POLICIES IMPACTING ON TEACHER EDUCATION
The new curriculum set high expectations for the teachers whose skills are crucial to its success. Realising the un-preparedness of practising teachers to implement reforms due to a lack of knowledge and skills, the government took steps to ensure that teachers are well-equipped, the first of which was to draw up numerous policies that spelt out the vision for the future of education in the country.
The policies were a response to these concerns and especially targeted at empowering teachers by equipping them with knowledge and skills to implement the new curriculum effectively. They provide guidelines for the transformation of teacher education, thereby expressing the government’s vision since the White Paper on Education and Training (1995) was formulated. This policy articulated the need for good quality education and training, acknowledging that in many schools and colleges serving the majority of the population there was a steep decline in the quality of educational performance. This trend had to be reversed, because quality was required across the board. Teacher training was especially targeted because it is arguably the most vital strategy for education reconstruction. According to Deacon and Parker (1999: 73), “if the ambitious path to the future that has been laid out in the policy is to be achieved, there has to be massive and radical re-education of hundreds and thousands of educators through whose identities, competencies, values and practices change will be mediated”. Governments can put policies in place but the implementation takes place in particular educational contexts and mainly depends on the cooperation of teachers. Competent teachers are thus the key to quality education because the strength of an education system largely depends on the quality of its teachers. Unless teachers support change, most efforts at reconstruction will be ineffective.
It is beyond the scope of this thesis to detail all policies, but two merit discussion because of their impact on teacher education. These are the Norms and Standards for Educators (1996; 2000) and the National Policy for Teacher Education and Development in South Africa (DoE, 2006).
These two policies, although adopted at different times, complement each other. The National Policy for Teacher Education and Development in South Africa focuses mainly on the structures of teacher training, whereas the Norms and Standards for Educators policy provides details of teacher training expectations and outcomes. The two policies speak to the needs of the South African education system; they are aimed at achieving a community of competent teachers who are intent on providing high quality education and maintaining high standards of practice in the classroom. Because this study centres on practice that demonstrates the expected pedagogical knowledge, the following section gives a synopsis of requirements for teachers according to each of the two policies.
THE NATIONAL POLICY FRAMEWORK FOR TEACHER EDUCATION AND DEVELOPMENT IN SOUTH AFRICA (2006)
The National Policy Framework constitutes an overarching policy framework which charts a long-term vision of a coordinated and coherent system of initial and continuing professional education of teachers. It focuses on the systemic role of teacher education in the overall transformation of the education field.
This policy operates mainly at a macro-level of teacher development. It seeks to “provide an overall strategy for the successful recruitment, retention and professional development of teachers to meet the social and economic needs of the country” (DoE, 2006: 5). The main aim is to align and standardise teacher qualification routes in line with the requirements of the NQF. Guided by the belief that teachers are the essential drivers of good quality education, the policy lays out regulations based on and in response to the recommendations of the Ministerial Committee on Teacher Education, which had worked closely with the South African Council for Educators. It operates on the premise that change is best effected when teachers themselves are informed and involved.
According to this policy, INSET/CPD for educators is two-pronged. On one node, it caters for an educator’s intellectual growth, which in turn should result in better understanding of the education process as well as a deeper insight into the theories that govern the conduct of teaching. On the other node, in-service training strengthens the educator’s effectiveness as a classroom practitioner by improving his/her teaching skills. An ideal INSET/CPD programme should therefore maintain this balance of a teacher as both an academic and a practitioner:
…all teachers need to enhance their skills, not necessarily qualifications, for the delivery of the new curriculum. A large majority need to strengthen their subject knowledge base, pedagogical content knowledge and teaching skills. (DoE, 2006a: 17)
The emphasis is clearly on the integration of subject, pedagogic and contextual knowledge (conceptual knowledge-in-practice) as a necessary prerequisite for teaching effectiveness. The ACE programme is moulded on these essential pillars.
THE NORMS AND STANDARDS FOR EDUCATORS
Of all the teacher education policies that have been formulated so far, the Norms and Standards for Educators document (1996, 2000) is the most comprehensive. Unlike the National Policy Framework for Teacher Education and Development in South Africa (2006), this policy explicitly spells out the expectations of teacher training programmes, emphasising particularly the competences to be developed. It gives guidelines for teacher educators in designing programmes that would actualise its vision of producing highly skilled teachers able to provide high quality education. Accordingly, training programmes such as the ACE should be grounded in this policy.
The Norms and Standards for Educators (2000) document requires that teacher education programmes emphasise competences required in the workplace. More importantly, it stipulates that teaching practice “should be regarded as a mode of delivery through which all different roles of educators should be assessed” (Norms and Standards for Educators Policy, 2000:12). The emphasis is on applied integrated competence. The same researchers contend that if the concept of competence is to guide the development and implementation of training programmes, then those competences should be explicitly stated: “Descriptions of competences should be easy to understand, straightforward and flexible, permit direct observation, and be expressed as outcomes” (248). Accordingly, teaching practice is one of the avenues available to teacher educators to assess the level of competence of students.
