New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 13

Accepted Abstracts

Are we there yet: Teaching and learning of science education in some Primary schools in a province in South Africa

Prof. Bongani Bantwini, North West University Human and Social Sciences For Education Potchefstroom South Africa (South Africa)


There has been a great consensus regarding the complexity of teaching and learning and the need for research that reflects that complexity. This paper explores and discusses whether the teaching and learning of science education in South African (SA) primary schools is meeting the set goals and desired standards. Literature indicates that effective primary school teaching of science education develops a sound foundation that helps to prepare and provide young learners with rich understanding of the key scientific concepts and develop more curiosity for science. Lack of this fundamental teaching and learning is likely to leave students with knowledge gaps and science misconceptions that later are very difficult to correct. The reported study was undertaken in various school districts in a large province in South Africa. The major research question focused on: what is the status quo of natural science teaching and learning in the primary schools? Data was collected through semi-structured interviews conducted with both teachers and school district science subject advisors, classroom observation undertaken from grades 5-7 and questionnaires that were completed by the teachers and cleanroom observations during the teaching of a science lesson. The coding and analysis of the qualitative data followed an iterative approach as suggested by Miles and Huberman (1984), whereas the quantitative data was imported into the SPSS program and statistical analysis conducted. The study findings reveal that the primary school teaching and learning of science education is hardly meeting the desired standards. Among the contributing factors is the non-stimulating pedagogical approaches employed by many teachers, weak teachers subject content understanding and the unconducive teaching and learning environment. The paper argues that teaching and learning of science in many primary schools requires urgent attention as it is uninteresting and lacks mental stimulation necessary to encourage young learners to pursue science in their further studies. Poor student performance has a direct correlation with the poor quality of science teaching that many students receive, especially those from previously disadvantaged backgrounds. Undeniably, one cannot expect an improved or excellent student performance when the quality of teaching is not up to standard. This paper concludes that in order to change the status quo of the classroom results, there is a need to urgently assist the primary school natural science teachers with knowledge of various pedagogical approaches that will cater for their students. Also crucial are specific sessions or workshops that will focus on certain science education topics to ensure that teachers possess the appropriate scientific knowledge.

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