|Face-to-face Initial Teacher Education Degree Programme at the University of Durban-Westville, South Africa (CIE, 2002, 57 p.)|
In 1997 the Faculty of Education began to argue that the various alterations to the B. Paed Curriculum needed to be co-ordinated in a more coherent way. The overall structure of the B. Paed degree had to be rethought. Instead of further "tinkering through minor revisions" of the curriculum, it was decided to design an overall new degree based on the critique that past students had offered. The staff was motivated to design a curriculum that resonated with their own changed/changing conceptions of teacher professional development.
What innovations did the new degree introduce? How do these innovations hope to address the critique that students/staff had been offering? How did the policy imperatives influence the change? These are the main concerns that this section addresses.
Students' critiques of the existing B. Paed had been gathered through end of year evaluations and the findings of this MUSTER study (Sections 5 and 6) may be regarded as a more systematic presentation of their views about their teacher education programme. The staff had also been engaged in annual Faculty Review workshops, which mandated a group of Faculty to be responsible for encapsulating the critique of staff and students when designing the new degree structure.
The broad criticism leveled against the former B. Paed programme centered on the need to:
1 extend the School-based teaching practice component of the curriculum;
2 more consciously develop dialogue between "content based" knowledge and "classroom methodology" from an early stage in the in the teachers' development programme;
3 address the specific under-preparedness of many students who came to the course with poor academic literacy skills, particularly in handling (English) language competence;
4 prepare students to address teaching and learning in multilingual, multicultural settings;
5 develop deeper levels of analysis of teaching and learning as a historical, cultural, social and politically laden endeavour;
6 develop students who are prepared to use their university training to contribute to educational environments ("learning sites" to use the policy jargon) beyond just formal primary and secondary schooling;
7 contribute to the production of Mathematics, Science and Language educators who were in short supply in the province;
8 develop student teachers' critical reflective skills, in order to promote the teaching profession as a researching profession.
9 develop social responsibility of the students in relation to the community through the use of educational knowledge;
10 develop student teachers to become technologically literate.
These identified needs helped formulate the goals that were focussed on when designing the new curriculum. In light of the overall principles guiding curriculum design set out by the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) and the South African Qualification Authority (SAQA), the Faculty chose to design a curriculum that addressed:
1 the achievement of the broad critical outcomes of any educational and training curriculum: which included the development of collaborative learning, use of technology and respect for diversity;
2 the need for the curriculum to include dimensions that consisted of three kinds of focuses:
2.1 Foundational elements: which addressed the development of competences which were regarded as the platform upon which the particular qualification is structured;
2.2 Core elements: which addressed the development of competences which were regarded as the essential basic knowledge (product/content and process/methodological knowledge) needed to be a professional in a particular field e.g. an educator in a primary school;
2.3 Elective elements: which provided the student with the opportunity to develop a more divergent rather than "boxed-in" exposure to academic knowledge outside the scope of the particular professional training of the specific qualification.
3 The development of a modular programme which highlighted the number of "notional hours" of students' engagement with the curriculum. The concept of "notional hours" includes a description of the number of hours spent with contact face-to-face sessions between the students and the lecturers, as well as the number of hours spent on self-study. In the undergraduate programme each curriculum module would be awarded a credit point (cp.) rating which indicated the number of notional hours to be utilised. One credit point was equated to 10 notional hours.
The Faculty emerged with a new curriculum structure (see Appendix 2). The teacher education programme begins with the students being exposed to a university-wide "foundational module" which addresses broad issues around knowledge production and dissemination. All first year students throughout the university are introduced to current topical debates, and students are tutored to develop critical and creative thinking skills to address these issues from a multiplicity of perspectives: e.g. political, sociological, anthropological, historical, statistical, etc. It focuses on exposing students to the wide range of possible disciplines of inquiry within higher education showing the value of a multi-disciplinary way of thinking. The university regards these modules as providing a foundational base of generic "life skills" which promote quality academic student engagement. This programme was introduced in 2000.
