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close this bookTeacher Education for Transformation: The Case of the University of the Western Cape, South Africa (CIE, 2002, 73 p.)
close this folderChapter 6: Student teachers’ expectations and experiences of the HDE programme
View the document6.1 Introduction
View the document6.2 Organisation of HDE course
View the document6.3 Teaching Practice
View the document6.4 Expectations regarding the course
View the document6.5 Exam preparation
View the document6.6 Views of students about the HDE course
View the document6.7 Levels of confidence at the end of the course
View the document6.8 Future plans and preferences
View the document6.9 Summary

6.1 Introduction

This section of the report details student teacher responses to questions about their expectations and experiences of the HDE programme. Again the data has been collected through the entry questionnaire and interviews with a select group of students at the end of the year. The data is supplemented by the exit questionnaire. However, this data needs to be treated with caution, as only 48 students completed the exit questionnaire and in a number of cases they did not reply to all the questions.

6.2 Organisation of HDE course

In response to a question in the entry questionnaire on how they would like the HDE course to be organised, students appeared to prefer that demonstrations by lecturers (43%), small group work (38%), observation in schools (37%) and micro-teaching (28%) be used in the course. However, it is noteworthy that 19% of the sample felt that they did not want to observe what was happening in schools. Most of the students (65%) did not want the lecturers to dictate notes and preferred small group to large group teaching. However, 29% felt that they would like large group teaching to happen at times and a similar percentage felt that small group teaching should only take place ‘sometimes’. Although almost a third were in favour of micro-teaching, the large percentage that did not respond to this question (38%) probably indicated that entry level students did not know what micro-teaching was. Similarly, it is possible that many of those that did not reply to the question on observation in school, also did not know exactly what this entailed.

Table 17: Responses to question: “How would you like the HDE course to be organised?” (entry questionnaire) (N = 178)

Responses

Never

Sometimes

Often

Very often

No response


N

%

N

%

N

%

N

%

N

%

Lectures with lecturers dictating notes

36

20.2

79

44.4

22

12.4

6

3.4

34

19.1

Lectures with large groups

51

28.7

49

27.5

24

13.5

14

7.9

40

22.4

Small group teaching

27

15.2

50

28.1

36

20.2

32

18.0

33

18.5

Micro teaching

20

11.2

42

23.6

27

15.2

22

12.4

67

37.6

Observation in schools

34

19.1

34

19.1

36

20.2

29

16.3

45

25.3

Demonstration by lecturers

6

3.4

60

33.7

36

20.2

41

23.0

35

19.7

6.3 Teaching Practice

Regarding the preferred length of the Teaching Practice period, at the start of the course the majority (58%) of students felt that it should remain one school term in length. Almost a third of the group (31%), however, felt that it should be increased by three months, with very few (5%) indicating that the period should be decreased. At the end of their HDE year there was a definite shift towards more students feeling that the Teaching Practice period should be increased by 3 months and less students feeling that it should remain the same length than had been the case at the beginning of the HDE course (see Table 18 below).

Table 18: Responses to question regarding ideal length of Teaching Practice

Length of Teaching Practice

entry questionnaire

exit questionnaire


N

%

N

%

Remain the same as at present (i.e. one school term)

103

57.9

22

46.8

Increased by three months

55

30.9

19

40.4

Decreased by one month

9

5.1

4

8.5

No response/ do not know

11

6.1

2

4.3

The importance that students attach to getting practical experience in teaching is substantiated by some of the responses to an open-ended question included in the exit questionnaire, in which students could comment on any aspect of the course. Most of the respondents chose not to reply to this question, but of those that did, the majority commented on the Teaching Practice period, with a number feeling that the period should be increased. The main reasons cited were that they needed more time to adapt to what was happening in classrooms and that a lack of appropriate educational background necessitated a longer teaching practice period.

“I wish the faculty can give more time for student teachers on practice teaching, especially those who have no foundation in education” (female, 30 years)

“Teaching practice must be increased. Some of us take a long time to adapt in the classroom to the teaching process. These people need to be given enough time. Teaching Practice is too short.” (male, 23 years)

“Nothing can prepare you for teaching practice, except teaching practice itself” (female, 21 years).

