The Influence of Science Teacher Preparation Programs on Instructional Practices of Beginning Primary School Teachers in Malawi
Kalande, Wotchiwe Mtonga
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The purpose of this study was to observe the science teaching practices of six primary school teachers in Standards 5 through 7, to learn about their perceptions of teaching science and to examine whether or not their teaching practices were in keeping with what they were taught during teacher preparation as well as Malawi's educational expectations for primary school science based upon MIITEP (Malawi Integrated In-service Teacher Education Program) handbooks. Three research questions were posited: (a) What is the teacher preparation program for primary teachers in Malawi? (b) What were the instructional practices of the six beginning primary school science teachers who were prepared in the teacher training college programs? (c) What connections were evident between what beginning primary school science teachers were expected to learn and what they demonstrated in the classroom? All of the six participants (5 males and 1 female) had completed MIITEP in the past three to five years. The data sources for these science teachers included a self-assessment form, pre-observation interviews, post-observation interviews, and lesson observations. Data were also gathered from MIITEP handbooks and three science teacher educators who were interviewed. The data were analyzed using descriptive analysis. The study revealed that there were matches, partial matches, and mismatches between what the six primary school teachers demonstrated in their classroom as compared with the Malawi Ministry of Education science teacher preparation expectations. Of particular interest were that science teachers did not fully engage pupils in most of the process skills for science teaching, nor did they utilize a variety of appropriate teaching and learning strategies and materials for teaching science. In addition, allotted time for teaching science lessons was not fully utilized due to, among other factors, time conflicts with other official and community welfare duties, and mixing English with vernacular during teaching. Implications for practice and for further research have also been suggested.
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