The importance of educator training in order to effectively mediate the learning of blind learners

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INTRODUCTION

Blind children are excluded from biology because the subject is so visual by nature, but they need it for their understanding of the natural reality in the world in which they live and for their own academic development. The focus of the present research is on learners at special schools because that is the school setting where they currently receive their education. However, in the light of the Department of Education’s policy of inclusion, Outcomes-based Education, resource centres and full-service schools, (White Paper 6) a model through which blind learners can access biology is absolutely necessary, and it is for this reason that the study aims at developing and suggesting mechanisms which will be relevant to all education settings.

PROBLEM STATEMENT

In this work, the researcher comprehensively scrutinised the following problems that were interrelated to and inter-dependent: 1. Most special schools for blind learners lack basic adaptive equipment and resources necessary for the mediation of life sciences. Therefore, blind learners are given much theory but experience minimal life sciences’ exploration, experimentation and expressive practices. Approximately 20 % of blind learners are accommodated at special schools, according to White Paper 6 (2001:8), that is 280 000 such learners. Since blind learners at existing special schools do not have adequate resources, this implies that a large number of blind learners who are at inclusive schools or out of school also do not have resources. Unfortunately, the National Department of Education (Inclusive Education Sub-Directorate) revealed that the Department does not possess statistics regarding blind learners at inclusive schools (Telephone discussion 31 March 2004). If this were the case, blind learners doing life sciences would not receive relevant support in terms of both human and material resources. The implication is that many learners would not be catered for at inclusive schools unless a record could be kept of learners needing learning mediation resources.

AIM OF THE STUDY

The main aim of the investigation is to determine how the learning of the life sciences is facilitated
(mediated) in special schools for visually impaired learners and to establish how the lessons learnt from this experience could be implemented to the advantage of visually impaired learners in the Senior Phase and Further Education and Training Band in inclusive Outcomes-based education settings.

OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

To achieve this aim the following objectives are envisaged in the study:
1. To determine how the lack of visual ability, during the learning mediation of biology and other life
sciences, impacts on blind learners, life science educators, special schools and Outcomes-based
education.
2. To assess whether the present teaching of blind learners in special schools is in line with the Outcomes-based policy and to determine whether educators are achieving the learning outcomes specified for the teaching of the life sciences.
3. To determine (assess) the outcomes specified for the teaching of the life sciences/biology in secondary schools in terms of the revised national curriculum statements.
4. To expose the characteristics (substance and syntax) of the life sciences/biology as a subject and to use these characteristics as criteria for the selection of appropriate learning mediation strategies.

