Item Open AccessInstitutionalising teacher clusters in South Africa: dilemmas and contradictions(Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, 2012) Jita, Loyiso C.; Mokhele, Matseliso L.Increasingly, teacher clusters are being used as a substitute for the more traditional approaches to the professional development of teachers. With this goal in mind, many provincial education departments in South Africa have sought to institutionalise and encourage the formation of teacher clusters as vehicles for the continuing professional development of teachers. What are the challenges of this institutionalisation and to what extent has it served teachers in their quest to learn from and with each other in clusters? In this article, we use a qualitative case study approach to examine the dilemmas of the institutionalisation of teacher clusters in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa. Using mostly interview data with all the key central office administrators responsible for science and mathematics in the province, and a sample of the participating cluster (teacher) leaders and observations of their cluster activities, we discuss how the institutionalisation processes may have led to rather undesirable outcomes. We examine the way in which institutionalisation may have resulted in a reduction of the “opportunities to learn” for the participating teachers. We argue that, while the intentions of the policymakers to provide support and recognition for the teacher clusters were noble and progressive, the consequences of their intervention were somewhat negative and tended to bureaucratise clusters, thereby alienating teachers from these traditionally bottomup structures of professional development. We conclude the article by exploring what the possibilities are for teachers reclaiming the spaces created by the teacher cluster “movement” in South Africa. Item Open AccessLeading curriculum renewal in a faculty of education: a story from within(Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, 2012) Naidoo, AnaThis article investigates the process of curriculum renewal in a faculty of education. I report on my own experiences as the initiator of the change to the Bachelor of Education curriculum. When colleges of education were incorporated into higher education institutions, some faculties of education were relocated to these campuses. This move brought to the fore the debate of whether it is better for a faculty of education itself to offer all the content in an education degree, or to outsource subject specialisations apart from Education to discipline-specific departments in other faculti es. The existing curricula and the recommendations of an internal audit were interrogated as a first step towards change. The idea was to strengthen the subject specialisation knowledge of the students through the involvement of the discipline-specific or specialist faculties and simultaneously include a social justice framework for the delivery of the programmes. Design research methodology was used to analyse the process of curriculum renewal in the Faculty of Education. In order to analyse the existing curriculum, a process of document review was used. The final curriculum was negotiated with staff members and its compliance with the Higher Education Qualifications Framework is provided. Item Open AccessFrom clinic to classroom: a model of teacher education for inclusion(Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, 2012) Walton, Elizabeth; Lloyd, GillianOne of the challenges associated with the implementation of inclusive education in South Africa is the effective training of teachers to meet diverse learning needs in their classrooms. This article reflects on the pilot years of a postgraduate degree course in inclusive education developed at a South African university, using Cochran-Smith and Lytle’s (1999) concept of “inquiry-as-stance”. Replacing previous courses which focused on equipping students to provide individual support in clinical settings, the course emphasises inclusive teaching strategies appropriate for whole-class teaching. The course is designed to avoid both individual deficit constructions of learner difference and a rigid theory/practice dichotomy. To ensure context relevance and practical implementation of the pedagogies taught, lecturers visited students in their classrooms and provided support and feedback. Students also kept journals, supported one another by sharing experiences, and were assessed on a critical incident report. Course evaluations attest to student satisfaction with the course content and delivery. The difficulties that both students and lecturers encountered while implementing inclusive pedagogies can be explained as challenges associated with change. The article concludes that teachers need to develop a collaborative and classroom-based knowledge-of-inclusive practice by implementing, reflecting on and theorising inclusive pedagogies. Item Open AccessTraining as a tool for community development: 25 years of experience in sparsely populated rural areas in Cuenca, Spain(Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, 2012) Díaz-Puente, José M.; Moreno, Francisco José Gallego; Zamorano, RamónTraining is a key tool for community development processes in rural areas. This training is made difficult by the characteristics of the rural areas and their population. Furthermore, the methods used by traditional training bodies are not adapted to the peculiarities of these areas. This article analyses the training methodology used by the Institute of Community Development, Cuenca (IDC Cuenca). For 25 years, this association has been applying a training method specifically conceived and designed for sparsely populated rural areas. This methodology, known as ‘training/development’ is characterised by the implementation of a professional project, the creation of work groups, adaptation and flexibility. The results show that this type of training is a tool for promoting and developing human resources; a catalyst for starting economic and personal promotion projects; and a means for involving the rural population in community development processes. Item Open AccessI want to publish but ...: barriers to publishing for women at a University of Technology(Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, 