UNIVERSITY OF THE WITWATERSRAND, JOHANNESBURG

Science Education


HELPING THE UNIVERSITY ACHIEVE ITS MISSION

The science education group continues to make significant strides to meeting the urgent priorities of the university as outlined in the Mission Statement, notably in the following three areas (quotes extracted from the Mission Statement document).

Achievement of the mission entails commitment to:

  • playing a leading role in addressing historical disadvantages in the education of the majority of the population of South Africa
  • fostering a culturally diverse, intellectually stimulating and harmonious environment within which there is vigorous critical exchange and communication
Statement of purpose
  • to continue to support and enhance basic, strategic and applied research, especially research of particular relevance to South Africa
  • to ensure that its graduates achieve levels of skill, knowledge and understanding comparable with those of graduates from the best universities world-wide
  • to continue to develop its courses to serve the needs of Southern Africa, recognising that this requires a solid foundation in basic, theoretical and comparative studies
  • to improve the success rate of students through enhanced teaching and learning, and coherent academic development programmes
Immediate priorities
  • to foster capacity in science and engineering and increase the number of graduates in these areas, especially from historically disadvantaged groups
  • to prepare students for managerial, professional and leadership positions in the public and private sectors and to produce social scientists with the capacity for skilled research on issues of critical importance to the country
  • to maintain a commitment to studies in the humanities and social sciences
  • to contribute to the production and upgrading of school teachers, particularly in English, Mathematics and Natural Sciences
  • to increase the number of post-graduate students, especially from historically disadvantaged groups
  • to develop flexible study programmes that will improve interaction between disciplines, mobility between institutions in post-secondary education and opportunities for part-time study
  • to participate with other private and public institutions (nationally and internationally) in developing a rational and effective system of higher education in South Africa

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

The Botany and Zoology Departments have been involved in the training of biology teachers since the university started training science teachers in the mid-1970s. With the formation of the School of Science Education in the Faculty of Science in 1986, postgraduate teaching and research in biology education became a major component of the postgraduate work in the Departments. This commitment to biology education has been continued in the School of Animal, Plant & Environmental Sciences. Honours, Masters (by coursework and research report, or by dissertation) and PhD degrees are offered, and research is an important component of all these degrees.

The School of Animal, Plant & Environmental Sciencesnow has two full-time staff members involved in science education teaching and research, Martie Sanders and Meg Doidge. Eleven students from different parts of Africa, and one Dutch student from the University of Twente in Holland, are currently engaged in researching ways of improving teaching and learning in the biological sciences. Many biology education postgraduate research projects have been completed and papers on a range of topics impacting on biology education are available on request, by e-mailing the relevant staff member.

CURRENT RESEARCH

RESEARCH AREA 1: The development of research-based curriculum materials to improve learning in biology

A number of School of Animal, Plant & Environmental Science staff and post-graduate students are currently engaged in an FRD-funded project, under the leadership of Martie Sanders, on the research-based development of curriculum materials to improve the effectiveness of teaching and learning in the biological sciences. This group is increasingly focussing on the development of computer-based materials. Their research involves both diagnostic studies (investigating existing problems in biology education, so they are well documented and understood) and therapeutic studies (looking at solutions to the problems, and evaluating their success). Current research projects include

