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Grade 11 Civil Technology teachers’ practice of promoting active learning during the teaching of graphic communication.

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Graphic communication is a language of communication that is used for visual representation and expression of ideas and concepts. In the field of engineering and the manufacturing industry, graphic communication is useful for the design, development, manufacture of products and construction of structures and systems throughout the world (Lockhart, 2018). Graphic communication forms the backbone of all design operations that work within a framework, ranging from conceptual design, detailing of drawing specifications, analysis, interpretation of graphic text and iterative re-design, to making working drawings prior to manufacture of artefacts, assembling of mechanical components and construction of building structures (Dobelis, 2019). Graphic communication is a fundamental part of Civil Technology (CT) embedded in the CT curriculum. Through graphic communication skills, learners are taught how to read, interpret, design, and draw civil drawings using freehand or instrument drawing techniques guided by the South African National Standards (SANS) code of practice for building drawings – SANS 0143. The graphic communication skills in CT include among others, the ability to draw orthographic projections of floor plans, elevations and sectional elevations of single and double storey buildings, interpretation of site plans, detailed drawing of building features such as foundations, staircases, doors and door frame installations, cavity walls, plan and front elevation courses of brick walls in English and stretcher bond, arches, roof trusses, and so forth (Education, 2014). The National Senior Certificate (NSC) examiners and moderators’ reports for CT from 2016 to 2019 reflect learners’ remarkable ineptitude with regard to graphic communication skills. The diagnostic reports highlight learners’ poor performance on examination questions that test for graphic communication skills. The following common mistakes and misconceptions have been established from the CT NSC Examination diagnostic reports for 2018 and 2019: learners struggle to read and interpret graphic text correctly; misinterpretation of dimensions; failure to apply scale correctly on drawings; and incorrect representation of SANS symbols on drawings (Education, 2018; 2019). On a yearly basis, at professional development meetings organised by the department of education and facilitated by subject advisors, teachers are made aware of the areas that learners perform poorly in, yet learners continue to perform poorly in graphic communication. This study explores grade 11 Civil Technology teachers’ practice of promoting active learning during teaching of graphic communication lessons, using a case study of uMgungundlovu district, KwaZulu-Natal. The theoretical framework that guides this study is underpinned by the qualities of effective teachers (Stronge, 2018). A qualitative case study design approach to inquiry was used to generate data through a questionnaire, semi-structured individual interviews, focus group interviews and analysis of lesson plan portfolios and recorded graphic communication lessons. Purposive sampling was used to identify the respondents for this study. Data collected was subjected to content and thematic analysis. The findings of the study reveal that there are three ways in which grade 11 CT teachers promote active learning when teaching graphic communication. These are: chalkboard illustration/demonstration; explanation of concepts and field excursions; and learners draw and make projects to link theory and the practical. Teachers actively engage learners in graphic communication lessons in four ways, namely: giving learners individual drawing activities to complete in class; group discussions and activities; use of digital projector to show videos and pictures; and making models, simulations and giving learners enrichment exercises outside the classroom. Research findings further reveal that all CT teachers encounter challenges when promoting active learning in teaching of graphic communication. These include challenges encountered when teaching theory and practical lessons, and learners’ misconceptions on site plans, floor plans and calculation of perimeter and area of site and proposed building. The challenges encountered emanate from contextual factors that constrain the teaching of graphic communication, namely: lack of drawing equipment; learners’ lack of motivation with the subject and not submitting tasks; too much workload for teachers; lack of access to modern technology such as internet; insufficient time to cover the expected content; and underresourced workshops to perform practical lessons. My findings illustrate that a combination of contextual factors and teachers’ pedagogical knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge or subject matter knowledge and their classroom practices impede the promotion of active learning when teaching grade 11 graphic communication lessons. This problem manifests itself in poor quality NSC results at matric level when learners exit the school system. The findings of this study point towards suggestions and recommendations of professional development intervention programmes to support CT teachers in their endeavours to promote active learning when teaching graphic communication in uMgungundlovu district.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.