PiE 2017 Volume 35 Issue 1

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  • ItemOpen Access
    Internet use among university students: a reason for concern?
    (Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, 2017) Geyer, L. S.; Hall, H.; Le Roux, M. P.; Crafford, G.
    International studies reveal that students have more freedom, as well as unstructured and unsupervised time, which makes them susceptible to problematic internet use (PIU). Although students are a risk group for PIU, no evidence of local research on internet use among students could be identified. This article reports on a study on the nature and impact of internet use among students at a tertiary institution. A quantitative research approach was adopted and a survey with a group-administered questionnaire was conducted with 295 second-year students (between 18 and 25 years) registered for a module in a basic social science. Respondents were recruited through convenience sampling. The nature of internet use was explored with reference to internet platforms, reasons for internet use, devices for connecting to the internet, and the locations where respondents access the internet. The impact of internet use was explored through eight constructs adopted from two screening instruments in the public domain, i.e. the Internet-Related Addictive Behaviour Inventory and the Problematic Internet Use Questionnaire. The research results were calculated by means of descriptive and association statistics, specifically the chi-square and Fisher’s exact tests. Ethical considerations, such as informed consent and voluntary participation, were observed. The research results revealed that the respondents preferred email and chatting as internet platforms, while they used the internet mostly for extrinsic reasons, such as for assignments and socialising. Online activities occurred mostly on campus and at home during the early evenings via mobile phones or laptops. The respondents scored relatively low on the constructs measuring PIU. However, two constructs ‘escape from problems’ and ‘loss of control’ presented with markedly higher scores and could be flagged as potential risk areas. Furthermore, association statistics indicated a statistically significant difference of some constructs with regard to gender and the romantic relationship status of respondents, which could be considered in the provision of student support services. The development and evaluation of evidence-based interventions for the prevention, treatment and management of PIU are recommended.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Factors contributing to the negation of therapeutic services by emerging adults at a South African university
    (Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, 2017) Van den Berg, M.; Jacobs, I. F.; Weideman, S.
    From a practice point of view it seems as if there are certain factors that might contribute to the fact that emerging adults tend to negate therapeutic help and services. It also seems to be specifically true with regard to emerging adults at university. Help negation seems to occur albeit the fact that therapeutic intervention is seen as an effective tool in managing distress. The aim of the study therefore was to explore which factors contribute to help negation behaviour in emerging adults at a specific university in South Africa. A qualitative case study design was employed where participants who complied with the inclusion criteria set out for the study, were selected by means of non-probability target and snowball sampling. Fifteen students residing in campus residences respectively participated in one of three focus group discussions. Creswell’s spiral of data analysis was used to analyse the transcribed data. The data crystallised into four themes, which contribute to help negation behaviour in emerging adults. Emerging adults have a fear of being judged, stigmatised, recognised, of not being treated confidentially and a fear of being vulnerable and hurt. They prefer to seek help and support from their family and peers and to put their trust in God and their religion; they have internalised beliefs about themselves and therapy and a need for independence; student interns work at the therapeutic centres on campus which specifically contributes to help negation for emerging adults at the university. It is crucial that the professionals revisit their strategies and approaches in order to overcome negation of formal help and create a more understandable, approachable and effective therapeutic service to emerging adults, especially at university therapeutic centres.
  • ItemOpen Access
    It’s a virtual child!: postgraduate students’ experiences in a developmental psychology class
    (Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, 2017) Naude, L.; Botha, A.
