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African Journal of Research in Mathematics,

Science and Technology Education
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The implementation of the Natural Science

Outcome Three: Embedding the learning of
science in societal and environmental issues
a a
Colleen M. Aldous & John M. Rogan
University of KwaZulu-Natal ;
Published online: 20 Aug 2013.

To cite this article: Colleen M. Aldous & John M. Rogan (2009) The implementation of the Natural Science
Outcome Three: Embedding the learning of science in societal and environmental issues, African Journal of
Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, 13:1, 62-78

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African Journal of Research in MST Education, Volume 13 (1) 2009, pp. 6278

The implementation of the Natural Science Outcome Three:

Embedding the learning of science in societal and
environmental issues
Colleen M. Aldous and John M. Rogan
University of KwaZulu-Natal;

The revised National Curriculum Statements for the Natural Sciences include an outcome
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that expects learners to demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between science and
technology, society and the environment. This study seeks to determine the extent this outcome
is being realized in grades 8-9 in Mpumalanga, and to identify factors which might promote
its implementation. Data were collected by means of both case studies and a survey. Results
indicate that the intention of this outcome is only being achieved at very low levels, if at all. The
meeting of teachers with colleagues, sharing ideas, and generally supporting each other were
found to be strongly associated with higher levels of achieving this outcome, as well as a positive
school ethos.

Curriculum 2005 (RSA Department of Education, 1997) openly and unequivocally embraced
outcomes based education (OBE). In this initial version the Natural Science learning area for
grades 1-9 consisted of nine specific outcomes. However in an attempt to simplify Curriculum
2005, a revised version was published in 2002. In the Natural Sciences learning area, three broad
outcomes replaced the original nine specific outcomes. The first deals with science investigations
the doing of science. The second with what learners should know and what they should be able
to do with their knowledge. Neither of these two outcomes is radically different from the previous
pre-C2005 syllabus, but for the first time they were phrased as outcomes rather than inputs. The
third outcome, however, represents a complete departure from the pre-C2005 syllabus. It reads:
The learner will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between science and
technology, society and the environment. (RSA Department of Education, 2002, p 6)

The research described in this article occurred during the transition from the original to the revised
versions of Curriculum 2005. Outcome Three of the revised version essentially encapsulates
five of the original nine outcomes. Consequently if any one of the five were being realised in
classrooms during the research period, they were counted as contributing to achieving Outcome
Three. Our research as reported in this article focuses on the implementation of Outcome Three,
assumed to be inclusive of five of the original outcomes, in Mpumalanga secondary schools.
The two research questions are:
1. To what extent is Outcome Three being implemented in the Senior Phase (grades 7-9)?
2. What factors appear to promote the implementation of this outcome?


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The philosophy behind Outcome Three is not new. According to Hurd (1998), the linking of
science to the world of the student can be traced back to Bacons writings in 1620. In more recent
times, John Dewey, in the 1930s, advocated replacing the traditional subject matter oriented
curriculum with one based on the learners personal experiences with societal issues. As he put
it, there is an intimate and necessary relationship between the processes of actual experience
and education. (Dewey, 1938/1998, p.7). The post-World War II era saw a rejection of Deweys
ideas on education and a move towards the discipline oriented curricula of the 1960s and 70s.
However the late 1970s and 80s saw a renewed interest in curricula which stress the need to
make science education relevant and sensitive to societal issues a trend which came to be
known as Science-Technology-Society (STS) (Bybee, 1987).

