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Journal of Education (University of KwaZulu-Natal)

On-line version ISSN 2520-9868
Print version ISSN 0259-479X


RAMSAROOP, Sarita  and  PETERSEN, Nadine. Portraits of primary school pre-service teachers at a South African university: Implications for nuanced student support. Journal of Education [online]. 2020, n.81, pp.82-98. ISSN 2520-9868.

In this article, we report on a study of two South African primary school teacher education cohorts undertaken to investigate and understand their readiness to succeed in higher education and to plan support accordingly. Using the methodology of portraiture, we generated data from a combination of student questionnaires and examination results. Qualitative content analysis enabled the construction of six personas and three main themes. The portraits helped with an understanding of the complexity of the themes, in particular with how an identification of both the malleable and non-malleable elements affecting students' lives could inform and shape interventions for successful transition into university. More specifically, the dominance of particular characteristics in the personas provided information about which student groups required the most psychosocial and academic support and where it was required. The portraits also helped us to gauge the value of existing first-year initiatives, such as the educational excursion, for promoting student enculturation and in overcoming their initial anxieties and preconceptions. We argue for more nuanced information about students to inform a multi-pronged approach to student support that may extend much longer than teacher educators anticipate.

Keywords : teacher education; primary school; first-generation students; portraiture; student personas; higher education support.

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