Original Research

Investigating teacher learning from a university programme for Foundation Phase teachers

Tabitha G. Mukeredzi, Carol Bertram, Iben Christiansen
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 8, No 1 | a524 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v8i1.524 | © 2018 Tabitha G. Mukeredzi, Carol - Bertram, Iben - Christiansen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 16 February 2017 | Published: 07 June 2018

About the author(s)

Tabitha G. Mukeredzi, Adult Education Unit, Faculty of Arts and Design, Durban University of Technology, South Africa
Carol Bertram, Teacher Development Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Iben Christiansen, Mathematics and Computer Science Education, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa; Department of Mathematics and Science, Stockholm University, Sweden

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Background: There is a growing focus in South Africa on teachers developing appropriate knowledge, skills and dispositions for teaching to support young learners’ development and learning. One such teacher development programme is the Advanced Certificate in Teaching for Foundation Phase teachers, offered by the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN). This research sought to establish the learning of this sample of teachers as this was the first time the programme was offered at this level in South Africa and in UKZN.


Aim: The study investigated the knowledge the teachers said they gained, how they acquired it and ways in which they said learning improved their classroom practices.


Methods: This was a qualitative study. Data were generated from 26 participants through two rounds of focus group interviews in June 2013 and in November 2014. Data were analysed thematically using concepts of accommodation or assimilation, and practical or conceptual knowledge.


Results: Respondents’ statements indicated development of a range of practical knowledge about planning and teaching strategies, and conceptual knowledge like child development, creative play, circle of courage and others. Teachers also reported ways in which their classroom practices had improved. However, both institution- and student-related learning barriers emerged during the first semester around programme demands and poor curriculum delivery.


Conclusion: Respondents reported more about acquiring practical than conceptual knowledge and having improved practices in many ways. Participants also reported gaining conceptual knowledge around child development, circle of courage, and learning barriers. They acquired these kinds of knowledge through both assimilation and accommodation.


Foundation Phase; assimilation; accommodation; procedural teacher knowledge; practical teacher knowledge; conceptual teacher knowledge; learning barriers


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1. Assimilation in Online Course Design
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American Journal of Distance Education  vol: 33  issue: 3  first page: 195  year: 2019  
doi: 10.1080/08923647.2019.1610304