Improving the quality and relevance of environmental learning through the use of a wider range of preferred teaching methods: a case of primary schools in Mufulira District in the Copperbelt Province in Zambia

Kalumba, Evaristo (2012) Improving the quality and relevance of environmental learning through the use of a wider range of preferred teaching methods: a case of primary schools in Mufulira District in the Copperbelt Province in Zambia. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.

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Abstract

The study was conducted to investigate whether the use of a wider range of teaching methods can improve the quality of environmental learning in five Zambian primary schools. Nine teachers from five schools were involved in the preliminary stage of answering of questionnaires, interviews and focus group discussions about the use of dominant teaching methods and new teaching methods; while only four were involved in the observations of four lessons. The study is a contribution to the on‐going debate on the investigation of whether teaching methods used by teachers can be one of the factors that can influence the quality of education. Definitions of quality and educational quality in particular, are not easy to establish and no agreed upon framework for educational quality exists at present. This study reviews the debates on educational quality, and identifies three major paradigms or discourses on educational quality; and considers the human rights, social justice and capabilities approaches and educational quality frameworks as being relevant to environmental learning and education for sustainable development in the Southern African Development Community context. This, together with a review of research on teaching methods in environmental education, provides the theoretical framework for this study. Using action research and an interpretative methodological framework, a series of research activities were undertaken to generate research data because the study was investigating the teachers’ practice with a view to probe change and to analyse the findings. Nine teachers participated in the preliminary stage of answering questionnaires and focus group interviews reflecting on existing teaching methods. In stage two of this study, teachers went through a planning workshop during which they planned lessons using new preferred teaching methods. The third stage was lesson observations of planned lessons. The final stage was the reflection workshop during which the teachers shared their experiences with the use of new teaching methods. The teaching practices of teachers using the new teaching methods were the subject of further analysis. In order to find out how the use of a wide range of teaching methods can improve quality of environmental learning in primary schools nine teachers were observed teaching lessons with new teaching methods. The Nikel and Lowe (2010) fabric of dimensions of educational quality was adapted and used to find out if teachers included dimensions of quality in the teaching process. Additional socio‐cultural and structural quality dimensions, identified through a review of southern African research, were used to find out if teachers included contextualized regional dimensions of educational quality. This was done to investigate whether the process of teaching and learning was relevant to the learners. Teachers involved in the research reflected that when they used a wider range of teaching methods the result was that the learning opportunities for learners were enhanced and that the methods added value to their teaching, improving the quality of their teaching. The use of a wider range of teaching methods showed the presence of several indicators of dimensions of educational quality, as reflected in the quality analysis tool. Teachers indicated that the use of a wider range of teaching methods led them to include the socio‐cultural dimensions such as the use of local languages and structural dimensions such as informal seating arrangements or group work that they would otherwise neglect if they used the traditional narrow range of teaching methods. A wider range of teaching methods provided learners with an enjoyable learning atmosphere during the lesson. The research also identified that this study can be taken further through broader observations, and that the educational quality dimensions tool is useful for different levels of the education system, and that it has potentially productive uses in teacher education, particularly for observations during teaching practice.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Environmental education, Teaching, Method, Primary schools, Zambia, Teachers, Quality, Human rights, Social justice, Sustainable development, Southern African Development Community, Learners, Learning opportunities
Subjects:L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1501 Primary Education
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Education > Education
Supervisors:Lotz‐Sisitka, Heila
ID Code:2992
Deposited By: Philip Clarke
Deposited On:18 Jun 2012 09:02
Last Modified:18 Jun 2012 09:02
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