Master Selina Thomas Mkimbili
Title of dissertation:
Learner-Centred Science Teaching in Community Secondary Schools in Tanzania.
This study was conducted at the university of Oslo Department of Teacher Education and School Research. The thesis focusses on science education and particularly learner-active involvement in science learning. It aims to study the realisation of learner-centred science teaching in certain community secondary schools in Iringa municipality in Tanzania. To address the aim of my study, I developed 3 research questions that I answered in three distinct articles:
- What role do contextual factors play in the practice of inquiry-based science teaching, specifically in the Tanzanian context?
- What are the potentials for inquiry-based teaching in community secondary schools in Tanzania?
- What motivates students when they are learning science in schools with contextual challenges?
In this study, teachers’ interviews, observation notes, group interviews and video observations were applied as data collection methods. These methods were utilised in responding to the specific research questions of my thesis. In answering the first research question, data from teachers’ interviews and observation notes were used. The second research question, was answered mainly by the use of video data; observation notes together with teachers’ and students’ comments on the video clips were used to enrich the credibility of the study findings. Students’ group interviews were used to answer the third research question.
The main finding from the first research question disclosed that the experiments students performed in science classrooms were mostly recipe-based tasks, focused on students’ memorisation of scientific facts and aimed at preparing students for examinations. One of the findings that was disclosed in all research questions was that locally available materials and investigation questions linked to students’ experiences can be used to facilitate inquiry-based science teaching in the schools. Another important finding of this thesis is that learner-centred teaching that is well-planned and thoroughly integrated in the policies of education, curriculum and classroom activities is essential for students’ intrinsic motivations in science learning.
From the findings of this thesis, I argue that the use of learner-centred teaching relevant to the Tanzanian context, such as utilising locally available materials to generate students’ investigations, utilising open-ended questions and linking those questions to students’ daily lives and contemporary issues, can make students intrinsically motivated in science learning and contribute to scientific literacy in the country. The findings of this thesis are important for curriculum planners, researchers, and educators when working on strategies to actively engage learners in science learning in schools with contextual challenges particularly those from sub-Saharan Africa.