An investigation into teacher engagement in pedagogy : selected cases in Foundation Phase classes in KwaZulu-Natal.
This research study is an examination of teacher engagement in pedagogy in the foundation phase, within the context of a literacy learning programme. The study explores what teachers know and do in foundation phase classrooms and how this impacts on learner performance. The study aims to identify areas of pedagogy that need to be strengthened so that all South African learners can compete with others, not only at national level (systemic evaluations), but also at international level in tests such as the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS) and Progress in Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS). The critical question of the study was: How do teachers‟ engagements in pedagogy influence their practice in the literacy learning programmes of selected foundation phase classes in KwaZulu-Natal? It is expected that the findings of my study will stimulate discussions on teacher development and classroom practices for improved learner performance. The research was conducted in three schools in urban KwaZulu-Natal. For purposes of confidentiality and anonymity, the exact location and names of the schools have not been indicated. These schools were selected on the basis of convenience sampling and are within close proximity of each other. Since teachers were the unit of study, learners were only involved as far as their participation in normal classroom lessons was concerned and where samples of their work were examined. This study is located in the interpretive paradigm. An interpretive approach allows me the flexibility to describe, make sense of and interpret teacher engagement in pedagogy within the literacy learning programme. A qualitative research method has been employed and involves the use of case studies as a means to gather information. First, individual face-to- face interviews were held with teachers; then literacy lessons in progress were observed, and finally, documents that the teachers used in planning, preparation and delivery of lessons were examined. Samples of learners‟ work were also examined. Results of the studies on teacher engagement in pedagogy revealed that teachers had followed the Foundations for Learning documents so religiously that they had neglected the essential components of pedagogy, namely the use of appropriate teaching strategies, creating of appropriate learning environments, establishing conducive learning climates, monitoring learners‟ achievements and giving feedback, and use of learner and teacher support materials. Arising from these findings, recommendations are made for these essential components to be considered when engaging in pedagogy for Foundation Phase learners. This study concludes with the recommendation of a teacher engagement model labeled The Teacher Engagement for Learner Improvement Model. This model focuses on improving learner performance and is built around the six interconnected components of pedagogy. The model suggests that the level of learners' achievements will improve as the level of teachers' engagement with these components increases.
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