    The aim of this study was to explore postgraduate psychology students’ development, as facilitated by the use of an interactive web-based simulation programme, My Virtual Child©. A social constructivist developmental approach, with specific focus on cognitive development towards self-authorship, served as the overarching framework for the study. Participants included postgraduate students enrolled in a developmental psychology module. Multiple sources of data, such as reflective exercises, summative portfolio assignments and a focus group, were analysed using thematic analysis. Participants indicated that the My Virtual Child© programme provided them with an excellent opportunity for authentic, relevant and challenging learning experiences, whilst balancing theory and practice. Furthermore, it provided room for deliberate reflective activities, group interaction and the integration of a diversity of experiences. This programme therefore created a practical and pragmatic teaching environment for more engaging and theoretically rich learning, preparing students for self-authorship in a complex world.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Investigating the role of non-academic support systems of students completing a Master’s Degree in Open, Distance and e-Learning
    (Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, 2017) Fynn, Angelo; Janse van Vuuren, Herman
    This paper investigates the role played by the non-academic support systems that students can access during their master’s journey within the Open, Distance and e-Learning context. In defining support, this paper draws on the theory of connectivism, which portrays relationships as a network with various connecting nodes. Traditionally, support for master’s students takes the form of academic assistance that is channelled primarily through the supervision relationship. The relationship between student and supervisor in Open, Distance and e-Learning represents the main bridge between student and institution. As such, the process of supervision has evolved into a critical component of student success at the level of master’s studies. The theory of connectivism challenges this rigid view of unidirectional learning in a supervision relationship or programme. The connectivist approach acknowledges that learning and knowledge rest within a diversity of opinion. Drawing from a cohort of postgraduate students at a South African distance‑education institution, this paper measures the learning network of each student. In total, 37 students and graduates responded to an online survey aimed at investigating the networks that students have created during their master’s studies. The instrument consisted of 34 items that covered aspects such as the cognitive, affective and systemic support provided by supervisors as well as external sources of support. While the supervision relationship remains the core process during postgraduate studies, meeting the needs of postgraduate students extends well beyond the capabilities of most individual supervisors. Results in this study demonstrated that students have a range of needs for the successful completion of their qualifications. Respondents reportedly had the necessary social and financial capital to support these needs outside the supervision relationships; however, not all students do. This study, therefore, provided a student‑support framework that may identify the support needs and support sources to improve postgraduate student support.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Understanding learner attitudes towards the use of tablets in a blended learning classroom
    (Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, 2017) Laher, Sumaya; Boshoff, Emma
    In 2004, the South African Department of Education (DoE) published the White Paper on E-Education. The aim of the E-Education White Paper was to ensure that South African learners could use education communication technologies (ECT) skilfully by 2013. However, these goals have not been met and a significant digital divide exists between learners with and without access to ET. The lack of consideration of intra- and inter-personal factors such as attitudes in the rollout of ET has often been cited as one of the reasons for the present lack of ET integration and uptake in schools. Hence, this study contributes to this gap in research by exploring attitudes towards the use of iPads in a sample of South African learners in a blended learning environment. A demographic questionnaire and the ET Attitudes Scale were administered to a convenience sample of 285 learners from a private school in the Johannesburg area. Descriptive statistics, ANOVAs and thematic analysis were used to analyse the results. From the findings, it was evident that overall learners were more positive than negative about the integration of iPads in school. However, this pattern differed across the grades with lower grades demonstrating better attitudes towards the use of iPads in terms of enjoyability, ease of use and usefulness. These results suggest that ET attitudes do have a role to play in order to ensure the successful implementation and adoption of ET by learners and should be considered in policy and practice.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Towards a conceptual understanding of community engagement in higher education in South Africa
    (Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, 2017) Bhagwan, Raisuyah
    As attention to community engagement grows, it is critical that academics, students and community collaborators understand how it is conceptualised. This paper presents findings from a qualitative inquiry with academics and community engagement administrators nationally with regard to how they conceptualise community engagement. Six universities were included in the sample that was selected purposefully from the South African Higher Education Community Engagement Forum (SAHECEF) list. Four major themes emerged from the data and focussed on context, process, mutual beneficial relationship and knowledge production. The data reflected a diverse array of conceptualisations on a continuum that ranged from the university-community dyad to that of the co-production of knowledge.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Aligning school discipline with the best interests of the child: some deficits in the legislative framework
    (Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, 2017) Reyneke, J. M.; Pretorius, J. L.