The responses to a question posed to the students in the entry questionnaire on what would make their Teaching Practice more valuable showed that over 70% felt that they needed teaching and learning materials, help with lesson planning, and to be able to watch experienced teachers (see Table 19). Approximately 60% felt that they needed preparation in the faculty, visits by lecturers during their Teaching Practice period and demonstration lessons by lecturers. Approximately half felt that they needed input from the school principal and follow-up discussions in the faculty of education.

A similar question was posed in the exit questionnaire in which students were asked what they felt would make the Teaching Practice period more valuable for the students (see Table 20). Over 60% of the students felt that they needed more preparation in faculty, more visits by lecturers, greater input from the school teachers, more time to watch experienced teachers more teaching and learning materials and more help in lesson planning. Note needs to be taken of the large number of ‘no responses’ to this question will which affect the validity of this data. Nevertheless, the responses are very similar to those given in the entry questionnaire.

Table 19: Responses to the question: “What will make Teaching Practice valuable?” (entry questionnaire) (N = 178)

Item

Yes

No


N

%

N

%

Preparation in Faculty of Education

107

60.1

71

39.9

Visits by Faculty of Education Lecturers

113

63.5

63

35.4

Demonstration lessons by Lecturers

103

57.9

75

42.1

School teachers input

129

72.5

49

27.5

Principals input

90

50.6

88

49.4

Teaching and learning materials

162

91.0

16

9.0

Help in lesson planning

139

78.1

38

21.3

Watching experienced teachers

130

73.0

48

27.0

Follow-up discussions in Faculty of Education

88

49.4

90

50.6

Table 20: Responses to the question: “How can teaching practice be changed to make it more valuable for student teachers?” (exit questionnaire) (N = 48)

Item

Yes

No

No response


N

%

N

%

N

%

More preparation in Faculty of Education

30

62.5

7

14.6

11

22.9

More visits by Faculty of Education Lecturers

31

64.6

6

12.5

11

22.9

More demonstration lessons by Lecturers

26

54.2

10

20.8

12

25.0

More school teachers’ input

34

70.8

3

6.3

11

22.9

More input from the principal

32

66.7

4

8.3

12

25.0

More teaching and learning materials

31

64.6

3

6.3

14

29.2

More help in lesson planning

30

62.5

4

8.3

14

29.2

Watching experienced teachers

30

62.5

4

8.3

14

29.2

More follow-up discussions in Faculty of Education

28

58.3

5

10.4

15

31.2

Increasing the number of days on teaching practice

23

47.9

13

27.1

12

25.0

It appears from the responses that the students were able to teach a fair number of lessons during their Teaching Practice period. However, most did not seem to meet the required average of teaching two new lessons per day during the period that they were at schools. Almost half (51%) of the students only taught between one and four lessons per week, 21% between 5 and 10 lessons and 13% between 11 and 15 lessons per week. Most students appeared to have also observed lessons during their teaching practice period, but 19% said that they had not observed any lessons during this period. This was despite the fact that observing an average of two lessons per day is a requirement of their Teaching Practice. If what these students reported is correct, then this implies that quite a number of students did not fulfil the basic requirements for the number of lessons taught and/or lessons observed and that this is not being picked up by the monitoring and evaluation system that is currently in place.

As far as observation and supervision of the lessons taught by the students, it appears as if the class teacher observed lessons in most cases (see Table 21). Worrying is the fact that in 19% of the cases students said that they had not been observed by their lecturer. However, this could have been due to misunderstanding the question, as some students were supervised by people outside of the faculty, who are not lecturers.

Table 21: Observation of lessons taught by students during the teaching practice period

No. of times

Class teacher

Other teacher

Principal

Lecturer

Others


N

%

N

%

N

%

N

%

N

%

No response

9

19.1

11

23.4

9

19.1

9

19.1

33

70.2

None

1

2.1

16

34.0

27

57.4

9

19.1



1-4

15

31.9

7

14.9

9

19.1

27

57.4

5

10.6

5-10

12

25.5

8

17.0

2

4.3

2

4.3

3

6.4

More than 11

10

21.3

5

10.6





6

12.8

In reflecting back on the teaching practice period, 68% of the students felt that they had been well-prepared for their term in the schools and a further 19% that the preparation had been ‘average’. Only 4% felt that their preparation had been poor.

