The learning environment and its effect on learning

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The purpose of this chapter is to present the theoretical framework as the foundation of my research study, which provides “an overview of perspectives and research results with reference to your topic” (Ferreira, 2012: 34). It created the platform needed to plan the study using existing ideas and guided the documentation through the evaluation of teachers’ implementation of the DSAS as programme or project to provide an answer to the ‘why’ question (Walvoord & McCarthy, 2008:25). An extensive review of literature in Chapter two assisted with the conceptual framework of the dynamic sound field amplification system (DSAS) and acoustics.
The study conducted was about documenting the process of the implementation of the DSAS device in English First Additional Language classes. Theory of change was found to be appropriate in a study that predicts and expects changes as outcomes of the process of the implementation of the DSAS in an EFAL classroom. The aim of the study was not to evaluate the impact of the device, but instead it was a reflective journey of the process of the use of the DSAS. Assumptions were imperative in how the implementation would unfold, and this formed the core of the expectations on the outputs of the study.
Theory of change is a process oriented approach to analysing complex systems and for planning actions we think will manipulate parts of the system positively (van Es, Guijt & Vogel, 2015). This implies that a study using theory of action is not interested in evaluating the process but is interested in the process taken to achieve a goal. The results of a study using theory of action can be used to evaluate the project or programme since all the nitty gritties that are imperative in making the programme successful are indentified. Theory of action uses a logic frame to come to its conclusion, thus it takes a linear process, the same as the evaluation theory.
Some scholars use the theory of change and evaluation theories interchangeably (Mackinnon, Amott & McGarver, 2006) as they seem to be doing the same task. Theory of action is said to lay the foundation for “more consistent programme implementation.” It is said to be “confrontational in that it uncovers inconsistencies and contradictions between ‘the walk and talk” in that assumptions about the why and what of the programme are clarified. Theories of change are predecessors of evaluation processes. They are prone to predict the outcomes, indicators (hypothesis) and state the cause- effect relationship. Theory of change is closely related to theory of evaluation (van Es, Guijt & Vogel, 2015; page 15). Theory of change focuses on five steps promote, provide, produce, assess/evaluate and achieve (Evaluation Exchange, 2006). When describing each step I explain my application to the DSAS as programme.

  • Promote is explained as to actively encourage. The study identified the need to put in action activities concerning the challenging classroom acoustics. Therefore treating classroom acoustics is actively encouraged.
  • Provide is explained as to furnish, i.e. to provide the DSAS systems in the three classrooms.
  • Produce is explained as to initiate, i.e. the introduction of the DSAS in the classrooms and the use thereof by the teachers.
  • Assess is explained as to evaluate, i.e. assessing the use of the DSAS for teaching and learning.
  • Achieve means to attain by effort, impact or effect, i.e. documenting their experinces of the improved acoustics (getting results) from the three teachers.
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I am first going to explain ‘evaluation’, and the reasons for using it with my exploratory study and my methodology of documentation my investigation, as it is complementary to the theoretical framework for this study. However in this study the concept evaluation is used hand in hand with the documentation processes.
This is because in documenting it is not always easy to remove oneself from the process as one’s judgement of what is going on keeps on creeping on the proceedings. Despite this I observed the ethical principles expounded at the beginning – that I will try to be as neutral as is possible.
My study is about documenting teachers’ experiences when using the DSAS in EFAL classrooms in the North West Province.
This chapter reviews the components of programme theory evaluation (PTE) and how it interfaces with the theory of change are discussed below. The theory of change (ToC) is not about evaluating a programme, but it proclaims the desirability of change.
PTE (Chen, 1990) was chosen because of its useful application and its appropriateness for evaluating the DSAS in the three Grade 1 classes in the three schools. The theory of evaluation is going to be used to support the theory of change will be discussed. Then evaluation as theory of change is also discussed and the relevance thereof for my study is indicated.


Theory-driven evaluation can be traced back to Tyler in the 1930s (Coryn, Noakes, Westine & Schröter, 2011). PTE is the crux of theory-driven evaluation, and it helps construct and use new innovations or programme as a guide in the evaluation process and progress. The theory is used for the process of developing a logical model and specifies what must be done to achieve the desired goals (Funnel & Rogers, 2011). It provides a foundation for evaluating complex processes, which are often difficult to evaluate. That is why it is referred to as theory of change.