    The best-interest-of-the-child concept should guide the legislative framework with regard to the approach followed as well as the disciplinary processes used in schools. Currently schools revert mostly to a retributive and adversarial approach to discipline that is not compatible with the best-interests-of-the-child standard. In this article, the provisions of section 8 of the Schools Act are scrutinised and it is concluded that these provisions are supporting an adversarial and punitive approach to school discipline. This is evident from the lack of prescriptions ensuring that sanctions serve the best interest of children, the insufficient provision for support measures and structures for counselling, the undue focus on the best interests of the transgressor and the lack of guidance concerning the appointment of an intermediary. The introduction of restorative discipline as an alternative approach to discipline is recommended. The latter approach is recommended, because it is submitted that amendments to the existing legislative provisions would not address the key objection to the legislative framework namely its retributive and adversarial character.
  • ItemOpen Access
    An alternative approach to a complex issue: youth-designed strategies for the prevention of teenage pregnancy in schools
    (Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, 2017) Hendricks, F.; Wood, L.
    Teenage pregnancy of school-going girls is a persistent concern, not only in South Africa, but globally. Despite various curricular responses aimed at educating young people about prevention, the numbers continue to rise. While recognising the intersectionality of teenage pregnancy, we believe that school-based prevention measures can play an important role in helping youth to make healthy decisions about their sexual behaviour. However, the effectiveness of the prevention messages depends on how they are designed and delivered. Using a participatory action research design, we engaged 24 peer educators in a process of data generation and analysis to help them to design, implement and evaluate prevention strategies that were found to be youth-friendly, contextualised and culturally relevant. This approach benefitted not only the participating youth in terms of the development of specific life skills, but also influenced how they, their peers and teachers began to think differently about the issue of teenage pregnancy. The research also influenced change in school policy. The findings thus indicate that the involvement of youth in finding ways to address issues that affect their lives may be an important way to improve the effectiveness of such programmes.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Applying a humanistic pedagogy to advance and integrate humane values in a medical school environment
    (Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, 2017) Jama, M. P.
    Sometimes universities in general are criticised because of impersonal campus environments, or “academic incivility”. However, research shows that this phenomenon is more common in medical schools, pointing to increased levels of stress and incidences of attempted suicide among medical students. The decay in humanitarian attitudes and decline in humane values contribute to stress, although some academics believe that this type of environment is normal for medical students. To confront this criticism, academics should not only focus on cognitive aspects, but also adopt a humanistic pedagogy by integrating humane values in curricular and co-curricular activities of the academic environment. The aim of this paper is to illustrate how a humanistic pedagogy is applied in a Medical School in South Africa, by sharing narratives collected from medical teachers who advance and integrate humane values such as, care, empathy and love in their teaching practice.
  • ItemOpen Access
    “You should give a child love and take them warm-heartedly from their parent”: preschool teachers’ practice and understanding of care
    (Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, 2017) Phatudi, N. C.
    This paper is based on the exploration of township preschool teachers’ perspectives of the act of caring. Caring has always been associated with women as they are seen as nurturers. Their role as mothers is regarded as a natural part of their being. This study explored preschool teachers’ understanding of caring as well as its implementation. Literature confirms that caring has moral nuances and definite emotive features and that the one cared for is likely to develop intellectually. This paper interrogates “caring”, as one of the features of quality. The paper is drawn from a larger qualitative study conducted on teachers’ perspectives on quality. The study was conducted by using photovoice and observation. Caring was highlighted as a key element of quality in the preschools that were studied. Caring was understood within cultural practices of the communities that formed the sites of this study. Data revealed that caring should not be viewed in an exclusionary way that does not take into account the context in which it is practised. It is this caring that has positive spinoffs and has the capability of enhancing the quality of learning.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Entrenching heterosexuality through language in South African Life Orientation (LO) textbooks
    (Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, 2017) Wilmot, M.; Naidoo, D.