Most of the students (77%) felt that the assessment of their teaching practice was a good measure of their achievement. Roughly one-third of the students (35%), however, felt that the schools where they had done their teaching practice did not have enough resources for their practice. However, the remaining two-thirds appeared to feel that enough resources were available at their schools.

6.4 Expectations regarding the course

The majority of respondents to the entry questionnaire had positive expectations regarding the teaching and subject expertise of the HDE lecturers (see Table 22). Thus, 87% felt that the lecturers would know their subject well, 79% that they would teach content that would be helpful in teaching in schools and 88% that they would teach content that would be easy to understand. However, less favourable views were held relating to the more personal characteristics of the lecturers. Quite a number of students felt that lecturers would often not mark and return students’ work (43%), be strict (47%), unapproachable (24%) and uncaring (23%). Approximately two-thirds of the students (66%), however, expected that lecturers would mark fairly. Over 60% of the students expected that the lecturers would rarely link theory to practice in schools, which appears to contradict the 79% that expected that lecturers would teach content that will help them teach in the schools. This could be due to the fact that the question on ‘rarely linking theory to practice in schools’ was reverse-coded and the students did not pick this up.

Table 22: Expectations of students regarding lecturers who are going to teach on the HDE course - entry questionnaire (N = 178)

Lecturers will:

Very Often

Quite Often

Quite Rarely

Very Rarely

No response


N

%

N

%

N

%

N

%

N

%

Know their subject well

130

73.0

24

13.5



4

2.2

20

11.2

Rarely link theory to practice in schools

68

38.2

44

24.7

10

5.6

23

12.9

33

18.5

Encourage small group work activity

107

60.1

46

25.8

5

2.8

2

1.1

18

10.1

Never mark and return students’ work

62

34.8

15

8.4

23

12.9

21

11.8

57

32.1

Be strict

35

19.7

49

27.5

20

11.2

31

17.4

43

32.6

Be unapproachable

21

11.8

21

11.8

15

8.4

63

35.4

58

32.6

Be uncaring

21

11.8

19

10.7

13

7.3

71

39.3

54

30.3

Teach only theory

27

15.2

27

15.2

16

9.0

58

32.6

50

28.0

Be fair in marking

76

42.7

42

23.6

9

5.1

12

6.7

39

22.0

Teach content, which can help us teach in schools

114

64.0

26

14.6

6

3.4

3

1.7

29

16.3

Present lectures that are easy to understand

96

53.9

43

24.2

5

2.8

6

3.4

28

15.7

Regarding their expectations of the course, the responses to an open-ended question in this regard in the entry questionnaire showed that 23% of the students hoped that the course would train them to become good, professional and competent teachers (see Table 23).

“I expect to get as much skills as possible so that I can be a professional teacher” (female, 30 years)

“To help me become a good educator” (female, 22 years)

“To be trained well in order to be a good teacher tomorrow” (male, 28 years)

“how to be a competent teacher - something worthwhile to carry across to the learners” (female, 37 years)

“I have great expectations in this course in terms of moulding me to become a better teacher who sill be able to facilitate learning in our schools” (female, 37 years)

“to equip myself to become an excellent teacher” (female, 22 years)

An additional 4% expected to gain the knowledge, skills and values to become a good teacher, showing familiarity with some of the terminology used in Curriculum 2005.

