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close this bookFurther Diploma in Education (Educational Management) by Distance Education at the University of Pretoria, South Africa (CIE, 2002, 55 p.)
close this folder6. Students' Views on Aspects of the Course
View the document(introduction...)
View the document6.1 The teaching in the different subjects
View the document6.2 Students' perceptions of how the course improves management in schools
View the document6.3 Quality of teaching
View the document6.4 Assessment and Examinations
View the document6.5 The influence of the FDE on the students' future plans
View the document6.6 Interview findings

(introduction...)

The first section focuses on students' perceptions of the organisation of the courses. This is to evaluate the format of the contact sessions and the preparation of the lecturers. The codes next to the name of the subject, e.g. 401, refer to a first year course while 402 will be a second year course.

6.1 The teaching in the different subjects

In the first question the respondents were asked to evaluate every subject by ticking the provided statements accordingly. Only one example for a subject will be included to indicate the factors related to the question. Since most responses were quite similar, we have decided only include one set of examples.

Table 14: Teaching methods and preparation in Education Management 401 (OWB 401)


Never %

Sometimes %

Often %

Very often %

Lectures with Lecturers dictating notes

40.99

23.87

20.72

14.41

Lectures with large groups (more than 50)

24.30

14.02

26.64

35.05

Small Group Teaching (less than 15)

64.61

16.29

12.92

6.18

Group activities

28.57

25.93

24.87

20.63

Come prepared to the lecture or group sessions

14.09

15.91

25.45

44.53

For all the subjects the lecturers used the lecturing method and dictating notes for most of the time. This is mostly done in groups larger than 50 students per lecturer. Small group activities are not used very frequently. The majority of the students agree that the lecturers are well prepared for the lectures. This is an important indicator because the students did experience in the past that lecturers at some teacher training institutions were not well prepared for the class. There is also a situation in African schools where teachers still tend to come unprepared to the class although this is a trend that is diminishing at the majority of the schools. With such a positive example set by the lecturers, it might be hoped that they would influence their students.

Lack of group work can be ascribed to the fact that the facilities at Hammanskraal are insufficient for such purposes. In addition, lecturers experience lack of support from tutors, for example, who could facilitate the group work. Furthermore, lack of time certainly perpetuates this situation. That is why it is often argued that lecturers can achieve more in bigger groups than working in small groups. The students want information about the examination and the lecturers try to provide an overview of the most important work for the examination. To achieve this goal the lecturing method is arguably more appropriate than small group work.

However, the second year students at the Hammanskraal campus are doing more group work activities than the first year students. The second year students are more used to the methods, to working on their own and are more aware of taking responsibility for their own studies.

6.2 Students' perceptions of how the course improves management in schools

In this section we focus on how the course attempts to improve the management knowledge, skills, and competencies of the students.

Table 15: Perceptions of the usefulness of subject content related to the improvement of school and classroom management



Very useful %

Quite Useful %

Some use %

Not Useful %

Education Management OWB 401 and 402

Tot

78.93

16.67

3.14

1.26


Ham

84.33

12.69

1.49

1.49


Dist

74.42

19.77

4.65

1.16

Organisation Management OBT 401 and 402

Tot

76.27

21.69

1.36

0.68


Ham

86.15

13.08

0.77

0.00


Dist

68.15

29.30

1.27

1.27

Law of Education OWR 401 and 402

Tot

78.16

16.72

3.75

1.37


Ham

87.20

10.40

2.40

0.00


Dist

70.44

22.01

5.03

2.52

The information in Table 15 indicates the respective perceptions of two groups and does not serve as a direct comparison between them. The majority of the respondents agree that all the subjects are very useful to improve their ability to be better managers in the classroom as well as in the school. These positive responses are the same as the responses in the discussion groups, where the respondents indicated that they are even able to use the new skills and knowledge in areas outside the school like in community activities or even in their family situation.

