Rural students' local knowledge of learning in formal and informal contexts

Visser, Alvin-Jon (2000) Rural students' local knowledge of learning in formal and informal contexts. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.

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Abstract

The general aim of this thesis is to illuminate the process of learning as it occurs in formal and informal contexts. The study focuses on South African scholars attending school in rural areas where the contrast between learning in formal and informal learning contexts is more pronounced than that in urban areas. The research draws on rural scholars' local knowledge of formal and informal learning contexts in order to gain a rich insight into how cognition is situated in different learning contexts. This is accomplished through investigating the structure of the respective learning tasks, the mediators involved, the task objectives and the means for achieving these objectives in the different learning contexts. The thesis draws on a socio-cultural approach to the study of cognitive development to probe the activity of learning in a formal and informal learning context. Through the use of a context sensitive methodological methods especially Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) tools and techniques, it was possible to illuminate tacit local knowledge structures and to get participants to actively explicate their understandings related to learning in different contexts The research results illustrate the assertion that the activity of learning is fundamentally situated in the learning context from which it arises. Learning is framed by the community of practice which structures affordances for situated learning, through mediation, within zones of proximal development. Learning in a formal context such as the school is often abstract, rule-based, standardised and theory related. Learners also find it difficult to reflect on the l~arning tasks and the mediational means used in a formal learning context. In contrast, the learning whi9h takes place in an informal setting is often practical, individualised, flexible and environment based. This learning is structured around everyday activities and is dynamically defined and supported. In a situation where a learner is exposed to dislocated learning contexts, the essential goal of educational initiatives is to bridge the gap between the two. This can be achieved through mediators creating effective zones of proximal development which facilitate the individuals adaptation between learning contexts. Exposing rural scholars' local knowledge of learning in formal and informal contexts allows for a fuller understanding of the cognitive development structured within formal and informal communities of practice. It is this understanding that is necessary to address the situation where learning contexts, drawing on different knowledge bases £lnd ways of thinking, prove challenging and/or conflicting to the scholar.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Education, South AFrica, Rural, Community
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
L Education > L Education (General)
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Humanities > Psychology
ID Code:2477
Deposited By: Mrs Carol Perold
Deposited On:17 Feb 2012 10:13
Last Modified:17 Feb 2012 10:13
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