Literature Review
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Much of the earlier literature was devoted to defining and advocating the STS approach as
opposed to what by now had become to a large extent the new orthodoxy, the discipline oriented
curricula. Hofstein and Yager (1982), for example argued that
A more central societal concern currently is teaching science for scientific enlightenment; the
knowledge considered to be important is that which supposedly will be useful and relevant to the
solution of societal problems. (p. 541)

Hodson (1992) concurs, and emphasizes concerns about motivation and personal relevance.
By grounding content in socially and personally relevant contexts, an issues-based approach can
provide the motivation that is absent from current abstract, decontextualized approaches and can
form the base for students to construct understanding that is personally relevant, meaningful and
important. (p. 553)

Yager (1993) identified four goal clusters which he associated with an STS approach:
1. Science for personal needs.
2. Science for resolving current societal issues.
3. Science for assisting with career choices.
4. Science for preparing for further study.
He went on to argue that the traditional discipline-oriented curriculum only addressed the fourth
of the goal clusters.

Implementation of STS
The question of how to put STS ideas into practice is the focus of a number of articles. Aikenhead
(1992), for example, envisaged a series of steps illustrated in Figure 1. These are:
1. Identify and become familiar with a societal issue.
2. Examine the technology that is associated with this issue.
3. Identify and understand the science that underlies this issue, and governs the technology


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The implementation of the Natural Science Outcome Three: Embedding the learning of science in societal and environmental

4. Gain a better understanding of the technology by applying the scientific knowledge.

5. Apply the newly gained understandings to make decisions about the societal issue.

ISSUES techniques and products

concepts and skills
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1 2 3 4 5

Figure 1: A sequence for designing a curriculum unit around a societal issue

(Aikenhead, 1992)

These steps need not necessarily be followed in the order suggested in Figure 1, and indeed
not all of them need to be present in every curriculum unit. The process may be illustrated by
applying the steps in a South African context. The issue identified is the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Skipping step two, the unit might proceed directly to the scientific information on HIV/AIDS
the nature of the HI virus, and how it invades a cell and reproduces itself. An understanding
of medical technology might follow including how anti-retroviral drugs work and how CD4
counts are made. Finally, returning to the starting point, decisions could be made and actions
planned on ways in which the spread of HIV/AIDS could be curtailed in the local community.
As Hodson (1992) points out, the incorporation of societal issues can be achieved at varying
levels of sophistication. He defines four levels ranging from simple awareness of the impact of
scientific/ technological innovations on society to engaging in some form of action.
Over the years, a number of curriculum projects in Europe, USA and Australia have developed
materials in line with the STS approach (Aikenhead, 1992; Fensham, 1988). A number of studies
have attempted to gauge the achievement of students who have been exposed to an STS approach.
Yager and Tamir (1993) have summarized the results of four such studies. Their study shows that
in the domain of knowledge of concepts, the STS students did as well as non-STS students. On
the other hand, the STS students out-performed their non-STS counterparts in the domains of
process, application, attitude and creativity.


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Implementation of Curriculum 2005

The literature on the implementation and outcomes of an STS approach has focused on situations
where adoption was voluntary. The implementation of C2005, on the other hand, has been
mandated by the Department of Education. This study will attempt to shed light on the extent to
which a STS type outcome is realized when it is mandated from above. While no studies could
be found where an STS type approach had been mandated, there are a number of studies which
have looked at the implementation of Curriculum 2005 as a whole.
Jansen (1999) gives ten reasons why C2005 would not live up to its promise, among them being
the complexity of the presentation of C2005. Rogan (2007, p 98) also elaborates on this theme,
the policy directives lacked detail on how these ideals [outcomes] might be realised in practice.
As various commentators have noted, the attention and energies of policy-makers are focussed on
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the what of a desired educational change, neglecting the how.

