Teacher beliefs and attitudes about inquiry-based learning in a rural school district in South Africa
Despite growing consensus regarding the value of inquiry-based teaching and learning, the implementation of such a pedagogical practice continues to be a challenge for many South African teachers, especially at rural schools. The research reported in this article concerns the interaction between Grade 10 Physical Sciences teachers’ beliefs about inquiry-based learning, and their practice of inquiry in their classrooms. This research adopted a mixed methods design. In the first phase of the research, quantitative data were collected by distributing a validated questionnaire to Physical Sciences teachers in an education circuit in rural Mpumalanga, South Africa. The next phase of the research involving teacher interviews, provided a more in-depth explanation of some of the findings, which emerged from the questionnaire survey. It was found that sampled teachers from the rural district have a positive attitude towards inquiry in the teaching and learning of Physical Sciences, and recognise the benefits of inquiry, such as addressing learner motivation and supporting learners in the understanding of abstract science concepts. However, despite this positive belief towards inquiry-based learning, teachers are less inclined to enact inquiry-based learning in their lessons. Teachers claim that the implementation of inquiry-based learning is fraught with difficulty, such as availability of laboratory facilities, teaching materials, time to complete the curriculum, and large classes, which creates tension in their willingness to implement it.
Keywords: inquiry-based learning; pedagogical practice; rural schools
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