Enhancing Life Sciences Teachers’ Biodiversity Knowledge: A Professional Learning Community Approach
In the last two decades, South Africa has made efforts to integrate biodiversity content in its Life Sciences curriculum; however its implementation lacks systemic coherence. This is due to ineffective professional development approaches. This paper provides insights into how Life Sciences teachers in the Eastern Cape can be supported through professional learning communities (PLCs) as a potential approach to enhancing their biodiversity knowledge. PLCs are communities that provide the setting and necessary support for groups of classroom teachers to participate collectively in determining their own developmental trajectories, and to set up activities that will drive their development. The case study presented in this paper is part of a broader qualitative PhD study which explored the functionings and conversion factors in biodiversity teacher PLCs in South Africa. Drawing on teachers’ and facilitators’ experiences and the observation of the PLC approaches, the capability approach was used to analyse the functionings and conversion factors that enhance teachers’ biodiversity knowledge. The paper highlights that for PLCs to be effective approaches for professional development, they need to be aligned to teachers’ valued functionings. It also reveals that different conversion factors enable teachers’ achievements of valued functionings in the PLC. The paper aims to contribute to wider policies on capacity building for teachers.
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