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Title: Exploring the selfhood of primary school teachers in the teaching and learning of Environmental Education : a mixed methods approach
Authors: Ruthanam, Melishnee 
Keywords: Environmental health
Issue Date: 10-Jun-2020
Effective learning in environmental education, which is introduced at primary school
level in South Africa, has the potential to encourage behavioural modification essential
to mitigate current environmental issues. While methods of delivery and teaching
resources are important, the educator is considered the greatest determinant of
knowledge delivery and retention. Consequently, this study explored the selfhood of
teachers of Life Skills influence curriculum delivery and learning in environmental
education. A mixed methods intervention approach was employed with participants
of one school receiving a teaching intervention and the other school designated as the
control. Participants included five Grade 5 public primary school Life Skills educators
and Grade 5 learners from the KwaDukuza area. All learners completed an
assessment book post intervention which was designed to evaluate environmental
knowledge retention. Qualitative findings from pre and post interviews with educators
was evaluated by thematic analysis. Parker Palmer’s Theory of Selfhood to analyse
the data using key conceptual tools such as ‘we teach who we are’ and ‘identity and
integrity’ (Palmer 1997). Shulman’s Theory forms the framework to help understand
the knowledge base of the educator which frames teacher education and teaching
practice (Shulman 1987).
This study offered a nuanced perspective of Environmental Education at primary
school level within KZN. The main themes emanating from the qualitative aspect of
the study were teaching experiences, years of teaching, contextual challenges which
influenced teaching methods and reasons for adopting these methods for
environmental education. Despite the similar challenges across both schools, certain
educators were able to introduce innovation into their teaching. Those educators
displayed a greater passion and intrinsic belief in the subject which manifested in their
pedagogic efforts. The quantitative findings of this study indicated that there was no
statistical significance when knowledge and understanding was compared between
the intervention and control school (p>0.05). It can be concluded that regardless of the
method of teaching employed, knowledge and understanding of learners remained
similar therefore the greatest determinant of successful environmental education is the
teacher. The selfhood and experiences of the teacher played a significant role in
ensuring effective environmental education delivery
Submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Health Sciences: Environmental Health in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the Durban University of Technology, 2020.
Appears in Collections:Theses and dissertations (Health Sciences)

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