The Hammanskraal group is a little more positive about the usefulness of the subject in improving their ability to be better managers. This may be because the students at Hammanskraal have more contact with the lecturers and therefore there is more opportunity to do more practical work in groups and they have more interaction with their colleagues. Also they learn more practical skills during the contact sessions.

It is clear that the vast majority of students consider the areas of the course relating to classroom management very useful, which reflects well on the curriculum designers. However, there remain questions about the content of the study material, specifically that it is lacking an African focus and being too westernised in its approach, which are discussed further in the analysis section.

While residential students on the university campus are lectured in Afrikaans and English, distance students are taught only in English. Offering distance education in English broadens the potential audience for the course, to include black Africans and non Afrikaans-speaking white South Africans (Vergnani, 2000: p.46). The medium for the FDE is English and Afrikaans. English is used predominantly because of the composition of the student population but the study material, assignments and examination papers are all available in both languages.

Table 16: Factors in the course that may improve management in schools and classrooms (ranked in order of importance)


Very important %

Important %

Not very important %

Not important %

1. More contact teaching

70.86

24.50

3.31

1.32

2. More help preparing for final examinations

69.09

24.00

5.45

4.45

3. More time to prepare for examinations

68.01

23.16

6.25

2.57

4. Making the language of the study guide more accessible by using simpler English

62.27

23.44

9.98

4.40

5. More examples and practical exercises during the lectures

60.54

31.80

5.75

1.92

6. More examples and practical exercises in the study guide

58.24

34.48

6.51

0.77

7. Better references in the study guide to resources

56.93

31.46

9.74

7.878

8. More group work activity

54.41

36.76

6.62

2.21

9. More content during the lectures

49.62

40.84

6.87

2.67

10. More time to study on my own

49.19

34.55

11.79

4.47

11. More student-friendly study guides

48.80

32.00

14.00

5.20

12. More notes from Lecturers

44.74

34.59

13.91

6.77

13. Smaller teaching groups

44.31

34.96

13.01

7.72

14. Translated the study guides in my mother tongue

12.45

10.12

14.79

62.65

The factors that can improve the management in schools and classrooms as listed in Table 16 are organised in priority order according to the first column (very important). The first four factors are all related to the improvement of the examination results and not to improve the management skills and knowledge for improved management in schools and classrooms. Although the question was not about improving examination results, the students indicated it as the most important factor. It may indicate also that the students are thinking more about the examination than about improving their management skills and knowledge to improve the practical situation in schools as questioned.

Factors that may improve the management situation in schools, like more practical examples in the study guide and during lectures are fifth and sixth in the priority order. Factors like group work (eighth) and smaller group teaching (thirteenth) can really improve the practical skills and knowledge of teachers but the respondents place it low in priority order. This is a further indication that the respondents are more concerned about their examination results.

The most important issue for both groups is directly related to the examination, although they highlight different items in the list in Table 16. The distance group needs more assistance with the preparation for the examination. This relates to the need for more tutors and assistance as indicated earlier. Both the groups need contact with the lecturers, which is understandable because they are both part of distance education where the contact is less than for full time students.

The issue where the two groups differ significantly relates to their need of more notes from the lecturers. This factor figures eighth for the distance group and thirteenth for Hammanskraal.

The only other two factors where they differ with three places on the priority list are:

· More examples and practical exercises in the study guide. This is fifth for the distance group and eighth for Hammanskraal.

· More time to study on my own. This factor is ninth for Hammanskraal and twelfth for the distance group.

In a direct comparison between the Hammanskraal and distance education group, these are the only factors where the Hammanskraal and distance education group differ with a high percentage margin if the first column “very important” is taken as the criteria (Table 17). At the rest of the factors the differences vary between 15% to 3%. The smaller differences cannot be considered to be educationally significant.

