An evaluation of the 'Into Science' programme and materials designed by the Open University, using perceptions of South African Colleges of Education students taking this programme.
Sokhela, Nompumelelo Kitty Hellen.
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The aim of this study was to evaluate a distance education programme and materials called 'Into Science', designed by the Open University in the United Kingdom. The perceptions of selected KwaZulu-Natal college students taking the course were used for this evaluation. The trialling took place in three KwaZulu-Natal colleges of education from February to June 1997. 120 students were involved, mostly year 3 primary teacher diploma students. Students' and lecturers' views were obtained through the use of oPen-ended questionnaires, 5 point Likert type questionnaires, focus group interviews, individual interviews with lecturers/tutors and participant observation during the tutorial sessions. The results show that 'Into Science' materials can be used for South African students, but with some recommended modifications. The language used in 'Into Science' was not a problem for most of the students who took part in the trialling; students' reactions to the materials and course were very positive; their confidence in handling the subject matter increased markedly; most students did not read everything contained in the study materials in the time specified; students did not say that their learning styles changed as a result ofusing these materials; students placed a low value on the practicals; the earth sciences is not recognised as one of the fields in science; lecturers had low expectations of their students; and finally, students and tutors or course providers will need extensive support in a variety of ways in order for the course to run successfully and to achieve desired outcomes in South Africa.