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Issues in Educational Research, 2019, Vol 29(3), 715-731.
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Teachers' implementation of laboratory practicals in the South African physical sciences curriculum

Remeredzayi Gudyanga and Loyiso C. Jita
University of the Free State, South Africa

The Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) reforms in the South African school system came with an increased emphasis on laboratory practicals for the physical sciences. While reform implementation is known to be fraught with a myriad of challenges, for science teachers such significant changes in the practical components magnified the complex nature of the process. This article reports on physical sciences teachers' perceptions and experiences regarding the prescribed laboratory practicals. We use complex theory to unpack teachers' perceptions and their planning (or not) for the implementation of these prescribed practical components. In this qualitative study, we conducted document analyses on curriculum documents and the laboratory instruction activities, and semi-structured interviews with three teachers from different schools. All participants perceived the prescription of the laboratory experiments positively. The prescription of the experimental practical activities is on two levels: firstly, a list of experiments for each grade provided by the national Department of Basic Education (DBE), and secondly, authorities at the provincial level provided detailed write-ups that serve as lesson plans for the practicals. The provided practical laboratory write-ups offered limited opportunities for good laboratory instruction such as inquiry-based learning.
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Authors: Dr Remeredzayi Gudyanga (corresponding author) is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in the Faculty of Education at the University of the Free State in South Africa. He has been involved with science education in Zimbabwe, Cuba, Namibia and the United States. His research interests include science education, curriculum implementation, and history and philosophy of science.
Email: remegud@gmail.com, gudyangar@ufs.ac.za

Professor Loyiso Jita is the Dean of the Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, South Africa. He holds a PhD in curriculum studies, science teaching and education policy studies from Michigan State University, USA. His research interests lie in classroom reform and instructional leadership in science and mathematics education.
Email: jitalc@ufs.ac.za

Please cite as: Gudyanga, R. & Jita, L. C. (2019). Teachers' implementation of laboratory practicals in the South African physical sciences curriculum. Issues in Educational Research, 29(3), 715-731. http://www.iier.org.au/iier29/gudyanga.pdf

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