Table 17: Comparisons between Hammanskraal and distance education group: Factors in the course that may improve management in schools and classrooms


Very important - %



Total

Ham

Dist

Difference %

More contact teaching

70.86

42.16

57.84

15.68

More help preparing for final examinations

69.09

43.24

56.76

13.52

More time to prepare for examinations

68.01

48.02

51.98

3.96

Making the language of the study guide more accessible by using simpler English

62.27

45.78

54.22

8.44

More examples and practical exercises during the lectures

60.54

49.68

50.32

0.64

More examples and practical exercises in the study guide

58.24

44.97

55.03

10.06

Better references in the study guide to resources

56.93

45.95

54.05

8.10

More group work activity

54.41

48.28

51.72

3.44

More content during the lectures

49.62

44.09

55.91

11.82

More time to study on my own

49.19

47.90

52.10

4.20

More student friendly study guides

48.80

45.00

55.00

10.00

More notes from Lecturers

44.74

32.17

67.83

35.66

Smaller teaching groups

44.31

48.08

51.92

3.84

Translated the study guides in my mother tongue

12.45

29.63

70.37

40.74

Table 17 shows that the Distance Education group are more likely to rate all the factors as important. However, there were some striking differences: the distance group needs more contact and assistance with the preparation for the examination, more notes from lecturers, and they feel it would be very important to translate the study guides into their mother tongue.

Although the two factors where the two groups differ the most, are last and third from last in the priority order it is important to take notice of the difference between the opinions of the two groups. It can be expected that the student in the distance education mode will need more detailed notes because they have less contact during lectures where the lecturers can explain the content in detail. The notes can be linked to the examination focus of the students because the students are more interested in examination questions and information during the contact sessions than in information that can enhance their management skills and knowledge. The academic staff must ensure that the study guides and handbooks are sufficient for the distance education students to enable them to prepare for the examination but also to gain enough knowledge and skills to improve their management activities in class and school.

The translation of the study guides into the mother tongue may be more important for the distance education students because they are not using English as frequently as the students at Hammanskraal, because in Hammanskraal the lectures are through the medium of English. The translation may be an important step to develop other African languages as academic languages. A possible problem may be that it will have cost implications and then the course may become even more expensive for the students.

6.3 Quality of teaching

In this section, the perception of the respondents about the quality of the teaching in specific subjects is under the spotlight. This is linked with factors that describe the effectiveness of the lecturers. Here, it is especially important to take the factor into consideration that there are different lecturers responsible for the subjects for the distance education group.

Table 18: Quality of teaching per subject



Excellent %

Good %

Average %

Poor %

Education Management OWB 401

Tot

48.39

42.29

6.45

2.87


Ham

59.52

34.92

3.97

1.59


Dist

38.36

49.32

8.22

4.11

Education Management OWB 402

Tot

38.46

45.60

12.09

3.85


Ham

42.86

48.21

7.14

1.79


Dist

35.83

45.83

13.33

5.00

Organisation Management OBT 401

Tot

41.64

42.75

11.90

3.72


Ham

54.33

33.86

6.30

5.51


Dist

31.11

49.63

17.04

2.22

Organisational Management OBT 402

Tot

30.99

49.71

16.96

2.34


Ham

36.17

48.94

12.77

2.13


Dist

29.41

49.58

18.49

2.52

Law of Education OWR 401

Tot

46.79

31.70

18.49

3.02


Ham

57.60

30.40

11.20

0.80


Dist

37.31

32.84

24.63

5.22

Table 18 shows that the majority of the students are satisfied with the quality of teaching in all the subjects. It correlates with the information in Table 14 where the respondents indicated that the lecturers come well prepared to the class. However, the distance education group is less satisfied with the quality of teaching. They have far less contact teaching than the Hammanskraal group and they have different lecturers than the Hammanskraal group. The high volume and the speed of the lectures may be important factors that make the distance education group less satisfied with the teaching. Although all the supporting lecturers are selected through a careful process, it may be that they are a determining factor in the teaching process that is making the distance group less satisfied.

