a collaborative form of participation. In the multidisciplinary learning modules, a child-oriented form of participation was supported through practices that related to creating artistic learning outcomes; however, no practices supported a child-led form of participation CONCLUSION: In this study, the student teachers learned to analyse the different forms of participation in their teaching. Nevertheless, more data about the workability of the mentoring method in other contexts are needed. <![CDATA[<b>Vulnerable masculinities: Implications of gender socialisation in three rural Swazi primary schools</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2223-76822019000100012&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es BACKGROUND: This article draws on social constructionism to explore vulnerable boys' constructions of gender within three primary schools in Swaziland. OBJECTIVES: It seeks to understand the ways in which vulnerable boys make meaning of masculinities and the implications of these on their social and academic well-being in schools. METHOD: The study adopted a qualitative narrative inquiry methodology, utilising individual and focus group semi-structured interviews and a participatory photovoice technique as its methods of data generation. The participants comprised 15 purposively selected vulnerable boys - orphaned boys, those from child-headed households and from poor socio-economic backgrounds, aged between 11 and 16 years. RESULTS: The findings denote that vulnerable boys constructed their masculinities through heterosexuality where the normative discourse was that they provide for girls in heterosexual relationships. The vulnerable boys' socio-economic status rendered them unable to fulfil these obligations. Failure to fulfil the provider role predisposed vulnerable boys to ridicule and humiliation. However, some vulnerable boys adopted caring attitudes as they constructed alternative masculinities. CONCLUSION: The study recommends the need to affirm and promote alternative masculinities as a strategy for enhancing gender-inclusive and equitable schooling experiences for vulnerable boys. <![CDATA[<b>Home as a primary space: Exploring out-of-school literacy practices in early childhood education in a township in South Africa</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2223-76822019000100013&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es BACKGROUND: Early childhood education is essential in bridging home and school literacy practices; however, recognising the home as a literacy space remains a challenge to educators in South African schools. AIM: The aim of this article was to explore children's literacy practices, often through play, and the potential implications this might hold for their future careers as readers and writers. The article conceptualises home as the primary domain where literacy develops SETTING: The study was conducted in a multilingual township in South Africa. METHODS: We engage with key theories in sociocultural studies and new literacy studies, as well as key ideas from young children's learning experiences with family members and peers during play. Methodologically, we undertook a case study in which we conducted interviews with parents, guardians and educators, as well as conducting home observations of the children's literacy practices. RESULTS: We confirmed that children's out-of-school practices have the potential to support literacy development in school, and we concluded that children interact with multiple discourses during their everyday practices and play. CONCLUSION: Although there is a general lack of knowledge and understanding of these discourses by educators, these interactions have the potential to enhance schooled literacies. <![CDATA[<b>A socially inclusive teaching strategy for fourth grade English (second) language learners in a South African school</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2223-76822019000100014&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es BACKGROUND: Learners from predominantly less priviledged South African schools encounter English as a language of teaching and learning for the first time in Grade 4. The transition from the use of home language to second language, namely English first additional language, is complexly related to the learners' inability to read text meaningfully. This complexity is traceable to the reading materials, actual teaching practices and learners' cultural underpinnings. Learners' inability to read text meaningfully impacts negatively their academic performance in general. AIM: This article demonstrates how a socially inclusive teaching strategy is used to enhance the teaching of reading in a second additional language to Grade 4 learners. SETTING: A one-teacher public school situated on a remote private property with bad access roads. Learners from neighbouring farms walked long distances to school. The teacher's administrative work and workshops often clashed with teaching and learning that received very limited support. METHODS: The principles of the free attitude interview technique and critical discourse analysis were used to generate and analyse the data. Socially inclusive teaching strategy that is participatory action research-oriented and underpinned by critical emancipatory research principles guided the study. RESULTS: The use of socially inclusive teaching strategy helped improve reading of English text significantly. CONCLUSION: Socially inclusive