In 2000, a Ministerial Review Committee was appointed which recommended a major revision
of the curriculum in order to make it more understandable in the classroom (Chisholm, 2003). As
a result of the review findings, the Revised National Curriculum Statement was developed and
finally was made policy in 2002. However, children were still far from receiving the intended
curriculum and curriculum implementation took on several forms. Rogan (2004) reported various
classroom results stating that although there was some success in achieving more than one of the
intended outcomes of the curriculum:
There was still no change in lesson delivery since before C2005 implementation.
Trivial, meaningless tasks were given to children as an interpretation of learner centredness
Some innovation occurred but in a shallow form, or not followed through properly, resulting
in inadequate attainment of C2005 principles
The diversity of schools, the inconsistent implementation of the RNCS and the inadequate transfer
of the aims of the RNCS have all resulted in a variety of interpretations for implementation of
C2005. Globally, implementation is a problem for reasons that are place-specific or generic. In
order to understand this unequal incorporation of innovation, it is necessary to break down the
elements that contribute to curriculum reform. To this end and in the South African context,
Rogan and Grayson formulated a framework in order to understand the multiplicity of the
process of implementation (Aldous, 2008).

Theoretical Framework
The framework used in this study was designed by Rogan and Grayson (2003). It draws on
school development, educational change, and science education literature to develop the three
constructs, with their sub-constructs as shown in Figure 2.


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Outside Influences:
Physical Resources
Professional Development
Support to Learners
Change Forces

Capacity to Innovate: Profile of Implementation:

Learner Factors Classroom Interaction
Teacher Factors Science in Society
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Physical Resources Science Practical Work

School Ecology and Management Assessment

Figure 2: The Framework on which the research is based

In this study, we report only on the extent to which the one sub-construct of the Profile of
Implementation was achieved Science in Society. We attempt to gauge how the other two
constructs, Capacity to Innovate and Outside Influences impact on the extent to which Science
in Society, and hence Outcome Three, is implemented. According to the framework, each of the
thirteen sub-constructs shown in Figure 2 can be realized at varying levels. For example, the four
levels for Science in Society, which in effect encapsulate Outcome Three, are shown in Table 1.
(For full details of the levels see Rogan & Grayson, 2003.)

Table 1:  description of four levels at which Profile of Implementation: Science in

Society might be realized.

Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4

Teacher uses Teacher bases a Learners actively Learners actively
examples and lesson (or lessons) investigate the undertake a project in
applications on a specific application of science their local community in
from everyday problem or issue and technology which they apply science to
life to illustrate faced by the local in their own tackle a specific problem
scientific community. environment, mainly or to meet a specific need.
concepts. by means of data An example might be on
Teacher assists gathering methods growing a new type of crop
Learners ask learners to such as surveys. to increase the income of
questions about explore the Examples here might the community.
science in the explanations include an audit of
context of of scientific energy use or career Learners explore the long
everyday life. phenomena by opportunities that term effects of community
different cultural require a scientific projects. For example, a
groups. background project may have a short-
term benefit but result
in long term detrimental


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In a similar way, each of the Capacity to Innovate and Outside Influences sub-constructs may be
realized at various levels (Rogan and Grayson, 2003). These levels are used in this study both to
describe the extent to which Outcome Three is being realized, and to seek relationships between
it and the other sub-constructs.

From 1999 onwards the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) worked in
collaboration with the Mpumalanga Department of Education and the universities of Hiroshima,
Naruto, and Pretoria to assist mathematics and science teachers to implement C2005 in a
project known as the Mpumalanga Secondary Science Initiative (MSSI). The overall goal was
to improve the teaching and learning of mathematics and science in all secondary schools in
the province in line with the expected outcomes of C2005. It sought to achieve this goal by
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developing a province wide in-service system, with particular emphasis on school or cluster-
based professional development. In parallel with this initiative, a large research project was
initiated at the beginning of 2000 to obtain data on the implementation of C2005 in grades 8 and

Data for this study were gathered in two phases; a series of case studies in ten schools across
Mpumalanga and, one year later, a survey involving over two hundred schools in the same
province. Both were designed to gather information on the three constructs of the Rogan-
Grayson framework.

