A teaching and learning programme to enhance the teaching and learning needs of visually impaired learners in an inclusive natural sciences classroom
Maloka, Mojaki Moses
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The purpose of this study was to investigate perceptions of visually impaired learners and their teachers regarding the extent to which the teaching and learning needs of learners with visual impairment are addressed in inclusive classrooms. The first phase of the study was characterized by a literature review. A literature review was undertaken to elucidate the concept visual impairment and to highlight the magnitude of visual impairment in South Africa. Attention was also paid to the place of visual impairment in the context of an inclusive education and training system. Furthermore, the literature study explored the characteristics and causes of visual impairment, provided insight into the curricular considerations that underpin the teaching, learning and assessment of visually impaired learners and highlighted the problematic nature of language development, cognitive development, social development and self-esteem development among learners with visual impairment. The second phase of the study comprised empirical research. Within a positivist framework, quantitative research by means of non-experimental descriptive survey research was undertaken to collect data in order to determine to what extent the teaching and learning needs of visually impaired learners are accommodated in inclusive classrooms. This was achieved by administering a closed questionnaire to a purposively selected sample of teachers (n = 80) and learners (n = 92) from the Fezile Dabi District in the Free State Department of Education to determine their perceptions regarding the characteristics of classroom teaching, learning and assessment for visually impaired learners. In addition to this, the questionnaire administered to the teachers also set out to determine whether the teachers possess adequate knowledge to identify learners with visual impairments in their classrooms. The data analysis revealed that general teaching and learning needs of visually impaired learners are addressed to a certain extent, but developmental needs related to language, cognitive, social and self-esteem development, appear to be underemphasized. In this regard, the benefits of a mediated learning approach in the context of teaching visually impaired learners was investigated and utilized in the design of learning activity examples that could be included in a curriculum-based teaching and learning programme for Grade 7 Natural Sciences classrooms. In the absence of curriculum-based teaching and learning programmes that address the language, cognitive, social and self-esteem development of visually impaired learners in inclusive classrooms, this research makes a distinct contribution.
- Education