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An exploration of teacher professional development experiences of Natural Sciences teachers of Ongoye Cluster of UThungulu District.

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Date

2018

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Abstract

This exploratory study focuses on professional development experiences of Grades 8 and 9 Natural Sciences teachers within Ongoye cluster of UThungulu District. The methodological approach of this study is qualitative and the study is located within the interpretive paradigm. Data were collected through one on one semi-structured interviews with Grades 8 and 9 Natural Sciences teachers within Ongoye cluster of UThungulu District and two professional development workshops were observed. Data were analysed with the use of thematic content analysis and then grouped into categories and further into themes to develop an explanation of what is learnt, and how Natural Science teachers learn in professional development workshops. The analysis of data is drawn on Illeris’s professional life phases as well as Desimone’s conceptual framework of continuing with professional development. The key finding of this study highlights that Grades 8 and 9 Natural Sciences teachers learn a variety of pedagogical knowledge at professional development workshops such as pedagogical content knowledge as well as content knowledge. In addition, Grades 8 and 9 Natural Sciences teachers indicated that professional development activities were useful because they acquired and learned different methods of teaching different topics in Natural Sciences. This finding suggests that teacher learning involves parts of information and understanding which must trigger the progress of a wide-ranging and coherent theory construction. In professional development workshops Grades 8 and 9 Natural Sciences teachers gain the knowledge and skills that enable them to impart the knowledge more effectively. This highlights an incentive dimension where professional development workshops provide and guide the intellectual energy that is necessary for the learning process to take place. It comprises of elements such as emotions, feelings and motivation. Most of the Grades 8 and 9 Natural Sciences teachers in Ongoye cluster of UThungulu District agreed that they learn pedagogic content knowledge as well as content knowledge through sharing information with one another in professional development workshops organised by DoE and Jika iMfundo. The findings echo what has been done by other researchers. This study highlighted that content, pedagogical content and curricular knowledge are gained in professional development activities

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Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.

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