Table 19: Students' perception of the lecturers as regards effective teaching



Strongly agree %

Agree %

Disagree %

Strongly disagree %

1 Motivate the students to participate and prepare

Tot

55.08

39.45

3.91

1.56


Ham

68.18

31.06

0.76

0.00


Dist

41.67

48.33

6.67

3.33

2 Know the subject content well

Tot

52.51

44.40

1.93

1.16


Ham

63.43

35.82

0.00

0.75


Dist

42.02

52.10

4.20

1.68

3 Often link theory to practice in schools

Tot

49.59

44.21

5.37

0.38


Ham

61.65

36.90

0.75

1.50


Dist

34.95

53.40

11.65

0.00

4 Respond positively to student's requests

Tot

48.41

42.86

4.76

3.97


Ham

61.36

36.36

1.52

0.76


Dist

34.78

50.43

6.96

7.83

5 Always mark and return students work promptly

Tot

46.46

38.98

9.84

4.72


Ham

61.65

34.59

1.50

2.26


Dist

28.70

44.35

19.13

7.83

6 Assess student work fairly

Tot

41.10

51.27

5.93

1.69


Ham

48.84

48.84

2.33

0.00


Dist

33.01

54.37

9.71

2.91

7 Teach theory and practical work

Tot

39.02

48.37

10.57

2.03


Ham

44.27

50.38

4.58

0.76


Dist

33.64

46.36

16.36

3.64

8 Encourage small group work activity

Tot

36.80

52.38

9.09

1.73


Ham

43.20

46.40

8.80

1.60


Dist

29.70

58.42

9.90

1.98

9 Present lectures that are easy to understand

Tot

36.33

53.06

9.39

1.22


Ham

38.93

54.96

5.34

0.76


Dist

34.55

50.00

13.64

1.82

Table 19 suggests that the respondents are positive about the contribution of the lecturers. If the “strongly agree and agree” responses are taken as the criterion, nearly 90% of the respondents are very positive about the lecturers. The first four factors can be linked to the subject knowledge and personal attitude of the lecturers. This is a very positive sign because motivated staff who are well qualified may help the students to achieve the best results and achieve the aims of the course. The lecturers have a positive attitude towards the students and are willing to help them. The last five factors according to the priority list in this table refers to methodology in the class and the students are less positive about these characteristics of the lecturers. The lecturers may pay more attention to the previously mentioned factors so as to improve the teaching quality of the course.

The distance education group is again less positive about the teaching effectiveness of the lecturers. The first two factors may be the most important and although the distance education group is less satisfied than the Hammanskraal group most “strongly agree” and “agree” with these factors. A problem for the distance education group is that theory and practice are less effectively linked. This is because there is not enough time during the short contact sessions. In the study manuals are many examples of practical situations but it is really in the contact sessions with the lecturers and with colleagues (fellow students) that it is possible to link the theory and practice effectively. We will refer to this later in the document discussion.

The process of marking of assignments is the biggest problem for the distance education group. A combination of administrative problems and time and personnel problems may result in these negative feelings.

The presentation of lectures appears to be the least satisfactory aspect on this list. Factors that need attention here may be language as a communication medium, the time that is available for the lectures and also the level and examples that the lecturers use.

6.4 Assessment and Examinations

Here the focus was on the effectiveness of the assessment process, namely the assignments and the final examinations. This is the official assessment process for the students. At Hammanskraal the students do one assignment, which is part of their year mark, and which also gives them access to the examination.

The policy about assignments for the distance education group has changed a few times over the years. Initially the assignment was compulsory and the student had to pass it at least with 50% to get exemption for the examination. The policy changed and the students were not obliged to hand in an assignment because the 50% pass in the assignment is not compulsory anymore. Some students however still opt to submit an assignment, which is indeed also marked and assessed by the lecturer. Students are currently strongly advised and encouraged to submit these assignment in order to monitor their learning and to benefit from the comments.