The policy spells out the aim of INSET/CPD: to “properly equip teachers to undertake their essential and demanding tasks, to enable them to continually enhance their professional competence and performance” (DoE, 2006: 4). Embedded in this description are the notions of skills development and continuity, which are fundamental to professional growth. This
study is grounded within these expectations because continuity of professional development hinges on constant reflection on practices that is aimed at the improvement of training programmes. This in turn feeds into continued professional development. The study therefore contributes towards meeting the overall aim of the policy, which is to “achieve a community of competent teachers who are dedicated to providing education of high quality, with high levels of performance” (DoE, 2006: 5). In acknowledgement of the pivotal role of the teacher in this new educational dispensation, the Norms and Standards document provides a coherent picture of the seven educator daily roles. The assumption is that a teacher who can fulfil these roles is a competent practitioner who can transform education. The ideal competent teacher is described as one who is
a specialist in a particular learning area or phase;
a specialist in teaching and learning;
a specialist in assessment;
a curriculum developer;
a leader, administrator and manager;
a scholar and life-long learner; and
a professional who plays a community, citizenship and pastoral role.8
These teacher roles “provide an explicit direction for the design and delivery of teacher education programmes and embody the knowledge, skills and abilities that an individual demonstrates under occupational situations” (Fraser, 1995: 7). The emphasis is on practical application of these three attributes. The roles are also an indication of what the national department expects from teachers regarding curriculum functions. This way, the policy feeds into the NCS, which emphasises the integration of knowledge and skills in a learning situation. The teachers’ role is encapsulated in the holistic aim of teacher education as spelt out in the COTEP Norms and Standards for Teacher Education (1996: 13), which have a slightly different wording from those of 2000:
Teachers must be empowered to become autonomous, flexible, creative and responsible agents of change in response to the educational challenges of the day and in relation to the espoused aims of education in South Africa.
Of the seven roles, the three that focus on identities related to classroom responsibilities, namely mediator of learning, designer of learning programmes and assessor, are particularly relevant to this research. They feed directly into the teachers’ daily roles, which are to design (select and generate) learning resources to support a range of contextualised teaching purposes, mediate learning and use appropriate assessment strategies. In order to meet these expectations, both conceptual and content knowledge as well as pedagogical knowledge are necessary. They need to be integrated so that teachers can apply conceptual knowledge-in-practice.
As interconnected and interrelated strands, the teacher roles reflect a teacher who is able to work creatively and critically, adapt to change and accommodate diversity, which is a feature of today’s classrooms. This corresponds to the postmodern pedagogy which envisages a ‘classroom without walls’ where the curriculum is problem-based and knowledge is regarded as a dynamic and fluid as opposed to a fixed entity. The underlying belief guiding this policy is that teachers are essential drivers of change in the form of provision of a good quality education.
The Norms and Standards policy therefore provides a generic picture of a teacher as well as the required competences and guidelines for the development of learning programmes aligned with the NQF. The competences and roles expected of teachers it spells out reflect a competence-based approach for teacher education programmes.
The ACE English programme responds to this requirement by emphasising both the acquisition of content and pedagogy. It adopts a holistic approach regarding the teachers’ acquisition of competences in these roles: four modules deal with different aspects of content that is needed to teach English, while the ACEEN2-6 module specifically targets methodology. This places the module ACEEN2-6 at the centre of the entire programme because students need to demonstrate their understanding of the subject matter presented in the other modules when they discuss matters of practice. The competence expected at the end of the qualification is classroom practice that is aligned to the current expectations of teacher educators.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIST OF TABLES
LIST OF FIGURES
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
2. LEGITIMISING THE “I”
3. BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
3.1. The spark that ignited the flame
3.2. Outcomes-based education (OBE)
3.3. Continuing professional development (CPD)
3.4. Distance education (DE)
3.5. Programme evaluation
3.6. Justification of the study
3.7. Delimiting the study
4. THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
4.1. Ontological and epistemological perspectives
4.2. The socio-constructivist paradigm
5. THE RESEARCH PLAN
5.2. Literature review
5.3. Research aims
5.4. Population and sampling
5.5. Research questions
5.6. Data collection tools
5.7. Data analysis
5.8. Ethical considerations
6. CHAPTER OUTLINES
CHAPTER 2: CONTINUING PROFESSIONAL TEACHER DEVELOPMENT IN SOUTH
AFRICA: A HISTORICAL OVERVIEW
2. BACKGROUND TO CPD/INSET
2.1. Defining the concept: what is CPD?
2.2. CPD as growth
2.3. Teacher training in apartheid South Africa
3. REFORM INITIATIVES IN TEACHER EDUCATION IN SOUTH AFRICA
3.1. The establishment of a single ministry of education
3.2. The development and establishment of an NQF
3.3. Mergers of education and training institutions
3.4. Interventions to accelerate access of un- and under-qualified teachers to further and higher
3.5. Introduction of a new schooling curriculum: Curriculum 2005, the Revised National Curriculum
Statement (RNCS) and the National Curriculum Statement (NCS and OBE).
