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close this bookTeaching Practice at the National Teacher Training College in Lesotho (CIE, 2001, 49 p.)
close this folderChapter 5: Teaching Practice in Action
View the document5.1 Introduction
View the document5.2 Supervision
View the document5.3 Experiences in Schools
View the document5.4 School and College Partnership - cooperating teachers

5.2 Supervision

One of the major concerns expressed in the studies that evaluated the NTTC teaching practice over the years has been over the supervision of TP itself (Sebatane et Al, 1987; Hopkins, 1996; Ntho, 1998; and Moorosi, 1998). In line with the previous studies on teaching practice, participants of this study were asked to comment on a number of issues concerning supervision of teaching practice.

Students are supposed to be visited at least four times by college lecturers. However, as Table 2 shows, almost half of the students (49%) reported only two visits, and only 15% said they got the stipulated number or more.

Problems with transport to schools are often said to affect the school visits and therefore undermine proper professional support of students in teaching practice. However, an analysis by district shows that geographical distance from the college is only part of the reason. Certainly few students in the outlying districts of Quthing and Mohale's Hoek had more than two visits, but neither did half the students in Maseru. Proportionately more students got three or more visits in Berea, Mafeteng and Butha-buthe. Other problems are discussed below.

Table 2: Number of times visited by district

District

1

2

3

4 or more

No response

Total

Mafeteng

1

2

7

5

-

15

Quthing

-

6

1


-

7

Leribe

3

13

8

2

-

26

Berea

1

6

7

3

1

18

Mohale' Hoek

-

8

2

-

-

10

Maseru

7

10

14

4

-

35

Butha-Buthe

-

2

3

3

-

8

Total

12 (10%)

47 (39%)

42 (35%)

17 (13%)

1 (0.8%)

119

The student teachers were asked to indicate the number of times they were visited by the same lecturer. The majority (37.8%) of the student teachers who were visited by the same lecturer were in the Leribe district, followed by those who were in Maseru with 24.3%, Berea with 16.2% and then Mafeteng with 13.5%.

Table 3: Number of times a Lecturer visited a student by district

District

How many different Lecturers visited?


Same Lecturer

2 different lecturers

3 or more lecturers

Mafeteng

5 (13.5%)

5 (31.3%)

5 (7.9%)

Quthing

-

2 (12.5%)

5 (7.9%)

Leribe

14 (37.8%)

1 (6.3%)

9 (14.3%)

Berea

6 (16.2%)

3 (18.8%)

9 (14.3%)

Mohale's Hoek

1 (2.7%)

10 (17.0%)

9 (14.3%)

Maseru

9 (24.3%)

5 (31.3%)

20 (31.7%)

Buthat-Buthe

2 (5.4%)

8(14.9%)

6 (9.5%)

Total

37 (100%)

16 (100%)

63 (100%)

Table 3 tends to suggest that the students who were placed in the furthest districts, Quthing, Mohale's Hoek and Butha-Buthe were not as regularly visited by the same lecturer as those who were in the districts near Maseru. Perhaps, long distance between the College and those districts is one of the contributory factors to the observed situation. Regrettably, it would seem that students who choose these districts run a risk of not receiving consistent professional support.

Respondents were asked to indicate the type of assistance that lecturers provided during their visits. The figures can only give a partial picture as they depend on student recall, but they indicate that while written and verbal feed back is quite common, students are infrequently told what grade they were given, and sometimes they feel the observer has given them nothing at all. The table confirms other data from students and lecturers that visits are often rushed, with little time for post-observation conferencing and advice. The fact that students are sometimes graded even on the first visit suggests that lecturers know they may not return.

Table 4: Type of Assistance Provided by Tutors during their TP visits

Visits

Type of Assistance


Given a grade

Written feedback

Verbal feedback

Observed-but no feedback

1st visit

15

24

20

11

2nd visit

10

19

16

9

3rd visit

11

7

14

-

4th visit

2

6

4

4

Total

38

56

54

24

It seems from this data that Hopkin's recommendations for improving supervision had so far had little effect. A long-standing problem is that tutors supervising one year-group of students still have their other teaching and college duties to perform. While some departments make internal arrangements to free certain lecturers to undertake supervision on behalf of the department, others do not.

Lecturers interviewed highlighted the following issues: the negative impact of staff turnover on teaching practice; problems in travelling to sites; and the need to have more vehicles for both teaching practice and teaching practice preparation. However, one of the respondents said some changes concerning transport - the use of personal cars against expense claims - had allowed lecturers to visit students somewhat more regularly.

It was later reported that certain changes made in 1999 may alleviate the problem in future. Attempts have been made to allocate supervisors to specific groups of students within the same schools or district. Those visiting remote areas may claim a subsistence allowance for overnight stays.