Teaching matter and materials in grade 4 natural sciences : a case study in the Camperdown circuit of KwaZulu-Natal.
Since 1994 when the new democratic government came into power many changes have taken place within the South African education system. The implementation of a new curriculum made demands on educators in terms of teaching and learning of the various Learning Areas. The purpose of the study was to explore grade four educators' experiences of teaching and how they used teaching strategies teach Matter and Materials in the Natural Sciences Learning Area of the current curriculum, the National Curriculum Statement (NCS) for the Intermediate and Senior Phases. The research questions that drove this research are: What are educators' experiences of teaching grade four Matter and Materials in Natural Sciences? How do grade four educators use teaching strategies to teach Matter and Materials in Natural Sciences? The literature review focuses on the teaching of science and the strategies that educators use to create interest in learners. This study was based on Rogan and Grayson's (2003) Theory of Curriculum Implementation. This is an interpretive, case study of four primary school educators teaching Natural Sciences in quintile one primary schools in Camperdown, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Quintile one schools are under-resourced schools. Qualitative and elements of quantitative approaches, and a convenient sampling method were used. The data collection methods were questionnaires, classroom observations and semi-structured interviews. The expectations of teachers teaching Natural Sciences Grade Four as stated in the NCS Grades 4-9 (2002) were documented. Data from all the instruments was analysed deductively using Rogan and Grayson's (2003) Levels of implementation of a new curriculum. This study revealed that educators were still using traditional methods of teaching and only one educator used practical work to teach Matter and Materials. This is in contrast to the teaching strategies advocated by Curriculum 2005 (C2005), the predecessor of NCS, which suggests that educators should use more interactive strategies so that learning and assessment could be supported. Educators mainly used written and oral work to assess the learners. It is suggested that the Departmental Curriculum Development Unit should provide the educators with support on a continuous basis so that they can create and maintain an effective learner-centered environment when teaching Natural Sciences.
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