An exploration of the learning experiences of Life Science teachers through professional development initiatives : a case study of the Ohangwena region, Namibia.
Ndemuweda, Vistorina Vapanawa Ndapandula.
MetadataShow full item record
This exploratory study focuses on the learning experiences of Life Science teachers and seeks to understand the knowledge, skills and attitudes they learn in professional development initiatives (PDIs), and the usefulness and relevance attributed to them in their daily activities. The research design of the study is located within a qualitative, interpretive paradigm. Data was collected through one-on-one semi-structured interviews with Life Science teachers, facilitators and the advisory teacher in the Ohangwena region. An analysis of workshop documents supplemented the interview data. The data was analysed with the use of thematic content analysis and then grouped into categories and further into themes to develop an explanation of what is learnt, how learning happens and where it happens. The analysis of data has drawn on a triple-lens framework according to Fraser, Kennedy, Reid, & McKinney (2007) to examine the conditions for continuous professional development (CPD) models which teachers undertake. One of the main findings of this study indicates that Life Science teachers learn in multiple settings, formal and informal, planned and incidental. The knowledge and skills they learn include content knowledge, teaching strategies, as well as new curricular knowledge and practical skills. Learning strategies include lectures, group discussions, doing and experimenting, peer-coaching and collaborations. The main formal professional development initiatives in the region were said to be workshops and projects. However, self-initiated learning opportunities were also reported. Teachers expressed that they did not feel well-supported by the Ministry of Education and by school managements. Poor planning and coordination, lack of financial support, lack and inadequacy of resources like laboratories and textbooks were all indicated as challenges that teachers faced when attempting to participate in professional development. The study concludes that more coherent and continuous professional development programmes that support and allow teachers to engage in lifelong learning based on context, collaboration, peer-coaching and distributed expertise need to be created at school and circuit levels.