4. POLICIES IMPACTING ON TEACHER EDUCATION
4.1. The National Policy Framework for Teacher Education and Development in South Africa (2006)
4.2. The Norms and Standards for Educators
5. BACKGROUND OF THE ACE QUALIFICATION
5.1. Rationale behind the establishment of the new qualification
5.2. The FDE English programme
5.3. The Unisa ACE programme
5.4. The Advanced Certificate in Education (ACE): English
5.5. 2005 Revisions
5.6. Student support system
5.8. ACEEN2-6 in context
5.9. Module outcomes
5.10. Student profile from 2006 to 2010 (Appendix C)
5.11. Justification of choice of module
CHAPTER 3: LITERATURE REVIEW .
2. PART ONE: CONCEPTUALISING THE OUTCOMES-BASED APPROACH
2.1. Framing the construct: what in essence is OBE?
2.2. The controversy surrounding OBE
2.3. The policy/practice dichotomy and teacher identity
3. PART TWO: THE PRACTICE OF TEACHING ENGLISH LANGUAGE IN THE OBE CLASSROOM
3.1. The role of language in the context of OBE
3.2. The theory of mediating learning in the language classroom: input and output
3.3. Mediating learning in the OBE language classroom: the teacher’s role
3.4. Mediating learning: practical application
3.5. Importance of feedback
5. SUMMARY OF CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK
CHAPTER 4: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
1.2 Population and sampling
1.3 Ethical considerations
1.4 Justification for the case study approach
2. RESEARCH DESIGN
2.1 The interpretive research perspective
2.2 The two paradigms
2.3 The qualitative approach
3. THE RESEARCH PROCEDURE
3.1 The research instruments (Appendix D)
3.2 Limitations of the instruments
4. DATA ANALYSIS
4.2 Lesson observation
4.3 Analysis of texts
5. SUMMARY OF FINDINGS
6. VALIDITY ISSUES PERTAINING TO THIS STUDY
6.1 Measures of trustworthiness
CHAPTER 5: DATA PRESENTATION
2. CONTEXTUALISING THE STUDY
2.1 The participants
2.2 School visits
2.3 Challenges of dealing with human subjects
3. PRESENTATION OF FINDINGS
3.1 Categories, themes, and sub-themes
3.2 Category one: logic in theory and practice
3.3 Category two: contextual factors
3.4 Category three: interaction with study material
CHAPTER 6: DATA INTERPRETATION AND DISCUSSION
2. THE THEORY OF MEDIATION
3. MEDIATION FOR LEARNER-CENTREDNESS
3.1. Negotiating the curriculum
3.2 The design and implementation of learner-centred activities
3.3 Concluding remarks
4. ASSESSMENT .
4.1 Questioning practices
4.2 Portfolio assessment
4.3 Negative impact on assessment
4.4 Feedback as an assessment strategy
4.5 Concluding remarks
5. FACTORS FOUND TO IMPACT ON PRACTICE
5.2 A lack of teacher agency
5.3 The participants’ mindset
6.1 Conceptual summary
7. MY REFLECTION
CHAPTER 7: AN ALTERNATIVE ROUTE
2. STUDENT NEEDS IDENTIFIED IN THIS STUDY
3. FROM MODULE TO PROGRAMME
4. MODELS OF CONTINUING PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT (CPD)
4.1 Justification of the transformative model
5. COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICE
5.1 What are communities of practice?
5.2 Communities of practice as sites for dialogic collaboration
5.3 University-school networks
6. DEFINING ELEMENTS OF THE PROGRAMME
6.1 Communities of practice foster the acquisition and integration of theory and pedagogical content
6.2 Communities of practice enable students to learn from practice and for practice.
6.3 Communities of practice foster the use of a multiplicity of assessment strategies.
6.4 Communities of practice foster teacher agency.
6.5 Communities of practice foster the development of critical reflective skills.
7. PROGRAMME THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
8. PROGRAMME OUTCOMES
9. COMPONENTS OF THE RECONCEPTUALISED ENGLISH PROGRAMME
9.1 Principles of learning and teaching
9.2 Contemporary learning theories on language teaching
9.3 Contextual factors
9.5 Teaching practice
9.6 Current modules 276
10. A SUMMARY OF THE TWO PROGRAMMES
11. CONCLUSION .
CHAPTER 8: LOOKING BACK: A REFLECTIVE CONVERSATION
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
RE-IMAGINING THE TAPESTRY OF TEACHING: AN INVESTIGATION INTO STUDENT TEACHERS’ OUTCOMES-BASED EDUCATION (OBE) INSTRUCTIONAL PRACTICES.