Curriculum and Instructional Studies

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    Senior phase teachers’ experiences of teaching English in a rural context: a case study of Msinga Circuit Management
    (University of Zululand, 2023) Sijiye, Knowledge
    The teaching of English as a second language in bilingual or multilingual classes presents many challenges to both teachers and students. Bilingual classes are not easy to handle and sometimes it becomes very difficult for the teachers to cope with the challenges. The purpose of this study was to investigate the actual experiences and challenges encountered by the teachers of English in the rural context of the Msinga Circuit Management. Interpretivism paradigm was employed for this study. Data were collected using qualitative research methods. Three secondary schools were randomly selected from Msinga Circuit, namely Mabaso Secondary (Tugela Ferry ward), Msimbithi Secondary (Pomeroy ward) and Sakhiseni Secondary (Msinga Top ward). Data were collected through two (2) focus group discussions with teachers, in-depth interviews with 11 randomly selected teachers of English and five (5) Departmental Heads. The research findings indicated that the teachers of English experienced many challenges during the teaching of English in bilingual/multilingual classes. Learner-oriented problems observed by teachers in class were poor reading skills, speaking skills, pronunciation, not comfortable speaking in front of peers, poor foundation demonstrated through failure to grasp the basic concepts when in senior level and the lack of motivation to use English, negative attitude towards English, lack of discipline, absenteeism and late coming to school. Some learners could not read or write simple words, which made them want to use their mother tongue all the time. Teachers had to code- switch and allow the learners to use vernacular language in class for them to comprehend what was being taught. The study participants identified age as an important factor in the learning of English. Learners who were not exposed to English early in life, as they grew up, were not able to use it fluently in classes and other subjects. The home and school environments were reported to be negatively contributing to the learning of English. Most homes lacked resources like televisions, and some parents could not assist the learners with homework. There was very limited exposure to English in most homes and that negatively affected the acquisition of English by the learners. The environment in most schools was not conducive to the learning of English as resources were very limited and big classes characterized many schools. The strategies used by teachers were encouraging learners to speak and read English using debates, role-play, writing songs or poems; use of words in sentences; use of learning aids and team teaching. Teachers indicated that the strategies they used at times depended on the resources that they had at the school. Teachers tended to help each other to improve teaching methods as workshops were not well structured to cater for teachers of English, who taught bilingual classes. The study concluded that the teachers of English faced many challenges and needed assistance so that they could be equipped to teach bilingual classes in a rural context.
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    Teachers’ perspectives on how formative assessment can enhance teaching and learning in iLembe District Primary Schools
    (University of Zululand, 2023) Mthethwa, Gugulethu Octavia
    The study sought to understand teachers’ perceptions of how formative assessment can enhance teaching and learning in Primary schools in the iLembe District in KwaZulu Natal. The objective was to explore the nature of formative assessment practices in the schools and to relate these to teaching and learning enhancement. The study followed a qualitative approach, adopting the phenomenological research design. A qualitative research approach includes focus groups and semi-structured interviews with a purposefully selected sample of teachers; the study sheds light on the different ways that formative assessment can act as a catalyst for improvements in education. Qualitative data were collected using thematic analysis. The results show that teachers view formative assessment as an essential tool for developing methods of instruction, encouraging learners’ involvement, and creating a positive learning environment, which is rather than just a means of assessing learners' progress. Teachers emphasised the significance of continuous, interactive feedback because it helps learners see their areas of strength and growth, leading to a more tailored and flexible learning environment. Additionally, the study highlights the challenges and constraints teachers encounter when applying formative assessment into practice, such as time constraints, big class sizes, identifying learning gaps, and lack of professional development opportunities. The findings of this study revealed that teachers perceived the practice of using formative assessment to identify learning gaps as essential, mainly when used as a basis to close such gaps. The assessment was deemed capable of diagnosing weaknesses in both the subject contents and methods of teaching the subject (diagnostic teaching). The research concludes with a discussion of the implications of these findings for educational practice and policy in the iLembe District. It advocates for a more comprehensive approach to the technique to enable teachers to fully utilise formative assessment's potential to enhance teaching and learning. It emphasises the need for systemic support, including professional development and resources. This study adds to the growing discourse on improving educational quality and efficacy through accurate assessment techniques by illuminating the different perspectives of teachers. Further comparative studies across districts are needed to explore how formative assessment and their perceived effectiveness in enhancing teaching and learning vary across different districts or regions within South Africa or other countries. Also, a study on technology enhanced formative assessment is needed to examine the role of technology in supporting formative assessment practices. This could include studies on the use of educational software, Apps, and online platforms that facilitate immediate feedback and more engaging assessment methods.