“I expect to gain more knowledge, skills and values so that I can be able to transform the learners” (female, 45 years)

“I expect it to give me the knowledge, skills, values and confidence to be an effective and helpful teacher” (female, 22 years)

For some students (11%), their main expectation was to either pass the course and/or pass with good marks as illustrated by the following quotes:

“I expect everybody on the course to be passed” (female, 28 years)

“I expect to pass as I would love to” (female, 20 years)

“To get good symbols in my practice teaching and education theory exams in June and December” (male, 29 years)

“I expect to pass my HDE course and get good results” (female, 24 years)

A number of students specifically wanted to learn more about curriculum 2005 and outcomes based education (OBE):

“The things I expect from HDE course this year is the big change - students have to do HDE course this year must use that OBE” (female, 30 years)

“I expect to know more about OBE because I see it as the only way to change the old system of teaching. At the end of this year, I will know what our learners need out there” (male, 23 years)

“I need to understand this kind of OBE” (male, 27 years)

Table 23: Responses to question, “What do you expect from the HDE course?” - entry questionnaire (N = 178)

Expectations

N

%

pass the course/get good results

20

11.2

training to become a good & professional teacher

40

22.5

understand curriculum 2005/OBE

15

8.4

become a teacher that can help the community

10

5.6

gain confidence to teach

8

4.4

enjoyable/exciting/challenging course

4

2.2

help find a job

3

1.7

lesson-planning

2

1.1

knowledge, skills & values to become a good teacher

8

4.4

good practice teaching/good practical preparation

11

6.2

good, caring, fair lecturers

5

2.8

preparation for a range of jobs

2

1.1

fees for traveling

2

1.1

upgrade non-graduate to graduate course

2

1.1

how to deal with discipline problems

2

1.1

(note: respondents sometimes answered in more than one category)

6.5 Exam preparation

The responses to the question, “What do you think you will need for examinations?” were interesting in that the majority of the students (75%) stressed more study time and enough time for revision (58%) were necessary. However, more than half did not feel that they needed good teaching (56%) and/or good notes (64%) to prepare them for exams. This is perhaps a reflection of how they have learnt in the past and also how they conceptualise learning. A similar question was posed in the exit questionnaire, namely, “What would help you do better for your examinations?”. As can be seen from Table 24 below there was very little change between the views of the students at the beginning and end of the course.

Table 24: What students feel that they need in order to prepare better for exams

Need to prepare for exams:

entry questionnaire (N = 178)

exit questionnaire (N = 48)


Yes

No

Yes

No


N

%

N

%

N

%

N

%

Enough/more time for revision

104

58.4

74

41.6

25

53.2

19

40.4

Good/better teaching

79

44.4

99

55.6

20

42.6

24

51.1

Good/better notes

65

36.5

113

63.5

16

34.0

28

59.6

Enough/more study time

133

74.7

44

24.7

34

72.3

10

21.3

6.6 Views of students about the HDE course

In the exit questionnaire, the overall ratings given by the students to the various course components were very favourable. Thus 79% of the students rated the education theory course as good or excellent. Similar ratings were given to the various method courses. Most of the students felt that the lecturers on the course knew their subject well or very well (89%), were able to link theory to practice (92%), and taught content which would help them teach in schools (83%). Just over half of students, however, appeared to have difficulty understanding the theory lectures (51%), which could be related to the language difficulties already mentioned in this paper.

The data from the exit questionnaire indicate that some of the fears regarding the personal qualities of the lecturers that the students had at the beginning of the course appear to have been substantiated during the year. Students, however, had much more negative ratings of the personal qualities of theory lecturers than method lecturers. This could be due to the fact that because of the smaller groups in the various method subjects they were able to get to know their lecturers better and more personally. In the large theory classes, where a large number of different lecturers teach, this is virtually impossible, Thus 32% of the students felt that the theory lecturers on the course were often unapproachable, and 42.% that they were often uncaring. However, 85% of the students felt that the theory lecturers had been fair in their assessment of the students’ work during the year.

From the responses to a question regarding the resources that were available to the students during the course, it appears as if the majority felt that the university library had enough books on education (77%). Almost half (46%), however, felt that the library did not have enough books relating to their subject methods. Three-quarters of the students felt that the course readers provided by the faculty were sufficient for the course.

Table 25: Students’ views on resources made available to them during the HDE course

Item

Agree

Disagree

No response


N

%

N

%

N

%

The university library has enough books on education

37

77.1

7

14.6

4

8.3

The course readers provided by the Department were sufficient for the course

36

75.0

3

6.3

9

18.8

The school where I did my teaching had enough resources for my work

14

29.2

27

56.3

7

14.6

The university library has enough books on my subject methods

22

45.8

20

41.7

6

12.5

In response to a question on what would improve the HDE course in the exit questionnaire (see Table 26), the overwhelming majority of the students felt that more time should be spent on all the major components of the course (i.e. Teaching Practice, subject methods and education theory). They also felt that having smaller teaching groups, more time for and help with exam preparation, more time to study on their own, and more group work activity would improve the course. The majority were also in favour of more time being spent in the schools.

