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Journal of Education (University of KwaZulu-Natal)

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


NAIDOO, Devika  and  MABASO, Mbali. Deep conceptual learning opportunities in business studies classrooms. Journal of Education [online]. 2020, n.81, pp.136-158. ISSN 2520-9868.

Initial tests of the curriculum design coherence model (McPhail, 2020) indicate that teachers face challenges in relation to engaging deeply with the epistemic structure of their subject. In this study, we discuss the additional difficulty that teachers have in identifying appropriate content and examples that will provide opportunities for students' concept formation. The key question guiding this study was: "What opportunities for deep conceptual learning and cognitive advance are provided in business studies classrooms?" This analysis of the pedagogic practices of teachers is framed by the curriculum design coherence model (CDC) that is informed by deep learning from the cognitivist theory perspective. This article gives an account of observations of grade 11 business studies lessons in two schools. The lessons were observed, recorded, transcribed, and deductively analysed according to an analytical framework based on the CDC model. While there was evidence of concepts that were taught, appropriate subject content necessary for understanding the concept was not evident in most of the lessons. The dominant pedagogy of direct instruction, reading definitions, and copying notes amounted to giving students the definition of concepts and their basic components in a skeletal way. Content that requires students to analyse and infer meanings and make generalisations was lacking. The absence of appropriate content and examples, such as case studies in the textbook, curtailed opportunities for deep conceptual learning and cognitive advance. These practices deny learners access to the formal academic knowledge of the discipline.

Keywords : deep learning; concept formation; epistemic structure; business studies; curriculum design coherence model.

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