teaching strategy can help improve learning and teaching support materials, teacher support and learning. <![CDATA[<b>How a professional development programme changes early grades teachers' literacy pedagogy</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2223-76822019000100015&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es BACKGROUND: Research on teacher professional learning which supports teaching of reading and writing at the foundation phase (FP) is limited in developing countries, including South Africa AIM: This article examines the ways in which three Foundation Phase teachers changed their practice during 18 months of learning from a formal university programme, the Advanced Certificate in Teaching (ACT). SETTING: The ACT was offered by the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. METHODS: The principles of teaching English as a First Additional Language (EFAL) were used as an instrument for describing change in practice. Using nine principles of teaching EFAL, derived from the ACT literacy learning guide as indicators, six video-recorded lessons (per teacher) were analysed and corroborated with interviews and field notes. RESULTS: The findings indicate a shift in teachers' practice in diverse ways. Two of the three teachers completed the programme having developed a deeper understanding of the natural approaches of acquiring EFAL according to Krashen's model. However, the third teacher did not change her practice. CONCLUSION: We argue that the findings support the research claim that teacher learning is influenced not only by the nature of the professional development activity but also by teachers' personal motivation to learn, and the school context in which they teach. <![CDATA[<b>Music instruction and reading performance: Conceptual transfer in learning and development</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2223-76822019000100016&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es BACKGROUND: This article reported on the developmental consequences of music instruction in Foundation Phase level of South African school context, specifically in relation to learners' learning and acquisition of early reading abilities. Against the background of the recent upsurge in research interest on the subject of conceptual and skills transfer among primary school learners in South Africa, the article uses contemporary advances in theory to interrogate empirical research on the benefits of music instruction for successful acquisition of reading abilities. AIM: The study aimed to interrogate the question - and resuscitate debate about - how conceptual skills in one subject discipline could transfer to benefit the learning and development of related conceptual skills in a different but related subject discipline. SETTING: The setting for the research was a boys-only public primary school located in a middle-class suburb of Cape Town, South Africa. METHODS: Document analysis and observation of reading activities and the performance records of Foundation Phase learners was carried out by the first author, and the performance of a group that was part of the school's music instruction programme was compared with that of a group that was not part of that programme. RESULTS: The results suggested that participation in school music instruction might benefit primary school learners' development of early reading abilities. CONCLUSION: This is especially so when instructional activities are purposefully structured to benefit cognate conceptual skills, with crucial implications for policy development and the organisation of subject matter content knowledge in primary schooling in contemporary South Africa. <![CDATA[<b>Mind the gaps: Professional perspectives of technology-based teaching and learning in the Foundation Phase</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2223-76822019000100017&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es BACKGROUND: As technology today is pervasive, this study seeks to examine how technological changes influence Foundation Phase learners, specifically the impact of technology on teaching and learning. AIM: This study establishes professional perspectives of technology-based teaching and learning (TBTL) in the Foundation Phase from the vantage point of two district officials from the Gauteng Department of Education. SETTING: This study was set in a chosen district in the Gauteng province because the environment was identified as data rich, which implies that the participants were able to share information based on the large number of Foundation Phase schools that they service. METHODS: Qualitative case study methods such as interviews, opinion pieces and field notes from district officials servicing Foundation Phase schools were examined through the theoretical lens of the Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge model. RESULTS: The data gathered proved worthwhile in presenting the perspectives of TBTL in the Foundation Phase from one district in South Africa with regard to the benefits, barriers and gaps thereof. CONCLUSION: Implications for technological infrastructure, a Foundation Phase TBTL policy framework, teacher preparation training and in-service training, and support in finding appropriate content were given. <![CDATA[<b>Profile of factors influencing academic motivation among grade 6 and 7 learners at a state school</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2223-76822019000100018&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es