A Case Studies
Selection of Schools
The Mpumalanga Department of Education, upon request, provided the research team with a
suggested list of 20 schools in which to undertake the case studies. The list contained both rural
and urban schools as well as well resourced and poorly resourced schools. This list was used to
select eight of the schools. The selection of these eight schools was based on their proximity to
Pretoria, where most of the researchers involved in the cases studies were based. Another four
schools which were not on the Departments list were selected in such a way as to make the
final selection as representative of the province as possible. All of the major types of schools
found in the province were represented in the final selection such as rural and urban schools and
ex-DET and ex-TED schools1. The final selection comprised schools in seven of the provinces
then ten school districts. A total of twelve case studies were undertaken. However, two case
studies were rejected for analysis owing to lack of completion, leaving only 10 case studies in
the investigation.
Each case study was undertaken by a different researcher. The two authors each conducted one
study, while seven of the others were undertaken by curriculum implementers, who took leave
from their work to undertake the study, and who did not do the research in their own district. Two
of the curriculum implementers already had doctorates, while others were enrolled in masters or
doctoral programs.
1 Department of Education and Training (DET) was responsible for schools for black students during the apartheid
era. White students went to school run by the Transvaal Education Department (TED).


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Two masters and one doctoral student, who were not curriculum implementers, undertook a case
study each.

Development of the case study materials

Because a different researcher was to conduct each case study, all involved met a few weeks
before conducting the research in order to formulate a common research strategy. At this
meeting, semi-structured interview questions that were structured around the three constructs of
the Rogan-Grayson framework, were designed for students, teachers and the school principal.
Common protocols were developed for lesson observation and video-taping of natural science
and mathematics lessons. A list of the kinds of documentation (mission statements, resources, and
so on) to be collected was developed. A guide was developed which included all this information
to give each researcher an indication of the kind of data that was to be collected and how the
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collection should occur.

Gathering the data

Each of the researchers spent one full week in a school, and in some instances continued into
a second week. Data on the three constructs were gathered in three ways viz. observation,
interviews and from documents.
The observation sheet provided was used to record what happened in the classrooms. At the
end of each day, the observations of lessons were written out in full in a narrative form. Using
the Profile, researchers were asked to indicate what aspects of the Profile were observed, and to
characterise the lessons in terms of the levels. Permission to video-tape lessons was sought from
the teacher. If granted, the video-tape was used later for in depth study.
The case studies are fully reported in Rogan and Aldous (2004) and synthesized in Rogan and
Aldous (2005). In addition one of the case studies is reported in full in Rogan (2007a).

B Survey
A teacher questionnaire was developed throughout the duration of the first phase of the MSSI.
The third version was used for the data reported in this study.

The questionnaire underwent development over a three-year period. When the first version
of the questionnaire was designed, the Rogan-Grayson framework was already in its initial
stages of development. The three constructs, Profile of Implementation, Capacity to Innovate
and Outside Influences had already been conceptualized. The aim from the beginning of the
questionnaire design process was to achieve construct validity. An international panel of science
and mathematics education expects was assembled to assist with the development of the first
version, and again to refine this version one year later. The reviewing of the questionnaire by
the panel, as suggested by Bell (1999), was used to ensure that a degree of construct validity
was attained. The panel judged each item for the degree to which it matched the questionnaire
objective (i.e. did the probes measure the constructs?), for ambiguity and for correct questioning
technique (Bell, 1999). By the third and final version, wording from the Rogan-Grayson


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framework was now introduced into the questionnaire and examples were given to illustrate the
intent of the items. The continued revision of the instrument was intended to continually improve
its construct validity (Rogan & Aldous, 2004).

Items from the three constructs in the second version of the questionnaire were subjected to a
factor analysis. Factors were identified and those items that loaded high on these factors were
retained for the third version questionnaire. This procedure ensured the internal consistency
of items designed to measure the factors of interest, and hence the overall reliability of the
instrument as a whole.