Table 26: Responses to question on what would improve the HDE course (exit questionnaire) (N = 48)

Item

important

not important

no response


N

%

N

%

N

%

more teaching on content of Education Theory

42

87.5

2

4.3

4

8.3

more teaching on Method subjects

45

93.8

2

4.3

1

2.1

smaller teaching groups

42

87.5

2

4.3

4

8.3

more time for exam preparation

41

85.4

2

4.3

5

10.4

more time to study on my own

40

83.3

4

8.3

4

8.3

more notes from lecturers

29

60.4

13

27.1

6

12.5

more help in preparing for final exams

41

85.4

4

8.3

3

6.3

more group work activity

38

79.2

7

14.6

3

6.3

more time working in schools

37

77.1

8

16.7

3

6.3

6.7 Levels of confidence at the end of the course

The exit level questionnaire showed that students felt most confidence in preparing lessons (70.4%), followed by knowing their subject content (62%) and methodology (62%) (see Table 27). Between 50% and 60% of the students felt confident to assess learners’ work, control the class, deal with individual learners’ needs and make teaching and learning aids. Less than half of the students, however, felt confident about education theory (47%). In comparing entry and exit levels of confidence, the largest improvement in levels of confidence was in the areas of lesson preparation and subject methodology. In most of the other areas, levels of confidence appeared to have decreased between the entry and exit level questionnaires. The exit level data, however, needs to be treated with caution both due to the small sample size and the large numbers who did not respond to the questions.

Table 27: Level of confidence regarding different teaching areas: comparison of entry and exit questionnaires

Teaching area

confident

not very confident

no response


entry

exit

entry

exit

entry

exit


N

%

N

%

N

%

N

%

N

%

N

%

Subject content

109

61.3

29

61.7

39

25.9

2

4.3

23

12.9

16

34.0

Subject methodology

83

46.7

29

61.7

64

36.0

3

6.4

31

17.4

15

32.0

Preparing lessons

104

58.4

33

70.4

49

27.5

1

2.1

25

14.0

13

27.7

Assessing learners’ work

97

54.5

27

57.4

55

30.9

6

12.7

26

14.6

14

29.8

Controlling the class

88

49.5

28

59.6

68

38.2

6

12.7

22

12.4

13

27.7

Dealing with individual learners’ needs

104

58.4

25

53.2

48

27.0

7

14.9

26

14.7

15

32.0

Making teaching and learning aids

112

62.9

27

57.4

47

26.4

5

10.6

19

10.6

15

32.0

Education theory

103

57.9

22

46.8

46

25.8

8

17.0

29

16.3

17

36.2

6.8 Future plans and preferences

In Tables 28 to 30 below, entry and exit level data are compared regarding future work preferences and expectations. The exit level data, however, needs to be treated with caution due to the small number who replied to the questionnaire and also the large number of ‘no responses’ to many of the items.

At the beginning of the HDE course, almost one-third of the students (32%) said they would prefer teaching in an urban secondary school, followed by a rural secondary school (23%). It is, however, interesting to note that twenty percent of the students said they would prefer to teach in a primary school one day, despite the fact that the HDE course is exclusively aimed at training secondary school teachers.

In response to a question on what they thought they would most likely be doing in five years time, only 29% expected to be teaching at a secondary school, 12% expected to be doing a different job to teaching and a third (33%) that they would be studying further (Table 29). It appears, therefore, as if for the majority of students, the HDE course is seen as a stepping stone to further studies and not necessarily as a course that will lead them to a secondary school teaching post. If one compares these responses to what students hoped to be doing in five years time, it can be seen that the expectations and hopes do not differ greatly. As can be seen from Table 30, only 29% of the students hoped to be in secondary school teaching, which means that over two-thirds of the students did not wish to be in teaching in five years time. This leads one to question why these students are doing the HDE course. Almost half of the students (46%) hope to be studying further in five years time, which is significantly more than the 33% who felt that this would actually happen. It is interesting that only 11% hoped to find another job outside teaching. It would, therefore, be interesting to find out if the 46% who hoped to be studying further in five years time, envisaged that after that they would still remain in the teaching profession.