BACKGROUND: Academic achievement is influenced by a system of internal and external stimuli. Internal stimuli include interest, willingness and academic motivation. In South Africa, efforts to improve the quality of education have mostly focused on the provision of physical resources rather than emotional resources. AIM: The aim of this study was to determine the profile of four factors, namely, teacher style, role models, home environment and peer influence that can influence the academic motivation of grade 6 and 7 learners. SETTING: A parallel-medium primary state school in an urban part of Bloemfontein, Free State. METHODS: This was a cross-sectional observational study. Data were collected using an anonymous, self-administered questionnaire completed by the learners. The questions captured demographic data and measured the four categories of factors. RESULTS: Overall, 115 out of 202 learners participated (response rate 56.9%). Almost all learners felt that their teachers encouraged them to do their best (96.5%), but 61.3% felt they could not confide in their teachers with personal problems. Most learners had a role model (93.8%), and 70.9% expressed that the role model's hard work was the reason for their admiration. Most learners felt that they were surrounded by supportive people (83.0%) and had a good study environment at home (80.5%). The majority of learners had a group of friends with whom they felt they belong (90.3%), and they could confide in their best friends with personal problems (61.6%). CONCLUSION: Teacher style, peers and home environment scored high as important factors for academic motivation. <![CDATA[<b>A modified analytical framework for describing m-learning (as applied to early grade Mathematics)</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2223-76822019000100019&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es BACKGROUND: There has been little Southern African research attention on the potentials of m-learning to support quality mathematics learning for young children and their caring adults. This article argues that m-learning research has shifted from claims of being promising to claims of effect in educational settings of both classrooms and homes. This is particularly the case in mathematics, where there is increasing evidence of positive (although modest) improvement in learning outcomes. AIM: This article modifies an analytical framework for initial descriptions of m-learning interventions. Comparison between interventions in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) context is then possible. SETTING: Three large-scale m-learning interventions focused on early grade mathematics in the SADC countries. METHODS: Targeting the early grades and building on an existing framework for describing m-learning interventions, three large-scale m-learning interventions from within the SADC were purposively selected. The three interventions exemplify a possible way to describe the learning theory and pedagogical emphasis underlying the design of their mathematics programmes. RESULTS: The cases themselves contribute to understanding the m-learning landscape and approaches to early grade mathematics in the SADC in more detail. CONCLUSION: A modified analytical framework is offered as a means of describing m-learning in ways that attend to children's and caregivers' use of mobile devices, as well as the underlying learning theories. <![CDATA[<b>Learning through play in Grade R classrooms: Measuring practitioners' confidence, knowledge and practice</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2223-76822019000100020&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es BACKGROUND: This article reports on the evaluation of a professional development programme for underqualified Grade R practitioners, many of whom work under challenging conditions. AIM: The study aimed to evaluate the practitioners' confidence, knowledge and practice of play. SETTING: The programme involved a 5-week training programme for 1000 Grade R practitioners across three Eastern Cape districts. METHODS: The study included three data sources: (1) self-reported shifts in confidence and practice solicited through closed Likert-type questions, (2) responses to open-ended questions on knowledge of play and (3) lesson observations of case study practitioners, using a lesson observation protocol to distil quantitative shifts in the practice of case study practitioners (n = 10), compared with control practitioners (n = 4 RESULTS: The evaluation found positive shifts in practitioners' self-reporting on their confidence and knowledge of play. However, evidence of their knowledge of play was mixed. Practitioners offered very general conceptions of play, with specific attention on the expected 'form' of play. The use of materials for play, and changed classroom practice from whole class to small groups, were most strongly evident. Because it was short course of 5 weeks, lesson observations of case study practitioners were less positive, with no significant difference between treatment and control lesson observations. CONCLUSION: The study opens a window into the implementation of the 5-week professional development programme and the instrumentation used to reflect on practitioners' confidence, knowledge and practice of play. The discussion reflects critically on improving the instrumentation in future for measuring shifts in practitioner confidence, knowledge and practice of play.