CHAPTER 1 OUTLINE OF THE RESEARCH INVESTIGATION
Introduction
Problem statement
Aim and objectives of the study
Aim of the study
Objectives of the study
Research questions
Research hypothesis
Target population
Methodology
Definition of terms/concepts
Outline of the research
Summary and conclusion
CHAPTER 2 HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES ON EDUCATION, INCLUSIVE EDUCATION AND OUTCOMES-BASED EDUCATION IN SOUTH AFRICA
Introduction
African Education
Peoples Education
An overview of special education and reasons for embarking upon an
inclusive education policy
A historical perspective on Outcomes-based Education and Training
What is Outcomes-based Education and Training?
Different types of outcomes
The origin and development of Outcomes-based Education and Training
Educational objectives
Competence based education (CBE)
Community service learning
Major reasons behind the implementation of Outcomes-based Education and
Training
The South African Schools Act No. 108 of 1997
The major aims of South African Schools Act
Comparison and contrast of historical education systems
The general principles on which the Outcomes-based Education and
Training approach is based
The merits and demerits of Outcomes-based Education and Training
Summary and conclusion
CHAPTER 3 THE STRUCTURE OF LIFE SCIENCE AND BIOLOGY AND ITS INFLUENCE ON THE FACILITATION OF LEARNING FOR BLIND LEARNERS
Introduction
The importance of life science (biology) and natural science to blind and
visually impaired learners and society in general
The substance of natural science
The structure of biology as a subject
The substantive structure
Syntactic structure of the subject biology
Sensorimotor skills
The science process skills in the learning mediation of biology
The development of subject language system
Competences needed for discovery
The relationship between substantive and syntactical structures
The facilitation/mediation of life science (biology) through inquiry
The importance of inquiry sessions
Factors influencing the facilitation or learning mediation of biology among
blind learners
Interactional/social emotional environment
The inclusive outcomes-based Education learning environment
The physical environment
Qualities of biology educator
Summary and conclusion
CHAPTER 4 LEARNING MEDIATION STRATEGIES FOR THE BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED LIFE SCIENCE (BIOLOGY) LEARNER
Introduction
How learning mediation takes place
The way learners generally learn
How learners learn biology
How blind learners learn biology
Blind learners additional learning mediation challenges
How blind and visually impaired learners could master the unique demands of biology as a subject
The importance of meeting blind and visually impaired learners needs
The origin of learning mediation needs for blind and visually impaired biology learners
The importance of learning mediation strategies for blind and visually impaired learners
The role of the biology educator during learning mediation processes
Requirements to ensure the utilisation of blind and visually impaired learners’ potential
Characteristics of the biology educator using proper and effective learning mediation strategies
Guidelines for biology educators to effectively mediate learning to blind and visually impaired learners in an Outcomes-based Education classroom
Consultative process
Important aspects for consideration regarding accommodation purposes
Guidelines for the provision of reasonable learning mediation accommodation
Learning mediation strategies for blind and visually impaired learners
Reading techniques
Strategies for managing time and resources
Assistive devices and learning mediation aids for blind and visually impaired learners
The importance of educator training in order to effectively mediate the learning of blind learners
Summary and conclusion
CHAPTER 5 SELECTION AND APPLICATION OF THE RESEARCH METHODOLOGY AND DATA COLLECTION STRATEGIES
Introduction
Data collection techniques and strategies applied
Reasons behind the conducting of a qualitative investigation
Focus group interviews
Direct observation
Follow-up telephone interviews
The use of questionnaires or inventories in the collection of data
Interview schedules
Scheduling of interviews and related activities
The content validation of the inventories
Interview schedule or inventory for educators
Interview schedule or inventory for learners
Follow-up interview
The composition of the research sample and selection of participants
Type of sampling
Population from which the sample was drawn
Data collection processes and the application of the focus group
Method for analysing data
Summary and conclusion
CHAPTER 6 DATA PRESENTATION AND RESULTS OF THE EMPIRICAL INVESTIGATION
Introduction
The learning outcomes prescribed for the teaching of biology Grade 10-12
Descriptive data analysis
Biographical data analysis
Educators and learners’ profiles
Discussion based on interview sessions
Feedback and report on the interviews
Feedback and report on the interviews with educators
Feedback and report on the focus group interviews
General comments of the respondents
Reasons why blind learners thought and felt they were excluded from doing
biology
Coding and classification of educator and learner interviews
Summary and conclusion
CHAPTER 7 SUMMARY OF THE RESULTS OF THE EMPIRICAL INVESTIGATION CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS AND IMPLICATIONS
Introduction
Synopsis of the study
Findings extracted from the literature review
Findings extracted from the interview transcripts and focus group interviews
Findings extracted from the interviews transcripts with educators
The central findings of the study
Ways in which this research supports and adds to both previous and current
literature
Weaknesses and limitations of the research
Recommendations and implications of the study and its impact on the
broadening and strengthening of policy on inclusive education
Accommodative measures for blind learners
Research
Capacitating process
Policies and legislations
Educator training
Modification of materials
Inclusive settings
The curriculum
Support services
Tertiary institutions
Expert knowledge
The development and field-testing of a comprehensive science package
The responsibilities of the South African National Council for the Blind
Further research possibilities

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GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
A STUDY OF INCLUSIVE EDUCATION AND ITS EFFECTS ON THE TEACHING OF BIOLOGY TO VISUALLY IMPAIRED LEARNERS

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