Furthermore, the assignment is part of the preparation for the examination and self-assessment of the student. The assignments are structured in such a manner to assist students to work through the study material. This forms part of the preparation for the examination. There are many self-assessment exercises and practical case studies in the study material, which will assist students to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge if they work systematically through the study material. The marking of assignments includes remarks and feedback and/or correct answers. The lecturers will discuss typical problems at the contact sessions with the group of students. In one interview (NPC) it was confirmed that assignments were dropped as mandatory but the university was considering changing this practice.

For the Organisational Management 402 course the criteria for the assessment of assignments are made explicit to students. The criteria listed are: logical reasoning; formulation of contents; topic cohesiveness/realising aims and objectives; overall impression of assignment; and the ability to relate content to practice by supplying examples from the education environment. Students are also informed that the purpose of this assignment is to inculcate skills of analysing, interpretation and application of knowledge with a view to develop independent, reflective managers. Therefore assignments are formulated in such a way that students must first study and understand the relevant chapters in the manual before they can do the assignments (Assignments 1997/98).

In the Law of Education module the assignments differ from those in the other courses in that the questions primarily require short answers in which students clarify concepts.

Table 20: Student views on the assessment process



Strongly agree %

Agree %

Disagree %

Strongly disagree %

1 No assignments

Total

11.69

12.12

29.00

47.19


Ham

4.81

3.85

29.81

61.54


Dist

17.07

17.89

29.27

40.74

2 One compulsory assignments only as entrance requirement for examination but the mark does not count for the examination

Total

16.20

22.89

25.35

35.56


Ham

6.40

18.40

28.80

46.60


Dist

22.15

26.85

22.82

28.19

3 One compulsory assignments as entrance requirement for examination and the mark counts as part of the year mark for the examination

Total

53.27

27.78

9.80

9.15


Ham

56.15

27.69

9.23

6.92


Dist

51.19

27.98

10.12

10.71

4 More than one assignment per subject to provide more assessment opportunities to determine your own understanding of the subject

Total

33.56

37.97

16.61

11.86


Ham

29.23

43.85

15.38

11.54


Dist

38.22

33.12

16.56

12.10

5 More that one assignment per subject to provide more assessment opportunities as part of your year mark

Total

41.13

29.43

17.73

11.70


Ham

39.53

31.01

19.38

10.08


Dist

41.38

28.97

15.86

13.97

Both groups are opposing the idea of no assignments, while the Hammanskraal group opposes the idea that the mark for the assignment must not be part of the year mark. For the rest of the factors the two groups agree that there must be at least one assignment and that the marks of the assignment must be part of the year mark for the examination.

It is not acceptable to have no assignments as some of the distance education group suggests at number one in this table. Both groups are more positive about more than one assignment and think it does not matter if it is part of the year mark or not. 82.24% of the respondents agree that their final marks reflect their effort for the course.

