Natural and Life Sciences teachers’ affective development during an indigenous knowledge professional development intervention
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South Africa hosts a diverse and rich cultural diversity (resulting in a variety of indigenous knowledge systems), as well as a rich biodiversity. This provides the opportunity for learning and teaching nature of science (NOS) skills and indigenous knowledge as part of the Natural Sciences and Life Sciences curricula. This research looked at teacher professional development and teacher pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) development from a ‘warm’ lens (Pintrich et al., 1993), highlighting the role of the affective domain in teachers’ conceptual change and PCK development for self-directed learning (SDL). The indigenous knowledge professional development intervention, which was the focus of this research, showed teachers the significance of indigenous knowledge and allowed them to see its merit and change their attitudes towards teaching indigenous knowledge and become lifelong learners. Furthermore, this research also provided views on Natural Sciences and Life Sciences teachers’ affective development during and after two indigenous knowledge professional development interventions. The affective domain has been one of the spheres in education which has been neglected, in comparison to the other two domains, namely, the cognitive domain and the psychomotor domain. Indigenous knowledge is a controversial topic which must be infused into the curriculum as prescribed by the Department of Basic Education. In this research the affordances of indigenous knowledge allow Natural Sciences and Life Sciences teachers to better contextualise CAPS curriculum themes in the classroom. Using Krathwohl’s taxonomy for the affective domain, this research exemplified teachers’ assumptions, attitudes, values and beliefs in relation to indigenous knowledge. This research also focuses on teachers’ experiences of engaging in classroom action research (CAR), and its value in making teachers more reflective practitioners, who also centre-stage the affective domain. The data highlighted the role of the interventions in providing teachers with a more nuanced view of the nature and affordances of indigenous knowledge. Furthermore, another aspect of this research investigated the use of Foldscopes in the Natural Sciences and Life Sciences classrooms, and its affordances in addressing affective outcomes. Professor Manu Prakash, the developer of the Foldscope said, “It’s important to bring open-ended tools for discovery to a broad spectrum of users without dumbing down the tools”. Scientific equipment in the school laboratory is often very expensive, and only available to those who can afford it. ‘Frugal science’ is a trend in education that researches, develops and introduces economical, quality scientific resources to developing countries. In South Africa, many underprivileged schools lack quality practical resources, such as microscopes, to perform simple tasks. Furthermore, the lack of laboratory investigations could lead to learners not enjoying Natural Sciences and Life Sciences. During the indigenous knowledge intervention hosted by the North-West University, teachers were provided with the $1 Foldscopes (paper microscopes) to utilise in their classrooms. This research also provides views of Natural Sciences and Life Sciences learners and teacher experiences of using Foldscopes in the Natural Sciences and Life Sciences classroom during a practical. An aspect investigated in this research was how such problem-based approaches could enhance affective outcomes and provide learners with an appreciation of the role of Science in our daily lives. This research followed a generic qualitative research design with elements of design-based research, as well as participating teachers engaging in classroom action research (CAR). Data was collected using the views on the nature of indigenous knowledge (VNOIK) questionnaire developed by Cronje (2015), pre- and post-intervention questionnaires with reference to the affective domain, personal teacher interviews, focus group interviews with teachers, observations during the intervention, classroom visits using the Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP), artefacts, teacher and learner reflections as well as teacher portfolios. From an affective stance, this qualitative study used Engeström’s (2009) third-generation Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) as a research lens, to identify factors that promoted or inhibited affective development in the teaching of indigenous knowledge as well as identifying factors that promoted or inhibited the use of Foldscopes in the Natural Sciences and Life Sciences classroom during a practical. Indigenous knowledge should be fully integrated into Natural Sciences and Life Sciences education and bring about affective affordances of assisting with the introduction and entrenchment of indigenous knowledge into society. Learning about relevant indigenous knowledge will in turn give value to and create respect for local culture (Fien, 2010). The intervention offered assisted change with regard to the attitudes of teachers towards teaching indigenous knowledge, and thus influenced their teaching methodology. Ultimately, the study’s aim was for teachers to become empowered, responsible, self-directed (Knowles, 1975) and excited about incorporating indigenous knowledge into their lessons. In general, the results indicated that teachers have an increased positive attitude towards indigenous knowledge; and were more excited, motivated and interested in incorporating indigenous knowledge into their teaching and in their classrooms after the interventions. However, data also indicated that continuous professional development (within communities of practice) is needed for sharing resources and for continued scaffolding of teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge (PCK). Some classroom observations demonstrated what Ziechner and Tabachnick (1981) call the ‘wash out’ effect, namely, where teachers disregard newly acquired knowledge and skills and fall back on previous practices.
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