A case study of multigrade teaching in Canada : implications for South Africa

Muthayan, Saloshini (2000) A case study of multigrade teaching in Canada : implications for South Africa. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.




This study examines multigrade teaching in selected schools in Canada and its implications for improving multigrade teaching in South Africa, where over 50 % of primary schools are multigrade and the teachers have not received preparation in multigrade teaching. The case study method was adopted because it allowed for 'an intensive, holistic description and analysis' of the multigrade classroom. The approach is interpretivist, based on the assumption that social phenomena are 'socially constituted' and 'valuationally based'. Research techniques included a literature review, interviews and observations. Four classrooms with grade combinations ranging from two grades to eight grades (Kindergarten to grade 7) were studied. Despite problems such as the lack of official recognition, inadequate teacher education and support - problems common to both Canada and South Africa - the Cah.adian teachers managed their classrooms effectively. This was indicated by their understanding of the children's needs, their integration of the curriculum for teaching across the grades and the learning areas, their use of effective instructional strategies and their involyement of parents in the classroom. A reason for their success may be that their teacher education includes child-centred, activity based approaches, integration of the curriculum, critical thinking, flexibility and effective instructional strategies, which they may adapt for effective multigrade teaching. The study found that successful multigrade teaching depended on the teacher. For South Africa, this may imply that intervention programmes should focus on relevant preparation and support for multigrade teachers. The emphasis on material resources in the implementation of Curriculum 2005 has not been balanced with adequate training on policy, curriculum and instructional strategies. Teacher education should include methodologies that are experiential, reflective and participatory. A variety of instructional strategies should be employed in the multigrade classroom. The respondents in the study believed further that multigrade teaching is more beneficial than single-grade teaching because it caters for the diversity of needs amongst children and allows for peer tutoring, thereby exploiting Vygotsky's theory of the 'zone of proximal development'. Thus, instead of viewing mUltigrade teaching as a temporary phenomenon, it should be viewed as an opportunity for improving school effectiveness.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Elementary education, South Africa, Canada, Multigrade teaching
Subjects:L Education > L Education (General)
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Education > Education
ID Code:2458
Deposited By: Mrs Carol Perold
Deposited On:08 Feb 2012 13:16
Last Modified:08 Feb 2012 13:16
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