The cultural and linguistic appropriateness of the individual scale for Zulu-speaking pupils : a Bakhtinian analysis.
Mayaba, Phindile Lungile.
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The context of psychological practices in South Africa is changing, particularly the assessment practices. A change in ways of understanding intellectual functioning has transpired within culturally and linguistically diverse contexts, initiating an evaluation of intelligence measures. South African policies and laws relevant to the practice of psychologists have been passed with an aim to ensure equitable and fair assessment practices for all children. Evaluating psychological tests is of significant importance as psychologists are ethically bound to periodically examine the contextual relevance of the assessment tools they use. This study was undertaken to qualitatively evaluate the cultural and linguistic appropriateness of the Individual Scale for Zulu-Speaking Pupils (ISZSP). The study adopted a triangulated descriptive-interpretive qualitative research design within a social constructionist paradigm. Bakhtinian dialogism was employed as a theoretical and methodological framework for this study, focusing on the relational and dialogic nature of human existence. Twenty-two isiZulu-speaking participants were recruited within the province of KwaZulu-Natal. Ten participants were practicing psychologists who have used the ISZSP in their practice; and 12 participants were isiZulu-speaking learners within the age range of 9 years to 19 years, 11 months. The data were collected in the form of expert review reports written by psychologists and in the form of audio-visual recordings of learners being assessed using the ISZSP. Contextualized content analysis and conversation analysis were employed to analyse data, applying the principles of Bakhtinian dialogism. The findings reveal that psychological assessment is dialogic in nature, however, the conventional static approach to assessment prevents the process to take this form. The study argues the ISZSP needs to be revised in a manner that permits the social negotiation and co-construction of knowledge during the assessment process, as human existence and all human functioning is dialogical. The findings indicate that the ISZSP presents with numerous challenges because it does not accommodate social and regional variations of isiZulu. These challenges seem to stem mainly from the archaic nature of the language of the ISZSP. To remedy this, psychologists have resorted to dynamic assessment and bilingual administration of the ISZSP. The psychologists seem to shy away from their ethical obligation to evaluate the ISZSP and to document mechanisms that have been instrumental in addressing these challenges. These findings have implications for theory, policy and practice that call for a large-scale revision of the ISZSP, constructing it as a tool that would be culturally and linguistically appropriate for the population it was intended for.