  • Investigating learners ideas about a range of biological concepts, and ways of addressing erroneous ideas. Claire Donald, Gerda du Preez, Mweene Chabalengula, Patricia Khuzwayo, Vincent Khanye.
  • The problems of English second language learners learning biology through the medium of English Malebitso Mogodi, Martie Sanders.
  • Factors thought to affect the academic success of technikon horticulture students. JennyBurden
  • Identification of factors thought to affect academic success in biology, and the development and evaluation of computer-based packages to help students develop appropriate skills, attitudes and workhabits. Ellis Ayayee, Julia Nopi Linkonyane. This survey is being conducted across several universities in Southern Africa in an attempt to obtain a "regional" picture (John Fletcher)
  • Addressing educational problems related to diarrhoeal diseases in developing countries. Thabi Mhlongo
  • The development of a computer package to help biology teachers develop lesson materials for Curriculum 2005. Martie Sanders is currently collaborating with a research group in the Department of Curriculum at the University of Twente (Holland) to adapt some computer based software for helping teachers to design lesson materials, so that the programme can be used to assist biology teachers in South Africa understand the new Outcomes-Based Education curriculum, Curriculum 2005, and to develop classroom materials for it. Thelma Van der L n
  • Developing teaching materials for integration of skills and content. A wide range of teaching materials is being and has been developed for use in the College of Science Biological Sciences courses. The effectiveness of these materials in promoting learning is being investigated. Glynis Cron.
  • Constructa Plant - a computer package developed to enhance learning of plant anatomy. This multi-media package, being developed by Glynis Cron, aims to address a number of conceptual problems associated with learning and understanding plant anatomy, including visualization of the cells and tissues in 3D and relating structure and function. The package currently comprises a knowledge foundation section and a game "Building tissues". Sections on 2D/3D visualization and tissues in organs are being developed. The package is being evaluated in terms of its promoting effective learning and student enjoyment and use of the package.
  • In-use assessment and continued development of a Computer Aided Learning program "The Fungi" for teaching basic Mycology. This commenced at Wits but is being extended to other Southern African universities. John Fletcher
  • In-use assessment and continued development of a Computer Aided Learning program "Evolve", and of associated paper-based exercises, for teaching some aspects of evolutionary theory. John Fletcher
Postgraduate students working on this project
  • ELLIS AYAYEE (PhD) Supervisor: Dr Martie Sanders

    Improving attitudes, metacognitive knowledge and work habits of at-risk biology students, using computer-aided learning.

    The research is intended to benefit students who have difficulty in coping with the academic demands of first-year biological science courses. The study seeks to identify the attitudes, metacognitive knowledge, skills and work habits used by successful students so that these can be taught to at-risk students. A suitable Computer Aided learning package and associated off-line materials which incorporate metacognitive and learning strategies is being developed to be used by the first-year biology students. Formative and summative evaluations of the software will be conducted. Ellis@gecko.biol.wits.ac.za

  • JULIA NOPI LINKONYANE (PhD) Supervisors:Dr Martie Sanders and Dr John Fletcher

    Identification of skills contributing to academic success in biology, and the evaluation of a computer-aided learning approach to teach some of the identified skills

    The aim of this study is to identify skills perceived by different stake-holders to contribute to academic success in first-year biological science courses at university, and to develop and evaluate suitable computer-aided learning materials in order to teach some of the skills identified as most important. The study reflects the new Outcomes Based Education philosophy proposed by the South African government for all levels of education, which concentrates on the development of essential skills in the learners. The study is a collaborative action research project involving a team of researchers and first-year lecturers, working towards a common educational goal - improving chances of academic success. Two research phases are involved. The first is a diagnostic phase during which factors affecting academic success were identified, by means of interviews with lecturers, a questionnaire and interviews with students at the end of their first year of study, and an analysis of relevant course re-structuring documents. The second phase is a therapeutic phase, which will involve the development and evaluation of teaching and learning materials designed to teaching the skills of note-taking and note-making, which the first phase of the research showed to be crucial to academic success, in the eyes of students and lecturers. Julia@gecko.biol.wits.ac.za

  • THABI MHLONGO (PhD) Supervisor: Dr Martie Sanders


    Educating about diarrhoeal diseases in Swaziland schools.

    Diarrhoeal diseases are the number one cause of deaths from illness in Swaziland, as in many other developing countries in the world. Children under the age of four are particularly vulnerable, and adults over the age of 50 are also seriously at risk. The commonest diarrhoeal disease, gastroenteritis, is easily treated if recognized in time, and if appropriate measures are taken to avoid dehydration. It seems logical to assume that many people could be helped, and lives saved, by educating communities about the seriousness of diarrhoeal diseases, their recognition, common causes, prevention and treatment. Unfortunately, although diarrhoeal diseases are dealt with in the school curriculum in Swaziland this seems to have had little effect: most people in the community do not seem able to recognize symptoms in time, nor are they able to treat them appropriately. This study investigates how the topic is currently taught at school, and seeks ways of improving the effectiveness of the curriculum in this area. During the diagnostic phase of the study the nature and extent of current educational programmes dealing with diarrhoeal diseases at school level were investigated, as well as factors influencing the effectiveness of such programmes. This is to be followed by a therapeutic phase involving the development and evaluation of curriculum materials aimed at teaching Grade 10 children about the problem in such a way that they are able to apply their knowledge in their communities. As part of this phase the beliefs and practices of students and their parents relating to diarrhoeal diseases will be investigated.Thabi@gecko.biol.wits.ac.za

