Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Journal of Education (University of KwaZulu-Natal)]]> vol. num. 89 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Editorial</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Randomized control trials in education (RCTs): What is their contribution to education theory about teaching?</b>]]> Random Controlled Trials (RCTs) have become one of the most sought-after approaches to impact evaluations of large-scale educational interventions in developed and developing countries. In this paper, we examine the contribution of RCT-based evaluations of large-scale early grade interventions to education theory about teaching. After a brief introduction of the development context of RCT-based evaluations, we examine the research model of RCTs in education and some of the knowledge claims made by RCT scholars, with specific attention to their claims about changing modes of teaching. We then introduce, briefly, five multi-pronged interventions to improve early grade reading in three developing countries (India, Kenya, and South Africa). Finally, we discuss two key educational ideas about teaching supported by these early grade interventions and locate them in education theory about teaching. Our argument is that these ideas about teaching are not new; they are debated by education researchers and because RCTs' evaluation research does not provide empirical analysis of these ideas, it cannot be integrated by teacher educators and education researchers into knowledge about teaching and teacher education and development. Teaching is not seen as an empirical object to be theorised by this massive growing research field. If collaboration and dialogue were to emerge between development economists, education researchers, and teacher educators, RCTs' findings of educational interventions could contribute to what is already known in educational theory about teaching. <![CDATA[<b>Exploring the use of assessment for learning in the mathematics classroom</b>]]> Assessment for Learning is useful in producing feedback that mathematics teachers may utilise to enhance classroom teaching. In this study, we look at how mathematics teachers in Alexandra Township, South Africa, utilise assessment for learning (AfL) to create a classroom culture that responds to learners' knowledge acquisition. This study used a qualitative technique within an interpretivist paradigm and a case study design. We purposively selected nine Grade 6 primary school mathematics teachers. Data, collected through face-to-face semi-structured interviews, non-participant classroom observation, and documents, was analysed using qualitative data analysis. Results revealed, first, that the participants understand AfL as those activities given in class at the end of the lesson to measure learner understanding. Second, data revealed that the participants depend on textbooks for AfL activities that do not always take learners' contexts into account. Finally, the study revealed AfL challenges because teachers teach mathematics in a language other than the learners' home language. We recommend that in-service teachers attend several assessment developmental workshops to help them focus on pedagogical practices that will improve AfL implementation. <![CDATA[<b>Life Orientation teachers' pedagogical content knowledge and skills in using a group investigation cooperative teaching approach</b>]]> In this qualitative phenomenological study, we explored the pedagogical content knowledge and skills needed by Life Orientation teachers to implement a group investigation cooperative teaching approach. This study is based on constructivist theory and employed purposive sampling. Seven teachers from selected secondary schools in the Northern Cape province, South Africa, participated in face-to-face interviews. Data was analysed using inductive thematic analysis; it was supported by the literature review and by constructivist theory. Findings revealed that the participants' lack of adequate Life Orientation content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge has an impact on their teaching praxis. We found that challenges such as the lack of training in implementing group investigation prevent them from participating in such practice. It is therefore recommended that the Department of Basic Education develop strategic plans and training sessions to promote the use of group investigation as a school-based professional development initiative. Further research on group investigation to benefit in-service Life Orientation teachers may pave the way towards the establishment of professional collaboration as a sustainable practice among them. <![CDATA[<b>A new feminist materialist analysis of girls and the sexual violence assemblage</b>]]> Inspired by Deleuze and Guattari's (1988) concept of assemblage, in this paper we address 12-13-y ear-old girls' experience of sexual violence as a materially embedded, relational, and affective event. In doing so, we contribute to the understanding of how girls are both constrained by violent gendered cultures in school and of their capacity to resist such violence. We give attention to sexual violence as an assemblage of materialities in the form of bodies, objects, expressions, spaces, and ideas that connect in