The essential features of the curriculum (Core) for teacher development are a combination of subject and methodology courses, and educational theory. The "Subject methodology" courses integrate both disciplinary based knowledge (content) and knowledge about teaching and learning the subject content (methodology). These courses (e.g. Science Education, Mathematics Education and Language Education) develop students to understand these "disciplines" in the context within which they will be taught and learnt. For example, in Language Education, the focus rests on how teachers can engage learners to negotiate relationship between first and second language learning in multilingual contexts. The students are exposed to sociolinguistic and psycholinguistic analysis of teaching and learning practices and approaches. The students' own personal experiences of learning and teaching languages in the divided schooling systems is critiqued and alternative pedagogies are explored as options for engagement to develop future learners.
The educational theory dimensions of the curriculum are presented in an interdisciplinary manner to engender a "problem-solving reflective engagement" with educational matters. The student is presented in these modules with tools for developing interpretive critical insights using sociological, philosophical, psychological, political, historical orientations to ask better questions about everyday lived phenomena in schools.
The deeper content orientation of the discipline is provided through the students' engagement with at least 2 modules (16cp) taken outside of the School of Educational Studies. The students are advised about which modules would be appropriate in relation to the kind of subject/learning area that they would like to develop more detailed competence in. For example, the student might be counseled into taking a course on writing and textual analysis in the School of Languages and Literature in order to fuel their preparation to become a teacher of languages.
The student also chooses the external module with "one eye on the changing school curriculum". The School curriculum policy proposes that "primary schooling" (foundational and intermediate phases) would consist of engagement with 8 broad learning areas, organised into different kinds of combinations. The following learning areas constitute the kinds of focal areas that teachers could choose to specialise in:
1 Language, Literacy and Communication
2 Natural Sciences
3 Mathematics and Mathematical Literacy
4 Human and Social Studies
5 Entrepreneurial Education
6 Arts and Culture
7 Technology Education
8 Life Skills
- The B. Ed (Undergraduate) programme concentrates on 3 of these learning areas in particular: Language Education, Science Education and Mathematics Education. These were considered as targeted areas of need within the schools, and as a response to the National Teacher Education Audit's finding outlining the under-supply of teachers in these areas (Hofmeyr and Hall 1996).
- This also attempts to redress the overemphasis on the Arts and Humanities reflected in the patterns of enrollment discussed in section 1 above.
- The other learning areas were introduced with smaller proportions of time allocated e.g. Integrated Arts, Entrepreneurial Education and Social Science Education were offered as selected choices for 8 credit points only. The Integrated Arts course was also allocated an extra 16cp at Level 1 because it was believed that the course could introduce students to the integrated inter-disciplinary notions about teaching and learning using the arts as a methodology.
- Generic technological competences were focussed on in an 8-credit point module, Technology Education, in level III.
The course structure is heavily skewed in the direction of providing students with sufficient "practical experience". These practical experiences are being organised in three broad ways:
1. A Community Service module: which focuses on the students providing an educational service to one of several community-based centres. This might involve amongst others the teaching of children in a street shelter (which was "adopted" by the university); the tutoring of children in a place of safety in order to reincorporate them into mainstream schools, and/or reconcile them with their families. These are projects that the School had been involved with as "extra-curricular voluntary activities", but they now constitute an institutionalised part of the students' compulsory curriculum.
2. A Workplace Education: which focuses on the placement of students within a range of sites of work: e.g. in libraries, factory worker education offices, in tourism board offices, in the broadcasting media offices, etc. It is believed that the students need to be exposed to such alternative spaces within which they might use their growing expertise.
3. Teaching Practice: This course consists of field-based placements interspersed across Level II, Level III and the entire Level IV year. As the name of the engagement suggests, practical internship is an attempt to develop an introduction to the practical world of teaching whilst being an intern within the school system. This internship is aimed at bringing a closer synergy between the so-called educational theory and subject methodology courses throughout the training process.
4. Practical Internship I (Level II) consists of approximately 4- 5 weeks of placement within a site of teaching and learning (160 hours). This placement is intended to orientate the students to the "school" context. Students will be encouraged to engage with observation of experienced teachers' lessons and will be expected to engage with at least some degree of lesson preparation and classroom teaching.
