Female students' experiences in learning Geography as a major at tertiary education level : a case study of a teacher training college in Swaziland.
This study aimed at exploring why there was a lower enrolment of female students learning Geography as a component of specialisation at teacher training college. A case study, looking into understanding the experiences of female students learning Geography as a choice component of specialisation was undertaken at one teacher training college in Swaziland. Semi-structured questionnaires which were administered to eighteen (18) female students learning Geography as a choice component of specialisation at the college were the main tool for generating data. This was followed up by three (3) focus group discussions meant to get an in depth view of the data generated using the semi-structured questionnaires. The data generated aimed at answering the key question: What are the experiences of female students learning Geography as a component of specialisation at college? The researcher was guided by the following sub-questions: a) What are the experiences of girls learning Geography as an area of specialisation? b) What factors inform girls’ choice of Geography as a subject specialisation? c) How can girls’ participation in Geography be enhanced? The data were captured, coded, analysed and interpreted using the inductive approach. Given that this study was dealing with the experiences of humans, a proper ethical clearance was obtained through getting the participants to sign a consent form that clearly stated the conditions of consent for participating in a research. Although the participants of the study were adults and over 18 years of age, permission was sought from the college principal to conduct the study in the college. The study produced evidence that the girls learning Geography at the college found doing the subject to be an interesting experience although they encountered a few challenges in certain aspects of their learning. The study further illuminated there were fewer females than males learning Geography as a specialisation, albeit that the girls claimed to enjoy learning Geography and find learning it interesting. From the data generated it became clear to the researcher that the lower number of girls had very little to do with the college experience, but was instead a consequence of subject selection policies followed in high school and the subject choices made there. The conclusions and implications of the study are that the girls find learning Geography at college level interesting because of its multidisciplinary nature. However, the same girls found that the experience is fraught with challenges such as the shortage of learning materials, the use of archaic teaching methods by lecturers as well as unequal treatment by male lecturers. The study’s findings also implied Geography was not given its rightful place in high school; was used as ‘a filler’ after students had selected other subjects and as a result not many girls got the opportunity to learn it. The implication was that there were therefore fewer girls that get to know and like Geography enough to want to learn it at college level.
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