Table 21: Problems related to examinations



Strongly agree %

Agree %

Disagree %

Strongly disagree %

1 Lack of time to study the subject

Total

36.10

38.63

18.41

6.86


Ham

29.37

38.10

23.02

9.52


Dist

41.96

38.46

14.69

4.90

2 Study materials arrive late

Total

34.05

20.79

24.01

21.15


Ham

18.25

14.29

37.30

30.16


Dist

45.52

26.21

13.79

14.48

3 Not enough contact with lecturers

Total

33.09

34.20

20.82

11.90


Ham

7.44

37.19

37.19

18.18


Dist

52.90

32.61

7.97

6.52

4 Large teaching groups

Total

33.08

25.77

28.85

12.31


Ham

26.61

18.55

37.10

17.74


Dist

38.28

32.03

21.88

7.81

5 Student does not have enough support from tutors or lecturers

Total

29.92

24.62

28.41

17.05


Ham

12.50

10.00

50.00

27.50


Dist

42.22

38.52

11.11

8.15

6 Do not start in time to study

Total

28.57

40.08

21.83

9.52


Ham

21.31

38.52

28.69

11.48


Dist

35.77

40.65

15.45

8.13

7 Lack of study facilities

Total

25.31

26.94

31.43

16.33


Ham

11.11

19.66

45.30

23.93


Dist

38.33

33.33

19.17

9.17

8 Have to study on my own without peer support or assistance

Total

23.42

33.46

28.62

14.50


Ham

8.13

25.20

44.72

21.95


Dist

34.07

41.48

16.30

8.15

9 Language level of the study material

Total

21.69

26.51

39.36

12.45


Ham

12.71

16.95

53.39

16.95


Dist

29.27

34.96

28.46

7.32

10 Low student motivation

Total

18.49

32.35

33.61

15.55


Ham

15.97

27.73

38.66

17.65


Dist

21.24

36.28

28.32

14.16

11 Low academic entrance level of students

Total

11.44

20.34

47.03

21.19


Ham

8.33

11.67

55.83

24.17


Dist

15.45

28.18

39.09

17.27

Examinations take place in May and October, and are the main form of assessment, one for each course. There is a four-year time limit on taking exams. The number of students receiving diplomas after completion of the course increased from 741 in 1996 to 4,024 in 1999.

The factors in Table 21 were sorted in priority order according to the figures for the totals in the “strongly agree” column. The rows for Hammanskraal and the distance education group are separate sets of figures for the specific groups and are not a direct comparison between the two groups.

The first eight items of this particular question relate to issues over which students have no influence. Such issues pertain to external influences. The students indicate that external factors could play an important role in improving their examination results. The internal factors in the students are placed in the last three positions with the implication that they are relatively less important in improving the examination results of the students.

The distance education group has higher percentages of agreement than the Hammanskraal group for all the factors. The implication is that they feel more strongly than the Hammanskraal group that these factors have a negative influence on their examination results. Furthermore, the distance education group experiences the four most important factors that have a negative influence on their examination as follows:

· Not enough contact with the lecturers (52.90%)
· Study materials arrive late (45.52%)
· Does not have enough support from tutors or lecturers (42.22%)
· Lack of time to study (41.96%)

We can deduce from the analysis that lecturers and the administrative support service must provide better service and support especially for the distance education students. This support, especially the academic support, will increase the costs of the course. The complexity of keeping a balance between cost-effective education and the quality of such tuition becomes increasingly problematic.

6.5 The influence of the FDE on the students' future plans

How can the FDE influence the career plans of the students? The aim is to determine if the students have the vision that the FDE will assist them to obtain a better job or to improve their opportunities for further studies.

Table 22: Future plans because of the FDE


Frequency Max: 457

%

1 I want to study for another qualification at the University of Pretoria

205

44.85

2 I will be promoted because I did study further

131

28.66

3 I want to study for another management qualification

109

23.85

4 I want to work for the Department of Education for example at a district or regional or the central office

95

20.78

5 I want to study for another qualification like a subject related course

88

19.25

6 I will still be teaching in my same post

63

13.78

7 I want to move to another better and well resourced school

62

13.56

8 I want to study for another qualification at any other institution

49

10.72

9 If I can find another job I will leave teaching

47

10.28

10 I want to move to a school in an urban area even if it is at the same post level

17

3.71

According to the information in Table 22, it is very important for the respondents to study further. The reason for the drive for further studies may be the possibility of promotion (the second reason) or to get another job like in the department or district office (fourth reason). In Table 23 (below) concerning the influence of the course on the life of the student, the promotion factor is seventh out of fourteen with the implication that it is not the most important factor why the students enrolled for the course. The respondents prefer to study further in a management-related course rather than for a subject-related qualification. Most of the respondents think that they would rather remain in the same post than moving to another school. It is a positive indication that the respondents do not want to leave the education profession and they do not plan to move to a school in an urban area. It is noteworthy that the respondents place the transfer to an urban school as their last priority. The last reason is very important because the majority of the respondents are in schools in rural areas where the majority of schools are not well-equipped. There is also generally a shortage of teachers in rural areas, so it is encouraging that the teachers do not want to leave the area where they work just for better equipped schools or schools in urban areas.

