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Evaluating poor educational performance : the value of using a systems thinking approach with special reference to grade 10-12 classes in schools in the Samungu Ward.

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This study uses a practitioner research approach to focus on poorly performing schools in grades 10 –12 in the Samungu Ward, and looks at the value of using a systems thinking approach to address the problems of poor performance, as compared to the traditional, reductionist approach that is usually applied by the schools and the Department of Education in the implementation of its policies. The research moves from the premise that schools are complex learning organisations and that their problems should be addressed within the context of the systems thinking approach, in which the organisation is seen as a whole with emergent properties, a layered structure, and with processes which enable it to adapt in response to environmental pressures (Checkland, 1999:21). The research has used some aspects of the Soft Systems Methodology as a tool to process the information collected from the participants, because the Soft Systems Methodology “concentrates on learning from organizational and contextual ambiguity and appreciating socially conditioned problem situations with a view to changing relationships and making improvements.” (Jacobs 2004:140) The study has looked at the problem formulated during the discussion with the stakeholders and has juxtaposed the value of the use of Systems Thinking with that of the traditional approach, either in the intervention programmes or in the formulation of solutions. The research concludes with recommendations made in terms of the systems thinking approach, having discovered that the traditional approach fell short in yielding the desired outcome during the implementation process of the policies. From a practitioner research perspective, the study has also led to the implementation of some of its recommendations, which seem to be viable and has produced the desired outcome.


Thesis (M.Com.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Westville, 2009.


Educational tests and measurements--KwaZulu-Natal--Eshowe., Educational evaluation--KwaZulu-Natal--Eshowe., Theses--Leadership and management.