A case study of teachers' implementation of the grade four natural sciences curriculum.
Many teachers have difficulty in implementing the Revised National Curriculum Statement (RNCS). This is particularly true of the natural science curriculum. The purpose of this study was to explore the ways in which natural science teachers interpret and implement the natural science curriculum in Grade Four. A further aim was to find out which factors impinge on teachers’ ability to implement the curriculum. The study is underpinned by a theory of implementation developed by Rogan and Grayson (2003) who argue that major changes in new curricula are difficult to implement and suggest that any curriculum innovation should be ahead of existing practices. Rogan and Grayson’s (2003) framework is further used to identify the levels at which teachers are located with regard to their ability to implement the curriculum. The research was conducted within the interpretive paradigm. It is a case study of four natural science teachers who teach in the Folweni cluster of the Umbumbulu district. The methods of data collection included a questionnaire, document analysis, pre- and post-semi structured interviews and class observation. The data was analysed using Rogan and Grayson’s framework. The findings indicate that teachers are at different levels with regard to their ability to implement the natural science curriculum. This is partly due to the way they interpret the curriculum and partly due to a number of factors that influence their capacity to implement a new curriculum. Teachers have different abilities with regard to their interpretation of the curriculum. These abilities were interpreted in terms of their understanding of content, outcomes and assessment, as well as their ability to teach in learner-centred ways. Teachers’ capacity to implement a new curriculum are influenced by factors such as their qualifications, the circumstances of the learners they teach; the physical resources available to them, the support they receive from the school management, as well as the ethos that prevails in the school. The study concluded that teachers be supported in different ways to improve their capacity to implement the natural science curriculum and that this can ultimately lead to an improvement in teachers ability to implement the natural science curriculum as set out in the Revised Curriculum Statement (2002).