A teaching and learning programme to address learning style diversity in an inclusive life orientation classroom setting
Motloung, Phindiwe Aletta
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The purpose of the study was to gauge Grade 4 Life Orientation educators‟ understanding of what learning style diversity entails, and to explore how they accommodate diverse learning styles during teaching and learning in inclusive Life Orientation classrooms. The study explored the educators‟ choice of teaching methods and strategies, learning activities and assessment approaches to accommodate diverse learning styles in their classrooms. The first phase of the study was characterized by a literature review, which guided the formulation of focus group interview questions as well as observation criteria. The literature review explored the notion of accommodating diverse learning style needs as an important aspect of inclusive education, as well as the teaching methods and strategies, learning activities and assessment approaches that could be employed to accommodate learning style diversity in inclusive Life Orientation classrooms. The second phase of the study comprised the empirical research. Within an interprevistic framework, qualitative research by means of focus group interviews and observations was undertaken to collect data in order to determine educators‟ understanding of learning style diversity and to explore how they accommodate diverse learning style needs in their inclusive Grade 4 Life Orientation classrooms. Focus group interviews were conducted with a convenient and purposively selected sample of Grade 4 Life Orientation educators (n=40) who teach at Township schools in the Sedibeng West District of the Gauteng Department of Education. In addition to the focus group interviews, observations were done in the classrooms of five willing educators who took part in the focus group interviews to observe how the educators accommodate diverse learning style needs in practice during their teaching. The data analysis revealed that educators do not have an adequate understanding of what diverse learning style needs imply, and do not accommodate diverse learning style needs in a balanced way in their classrooms. Both the findings from the focus group interviews and observations indicated that educators experience challenges in accommodating diverse learning style needs during the teaching of Grade 4 Life Orientation in inclusive classrooms. These challenges inter alia relate to time, workload, overcrowded classrooms and a need for guidance on how to accommodate diverse learning style needs. Based on the data obtained, examples of teaching, learning and assessment activities that could form part of a teaching and learning programme for Grade 4 Life Orientation was developed to guide educators in addressing learning style diversity during teaching. In the absence of curriculum-based teaching and learning programmes that guide educators in accommodate diverse learning styles during the teaching of Life Orientation, this study makes a valuable contribution. Key concepts: learning style diversity, learning preferences, pedagogical barriers to learning, inclusive education
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