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Exploring the quality of South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) teacher development workshops in one of the districts of Mpumalanga.

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There are different teacher development initiatives locally and internationally. The Department of Basic Education is committed to continuously developing teachers in partnership with other organizations and, as a result, a number of organizations have initiated teacher development activities (models) and have committed resources around South Africa. Teachers are expected to take part in these development activities to improve their content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge, and to be able to apply them in their classrooms (DoE, 2007). The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) is one of the government parastatals who initiate teacher development activities. This study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of and the knowledge learnt in SANBI workshops in order to answer these three key research questions: 1. What teacher knowledge domains are privileged in the workshops? 2. To what extent do the workshops reflect the characteristics of effective professional development workshops? 3. What knowledge and skills do teachers say that they have learnt from SANBI workshops? This study is qualitative and data was gathered through observing and video- recording two SANBI Life Science workshops and interviewing four Life Science teachers who participated in these workshops. The observation data collected was analysed using Givvin and Santagata’s (2011) seven criteria of an effective workshop; and Shuman’s (1986) knowledge areas -- that is content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge – was used to analyse the interview data. SANBI workshops aim to develop teachers’ content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge. The finding of this study confirms that SANBI workshops have met some of the seven criteria of an effective workshop and definitely offer teachers content knowledge and pedagogical knowledge. However, there is a need to set up follow up strategies to sustain the once-off teacher development workshops.


M. Ed. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg 2014.


Teachers--Training of--Mpumalanga., Competency-based education--Mpumalanga., Theses--Education.