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Swaziland pre-service teachers’ understanding and enactment of inquiry-based-science teaching: a case of a university in Swaziland.

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The current study adopted a case study design to understand the knowledge and skills related to inquiry-based science teaching (IBST) held by pre-service teachers at the conclusion of their three years training in science courses in an educational institution in Swaziland. Placed in the pragmatism paradigm, the study used a multi-methods approach. The purposively selected study sample consisted of 34 pre-service teachers at the end of their 3-year teacher preparation programme. In the first phase of the study, the researcher assessed the 34 preservice teachers’ understanding of IBST using a teaching scenario based questionnaire in combination with individual interviews with eight of the participants. Six participants from the sample of eight also volunteered for the second phase of the study, where their lesson plans, classroom observation recordings, and lesson interviews were used to gather evidence pertaining to their enactment of IBST during teaching practice. Data were analysed using a conceptual framework of IBST that outlines two dimensions: the cognitive and guidance dimensions. Findings from the first phase indicated that at the completion of the training programme preservice teachers held inadequate but varying conceptions of IBST. They either regarded IBST as engagement of learners in constructing knowledge about phenomena themselves based on evidence; or associated the pedagogy with different forms of learner engagement during the teaching process. Participants only identified prominent characteristics of the cognitive dimension of IBST, particularly those of the procedural domain. Concerning the guidance dimension, they connected IBST more with teacher directed activities. In their enactment of IBST, the six participants focused more on the conceptual domain while the epistemic domain was least represented. Concerning the guidance dimension of IBST, they mainly guided learners in formulating evidence-based conclusions. In the main, their enactment of IBST was shaped by their comprehension of the cognitive dimension of inquiry and their pedagogical content knowledge for facilitating inquiry-based learning. Extensive recommendations for teacher education and educational leadership are given. The effectiveness of the conceptual framework for identifying the pre-service teachers’ conceptions is discussed.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.