Table 28: Preferences regarding teaching posts: entry and exit level data

Type of school

entry

exit


N

%

N

%

No response

44

24.8

25

53.2

Urban secondary

57

32.0

3

6.4

Rural secondary

41

23

11

23.4

Urban primary

23

12.9

1

2.1

Rural primary

13

7.3

7

14.9

Table 29: Most likely to be doing in five years time: entry and exit level data

Future plans

entry

exit


N

%

N

%

No response

33

18.5

23

48.9

Teaching at a primary school

10

5.6

1

2.1

Teaching at a secondary school

52

29.2

12

25.5

Find another job and leave teaching

21

11.8

1

2.1

Gone on to further studies

59

33.1

10

21.3

OTHER

3

1.7

0

0

Table 30: Hope to be doing in five years time

Future hopes

entry

exit


N

%

N

%

No response

21

11.8

19

40.4

Teaching at a secondary school

53

29.8

13

27.7

Find another job outside teaching

19

10.7

3

6.4

Study further for another qualification

81

45.5

12

25.5

Other

4

2.2

0

0

The responses to the open-ended question on why they decided to become a teacher, could shed some light on the reasons why so many hoped to study further, rather than enter the teaching profession directly. From these responses it is apparent that some students were studying HDE because it was the only course that they could get into, given their poor matric results. Other students chose teaching because they could not get into courses such as social work and physiotherapy. This is illustrated by the quotes below:

“I did not choose this career, but as I came here without exemption, I was told that I qualify for this course” (male, 24 years)

“I had no other choice, I qualified to do HDE” (female, 21 years)

“I was obliged by university faculties selecting criteria. I did not want to become a teacher” (male 32 years)

“I did not qualify for social work” (female, 24 years)

“I didn’t plan to be a teacher. I became a teacher because I did not qualify to do the course I wanted to do” (female, 29 years)

The responses to some of the questions posed to the students in the in-depth interviews provide further explanations about some of the reasons why students did not all want to become teachers one day. The interviewees were asked whether they felt motivated to go and work as a teacher in South Africa today. Those who did not feel motivated to go and work as a teacher focused on the violence and lack of discipline in the schools, as well as on their own lack of confidence to manage classrooms and to master their subject matter. As one student said: “I’m not cut out to be a teacher because I must admit I am too soft for the learners.” Another said that: “I feel that I am not competent in my subject and that I will end up teaching the learners the wrong things”.

6.9 Summary

The student teachers rated most components of the course highly and felt that it was helpful in preparing them to be good teachers. Some problems appeared to have been experienced relating to understanding the theory lectures, which are most probably related to language issues. Students also mentioned problems with resources that they needed for teaching, particularly in some of the schools that they did their practice teaching in.

Suggestions for improvement included that more time should be spent on all the major components of the course. This seems to suggest that most students needed to have more training before going out to teach. However, the levels of confidence at the end of the course were quite high, particularly relating to the preparation of lessons, subject content and the methodology. Students were less confident with regard to the theory, which underlines the fact that some of them appear to have difficulty understanding the theory classes.

Generally, lecturers were viewed as showing expertise in their subject areas and being fair in their assessment of the students’ work. Theory lecturers were, however, sometimes perceived as being distant and not very caring. This could be due to the fact that there are a large number of different lecturers teaching on the theory course and that students do not have much direct and personal contact with them due to the large classes.

Many of the students appear to be using the HDE course as a stepping stone to further studies, and do not plan to teach immediately after the course. This could be related to the realities of retrenchment and the difficulties in finding a teaching job rather than the fact that they did not want to be teachers. Worrying, however, is the fact that some students appear to be doing the course because they could not get into other courses or because this was the only way they could study. Encouraging, however, is that the majority of the students show a strong sense of social responsibility and educational commitment and like teaching.