ways that affect what girls can and cannot do within a specific place and moment in time. Drawing on semi-structured interviews, we show how the assemblage creates the potential to challenge dominant gendered scripts that structure girls' experience in schools but also point to the disabling environments that curtail such potential. We argue that while the assemblage produces agentive capacities, it may simultaneously constrain them. We conclude by offering possibilities to address sexual violence through addressing gender norms while including boys in gender transformative work. <![CDATA[<b>Parents resist sexuality education through digital activism</b>]]> South Africa has high rates of HIV infection among its young population, high rates of unintended pregnancy among the youth, and extremely high rates of gender-based violence. Given all this, it is essential that young people be taught skills that will enable them to manage their sexuality. Schools have been shown to be best placed to provide accurate and relevant information on young people's sexualities. Through the Life Orientation (LO) curriculum, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) offers age-appropriate sexuality education as a response to these concerns. However, research in sexuality education shows that there is a lack of guidance and preparedness by educators, and this hampers how sexuality education is delivered in South African schools. A recent attempt by the DBE to upscale and strengthen the sexuality education curriculum in South African schools was met with resistance from parents and other lobby groups. This resistance was driven across many different media platforms, and particularly through an online hashtag #LeaveOurKidsAlone, largely on Facebook and Twitter. Through this resistance, we are introduced to parents/adult response to the teaching and learning of comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) in South African schools, a voice that has been missing to a great extent in this debate. Working within a broad feminist qualitative framework, I use critical discourse analysis to map out some of the key discourses emerging from the #LeaveOurKidsAlone resistance in an attempt to understand how parents/adults use social media to resist CSE in South Africa. I foreground critically adult voices and the implications of these for the teaching and learning of CSE in South African schools. <![CDATA[<b>Influence of selected social factors on <i>career </i>decisionmaking of grade 12 learners in township secondary schools in South Africa</b>]]> Career decision-making is a challenge to most learners in secondary schools in South Africa. In this study, we examined the influence of selected social factors (influence of older siblings, peer influence, teachers' influence, and career information services) on career decision-making of Grade 12 learners in township secondary schools in South Africa. We adopted a correlational survey research design. The sample size of 260 learners was obtained using the stratified random sampling technique. The questionnaire that included reference to peer influence, teachers' influence, career information service, influence of older siblings, and career decisionmaking was used to collect data. We used Cronbach's alpha coefficient analysis to measure the internal consistency of the questionnaire; all sub-scales had excellent internal consistent reliability. We used the Kaiser-Meyer-Oklin measure of sample adequacy (KMO Index) and the Bartlett's Test of Sphericity to confirm internal validity. We analysed quantitative data using inferential statistics such as Pearson Product Moment Correlation, linear, and multiple regression analysis. According to the findings, the strongest correlation was between teacher influence and career decision-making (r=.643, n=204, p.01), followed by the relationship between career information services and career decision-making (r =.607, n=204, p.01) while peer influence had the least relationship to career decision-making (r (204) =.514, p.01. The influence of older siblings also had a significant direct relationship with career decision-making among the Grade 12 learners (r=.566, n=204, p<.01). We recommend that teacher counsellors adopt a multifaceted approach in developing career decision making programmes for learners in secondary schools. <![CDATA[<b>In search of teacher professionalism: TVET teachers' "dual narrative" of professionalism</b>]]> Teachers in public sector technical and vocational education (TVET) colleges in South Africa have recently moved into the 'required to be professionally qualified' category. Required professionalism differs from enacted professionalism, so the research study on which we report in this article sought to understand how National Certificate (Vocational) (NC(V)) lecturers in Engineering Studies and Business Studies comply with, accommodate, or resist the institutionalised professional culture(s) of their colleges and classrooms. We gathered data through surveys and focus group interviews from 205 lecturers in 10 TVET colleges in five provinces for this study. We found a "dual narrative" of professionalism. NC(V) teachers aspire to a distinctive vocational pedagogy that confirms their status as professional TVET teachers, but it is beyond their