The following paragraphs provide information about how the FDE has influenced the life of the students in the work or otherwise. They also look at some negative aspects of the FDE.

Table 23: The motivation for studying the FDE course and the influence of the FDE on students' life


Strongly agree %

Agree %

Disagree %

Strongly disagree %

1 I think it will improve my professional development

63.29

36.36

0.35

0.00

2 I think it will improve my classroom management

61.15

36.33

1.08

1.44

3 I think it will assist me to be a better manager in the school e.g. as chair in a committee

60.23

35.23

2.65

1.89

4 I think it will result to improve the culture of teaching and learning (COLT)

56.98

38.87

3.40

0.75

5 I think it will improve my personal development

56.62

40.81

2.21

0.37

6 I think it will have more advantages for me to study a management course than to improve my subject knowledge

43.86

37.89

12.98

5.26

7 I think it will improve my chance to get promotion in the school

37.12

51.89

6.06

4.92

8 Tutors and lecturers are available to assist me if I have a problem

30.00

33.46

17.31

19.23

9 I receive administrative information for example about the examination in time

25.40

45.97

22.58

6.05

10 I think it will improve my chance to get work in the department of education, e.g. in area or regional offices

25.27

43.41

13.18

8.14

11 My friends or colleagues motivated me to do it

23.41

38.10

23.81

14.68

12 The course marketers motivated me to do it

20.24

33.33

28.97

17.46

13 It was the only available opportunity to improve my qualifications

19.20

24.80

34.80

21.20

14 I think it is easy to pass the subjects

7.66

22.55

39.15

30.64

The factors were arranged in priority order according to the percentages in the “strongly agree” column. The statements in this table were trying to determine what motivated the respondents to enrol for the course and what benefits do they think will they get when they enrol for the course.

The first five reasons indicated that the respondents choose the Further Diploma in Education Management because they want to improve their own development but also their management abilities in the classroom, which may have a positive influence on the improvement of the culture of learning and teaching. The teachers did not enrol for this course because they think they will get easier promotion or to get work in the department of education, which is perceived to be better work or easier work than as a teacher in a school. This correlates with the information in the Table 22 where further studies (development) is more important than the goal of promotion.

Neither the influence of friends nor the marketing abilities of National Private Colleges were the most important motivating factors why the respondents enrolled for the course. It is a positive indication for the standard of the course and popularity of the course that reasons such as “it was the only available course and it is easy to pass the course” were placed last on the priority list for the respondents when they decided to choose to enrol for a course.

Table 24: Negative aspects of the FDE



Strongly agree %

Agree %

Disagree %

Strongly disagree %

The marketers of the course (Lyceum) are only interested in making money and not in providing good service to students

Total

22.19

10.93

35.43

31.46


Ham

4.07

5.69

42.28

47.97


Dist

33.93

14.88

30.36

20.83

The course will not benefit students because there are not enough promotional posts

Total

13.36

16.61

41.16

28.88


Ham

4.84

10.48

45.97

38.71


Dist

20.95

20.95

36.49

21.62

It is taking too long to complete the course

Total

13.14

11.68

48.54

26.64


Ham

4.92

9.02

47.54

38.52


Dist

19.18

14.38

48.63

17.81

Too many students fail and do not complete the course

Total

16.07

17.86

41.79

24.29


Ham

2.48

7.44

52.07

38.02


Dist

26.80

25.49

33.33

14.38

In this table the different perspectives of the Hammanskraal and distance education groups are reflected. The information is not a comparison between the perceptions of the two groups.