5. Practical Internship II (Level III) consists of another field-based placement. Here student teachers will be expected to take more full responsibility for organising and designing a curriculum theme in consultation with the university supervisors and mentor teachers. A larger percentage of time will be devoted to actual teaching in the classroom than in the first placement in Level I. The students will be engaged with schools for approximately 4.5 weeks.
6. Practical Internship III consists of teachers being placed for the entire year within the context of a school. This will enable students to imbibe the cultural practices of the school environment in all its various phases of organisation: planning, recruitment, administrative placements of pupils, teaching, examinations, and extra-curricular activities. The student teachers would be placed in teams of about four persons. The focus will follow the model of critical reflective practice as set out in Section 4.1.3 above. This entails the students being involved in an action research project in a collaborative team.
The students will be expected to present a bi-weekly seminar to the team of mentor teachers, university supervisors and other student team members, outlining the kinds of planning, reflecting and actions that they have engaged with during the course of the engagement with the learners in their particular school. This model of "teaching practice" will enable students to develop an extended repertoire of various kinds of knowledge related to teaching and learning in a school: for example, practical knowledge, content/subject-based knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, classroom related knowledge, sociological awareness of the position of the school and the community. It represents a more comprehensive understanding of the kinds of practical craft knowledge needed to develop a personal working theory about teaching and learning.
This model is an adapted version of the Professional Development Schools model (Boles & Troen: 1997) being used by Boston University and Michigan State University programmes. It relies on a highly organised teaching practice unit within the university, and this has been catered for in the establishment of a full-time co-ordinator being appointed to serve these functions.
Across the three internships the students will be encouraged to take up their placements at three different teaching contexts, one of them being at least significantly different from their own personal schooling experiences.
This model will only come into operation in July 2000, and at time of the writing of this report it is not possible to review its implementation. Suffice to say that this model of teacher development relies on a competent and well-organised management structure. The model is also reliant on establishing a more formalised partnership between the participating schools. It also presumes that the faculty will be successful in developing a strong programme for development of the dialogue between mentors in schools and the university lecturers. It is envisaged that this partnership will result in co-operative assessment strategies including all members of the collaborative team. These are responsibilities, which will be undertaken in the course of the further development of the curriculum.
It is evident in the weighting of the curriculum components (see Appendix 3) that there is an over-emphasis on the development of practical pedagogical knowledge, methodology and practical work. It may be argued that the content dimensions of the subject based knowledge is underplayed in this curriculum structure although the integrated Science Education, Language Education and Mathematics Education courses attempt to reconcile both content and methodological concerns. The teaching practice dimensions should also not be seen as only "practical" in that the intention is to develop students to formulate their own personal working theories of teaching and learning. Practice is a very theoretical issue, if the students are made to become aware of their own theoretical orientations in the kinds of practices they choose. The programme aims to make students aware of their own theoretical orientation, so that it is made available for analysis, scrutiny, contestation and/or affirmation. This dialogue between theory and practice is what the Practical Internship courses are intended to achieve.
During the internship the responsibility rests on the teacher educator and the mentor teacher to create the "critical discursive space" (Samuel: 1998) within which the student teacher learn to feel comfortable with experimenting with alternative frames and orientations to teaching and learning. The mentor teachers and the supervisors therefore have a role in providing the sounding board for the students' reflections. Rather than a simplistic imposition to replace "undesirable teacher actions", the course is directed towards developing teachers' critical orientation to their biographical experiences of teaching and learning gained from school. Student teachers are encouraged to develop a conscious and planned response to the contextual forces within their particular "schooling" site. Students will be expected to articulate the kinds of forces, which surround them at a macro- and micro-level. All of these forces compete for dominance during the process of teacher professional development. The course aims to develop students' ability to engage with these forces actively, and perhaps to contest those that are deemed inappropriate and unjust. Such professional judgement is the hallmark of a good teacher.