A participatory study of project based learning as mediated in a teaching unit of electricity for grade 8 learners.
This study, which adopts a participatory research methodology, is about creating opportunities for learners to negotiate their own meaningful learning that is linked to action. In keeping with the new vision for education in South Africa, I explore the need for creating space for learners to participate actively in learning that is meaningful to them. In this study I set out to engage the learners in sustained learning that is connected to real-life situations through 'project based learning'. This type of learning, including the desired space for such learning, is nurtured by the use of 'mediated learning experience' that provides the appropriate human management system for two-way rich communication between the learner(s) and the educator. Participation in this study is an the level of the participant, and at the level of the multiple research instruments used. Fourteen learners participated, however, the data analysis is based on the responses of five learners who participated in all phases of the study. Learning linked to action in democratic learning spaces provide learners with the opportunity to express their own voice, and, to negotiate an identity of themselves. The findings show that learners negotiate own meaning in idiosyncratic ways. This is done by making use of own experiences, available resources (both physical and human), peer group sharing and dialogue, and, by expressing the nature of that which stands in the way of learning. The implications of allowing learners to negotiate own meaning requires extending democratic values in classrooms, and giving them opportunities to learn how knowledge and power are negotiated in learning interactions.