  • CLAIRE DONALD (PhD) Supervisors: Dr Martie Sanders and Professor Alan Critchley


    Life cycles of plants, protists and fungi: diagnosis of learning problems and remediation with computer-aided instruction

    This study investigated the difficulties experienced by first-year university biological science students in understanding plant, protist and fungal life cycles. Initially the study focussed on the erroneous ideas that students developed when learning about the topic. A research-based computer programme was then developed to help students understand the important concepts needed in order to understand life cycles. Formative and summative evaluation of the effectiveness of the programme formed an important component of the study, which is currently being written up. Claire Donald now lives in New Zealand, and works in the Department of Learning Technologies at the UNITEC Institute of Technology in Auckland. Claire can be contacted at cdonald@unitec.ac.nz

  • JENNY BURDEN (MSc by dissertation) Supervisors: Dr Martie Sanders,Dr Mandy-Jane Balkwill

    Horticulture students problems with plant identification

    Students studying for the National Diploma Horticulture at South African technikons are required by the Green Industry s National Examination Board to pass a Practical Examination of Competency. The poor results of students for this examination have been cause for concern. This study examines the reasons for the poor mastery of the necessary knowledge and skills. Error analysis of the plant identification section of papers of students from two regions, for two examinations, were conducted. These provided the basis for interviews with students, and with lecturers and members of the Green Industry involved in student training, to establish the nature and causes of the problems with plant identification. After analysis of these results a questionnaire will be constructed and administered to a larger sample of students to establish how generalizable the views elicited during the first phase of the study are. The final stage of the research will be to determine whether students who perform well, and those that do not, use different strategies when identifying plants. If so, this information should prove valuable to those teaching plant identification, and those developing curriculum materials to teach plant identification.

  • MALEBITSO MOGODI (MSc by course work and research report) Supervisor: Dr Martie Sanders

    Mohlakeng students understanding of paradoxical jargon, scientific and non-scientific terms used in Standard Eight Ecology

    Communication plays a vital role in the process of education, where teachers are trying to communicate to the learners complex concepts (ideas) encapsulated in single words. However, a basic assumption of communication is that the communicators have a shared understanding about what words - the units of communication - mean. In educational contexts a breakdown in communication has serious consequences. Three types of words are known to cause problems to science learners - technical terms (the scientific jargon of the subject being taught), non-technical terms (everyday English words being used to explain the science) and paradoxical jargon terms (words which have more than one meaning, often an everyday English one and a different scientific one, as seen for example, in the word host). Although students from all walks of life experience terminology problems, students learning science through a medium of instruction which is not their mother-tongue are especially disadvantaged. In South Africa more than 80% of the school-going population is in this situation.This study examined the understanding of Grade 10 biology pupils of terminology used in ecology textbooks and lessons. Two classes, comprising 63 English second-language biology students, completed multiple-choice tests to check their understanding of 11 technical (ecology) terms and 11 non-technical terms from the language of instruction (English). Four further exercises, two of them open-ended, were developed and used to assess the pupils understanding of 11 paradoxical jargon terms. Interviews were conducted to judge whether reliability or validity problems posed a threat to the study. This research report is currently being written up. Grace@gecko.biol.wits.ac.za

  • MWEENE CHABALENGULA (MSc by course work and research report) Supervisor: Dr Martie Sanders

    Students ideas about the concept of energy, when used in biological contexts

    Students the world over have trouble in understanding the concept of energy, one reason being that the term is used in different ways in different contexts. A particular problem is the unscientific way it is often used in everyday situations. This study will develop and validate a diagnostic instrument which can be used by teachers to establish their students prior ideas about energy, so that these can be taken into account when lessons are planned, as advocated by constructivists. Mweene@gecko.biol.wits.ac.za

  • GERDA DU PREEZ (MSc by course work and research report) Supervisor: Dr Martie Sanders

    The development and evaluation of a computer-based package to teach classification concepts to Grade 7 Biology pupils.