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    The use of the directed reading thinking activity (DRTA) strategy by English first additional language teachers in primary schools in Nqutu Circuit
    (University of Zululand, 2023) Dludla, Sifiso; Mhlongo, H.R. and Govender, Samantha
    The teaching of reading in schools requires an understanding of the specific skills required for reading, and the use of certain strategies to inculcate these skills in learners. Given the importance of reading skills in classroom practice, this study aimed to explore the use of the Directed Reading Thinking Activity (DRTA) strategy by English First Additional Language (EFAL) teachers in developing reading for comprehension skills among Grade 6 learners in primary schools. This study sought to determine the strategies used by EFAL teachers in using DRTA, the challenges they faced in doing so, and the ways in which their use of the strategy may be improved. The researcher adopted a qualitative research approach, multiple-case design, interpretivist paradigm, and the study underpinned by social constructivism theory and conducting semi-structured interviews with 10 Grade 6 EFAL teachers from 10 primary schools in the Nquthu circuit, uMzinyathi District in KwaZulu-Natal province. In addition to interviews, non-participatory classroom observations were used to collect data. Thematic analysis of the results revealed that Grade 6 EFAL teachers adopted a variety of strategies to nurture learners’ reading for comprehension skills, but do not make optimum use of the DRTA strategy. Most teachers experienced challenges while teaching reading for comprehension skills, such as shortages of resources and teachers’ own lack of professional development. These challenges negatively affected their teaching of reading in the classroom. The study recommends that the Department of Basic Education provide regular, relevant and adequate training for EFAL teachers on pedagogical content, including the use of the DRTA strategy to enhance the effective teaching of reading skills in their classrooms. In addition, EFAL teachers should be involved in the design of curriculum content for teaching reading for comprehension. This would assist to develop the integration of the DRTA strategy into their classroom practice.
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    Secondary school teachers’ perspectives on pace setting for content coverage and quality teaching and learning in King Cetshwayo
    (University of Zululand, 2023) Mngomezulu, Gladys Phumzile
    This study investigates teachers’ perspectives on the pace setters used to monitor curriculum coverage; the challenges teachers face in implementing these pace setters; the coping mechanisms they use to ensure quality teaching and learning while adhering to the pace setters; and the support available to teachers who have to maintain standards while moving through the curriculum at a rapid rate, set by the pace setters. The study was located within an interpretive paradigm and adopted a qualitative methodology and a multiple case study design, targeting teachers and Heads of Departments in the Further Education Training Phase (Grades 10–12). Locke’s (1968) goal setting theory and Gross, Giacquinta and Bernstein’s (1971) curriculum implementation theory were used as a theoretical framework for the study. Data was gathered through semi-structured interviews in the form of focus group discussions and one-on-one sessions. The study involved the purposive sampling of 18 teachers and six Heads of Departments from six schools in King Cetshwayo District in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.The findings reveal that most participants struggle to grasp the multidimensional aspect of quality teaching and learning, thus they seemed to neglect other crucial elements. Moreover, the study highlights that the pace at which teachers are required to complete the curriculum does not contribute to a high standard of teaching and learning; instead, it hinders it. The pressure to keep up the pace often leads to compromising the quality of teaching. To cope with the challenges imposed by pace setters and meet policy demands, teachers adopt various coping mechanisms, such as offering classes before and after school, at weekends and during holidays. Furthermore, the study reveals that teachers receive minimal support from the Department of Basic Education in dealing with the challenges of pace setters. The findings highlight the need for more comprehensive teacher support and professional development for the effective implementation of the pace setters, and for some degree of curriculum differentiation based on school contexts. Addressing these challenges could lead to improvements in curriculum coverage and ultimately enhance the overall quality of education. This study proposes a model for enhanced quality teaching and learning and full curriculum coverage which could be implemented for effective pace setting in secondary schools. Further research and policy adjustments are recommended to align pace setters with the needs and realities of the educational setting.
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    Impediments to English literary competence: a case for English literature paper 2 in selected rural high schools in uMlalazi Circuit
    (University of Zululand, 2023) Zuma, Sanelisiwe Halala ; Gazu, K.A. and Mhlongo, H.R.
    Studying literature is an integral part of language learning. Literature provides learners with authentic material to learn a language, especially one that is not their home language. This study was conducted to identify the impediments towards literary competence, looking at Grade 12 learners from rural schools under the Umlalazi Circuit in the vicinity of Nzuza tribal authority. The study was conducted in five rural schools which use English as an additional language and whose home language is IsiZulu. The Transactional reader-response theory provides the theoretical framework for this study. The study employed the Interpretivist (constructivist) research paradigm through a case study design. The study followed Qualitative research approach through semi-structured interviews with a sample of four Grade 12 EFAL teachers from four different schools and focus group interviews with a sample of thirty-two (32) Grade 12 EFAL learners to explore their views on the teaching and learning of literature. The study used thematic analysis to provide concise descriptions and interpretations of the themes from the data presented. The teacher and learner participants' data revealed that many challenges impede literary competence. Those challenges include the volume of reading texts, affective and psychological factors, failure to read literary texts independently, learners’ inactivity during literature lessons, answers not backed up by textual evidence, negative attitudes towards literature, and inability to explain the effectiveness of literary devices. Based on the challenges above, the study recommends minimising the number of poems and short stories, developing positive attitudes, textual-evidence-based explanations, strategic teaching of literature, contextualizing literary devices, and simultaneous teaching of language and literature. It is recommended that future studies should thoroughly investigate the impact of linguistic competence on literary competence and how attitudes are incorporated into all of this.