2012) Garnett, A.; Mahomed, F. E.This article documents the experiences of a community of practice (CoP) of female academics with regard to the notion of publishing. The non-probability, purposive sample utilised in the study, comprised a group of female academics who were involved in a women in research programme at a University of Technology (UoT). The purpose of the article was to explore the personal and professional barriers the women may have experienced with regard to academic publishing. A qualitative paradigm was used, by means of a case study approach. It was expected that the data might indicate a specific gendered overload for the sample group with regard to publishing, as well as produce anomalous outcomes as a result of the UoT setting. However, women were not found to be specifically conscious of their gendering, but rather experienced barriers to publishing mainly as a result of high administrative workloads in the institution. The article adds to the body of knowledge in that it (1) maintains that the main barrier to publishing in this case is not compounded by gender. (2) Shows that workload pressure is similar in a University of Technology environment as in a traditional university environment, and (3) documents the experiences of a CoP and the success thereof, which could be duplicated in other environments. Item Open AccessDiagrams in mathematics: to draw or not to draw?(Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, 2012) Mudaly, VimolanThis paper describes the use of diagrams as self-explanatory tools. It considers the use of diagrams, in general, and more specifically, examines research that is currently being undertaken in the broad field of visualisation. The research participants referred to in this article were Advanced Certificate of Education students and the paper attempts to analyse their responses to questions based on simple area problems in mathematics. The outcome of this research underscores the strategic use of diagrams when dealing with problem solving. While this is an ongoing research project, the paper attempts to capture the current status of research on the use of diagrams. Item Open AccessConstructive feedback as a learning tool to enhance students’ self-regulation and performance in higher education(Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, 2012) Du Toit, ErnaIf feedback is provided in a way that can develop students’ self-regulatory skills, it could enhance learning and, consequently, lead to improved performance. To improve teaching and learning in higher education (HE), this study sought to determine whether the feedback to first-year students affords them an opportunity to learn from it. A theoretical framework on constructive feedback, self-regulated learning and the expectations of students was synthesised from literature which formed the basis of the research. This was followed by empirical research using a questionnaire to capture students’ perspectives regarding feedback. Students experienced the feedback as not contributing towards improving their performance but are convinced that, if they receive feedback that is focused on the task level, it can improve their performance. Suggestions are provided that emphasise the need to use feedback at both task and process level as a learning tool. Item Open AccessA quantitative literacy course for Humanities and Law students: the challenges of a context-based curriculum(Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, 2012) Frith, VeraThis article examines some aspects of the effectiveness of a first-year course in quantitative literacy for Humanities and Law students at a South African university. This intervention is necessary to assist students in developing the appropriate quantitative competencies because there is an articulation gap between the quantitative literacy of many first-year students and the demands of their curriculum in this regard. Interventions of this kind should be integrated into the disciplinary curriculum to as great an extent as possible, primarily because quantitative literacy is a practice embedded in the disciplinary practices. Tensions involved in attempting this integration limit the course’s effectiveness and are to a large extent due to the conflicting demands on students of both the disciplinary discourses and the mathematical and statistical content. The intervention could be enhanced by being more explicit in clarifying the distinctions between the disciplinary contexts and the mathematical and statistical content, as well as by making more explicit the expectations in terms of student learning and performance in assessments. Item Open AccessExploring the use of a cartoon as a learner scaffold in the planning of scientific investigations(Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, 2012) Ramnarain, UmeshDespite curriculum imperatives, in South Africa and worldwide, for learners to have more autonomy in investigations, they remain largely teacher controlled with learners having only limited opportunities in planning. This design-based study explored how a cartoon can be employed in a Grade 9 Natural Sciences class in prompting learners to plan investigations. This innovation followed a continuous cycle of design, enactment, analysis and redesign, synonymous with design-based research. Data were collected through classroom observations of the cartoon being used in practice by a Grade 9 teacher, and interviews with her. The effectiveness of this innovation was established by assessing learner plans using an adapted rubric. The findings indicate that a cartoon having an extended dialogue between characters on a science concept, accompanied by a prompt sheet, is an effective support mechanism in planning investigations. Using this support mechanism, learners were able to write a plan which included stating the problem, formulating the hypothesis, identifying variables, apparatus and a step-by-step procedure for conducting the investigation as well as describing how the collected data would be analysed to address the stated hypothesis. The findings also reveal that such a support mechanism, apart from shifting learners towards more autonomy, does invite learners to engage in the scientific discourse, wh ich often serves as a barrier to science learning.