    Studies of the representation of sexualities in textbooks have tended to focus on inclusion and coverage of diverse content through thematic analysis. This analysis of a sample of LO textbooks is framed by the systematic linguistic framework of critical discourse analysis (CDA), specifically Fairclough’s (2001) theory of discourse as ideological meanings encoded in text. The sections on sex education in three popularly used LO textbooks have been analysed to make explicit the heteronormative meanings conveyed through language used. This article provides insight into how the language in the LO texts function to legitimate the dominant discourse of a particular type of heterosexuality: monogamy for the primary purpose of reproduction. The implications of this bias are raised and recommendations for fair representation of LGBT sexual orientations are made.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Overcoming language barriers: lessons learnt from migrant children
    (Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, 2017) Yu, Ke
    In this paper, we identify reasons for the high school achievement of some migrant children, in spite of the language barriers faced by themselves and their parents. We explore the literature to determine the factors used to overcome such barriers, particularly those beyond social economic status (SES) and other largely inherited factors that remain a common focus of migration and school effectiveness literature. We identify the need to pay greater attention to non-conventional factors, such as aspirations, expectations and creativities. We also examine school effectiveness literature in South Africa, arguably a typical case of a developing country, and note that much of the literature centres on analysis and lamentation of physical and human resource constraints, instead of experimenting on non-conventional factors.
  • ItemOpen Access
    The promotion of sustainable environmental education by the Zimbabwe Ordinary level science syllabi
    (Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, 2017) Tsakeni, Maria
    Chemical education provides methods and theories that enable learners to understand some environmental issues in their communities better. Following the impetus on education for sustainable development (ESD), green chemistry and the need for learners to use the local place as a springboard to learn and understand global environmental issues, this paper describes the integration of environmental chemistry in an Ordinary level physical science 5009 syllabus. Using a mixed methods approach in the form of a case study of a rural school in the Murewa district of Zimbabwe, data were collected by means of an open-ended questionnaire applied to two science teachers, lesson observations and a posttest only control group design. The findings of the study indicate that the teachers believed that place-based pedagogy involves outdoor and classroom activities such as laboratory experiments, projects, investigations and debates. The place-based activities relevant to the rural school settings were environmental issues around soil and water degradation, toxic chemicals in the environment and fuels for domestic use. The post-test demonstrated the place-based pedagogy was effective for learner achievement, problem-solving and environmental awareness. A recommendation is made for the Ordinary science syllabi to emphasise that place-based approaches to reflect in environmental education for ESD implementation as well as assessment practices.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Teachers’ perceptions of how they develop self-regulated learning
    (Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, 2017) Geduld, Bernadette
    The aim of this paper is to present a case study of the perceptions of self-regulated learning (SRL) of 14 secondary township schoolteachers and their teaching behaviour to develop SRL strategies in their learners. A qualitative, exploratory, descriptive research design was used. Semi-structured interviews and lesson observations were conducted with 14 purposively selected secondary school teachers. Specifically, this study explores how participants use teaching strategies to promote various SRL strategies such as goal-setting and planning, time management, peer learning, and self-evaluation. Findings indicate that participants’ teaching behaviour differ in terms of opportunities to encourage learners to become conscious of their learning processes as they use SRL strategies in different subjects across Grades 8-12 in the two township schools. Discrepancies have been noted between some lesson observations and teachers’ perceptions of how they integrate strategies to develop SRL. The findings underline the importance of developing teachers’ knowledge and the use of SRL teaching strategies to foster SRL learning and, hence, academic success.
  • ItemOpen Access
    The contradictory conceptions of research in Historically Black Universities
    (Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, 2017) Muthama, Evelyn; Mckenna, Sioux
    Research is conceptualised in multiple and contradictory ways within and across Historically Black Universities (HBUs) with consequences for knowledge production. Under the apartheid regime, research was deliberately underdeveloped in such institutions and this continues to have an impact. We argue that if HBUs are to move from the constraints of the past into the possibilities of the future, there is a need for a thorough understanding both of how research is currently conceptualised, and of the consequences of such conceptions for research output. We used a critical discourse analysis of interviews, documents and survey data from seven HBUs to identify the dominant discourses about the purposes of research. The findings are four dominant conceptions of research that sometimes contradict each other across and within the HBUs. These are research as integral to academic identity; research for social justice; research as an economic driver and research as an instrumentalist requirement for job security, promotion and incentives. These conceptions seemed to emerge in part because of the history of the institutions and create both constraining and enabling effects on research production.