    The classification of living organisms is of vital importance in the biological sciences, facilitating communication between scientists. In addition, it simplifies the effort needed to learn about different organisms by clustering those with similar characteristics. Yet the concept of classification - the why and the how - is not well taught in South African schools (McCarthy, 1994). Even what is taught is problematic, with many educators, curriculum developers and examiners using archaic systems of classification no longer used in the scientific world. This study will involve the development, and formative and summative evaluation, of a computer package aimed at teaching basic classification concepts and skills to Grade 7 Biology pupils who are learning about the diversity of living organisms. GerdaD@gecko.biol.wits.ac.za

  • THELMA VAN DER L N (MSc in Educational Science and Technology)

    Supervisors: Dr Martie Sanders (University of the Wiwatersrand), Susan McKenney (Department of Curriculum, University of Twente, Holland).

    Formative evaluation of a computer-based package for helping South African biology teachers develop lessons for the Outcomes Based Education initiative Curriculum 2005

    South African educators are aware that adequate preparation of teachers will be a pivotal factor in determining the success of the new OBE initiative Curriculum 2005. A computer programme developed by researchers in Holland for science teachers in southern Africa is being modified in a collaborative project between Wits and the University of Twente, to prepare biology teachers for Curriculum 2005. The aim of this study is to conduct a formative evaluation to ascertain the potential of this package for supporting South African biology teachers to make the changes expected of them.

RESEARCH AREA 2: Environmental education

In a second research area within the School of Animal, Plant & Environmental Sciences, the following study is being conducted.

  • XENIA KYRIAKOU (Msc by coursework and research report) Supervisor: Megan Doidge

    The interpretation and implementation of Environmental Education for the Environment in one South African college of education.

    This is a case study with a PAR orientation of an innovative Environmental Education curriculum in a rural South African teacher training college involving final year students. The course presenters interpretation of current Environmental Education theory is analyzed in the context of his curriculum-in-action. The participants also reflect critically on their experiences during the course and with the community outreach projects, giving valuable insights into constraints and conditions conducive to action.

PAPERS

(available on request from the relevant member of staff)