Gathering the Data

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Two curriculum implementers per district (one for mathematics and one for general science)
hand-delivered the questionnaires to 14 20 schools, collected them from the schools when
complete and returned them to the researchers. Hand-delivery and collection ensured a higher
response rate than would have been expected through a system where questionnaires would have
been posted out and returned by mail. The sample in each district was selected by the curriculum
implementers (or in one case the district manager), who were asked to meet certain criteria of
representativeness. These criteria included a mix of rural and urban schools as well as schools
where the majority of the learners were either all black (previously Department of Education and
Training schools), or all white (previously Transvaal Education Department schools.)

The Achievement of LO3
Survey Results
A list of possible teaching practices of ways that science and mathematics can be linked to
societal issues was given in the questionnaire. Teachers were asked to estimate the amount of
time spent on societal issues devoted to the practices given. Teachers were asked to circle one of
the following numbers which have the meaning as indicated. Table 2 shows the data from these
1 Never 2 Once a term
3 Up to three times a term 4 Once a week
5 Every day

The levels 1 to 4 in the table below represent increasingly sophisticated interpretations of LO3.
(Note that the V numbers refer to questionnaire numbering. The questionnaire consisted of many
more items than shown in this article.)


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The implementation of the Natural Science Outcome Three: Embedding the learning of science in societal and environmental

Table 2: Frequency percentages of use of ways of including science and mathematics in

societal issues

Item number and text Level N 1 2 3 4 5

V58 Teacher uses examples and 1 223 0.97 7.10 11.94 19.35 60.65
applications from everyday life
to illustrate scientific concepts
or mathematics procedures
V57 Lessons are based on a specific 2 222 19.81 37.34 17.86 16.23 8.77
problem or issue faced by the
local community. (For example,
access to water might be a
problem around which lessons
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are based).
V60 Learners actively investigate 3 223 24.19 36.13 20.32 10.00 9.35
the application of science
and mathematics in their own
environment. (Examples are
an audit of energy use and a
traffic volume survey).
V59 Learners actively undertake 4 221 34.85 38.76 10.10 8.79 7.49
a project in their local
community in which they apply
science and mathematics to
tackle a specific problem or
meet a specific need. (An
example might be on growing a
new type of crop (to that area)
to increase the income of the

The Level 1 practice, was that most frequently used by teachers, in fact almost 61% of the
teachers said they used this practice on a daily basis. Level 3 and level 4 practices were more
rarely exercised. 74% of the teachers said that they use the level 4 practice either once a term
or never and for the level 3 practice 60% said they exercised that practice either once a term
or never. The Level 2 practice was more frequently practiced than levels 3 and 4 but the gap
between frequency of the level 1 practice and level 2 practice was larger than between level 2
and 3 practices, indicating that in most cases, very little effort has been made to include science
and society in natural science and mathematics teaching at a level beyond Level 1.

Case Study Results

The case study observations paint a somewhat bleaker picture. They indicated that not much
progress had been made towards achieving Outcome Three. The relationship between science
and societal issues appears to be problematic for the teachers in South Africa. The teachers own
education in science did not include contextualising science, and they have few resources at
their disposal that show them this link. Teachers have been taught science as theory throughout
their training and have for years taught it the way they learned it, so the ability to see scientific


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application in everyday life has not been developed (Slabbert et al., 2009). Teachers rely heavily
on resource materials for teaching and currently there are not many resources that explicitly
show the relationship between science and society in an everyday context.
As part of the analysis for this paper, the two authors separately rated each case study school
according to the levels of the Rogan-Grayson framework based on the data collected during a
particular case study. The ratings were then compared for each school. In most cases there was
complete agreement. Where differences occurred, consensus was reached after returning to the
original data (Rogan & Aldous, 2005). In some cases we decided that the observed levels were
greater than say 1, but not quite up to 2. In such cases we designated the level as between the
two, in this example 1.5. Six of the ten schools did not show any attempt to include science in
society issues in their lessons. One school was seen to make some effort without quite reaching
a minimum standard and three schools showed the minimum standard for operating at level 1 as
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shown in Table 3.

