Mathematics in a Primary School

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Published on October 14, 2008

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Capacity for Instruction in Science and Mathematics in a Primary School 01 March 2006 CICE, Hiroshima University, Japan : Capacity for Instruction in Science and Mathematics in a Primary School 01 March 2006 CICE, Hiroshima University, Japan Promoting A Self-Reliant Approach To Basic Education Development in Africa Programme Loyiso C. Jita loyiso.jita@up.ac.za Thembi C. Ndlalane tndlalane@postino.up.ac.za Sibusiso J. Chalufu sibusiso.chalufu@up.ac.za University of Pretoria, South Africa Slide 2: Statement of the Problem Preliminary Literature Review A New Conception of ‘Capacity for Instruction’ Research Questions Study Design Phase 1 (Pilot) Data Collection Launching Activities and the Dialogue Research Findings Policy Impact: A Link with Self-Reliance & Sustainability Approaches PRESENTATION OUTLINE STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM: What makes two schools, with similar sets of resources, offer instruction of radically different qualities and/or to have markedly different student achievement levels? : STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM: What makes two schools, with similar sets of resources, offer instruction of radically different qualities and/or to have markedly different student achievement levels? Slide 4: Effective Schools Research (ESR) School Improvement Research (SI) Improving Educational Quality (IEQ) Project Preliminary Literature Review 3 Major Research Programmes Investigating Quality and Effectiveness in Schools (Conceptualization of Capacity): Effective Schools Research (ESR) : Effective Schools Research (ESR) Coleman’s study [US] (1966): Schools don’t matter as much as family background in explaining achievement differences (black & white schools). Heyneman’s study [Uganda] (1976): disproved Coleman’s thesis in a developing country context. Plethora of studies (USAID/WB): developing a set of school characteristics & teacher behaviours associated with effective schools. Capacity viewed as deficit at school level (labs, textbooks, etc.) or at the level of teachers (knowledge, qualifications). Effective Schools Research (ESR): Critique : Effective Schools Research (ESR): Critique Failure to locate conceptions & measures of school quality & effectiveness within the everyday classroom processes of teaching, learning, assessment & organization. Limited conceptions of effectiveness as defined by test scores. Flawed research designs in most studies (e.g., failure to control for learners’ background, history of the schools’ achievement, etc., in analyses). School Improvement Research (SI) : School Improvement Research (SI) SI research has a distinct stamp in major govt. supported reform initiatives in RSA mainly: Whole School Development (WSD) Quality Learning Project (QLP). WSD: Major problem in RSA context: de-emphasis of classroom processes of teaching & learning. QLP: Major thrust of intervention: training & evaluation beginning with district personnel & school officials in organizational & systems dev., & then educators in curr. mgt, content knowledge, use of learner support materials & learner assessment. Also has an evaluation component: to assess extent to which the above-mentioned training leads to improvement in learner performance. School Improvement Research (SI): Critique : School Improvement Research (SI): Critique Shares some history with SER: relies largely on developing “lists” of characteristics of schools or teachers that define the outcomes of the proposed intervention. SIR studies suffer from their reluctance to study & develop detailed analytic case studies of schools constructing their conditions & defining their capacities for teaching & learning as a basis for engagement in improvement. The pre-specification of the “effectiveness” factors towards which a school improvement intervention is geared, cannot adequately account for the interactions & relationships in the local conditions. This fails to account for two most important factors about capacity: multidimensionality & the fact that it is dynamic. Improving Educational Quality (IEQ) Projects : Improving Educational Quality (IEQ) Projects IEQ: significant improvement from its predecessors: did not import a specific research project.  Issues to be addressed, the design, instrumentation, data collection, analysis and reporting were a collaborative activity between IEQ core staff and host country research team members.  In-depth focus on generating knowledge about the school and classroom experiences of educators and students (a focus on the “processes” & “context”). Improving Educational Quality (IEQ) Projects: Critique : Improving Educational Quality (IEQ) Projects: Critique Its scope and time-frame: too short to foster a sustained reflection and discourse of the kind that would lead to redefinition of capacity (e.g., RSA component of the IEQ was for 1994 & 1995). Slide 11: Instructional capacity as a framework for bringing together, in a dynamic way, the investigations of classroom processes & school wide organizational resources & arrangements that promote quality instruction and learning. Conception of capacity as something much more than just the power or ability of an individual or an organization to do some particular thing. A new Conception of ‘Capacity For Instruction’ Slide 12: Conception of capacity as the “maximum or optimum amount of production” of worthwhile learning: Issue of results (student learning and/or achievement) Issue of efficiency (amount of production from a given set of resources and organizational arrangements). Studying instructional capacity of schools from this perspective enables our research to focus on any school type (high or low achieving) as having some capacity in terms of the quality of its instruction (i.e the organization and utilization of resources). Corcoran and Goertz (1995) Slide 13: Linking capacity with classroom instruction. Central Thesis: Instruction begins with & involves interactions among 3 components: teacher, students & materials (both physical & intellectual) = instructional unit (see next slide). If quality instruction requires all 3 components, then instructional capacity – the capacity to produce worthwhile learning - must also be a function of the