Negotiating the transition between primary and high school within the context of teaching and learning science : a case study in the Umgungundlovu District.
Learners experience a variety of social and academic challenges as they move from primary school to high school. There is a need to understand learners’ experiences of this transition in terms of teaching and learning Science. The purpose of this study is to explore learners’ experiences as they transit from primary to high school with regard to teaching and learning of Natural Science. It does so by exploring what type of skills learners acquire in Grade Seven and are able to use in Grade Eight. The study aims to develop a better understanding of grade eight teachers’ perception of what learners know and how they manage learners’ transition from primary to high school Science classes. This study is located within the pragmatic paradigm as it applied both qualitative and quantitative approaches to gather data. It is the a case study of two grade seven natural sciences teachers and two grade eight natural sciences teachers and their learners in the Umgungundlovu district. A conceptual framework consisting of a number of constructs related to teaching and learning science within the context of my study served as lens for the study. Various data collection methods were used. These were teacher questionnaires, learner questionnaires, classroom observations, document analysis, focus group interviews with learners and teacher interviews. The constructs and sub-constructs of my conceptual framework which is informed by literature was used to analyse the data collected. The study revealed that learners experience the transition with regard to teaching and learning of Science as challenging. The factors identified as influencing the challenges range from teaching strategies of grade eight teachers to the volume and frequency of homework. These factors resulted in the decline of enjoyment of science in learners in Grade Eight as compared to the enjoyment of Science in Grade Seven. This study further revealed that grade eight teachers have expectations that learners are often unable to meet, making the transition from primary school to high school difficult for learners as well as teaches. This study concludes that teachers are not fully conversant with the subject of transition and therefore do little to support learners through this critical stage of their schooling lives. The study concludes with a number of recommendations which may assist in easing the transition for learners from primary to high school within the context of teaching and learning Science.