Teachers' experiences of incorporating indigenous knowledge in the life sciences classroom
- Authors: Mothwa, Melida Modiane
- Date: 2014-02-05
- Subjects: Ethnoscience - Study and teaching (Secondary) - South Africa , Life sciences - Study and teaching (Secondary) - South Africa , Science teachers - In-service training
- Type: Thesis
- Identifier: uj:8067 , http://hdl.handle.net/10210/8998
- Description: M.Ed. (Science Education) , South Africa is one of the global hotspots of both biological and ethnic diversity. Southern Africa is rich in angiosperm species, and the angiosperm species count is considered to be 21,817. The traditional medicinal systems of different cultural groups and their herbal, animal and mineral materia medica have ancient origins which may date back to Palaeolithic times. Indigenous knowledge (lK) and cultural practices in many areas of the country provide learners with a good "entry" into the scientific world. A true constructivist teacher will realise the importance of building new knowledge on learners' existing knowledge. This will show the learners how relevant science is to our daily lives. It might also open future career opportunities, and develop learners' entrepreneurial skills. This fact is acknowledged by the new curriculum (the National Curriculum Statement), and Life Sciences teachers are expected to infuse their teaching with indigenous knowledge. When these new policies were created, policy makers focused on the what of desired educational change, and unfortunately neglected the how (Rogan & Aldous, 2009). Teachers often have limited understanding of the curriculum changes. The textbooks used in class give little or even no proper information about indigenous knowledge. Whereas some textbooks still provide information on IK in the form of examples, hardly any attention is given to teaching strategies and practical work that can be done in the classroom. My study highlights the problem that many teachers simply ignore IK, due to their lack of Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) in this regard, and the lack of guidance and support from the Department of Education. As many teachers were trained in the "old method" of teaching and not in the pedagogy prescribed by the National Curriculum Statement (NCS), many of them do not have specific knowledge about the indigenous knowledge that they need to impart to learners. Those who are fortunate enough to have sufficient knowledge of indigenous knowledge systems (IKS), often lack the pedagogy. Once again, we need to go back in history to understand why teachers find it so difficult to teach IK. In the apartheid era it was a taboo to mention traditional medicine in the classroom. Our traditional medicine was often replaced by Western medicine. Black South Africans were robbed of their identity. Under the Suppression of Witchcraft Act, indigenous belief systems were undermined and in most cases referred to as pagan (heathen) belief systems. As a result, indigenous belief systems were viewed as something that derails society. This study focuses on a number of issues related to the incorporation of indigenous knowledge in the classroom. One of the main concerns is teachers' pedagogical content knowledge (PCK). Two additional factors also make the introduction of indigenous knowledge difficult in the classroom: (a) the multicultural South African society (whose IK should be entertained?), and (b) the nature of science, and many teachers' perception that the introduction of IK would constitute pseudo-science. The question arises whether it is possible to introduce indigenous knowledge in a scientific way in the Life Sciences classroom. Is an IK focus compliant with the syntactical nature of Life Sciences, namely an emphasis on inquiry-based approaches? A second question arises: Are South African teachers able to teach IK in such a context? As mentioned above, many Life Sciences teachers find it difficult to follow heuristic approaches where learners engage with discovery learning making observations, formulating hypotheses, developing experimental designs, collecting and interpreting data, and making conclusions. Now, in addition to this challenge, teachers need to follow such a pedagogy to investigate indigenous knowledge claims. It is just so much easier for teachers to rely on "chalk and talk" approaches, as a study of Petersen (2010) reveals...