interactions among these 3 elements, not one, such as teachers’ knowledge and skill or the curriculum. Capacity to deliver high quality instruction depends not only on the individual teachers’ intellectual & personal resources but also on their interaction with, inter alia, specific groups of students, colleagues at school, subject area committees, the curriculum & materials developed by others, & the broader social norms & conventions at the school & in the society about teaching & learning. Cohen and Ball (1996; 1999) Slide 14: INSTRUCTIONAL UNIT Teacher Materials Learners Instructional Capacity Framework : Instructional Capacity Framework Instructional Capacity (Multidimensional / Dynamic) Individual Organizational Classroom Processes School-wide Resources & Arrangements Materials Teachers Learners Leadership Institutional Culture Curriculum & Physical Resources Parent Community Slide 16: Research Questions… Research Questions : Research Questions Research Questions… Slide 18: Research Questions… Slide 19: Longitudinal Qualitative Study (3-year period) Selection of School Sites:  6-8 schools  Groups of 2 per area (different in terms of performance and/or quality of instruction).  Sample Characteristics: mix of schools originally designed to serve the different population groups in RSA  Sample, at least, one pair of rural schools. Study Design Slide 20: Phase 1 (2005/2006): Phase 2 (2006/2007): Phase 3 (2007): Pilot phase (2 schools): development and refinement of the instruments & techniques & preliminary data analysis approaches. Thorough discourse, training & development of instruments, collaborators & research students. Full Study (additional 6 schools) Focus of Investigation: Research Question 1, 2 (limited extent), 3; 4 & 5. Continue exploration of longitudinal aspect (how capacity for instruction changes over time). Data analysis (continued) Report writing & compilation Dissemination (seminars; national conference; policy briefs: Ministry of Education; journal articles) Study Design… Organizational Structure: Slide 21: Multiple Case Study Approach (in-depth analysis of complex issues involved in the construction of schools’ capacity). Although our unit of analysis: schools, the research is designed to capture the multi-dimensionality of the concept of capacity. Data Collection Techniques: Mixed Method (interviews—individual & focus groups, observations, etc.). Sample: Two neighboring Primary Schools in one Province of South Africa. Phase 1 (Pilot) Data Collection Slide 22: Phase 1 (Pilot) Data Collection… Slide 23: Launching Activities and the Dialogue… Slide 24: Teachers: knowledge, skills, and dispositions (and how it is used in curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment. Professional Community: social organization of instruction (culture, as defined by collaborations, collective goals, etc.). Instructional Programme: Coordination & focus within school. Instructional) leadership: guidance and authority on curriculum and instructional matters. Material/Physical Resources: Quality and Quantity of resources e.g. staffing levels, instructional time, class sizes, special rooms and equipment, etc. A Recap On the Dimensions of Instructional Capacity Coding and Making sense of the Data Slide 25:  All teachers hold required qualification. Few teachers certified to teach at secondary level. Majority of teachers are well experienced (five years +). All senior phase each have 15 years+. Collectively, senior phase teachers have about 100 years of teaching experience. Few teachers demonstrated exceptional intellectual command of their subject areas. Self-definition of the teachers is unusual…as science/mathematics teachers. Positively disposed to subject area and the learners. Findings… Teachers’ Knowledge, Skills and Dispositions Slide 26:  School is active in setting up & nurturing professional communities for its teachers and neighboring schools. 2 teachers are cluster leaders (Maths/English). School as center for Teacher Development in lesson study. Teachers engaged in setting up discussion groups on new curriculum. All teachers attended regional/provincial training. School is part of network of schools that have set up relationship with local university for professional development in M/S. Findings… Strength of Professional Community Slide 27:  School programme is coordinated and focused around national/provincial curricula (teachers’ fully trained on new curriculum). School has appointed a curriculum coordinator (not paid) to attend all curricula workshops. Each level of education has an HOD who is responsible for programme coherence and focus. School timetable is structured around the key learning areas such as language and mathematics (more time is allocated on the timetable for these subjects). Findings… Programme Coherence and Focus Slide 28:  Little data collection on these two issues (Use of general school information instrument and general teacher interview). Clear structure of formal and informal leadership at the school. For most part there is congruence between formal and informal leaders, sometimes though divergence (to follow up closely during data collection). No exceptional resources for teaching and learning science (no laboratories, manipulatives, etc.) . How are material resources identified, activated and organized? Findings… School leadership and Physical/Material Resources Slide 29: The study promises to contribute a broader understanding of what makes a school effective & allows it t offer quality learning in science and/or mathematics. Findings will present characterizations of capacity in various schools & the factors affecting its development & use. School practitioners & policy-makers will be presented with several models of how capacity is constructed & utilized (for better or worse) in the different case study schools, thereby encouraging informed debate & choices in the service of school development and reform. Developing a “Peer Review Mechanism” for School Quality Policy Impact: A Link with Self-Reliance & Sustainability Approaches Slide 30: MoE is the missing link in the study? Major Policy Issues: What is a school? Quality Assurance Mechanism for (Secondary) Schools? [Clarification of the concepts; Development of the Instruments and Protocols; and Implementation Plan] Dialogue with the Ministry of Education

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