A study of the influence of common tasks for assessment on the pedagogical practices of grade nine natural science teachers.
This study explores the influence of Common Tasks for Assessment (CTAs) on the pedagogical practices of Grade 9 Natural Science teachers. CTAs are assessment tasks set by the National Department of Education and administered as an external examination in Grade 9 classes (exit level I) in South Africa. The pedagogical practices in this case refer to the strategies the teachers employ in their practices and the work they give to the learners. The key research questions are: I . What are the teachers' views on the CTAs as teaching and learning tools? 2. What influence do CTAs have on the pedagogical practices of Grade 9 Natural Science teachers? I followed an interpretive paradigm in my research. I used both quantitative and qualitative approaches in my study, so I used triangulation. This study involves survey research hence survey strategies are used. Initially quantitative approach are used and then followed up by qualitative approach. Questionnaires are used to facilitate the quantitative approach and interviews are used for qualitative approach. Thirty two participants responded positively to questionnaires, and five teachers were interviewed in this research. Questionnaires were set to determine the influence of CTAs on teachers' pedagogical practices and interviews were set to validate or corroborate what transpired in questionnaires and also to find the views of teachers on CTAs. The analysis of the questionnaires showed that about 84% of teachers were influenced by CTAs. It also revealed that group work, problem solving, pupils' presentations, self assessment, practical work and investigations are the categories of work that are influenced the most by CTAs. The analysis of the interviews also had the same findings. The interviews also revealed that the inquiry learning, self discovery and question and answer are teaching methods promoted by CTAs. The research also found that some teachers view CTAs as good tools for improving teaching and learning in South African schools because they promote critical thinking and problem solving. After analyzing the results I came to the conclusion that CTAs promote learner-centred pedagogical practices in teachers. They also accentuate the strategies that are associated with critical thinking and problem solving. I also concluded that CTAs tend to influence the teachers towards attaining quality education because leaner-centred practices and problem solving are the key components of quality education. This study has also found that teachers are not happy with the manner in which CTAs are administered. A possible further study therefore could be that of investigating the ways in which the administration of CTAs can be improved so that they can be more beneficial to teaching and learning in South Africa.