The statements in Table 24 focused on the negative perspectives about the Further Diploma in Education Management. The majority of the Hammanskraal respondents indicated that they disagree or even strongly disagree with all four statements.

The distance education group indicates with a small majority that too many students fail the examinations and do not complete the course. This can be expected because the pass rate for the distance education group is normally lower than for groups that have more contact with lecturers. This group appears to have a generally more negative perception.

6.6 Interview findings

The questions that we asked related firstly to the matter of content of the courses, with particular emphasis on strengths and weaknesses. More specifically, we asked whether students gained any valuable skills and what they thought they had learnt so far in this course. Secondly, we raised questions regarding self-development issues, where students reflected specifically on teaching strategies and attitudinal changes they experienced due to their FDE learning. In addition, we asked those who had completed the course whether they had been promoted since their completion of this course. Finally, we questioned students whether they would recommend this course to fellow staff, and if they intended to continue their education with the University of Pretoria.

The first theme we discuss relates to the curriculum content and skills, which were seen as relevant and helpful in their education practice. The cases illustrated in the curriculum review need some revision in order to meet the contextual particularities of the South African environment. While this course is of a managerial nature, some students did express some need for more teaching-related content, such as the new curriculum, Curriculum 2005.

Student also expressed their satisfaction with the skills they developed. In fact they found these to be most valuable. Skills such communication skills, time management, strategic planning, financial school management, co-operative skills, and negotiation skills were highlighted as most useful. With the complexities and countless challenges in their school environment, students found the problem-solving skills and agenda planning most beneficial. On a more personal level, interpersonal skills improved, which facilitates collaborative decision-making processes. Needless to add that many students used their managerial skills outside their schools, in church and at home. Teamwork also improved. Students' conception as to who should have these skills changed dramatically. In the past their thinking was that only headteachers were called upon to have managerial skills, whilst now they realise that all teachers should be granted the opportunity to acquire these skills. They also expressed their concerns of how staff were promoted to headteacher without the necessary skills to manage and lead a school. One student expressed this eloquently: “That is why the FDE could be the yardstick” for education in South Africa.

Another shared his view: “The department should make FDE compulsory for all teachers.” Although these may be the wishes of some, the unfortunate dilemma appears in schools where some students have expressed their reluctance to share their new learning, particularly when they are not headteachers. It would appear that headteachers would feel threatened by teacher-students in their school who are studying FDE. In addition to skills development, students mentioned how they could follow the example of the professional conduct of lecturers, with regard to how they treated the students as adults as well their punctuality: “Lecturers are role models.

The second theme we discuss covers attitudinal and personal change issues. Most students said that indeed they have changed, both as a person and as a teacher. Some said they are far more positive, accept differences more easily, face challenges, accommodate mistakes and problems, and lastly can deal better with such problems. Not only have some students changed, but they noticed that their colleagues' attitudes towards them have also changed. One student explained how in her personal life she became more positive, accepting and less stressed. Another recognised that since she enrolled for the FDE, he enjoyed the teaching more. One student appropriately summed it up: “To learn means you are more open to change.”

Concerning a change in teaching strategies, some students talked about how they are able to plan better for their lessons. Building relationships with their pupils also improved. Communicating and listening to pupils benefited a great deal. Some students also realised that they are not the custodians of knowledge and that they can involve pupils to participate in the classroom. As such this student can now deal with the process if a pupil questions him in class. In the past that would threaten him. Now pupils may differ from him.

The third theme entails issues of the future and promotion. Due to this acquired qualification some students indeed were promoted, some to head of department, while others became headteachers. One student was granted an interview for a promotion post. Surprisingly, one student explained how he used his FDE background in his interview. He was able to deal with many difficult issues such as educational law and conflict management. Most students expressed their hope that the FDE course would be introduced at undergraduate level in order to improve the level and quality of teaching. Most students saw fit to recommend this course to fellow staff and friends.