Learners’ performance in science: what research says

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Learners’ performance in science: what research says

There may be several reasons why the majority of candidates who sit for public examinations in Zimbabwe, most of whom are from rural communities in Zimbabwe, do not perform well in the natural sciences. These reasons may be derived from various sources. For example, those emanating from the learners themselves such as lack of interest, poor motivation, poor language facility, the nature of the subject matter itself, learner worldviews that may be in conflict with the ways of knowing in science say (Malcolm, 2007; McKinley, 2005; Abrams, Taylor & Guo, 2013; Aikenhead, Calabrese & Chinn, 2006). Other reasons may have to do with teacher factors, such as a poor qualifications and an inadequate knowledge base of teachers, as well as non-educational factors such as under-resourced large size classes (Chiwiye, 2013).
This study’s research interest however is to contribute to the development of a culturally relevant pedagogy for improved performance as one way to support learning among learners in rural communities in Zimbabwe. In the context of this study culturally relevant pedagogy is construed as the use of society or community-based resources and integration of local practices and issues into the school science teaching (Holbrook, 2009; Onwu & Kyle, 2011). To do this would first require the description of epistemologies that define the indigenous knowledge system, if that at all is feasible. Thus identifying epistemologies of IK may assist practitioners to determine the extent to which some of the characteristic features that underpin the scientific way of thinking or knowing (Lederman, Lederman & Antink, 2013) may reasonably be manifest in IK practices. If some of the characteristic features that underpin the scientific way of thinking show themselves in IK practices these features may create opportunities for IK-Science integration for improving learners’ performance in science (Kibirige & Van Rooyen, 2007).
Learners’ poor performance in science subjects is accounted for partly by empirical evidence which suggests that learners perceive school science lessons as uninteresting and equally irrelevant to their daily life or aspirations (De Jager, 2000; Holbrook, 2005, 2013; Ogunniyi, 2011, Onwu & Kyle, 2011). Learners’ poor performance in science subjects could also partly be a result of barriers and difficulties faced by learners such as misunderstanding (Hodson, 2009) ‘border crossing’ (Kibirige & Van Rooyen, 2007) and clashes between the culture of school science and the learner’s local culture worldview (Malcolm, 2007) matters that will be addressed later in section 1.2.2.

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CHAPTER 1  INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
1.1 Introduction to the chapter
1.2 Background to the study
1.2.1 Learners’ performance in science: what research says
1.2.2 Arguments for integrating indigenous knowledge into the school science curriculum
1.2.3 Nature of science
1.2.4 Nature of indigenous knowledge .
1.2.5 Integrating IK into science teaching
1.3 The problem of the study
1.4 Problem statement
1.5 Research questions
1.6 Significance of the study
1.7 A short overview of the study
1.8 Limitations of the study.
1.9 Main assumptions about the notion of knowledge construction
1.10 Summary
CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW .
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Nature of science and science learning
2.3 Characteristic features of indigenous knowledge
2.4 Epistemological differences and similarities between indigenous and mainstream scientific knowledge
2.5 Research on integration of indigenous and scientific knowledge
2.6 Frameworks and approaches for characterising knowledge systems
2.7 Conceptual framework for the study
2.8 Assumptions of the study
2.9 Chapter summary
CHAPTER 3  RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY 
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Research method and design
3.2.1 Research Phase
3.3 Population and sample
3.3.1 Study population
3.3.2 Study sample for phase 2
3.3.3 Study sample for Phase 3
3.4 Development and validation of research instruments
3.4.1 Semi-structured one-on-one interviews with IK practitioners .
3.4.2 Semi-structured focus-group interview guide for science teachers .
3.4.3 Validation of research instruments
3.4.3.1 Validation of the epistemological conceptual framework
3.4.3.2 Validation of the interview schedules for IK practitioners
3.4.3.3 Validation of the interview schedule for the science teachers
3.5 Pilot study
3.6 Administration of main study
3.7 Procedure for analysing data
3.9 Ethical considerations
CHAPTER 4  STUDY RESULTS
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Framework for identifying and analysing IK epistemologies
4.3 Indigenous knowledge community-based practices of agriculture, technology and health
4.4 Exploring IK integration with teachers
4.5 Chapter summary
CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION OF RESULTS 
CHAPTER 6  SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

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