Apprenticing learners in the context of the Grade 10 physical science classroom
Abstract (Summary)The number of African learners who participate and succeed in physical science is recognized to be ‘disturbingly low’. One of the factors attributed to the low levels of enrolment and performance in physical science is language. In this study, teaching and learning through the language of science is examined in the context of the bilingual classroom. A model of analysis is constructed that (1) extends the notion of the language of science to include the mathematical and visual ‘languages’ of science, (2) takes recognition of the manner in which language, content, and values and beliefs construct the science learner, and (3) moves beyond the characterization of teaching and learning according to the dichotomy of the ‘traditional’/ the ‘progressive’. The model of analysis draws upon the central concepts of a sociocultural model of pedagogy, namely the ‘developmental model’. In addition, the model of analysis makes use of Systemic Functional Linguistics to examine teaching and learning at the micro level of classroom interaction. This study reveals the complex nature in which the language, content, and values and beliefs change as a lesson unfolds: teaching and learning through the language of science has been shown in these classrooms to be marked by features of both a ‘traditional’ and a ‘progressive’ model – each of which appears to serve different functions in the overall construction of the science learner. In addition, this study begins to uncover how a ‘successful’ teacher equips his/ her learners in the context of the bilingual physical science classroom: teaching and learning through the language of science has been shown in these classrooms to incorporate complex and varied strategies that depend upon choices made by both the teacher and learners. These findings substantiate the need to understand the challenges teachers and learners face in the bilingual physical science classroom in ways that acknowledge the complexity of the teaching and learning process.
School Location:South Africa
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Date of Publication:01/01/2007