Exploring theory and practice in the national certificate vocational (NCV) in an automotive repair and maintenance (ARM) course.
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There is an undeniable increase in the research being conducted surrounding the TVET colleges. There is however, a small amount of research conducted in South Africa particularly regarding the relationship between theory and practice in the curriculum. The purpose of this research is to explore the relationship between theory and practice in the National Certificate (Vocational) Automotive Repair and Maintenance (NCV ARM) course. The key research questions are as follows: 1. What is the emphasis on propositional knowledge and practical knowledge in the official curriculum documents? (i.e. The Subject and Assessment Guidelines of the Automotive Repair and Maintenance curriculum) 2. What is the emphasis on propositional knowledge and practical knowledge in the teaching of the NCV Automotive Repair and Maintenance module? (i.e. The enacted curriculum) and 3. How do NCV (Automotive Repair and Maintenance) students at Campus X experience the curriculum? (i.e. The experienced curriculum). The literature exploration conducted here was informed by theoretical concepts engaged with by Winch (2012), Rauner (2007), Gamble (2009a) and Glatthorn (1987). Rauner (2007) states that theoretical knowledge and practical knowledge work together, and in order to carry out the practical knowledge the underpinning theoretical knowledge must be known. In order to respond to the three research questions mentioned above various data collection methods were used. In order to address RQ One an analysis was conducted of the NCV ARM Level two official curriculum document. RQ Two was explored by conducting observation during classroom activities and an interview with the NCV ARM lecturer. RQ Three was investigated by means of focus groups conducted with NCV ARM Level two students (five of which were high achievers and five were average achievers). The research is a case study and an interpretivist view was adopted. Regarding the official curriculum, more of the learning outcomes focused on propositional knowledge. The classroom observation and interviews revealed that both lecturer and students identified lack of resources and time as learning barriers to students developing practical competences. The NCV was introduced with the intention of the program being more practically based, however upon investigation it was noted that the theory continued to dominate the curriculum. This is not something that was expected from the new revised curriculum.