Table 3: The level of implementation of outcome 3 achieved by each of the case study
schools; capacity and outside support levels are also shown

Implementation of Outcome 3 A B C D E F G I J K
1.0 0.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.0 0.0 1.0
Physical resources 1.0 1.0 2.5 2.5 2.0 3.0 2.5 2.0 1.0 3.5
Teacher factors 2.0 2.0 2.0 2.0 2.0 2.0 2.5 2.0 3.0 3.0

Learner factors 1.5 2.0 2.5 2.0 1.0 2.0 2.0 0.0 2.0 3.0
School ethos/ 3.0 2.5 2.0 2.0 2.0 2.0 3.0 2.0 1.0 3.0

Provision of resources 1.5 1.5 1.0 1.0 2.0 2.0 2.5 2.0 0.0 1.0
Outside influences

Teacher professional 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.0 1.0 2.5 0.0 0.0 0.0
Direct support to learners 1.0 1.5 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 3.0 0.0 1.0 1.0
Change forces 1.5 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.5 1.0 1.0 1.0
Accountability and 3.0 2.0 2.0 0.5 1.0 1.0 3.0 1.0 0.0 4.0

Two examples taken from the case studies are given to provide examples of the not quite reached
level 1 and have satisfied a level 1 requirement respectively. Two of the observed teachers
did attempt to base their lessons on real-life problems, thus attempting to address the issue of
the relevance of the science curriculum. The one problem to solve was what to do if the ocean-
going ship you were supposed to sail on left without you. (Probably none of the children in the
class, and perhaps even the teacher, had ever seen the sea.) The answer was to write a message,
stuff it into a bottle and throw it into the sea from the beach. The energy of the waves would then
take the bottle from the beach to the ship, which would then turn around and pick you up. (The
lesson was on kinetic energy.) A slightly less bizarre but still improbable problem was on how
to retrieve a ball from inside a vertical pipe filled with water. The answer was to pour salt into the


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The implementation of the Natural Science Outcome Three: Embedding the learning of science in societal and environmental

pipe in order to change the density of the water thus making the ball float to the surface. While
these two vignettes are still a far cry from what is intended for Outcome Three, they do show an
awareness of the need to contextualise science.

Possible Predictors of Achieving Outcome Three Survey Data

The first step in looking for correlations between achieving Outcome Three and factors associated
with either Capacity to Innovate or Outside Influences was to define and calculate a composite
score for LO3. The scores for all the levels shown in Table 2 were weighted according to the
level. The weighted scores were summed to get a composite score. The weightings were as
follows: Level one practices were not weighted. Level two practice scores were multiplied by
2, Level 3 by 3 and Level 4 by 4. Below is an example of how a score for a single teacher was
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Variable Frequency of Reported use by Teacher Level of practice

V57 3 2
V58 4 1
V59 1 4
V60 1 3

The composite score for this one record would be 4+2(3)+3(1)+4(1) = 17

The weighting of the scores gives higher scores to teachers who use higher level practices
frequently and lower scores to teachers who mainly use lower level practices. A composite score
was calculated in this manner for each teacher.

Capacity to Innovate
The composite score calculated in the manner above was then correlated with all the items
designed to measure Capacity to Innovate. Only those items with a significance-level of 0.05 or
better are shown in Table 4.


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Table 4: Correlation of Science and Society composite scores with selected Capacity to
Innovate variables

