Examining the classroom practices of physical science educators: a case study in four secondary schools in the Pietermaritzburg area, KwaZulu-Natal.
Ndlovu, Gabriel Goodhope B.
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The purpose of this study was to examine the classroom practices of the Physical Science educators and analyze how these practices influence deep conceptual learning and understanding. Four secondary schools in the Pietermaritzburg area, in the province of KwaZulu-Natal were selected as cases for in-depth qualitative study. All the schools were African schools servicing a working class community. From each school only one educator participated, and each educator was observed teaching one of his/her classes. Two educators were observed teaching Grade 12 learners and the other two taught Grade 11 learners. The study utilized participant observation, interviews and relevant documents as source of data. The main findings of the study suggest that educator practices were predominantly traditional. They were characterized by lack of effective interactions with learners, dealing with surface features of the content without probing for depth necessary for understanding. It was also found that schools lack a culture of resource development. Though resources were inadequate, the little that educators had was not effectively utilized. The educators seemed to be shifting towards employing a variety of assessment methods, but the difference was still superficial. The findings have implications for policy, practice and in-service training of educators (INSET). Evidence suggests that educators' beliefs have a major influence on how they teach, and that unsound beliefs about teaching and learning are a threat to the implementation of policy. INSET programmes need to target the beliefs of educators about science teaching and learning.