Programme Theory of Change

The theory of change emerged from the programme theory of evaluation in the mid-1990s as a new approach for analysing the theories, motivating programmes and initiatives working for social and political change (James, 2011). The benefits of the theory of change depended on the purpose of the process, the approach took in the use of the DSAS. For the purpose of this study it was beneficial for the three schools as they had a common understanding of what was expected from them.
It was only possible for schools to have a common understanding after they were given a thorough explanation and the importance of the effectiveness and focus of programmes was emphasised.
Theory of Change is used mainly to guide the implementation of programmes. It leans mainly on evaluation and social change, thus it is used mainly by civil society and donors in ensuring that their programmes have positive effect where implemented (Vogel, 2012). Vogel (2012) further states that ToC unlike the evaluation theories focuses more on theoretical underpinnings of programmes and articulation and linkages between inputs and outcomes so that the information can be used for evaluation and improvement of programmes purposes. The purpose of my study is therefore to document the process of the implementation of the DSAS device in an EFAL classroom. The steps taken and conclusions arrived at will be used to evaluate the impact the programme has on learners ability to use English proficiently.
The use of the theory of change for clear communication to the three schools, the Department of Basic Education and as a reporting framework was important in the study. Lastly, the use of the theory of change empowered other teachers in the three schools and the departmental officials to appreciate the importance of classroom acoustics (James, 2011).
Programme theory evaluation (PTE) is a logic model; it shows a single linear causal path. It includes five variation categories – inputs, processes, outputs, outcomes and impacts (Chen, 1990). This linear programme theory model was employed to document the process of the study using the five components, with the focus on why PTE is appropriate for this study. The process of using programme theory evaluation is discussed for each component.
The practical approach with the components or steps of this model was deemed appropriate to document the use of the DSAS in the three schools. Programme theory evaluation models are applied to different programmes, often community health and improvement programmes.

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List of Abbreviations
Table of contents 
List of figures 
List of diagra
List of tables 
1.1 Introduction
1.2 Purpose of the research
1.3 Research questions
1.4 Working assumptions
1.5 Clarification of key concepts
1.6 Background noise in the classroom
1.7 Language issues in South Africa
1.8 Theoretical framework
1.9 Research methodology
1.10 Sampling
1.11 Data collection method
1.12 Data analysis
1.13 Ethical considerations
1.14 Limitations of the study
1.15 Outline of chapters
1.16 Conclusion
2.1 Introduction
2.2 The learning environment and its effect on learning
2.3 English as a language of teaching and learning: challenges
2.4 Language development of young learners in EFAL
2.5 Teaching EFAL: Strategies and approaches
2.6 Noise level in the classroom when teaching EFAL
2.7 Improving classroom acoustics when teaching EFAL
2.8 The importance of improved acoustics in learning EFAL: benefits to teachers and learners
2.9 The Dynamic Sound Field Amplification System
2.10 Studies on the DSAS implemented in mainstream schools.
2.10.1 Personalised FM system: Inside and outside the classroom
2.11 Classroom communication
2.12 Studies on teachers’ and learners’ perspectives on the improved acoustics
2.13 Critical analysis of studies on the utilisation of DSAS
2.14 Conclusion
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Chen’s Programme Theory Evaluation
3.3 Development of Programme Theory of Change
3.4 Core principles of theory-driven change
3.5 Using Programme Theory Model to effect desired change
3.6 Criticisms of and rationales for increased use of theory-driven evaluation
3.7 Conclusion
4.1 Introduction .
4.2 Research paradigm
4.3 Research methodology
4.4 Sampling
4.5 Data collection method
4.6 Data analysis and interpretation
4.7 Quality criteria of the research
4.8 Ethical considerations of the research
4.9 Role of the researcher
4.10 Conclusion
5.1 Introduction
5.2 Analysis of participants’ profiles
5.3 Analysis and interpretation of qualitative data
5.4 Thematic discussion of the research findings
5.5 Conclusion
6.1 Introduction
6.2 Overview of the study
6.3 Literature compliance
6.4 Summary of findings in terms of the research questions
6.5 The theoretical implications of this study
6.6 My contribution to knowledge .
6.7 Recommendations
6.8 Limitations of the study
6.9 Conclusion .

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