Teacher Factors Science in Society

V70 M
 orale in my school is low r = -0.206* p=0.014
V72 In my school we often discuss ideas and share materials with r = 0.245** p=0.003
colleagues who teach the same subject
V73 In my circuit teachers from different schools meet often so as r = 0.198* p=0.017
to support and encourage one another
V74 E
 ffective school-based in-service training happens at my r = 0.304** p=0.000
V75 In my circuit teachers meet each other to plan lessons r = 0.244** p=0.003
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V76 Teachers in my school make an extra effort to improve r = 0.216** p=0.010

teaching and learning
Physical Resources
V96 Mathematics apparatus r = -0.150* p=0.039
School Ecology and Management
V80 I feel that my HOD supports me r = 0.153* p=0.024
V82 Learners have a say in the running of the school r = 0.195** p=0.004
V83 E
 veryone in my school has a shared vision for the school r = 0.232** p=0.001
V84 Parents are actively involved with school r = 0.26** p=0.002
V87 Extramural activities interfere with classes r = -0.174** p=0.101
V88 Learners are in class as scheduled r = 0.254** p=0.000
V89 Teachers are in class as scheduled r = 0.143* p=0.033

** Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level

* Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level

An interesting pattern emerges from these correlations. Of all the Teacher Factors that were
explored, it is those that deal with aspects of meeting with colleagues, sharing ideas, and
generally supporting each other (V72-V76) that are most strongly associated with higher levels
of achieving Outcome Three. Also important is the issue of teacher morale as measured by
items V70 and V76. (Note that V70 is phrased negatively and hence the negative correlation
Learner factors and physical resources do not appear to be important. Only one item from the
latter category (V96) achieved a significant correlation.
On the other hand, items relating to the School Ecology and Management do appear to be
important to the achievement of Outcome Three. A shared vision for the school (V83), HOD
support (V80), learners having a say in the running of the school (V82), and active parental
involvement in the school (V84) are all indicative of a positive atmosphere. Also important for
this sub-construct is school discipline indicated by learners and teachers being in the classroom
in scheduled times (V88 and V89) and the fact that classes are not interrupted by extramural
activities (V87) indicated by the negative correlation.


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The implementation of the Natural Science Outcome Three: Embedding the learning of science in societal and environmental

Outside Influences
The Science in Society composite score was correlated with all the items designed to measure
Outside Influences. With two exceptions, only those items with a significance-level of 0.05 or
better are shown in Table 5.

Table 5: Correlation of Science in Society composite score with selected variables of

Outside Influences

Professional development Science in Society

V139 Whether or not workshops have been attended r = 0.018 p=0.786
Change forces
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V130 Curriculum 2005 documents r = 0.133 p=0.051

V135 The support of teachers in my school r = 0.202** p=0.003
Monitoring by:
V154 Circuit managers r = 0.192** p=0.006
V156 Curriculum implementers r = 0.183** p=0.008

** Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level

* Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level

Clearly the Outside Influences factors are less important than the Capacity to Innovate ones.
Perhaps the most startling finding here is that professional development does not appear to have
had any impact on how Outcome Three is being implemented. (See V139 in Table 5.) Only two
change forces appear to be consequential, these being the Curriculum 2005 documents (which
almost achieved the level 0.05 significance) and other teachers. Finally the monitoring by circuit
managers and curriculum implementers does appear to play a role.

Possible Predictors of Achieving Outcome Three Case Data

When analyzing the case study reports, the implementation of societal issues into the science
curriculum does not appear to be strongly influenced by any of the sub-constructs in capacity
and outside support. However a positive trend did emerge (see Table 3) with the teacher
factors and school ethos/management sub-constructs. The three schools that were rated highest
on Science in Society in Table 3 also rated reasonably high (2 or 3) on the teacher factors and
school ethos/management sub-constructs. Hence the case studies do show partial agreement with
the survey data.
What is most puzzling is the lack of relationship between levels of societal issues and teacher
professional development. The incorporation of societal issues into the curriculum is a major
thrust of C2005. Much of the professional development offered by the Mpumalanga Department
of Education has been specifically targeted at the implementation of C2005. Hence this lack of
relationship is disappointing. The notion of basing a curriculum on societal issues is very new to
South Africa, and does not appear to have taken root yet.


