Joof, Babou (2020) An examination of science teachers’ pedagogical perceptions and orientations in relation to student centred learning in science education in Gambian Upper Basic Schools. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

In 2004 the Gambian Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE) policy (2004) highlighted the necessity of shifting from traditional teacher - centred to student - centred approaches, to improve teaching quality and help students to acquire high order thinking. In order to make such a shift the MoBSE made several interventions to develop the capacities of teachers in order to enhance the teaching and learning of science in schools. Some of these interventions were in the form of workshops spearheaded by the Science and Technology Education Directorate (STED) - a directorate responsible for the enhancement of the teaching and learning of science in schools in Gambia. Since this intervention no research had been undertaken into science teachers’ classroom practice in the Gambia to gain a better understanding of whether teachers’ classroom practices are in any way linked to student centred learning approaches as outlined in the education policy. This study addresses this gap by critically examining how teachers’ pedagogical perceptions and orientations influence their classroom practices with reference to student centred learning.

Using a small-scale qualitative research, lesson observation and interview data were collected from twelve experienced, science teachers. Focus group data was collected from forty-eight students from six Upper Basic Schools (UBS) within Greater Banjul Area and West Coast Region in the Gambia. Each teacher was observed and interviewed face to face. Four students were selected from each teacher’s class as a focus group. The data obtained was transcribed verbatim and analysed using a combination of Magnusson, Krajcik, Borko.’s (1999) model of Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK), and Friedrichsen, Van Driel, and Abell.’s (2011) model of science teaching orientations (STOs).

The interpretive method of qualitative data analysis suggested a number of findings from students’ perspectives, the most notable of which include teacher centred dominated lessons. Students pointed out that they hardly do practical work during their science lessons. Additionally, the findings also indicated students’ perceived difficulties and challenges in the learning of science in some schools, primarily concerned with resources, and which resonated with many teachers’ perspectives. In general science teachers perceived student centred learning as a good pedagogy but hardly practised due to a range of factors that impede its usage in the classroom. The findings also indicated that teacher pedagogical orientations have greatly influenced teachers’ classroom practices although this has been hindered by the lack of resources among other constraints. This study argues for the need for Upper Basic Schools to be better equipped with the basic science materials that the students require for teachers to effectively practise SCL in the classroom.

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