Understanding workplace-based learning contexts to inform curriculum development : the case of a Level 5 Environmental Education, Training and Development Practice Qualification

by Wigley, J.J.

Abstract (Summary)
This is an interpretive case study that explores the workplace epistemologies and institutional structures of two nested cases within the broader context of the Environmental Education, Training and Development Practices - Level 5 qualification (EETDP qualification) that is registered on the South African National Qualifications Framework. The study provides insights to inform EETDP curriculum development that is enabling of reflexive environmental education and training processes. The study develops an understanding of workplace epistemologies related to environment and education, the structural factors that enable and constrain agency of environmental educators and the role of reflexivity in practice and in education in two nested cases: the agricultural and local government sectors. It draws on findings from workshops, semistructured interviews and document analysis of education materials in these two nested cases.

The study notes that there are diverse and seemingly ambiguous understandings of both environmentlsustainability and education processes in the two nested cases. This ambiguity seems to relate to environmental education practitioners drawing on different forms of knowledge, including differentiated or theoretical knowledge, and 'common-sense' ways of knowing, in their education practice. The understandings related to theoretical knowledge are, in both nested cases, dominated by scientific or technical understandings where environment is understood in the terms of the natural sciences and education is seen in instrumentalist terms as the transfer of mainly technical environmental knowledge to learners in order to effect behaviour change. The study opens up deeper understandings of the epistemological, socio-cultural and structural features of context, in the two nested cases, that have a bearing on environmental educators. It provides insights into workplace structures that can be both enabling and constraining of agency and notes that the causal power of structures to enable or constrain does not lie only in the structures but also in relation to the intentionality of the environmental education practitioners/agents. The study then examines reflexivity as one of the means through which environmental educators in the nested cases are able to consider appropriate actions or responses to structural constraints or enablements.

Based on the insights offered by the research findings, the study makes recommendations for the EETDP curriculum development. It frames these recommendations within an understanding of curriculum as a contextualised social process that involves structural aspects of curriculum such as materials, as well as socio-cultural processes such as learning on the course and in the workplace.

Bibliographical Information:


School:Rhodes University

School Location:South Africa

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:01/01/2006

© 2009 All Rights Reserved.