Original Research

Preparing pre-service teachers to guide and support learning in South African schools

Dean van der Merwe
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 12, No 1 | a1163 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v12i1.1163 | © 2022 Dean van der Merwe | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 December 2021 | Published: 17 May 2022

About the author(s)

Dean van der Merwe, Department of Childhood Education, Faculty of Education, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa


Background: Given the poor academic performance in many schools and the inequality in learning outcomes, there is an urgent need to improve teaching and learning in South African schools. Recognising the importance of preparing pre-service teachers to guide and support learning in varying schools in South Africa, we piloted a course in 2020 in which we taught final-year pre-service teacher education students a new way of designing lessons. The lesson design approach foregrounded learning.

Aim: The study aimed to address the question ‘What are pre-service teachers’ views on how the course prepared them for teaching?’.

Setting: The study took place in the Department of Childhood Education at a South African university.

Methods: The study followed an interpretive research approach. To generate data for the study, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 pre-service teachers at the end of the academic year. In addition, I conducted stimulated recall interviews on lessons that the pre-service teachers designed.

Results: The results indicated that the pre-service teachers viewed learning about the science of learning and competencies for a fast-changing world as valuable to enrich their teaching. Despite being aware that they still had some gaps in their understanding of some teaching strategies, the results showed that pre-service teachers valued the strategies they learned in the course.

Conclusion: Based on the findings, I conclude that the knowledge the pre-service teachers gained from the course has provided them with a sound basis to guide and support learning in varying school contexts.


pre-service teachers; lesson design; science of learning; competencies for a fast-changing world; teacher education; South African schools


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