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African Journal of Research in MST Education, Volume 13 (1) 2009, pp. 6278

Three important considerations for the implementation of a new curriculum emerge from this
study. The first is to recognize the powerful influence of collaboration between teachers. The
results suggest that implementation of C2005 was enhanced when teachers became part of a
community in which they could learn collectively how they might better realize the aims of the
intended curriculum. MSSI actively promoted the Japanese practice of lesson study, which is
an intense form of teacher collaboration with a purpose to plan and improve classroom lessons
(Ono, et al, 2007). A possible theoretical framework for lesson study might be found in the work
of Lave and Wenger (1991) in their theory of situated learning. They argue that learning is a
function of three factors; the activity, context and culture in which it occurs (i.e. it is situated).
Situated learning is in contrast to traditional classroom learning in which knowledge is often
presented in an abstract form and out of context. Instead learning occurs, often incidentally
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rather than deliberately, as participants become part of a community of practice. Wenger

(1998) defines a community of practice as, Members of a community informally bound by
what they do together and by what they have learned through their mutual engagement in
these activities. They develop around issues or practices that are of mutual interest to a group
of practitioners. According to Wenger (1998), a community of practice defines itself along three
What it is about its joint enterprise as understood and continually renegotiated by its
How it functions mutual engagement that bind members together into a social entity
What capability it has produced the shared repertoire of communal resources (routines,
sensibilities, artifacts, vocabulary, styles, etc.) that members have developed over time.
Our findings are supported by research conducted in developed countries, which also suggests
that teachers who are grappling with innovation are likely to do so more successfully if they
are part of a community of practice (See for example, Borko, 2002, 2004; Kahle, 1997). In
his analysis of the NSF funded systemic initiatives, Clune (1998, p. 1) points out, Inservice
professional development was seen as depending on active networks of teachers organized
from the grassroots. In their book on designing professional development for science teachers,
Loucks-Horsley et al. (1998) continually stress the benefit of learning as part of a community.
Second, it is clear from the case studies, that in the few cases where there was an attempt to
introduce a societal issue into a science lesson, it was being done using only one of a number of
possible approaches. For the most part, the curriculum is still structured around content. In the
instances when the inclusion of Outcome Three was attempted, it was always as an add-on to a
content structured lesson. The concepts would be taught first and in conclusion an application
discussed. The results suggest that professional development to date has not promoted an effective
implementation of Outcome Three. Teachers, and those offering professional development, need
to be made aware of different ways in which Outcome Three might be approached. One such
possibility, that of structuring a curriculum unit around a societal issue as advocated by Aikenhead
(1992), has already been alluded to. Given the current reliance of teachers on curriculum
materials, perhaps the most realistic way of developing the awareness of different approaches
to the realization of Outcome Three would be through the medium of previously developed
curricula (See for example Brunkhorst & Yager 1986, Fensham 1988, Rosenthal 1989).


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The implementation of the Natural Science Outcome Three: Embedding the learning of science in societal and environmental

Third, we return to one of the stated conclusions from one of the published case studies.
C2005 clearly has ambitious and laudable goals, which in of themselves are not problematic.
What has proved to be disastrous is the expectation that these goals could be met almost overnight,
despite the lack of capacity in many schools to do so. No effort was made to map out a series of
smaller steps that might be undertaken towards the eventual realisation of the goals steps that
were at least attainable for most. (Rogan, 2007a, p 117).

Some of the approaches to contextualising science can indeed be fairly sophisticated, and
probably overwhelming to many of the schools in Mpumalanga. So we return to the issue of
mapping out smaller, feasible steps in the implementation of Outcome Three. Hodson (1992)
has already paved the way by identifying four levels of sophistication to be considered in
the achievement of an STS curriculum. Rogan and Grayson (Rogan & Grayson, 2003; Rogan,
2007b) have taken the notion of levels of implementation further by linking them to a schools
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capacity and outside influences in defining a Zone of Feasible Implementation. The best chance
of improved implementation of Outcome Three lies with the definition of small, manageable
steps determined at the school level, accompanied by the kind of outside support needed to make
progress in accordance with to these steps.

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