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The professional development of life sciences teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge and profile of implementation concerning the teaching of DNA, meiosis, protein synthesis and genetics within a community of practice
- Authors: Van Wyk, Grizelda
- Date: 2013-07-18
- Subjects: Life sciences - Study and teaching , Science teachers - Training of , Science teachers - In-service training , Biology - Study and teaching (Secondary)
- Type: Thesis
- Identifier: uj:7623 , http://hdl.handle.net/10210/8493
- Description: M. Ed. (Science Education) , South African Life Sciences teachers have been subjected to three policy changes during the past six years. The first new curriculum was implemented in 2006, and when it was found that this curriculum lacked sufficient botany content, a new version of the curriculum was implemented in 2009. Following this, a new curriculum was being implemented in 2012 in all subjects, leaving Life Sciences teachers fatigued as a result of all the professional development workshops they had to attend each year. One principle of the new curriculum was that teachers had to use a constructivist approach to teaching, but research had found that this was not the case in South African classrooms. Furthermore, research also showed that some South African teachers lacked the necessary content and pedagogical knowledge to teach science to grade 12 learners. The aim of this study was to see whether teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge could be improved by the use of communities of practice over a period of time. The content that was focused on was DNA, protein synthesis, meiosis and genetics, as these topics were flagged as problematic topics in the National Senior Certificate examinations in 2008. A generic qualitative design was used as this research was situated in an interpretive framework. The genre of the research was phenomenology with design based elements. Before the intervention started, teachers had to complete a questionnaire and this questionnaire had to be completed again after the intervention. Interviews and feedback tools were used to obtain teachers’ views on these communities of practice. The interviews also had a section that pertained to teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge. Structured classroom observations were used to see whether teachers were implementing a constructivist approach when teaching the content. It also served as a method to ascertain whether the activities done during the community of practice sessions were implemented into classroom practice. It was found that communities of practice are an effective way of developing teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge, but that it should be continuous and would be more v effective over a longer period of time. Teachers also enjoyed these meetings, shared resources and motivated each other. Another finding of this research was that teachers did not implement a constructivist approach to their teaching as required by the new curriculum, even though they indicated that they preferred this approach to teaching. A recommendation of this research is that teachers’ professional development should take place in an informal community of practice where teachers could share ideas and resources. A keystone species is required for these communities of practice to stay sustainable. These communities of practice should be implemented on a continuous basis in order to have a positive effect on teachers’ practice.
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The use of narratives and concept cartoons in the professional development of teachers to achieve higher-order thinking skills and deep learning about the evolution of life and geological time
- Authors: Van der Mark, Maria Hendrika
- Date: 2012-08-27
- Subjects: Evolution - Study and teaching (Secondary) , Caricatures and cartoons , Science teachers - In-service training , Thought and thinking - Study and teaching , Life sciences - Study and teaching (Secondary)
- Type: Thesis
- Identifier: uj:3156 , http://hdl.handle.net/10210/6573
- Description: Ph.D. , Evolution of life as a scientific theory was introduced officially into the South African life sciences grade twelve curriculum in 2008. This presented an opportunity to investigate how teachers could incorporate teaching strategies, involving the use of narratives and concept cartoons, into their pedagogical content knowledge to encourage the use of higher-order thinking skills and deep learning about evolution, a new topic in the curriculum. Little research has been done on how narratives and concept cartoons contribute to the development of higher-order thinking skills in teachers and their ability to use these teaching strategies to effect a better conceptualization of evolution. A mixed methods research design was adopted to establish generalizations about the teachers’ higher-order thinking skills as well as to explore their individual worldviews about evolution as a scientific theory and their perceptions about the controversy between science and religion. The quantitative and main part of the study involved a (quasi)experimental format based on interventions focusing on workshop presentations using either narratives or concept cartoons. A pre-test and post-test format was used to measure the effect of the treatments. A rubric, based on the Piagetian levels of concept development, was designed to transform qualitative responses into quantitative data. The responses to five open-ended questions of a questionnaire were analyzed using the Wilcoxon Signed Rank test and the Mann-Whitney U test. The smaller and supportive phase of the study involved categorizing and then analyzing qualitative data, derived from different artifacts and responses to the questionnaire, in order to establish how the teachers’ worldviews influenced their perceptions of the evolution of life, the nature of science and religion. An embedded concurrent mixed methods design allowed for the simultaneous generation and collection of quantitative and qualitative data. The findings were integrated and mixed to give a clearer and more global picture not only of the teachers’ ability to use higher-order thinking skills but also to reflect their conceptual ecologies of evolution.
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