reach when institutionalised professional cultures constrain rather than enable. They, therefore, describe the cultural milieu of college and classroom in terms of idealised educational values (as they would like them to be rather than as they are) to enable, potentially, an enacted professionalism that allows them to cope with restrictive and assessment-dominated professional cultures as currently experienced. <![CDATA[<b>Is education blithely producing unemployed graduates? A reflection based on a review of environmental skills initiatives (2016-2021)</b>]]> A statement from the president of the Black Business Council (BBC) that "our education system continues to produce the unemployed graduates" (NewZRoomAfrika, 2021) because "the courses they are doing are not required by industry" reflects the perennial perception that South Africa's education system is a cause of unemployment. In this paper, I explore aspects of this perception through a meta-review of environmental skills-related studies conducted over the past five years. Data used in these studies include graduation trends based on higher education, employer surveys, analyses of skills needs in the workplace compared to courses offered, and case examples of internships and teacher development. Using an ecological-systems model, I relate the findings, in a layered critical realist analysis, to the socio-cultural milieu in South Africa. I challenge the conception of relevant graduate education evident in the BBC's statement. <![CDATA[<b>Sink or swim: Exploring resilience of academics at an education faculty during Covid-19</b>]]> There is a proliferation of local and international research focusing on Covid-19 and its impact on teaching and learning practices in higher education. However, there is considerably less focus on the resilience of academics in higher education during the pandemic in South Africa. To consider this gap, a group of curriculum officers at an education faculty based at a university of technology in the Western Cape set out to explore how resilient academics were during Covid-19. Thirteen academics who teach in and across the Foundation, Intermediate, and Further Education and Training phases participated in a focus group interview. Data was analysed thematically using content analysis and three themes were identified: creativity through complexity; embracing challenge through resilience; and connecting with self. The implications reveal that universities as a contextual environment for promoting resilience need to engage with the social and physical ecology of staff by providing support and resources to facilitate resilience during times of crisis. The dominant nature of the hierarchical dynamics of the university's management also needs to be considered as part of a social-ecological perspective in valuing academics' wellbeing during emergencies. <![CDATA[<b>The place of teaching, learning and student development in a framework of academic freedom: Attending to the negative freedoms of our students</b>]]> In this paper, I argue for approaches to teaching, learning, and student development to be considered as important facets of the way in which the principles of academic freedom are conceptualised at university. The idea of academic freedom has been significantly expanded and better nuanced, particularly in its meaning at South African universities in the post-apartheid years, than the earlier T. B. Davie formulation that is more strongly focused on institutional autonomy aspects of academic freedom. Considerations of institutional autonomy relate to the positive freedoms that universities are to enjoy. However, I argue that consideration of student development in an academic freedom context requires that universities give thought to the negative freedoms that students are to enjoy such as the freedom from harm, or prejudice, or cycloptic approaches to ways of knowing. This requires careful attention to all the interactions that students will have with the university, particularly with the ways in which patterns of exclusion and prejudice are woven into institutional culture in ways that hamper their learning development. <![CDATA[<b>Comment on Yunus Ballim's "The place of teaching, learning and student development in a framework of academic freedom: Attending to the negative freedoms of our students"</b>]]> In this commentary, we engage with Yunus Ballim's article in this issue that explores how academic freedom can enhance teaching, learning, and institutional culture in South African universities. Ballim uses the concept of negative freedom to show how the institutional culture and everyday practices of universities can play a vital role in shaping students' learning and development. Negative freedom is the degree to which an external power interferes or constrains the choices that people have, limiting the area of action in which they are free to be or do what they want. This creative approach to the issue of academic freedom takes the debate beyond the freedom to choose what is taught or researched at universities and the relationship between universities and the state. We call for further exploration into how student agency is conceptualised from this perspective, questioning how university-society relations intersect with forms of academic freedom.