Life orientation teachers' experience of context in the implementation of the curriculum

by Jessica Wasserman

Institution: Stellenbosch University
Department: Educational Psychology
Degree: MEdPsych
Year: 2014
Keywords: Educational psychology; UCTD
Record ID: 1453431
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/96109


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Since 1994, and the dissolution of the apartheid era, South African curricula have seen many revisions and adaptations to subject statements, learning programmes, and assessment guidelines. The most recent occurred in 2009, when the previously revised curricula statements (RNCS, 2005) were to be replaced with the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS) for all approved subjects listed (including the subject of Life Orientation), taking effect in January 2012. These revisions have influenced curriculum implementation across contexts throughout the country – contexts that vary in culture, politics, and socio-economic status due to the inequalities of the past. It is these varied contexts, and the implementation of the current CAPS curriculum therein, that led to the formulation of this research study. The implementation of the subject of Life Orientation was of particular interest to the researcher as it is this subject that has been designed, throughout the many curricular revisions, to prepare learners for life and work in the outside world (i.e. in their specific contexts external to the primary education system). This research study attempts to explore the experiences of Life Orientation teachers, focusing specifically on the role that context plays in their implementation of the curriculum. Teachers working in the FET phase (grades 10-12), within two different contexts, were selected to participate. Bronfenbrenner’s bio-ecological model (Bronfenbrenner, 2005) was used as the theoretical framework for this study because of the overlapping and interrelated systems that influence the development of the child and the context in which learning takes place. This is informed by Vygotsky’s theory of social constructivism, which emphasises the social aspect of development and the influence that specific social contexts have on learning. For this research, the learners were placed in the centre of Bronfenbrenner’s model; while the school, family, and broader social community were placed in the outer systems. This study made use of a basic qualitative design and a qualitative methodology which is rooted within an interpretive paradigm. Purposeful sampling was used to select participants from the two respective school contexts in the Western Cape province, and three measures were used to collect data: (1) a self-administered questionnaire, which teachers were asked to complete in their own time; (2) semi-structured individual interviews with the principals and heads of Life Orientation from the two respective schools; and (3) focus group interviews with the teachers in their respective contexts. Qualitative content and thematic analysis was used to analyse the data generated by means of these three data collection methods. The findings of this research paper suggest that the delivery of the current Life Orientation curriculum within particular contexts was a challenging experience for the teachers who participated in the study. However, with appropriate and professional teacher training…