The role of science education research in improving teaching

  • SANDERS, M. (1988) Learning in the sciences: using educational theory and research findings to develop a more effective science education for students in academic support programmes. ASPects 9. Pp. 249-273 Proceedings of the 1988 Academic Support Programmes Conference. University of Cape Town.
Improving the quality of science education research
  • SANDERS, M. (1993) A framework for systematically improving the quality of quantitative research in science education. A paper presented at the annual conference of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching. 15 - 19 April. Atlanta, Georgia.
  • SANDERS, M. (1995). A new approach to designing questionnaires and tests used in educational research. Proceedings of the 3rd annual meeting of the South African Association for Research in Mathematics and Science Education. Pp. 712-725. 26 - 29 January. University of Cape Town, Cape Town.
  • SANDERS, M. (1996). Improving the quality of science education research by promoting the "rival hypothesis". Proceedings of the Fourth Annual Meeting of the Southern African Association for Research in Mathematics and Science Education. pp. 296-306. 23 - 28 January. University of the North, Pietersburg.
  • SANDERS, M. (1997). Developing critical thinking in science education researchers. In SANDERS, M (Ed). Proceedings of the Fifth Annual Meeting of the Southern African Association for Research in Mathematics and Science Education. pp 16 - 19. 22 - 26 January. University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.
  • SANDERS, M. and BANDA, G. (1995). Questioning the validity of research instruments: An essential step in educational research. Proceedings of the 3rd annual meeting of the South African Association for Research in Mathematics and Science Education. Pp. 700-711. 26 - 29 January. University of Cape Town, Cape Town.
  • SANDERS, M. and MOKUKU, T. (1994). How valid is face validity? Proceedings of the Second Annual Meeting of the Southern African Association for Research and Development in Mathematics and Science Education. pp 479-489. University of Durban-Westville, Durban, 27 - 30 January.
Working with educationally disadvantaged students
  • SANDERS, M (1984) Evaluating academic support programmes. ASPects 5, pp. 28 - 33. Selected proceedings of the 1984 Academic Support Programmes conference. University of Cape Town.
  • SANDERS, M (1985) What can we learn from the two-and-a-half decades of American research on academic support programmes? ASPects 6, pp. 84-89. Proceedings of the 1985 Academic Support Programmes Conference.University of the Witwatersrand.
  • SANDERS, M (1986) Education programmes for the future: coping with the educationally disadvantaged student. South African Journal of Education, 6(1), 64-69.
  • SANDERS, M and FRIDJHON, P (1986) A psycho-statistical evaluation of a zoology academic support programme for high-risk first-year students. South African Journal of Science, 82(10), 559-563.
  • SANDERS, M (1986) Understanding the successes and failures of ASP: a basis for improving support programmes. ASPects 7. Proceedings of the 1986 Academic Support Programmes Conference. University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg. pp. 65-71.
  • SANDERS, M (1987) Where are we going in ASP? A discussion of goals. ASPects 8, pp. 1 - 9. Proceedings of the 1987 Academic Support Programmes conference. Rhodes University, Grahamstown.
Developing and evaluating curriculum materials
  • DOIDGE M. (1997). How readable is your biology textbook? Can you be sure? Proceedings of the fifth annual meeting of the Southern African Association for Research in Mathematics and Science Education, pp. 396-401. University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 22-26 January.
  • DOIDGE M. and KORVING C. (1998). Redesigning practical manuals for improved performance. Proceedings of the sixth annual meeting of the Southern African Association for Research in Mathematics and Science Education, pp. 155-161. University of South Africa, Pretoria, 14-17 January.
  • SANDERS, M (1989) Living things are 3-D: implications for teaching biology, pp. 41-53. In SANDERS, M (Ed) Proceedings of the biology workshops. 13th National Convention of Mathematics, Physical Science and Biology Educators. 3-7 July. Pretoria Technikon.
  • SANDERS, M and HASLAM, S (1989) Classification and the school syllabus, pp. 26-40. In Sanders, M (Ed) Proceedings of the biology workshops. 13th National Convention of Mathematics, Physical Science and Biology Educators. 3-7 July. Pretoria Technikon.
The development of computer-based learning materials in biology
  • SANDERS, M. and AYAYEE, E. (1997). Engaging learners in computer-aided learning: Putting the horse before the cart. Proceedings of the Fourteenth Annual Convention of the Association for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education. pp. 528 - 537. 8 -10 December 1997. Curtin University of Technology. Perth, Australia.
  • AYAYEE, E and SANDERS, M. (1998). Factors considered necessary for academic success in first-year biological science courses. Proceedings of the Sixth Annual Meeting of the Southern African Association for Research in Mathematics and Science Education. pp. 52-59. 14 - 17 January 1998. University of South Africa. Pretoria.
Assessment issues
  • AYERST, P and SANDERS, M. (1992) The IEB Biology User Group: New hope for assessment in Biology? Forum on Assessment Newsletter no. 1, pp. 9 - 10. October 1992. Centre for Advancement of Science and Mathematics Education. University of Natal, Durban.
  • DOIDGE M. (1994). Reflections of an SPTD External Examiner for DET Colleges of Education. Third Forum on Assessment in Science and Mathematics: Policy and Practice; Standards and Access. CASME (Centre for the Assessment of Science & Mathematics Education). University of Natal, Durban, 17-18 November.
  • SANDERS, M (1993) The role of assessment in successful curriculum innovation. Forum on Assessment Newsletter no. 2. August 1993. Centre for the Advancement of Mathematics and Science Education. University of Natal. Durban.
  • SANDERS, M. (1995). Using portfolio assessment in teacher education. Proceedings of the Fourth Forum on Assessment. Pp. 11-12 May. Organized by the Centre for Advancement in Science and Mathematics Education. University of Natal, Durban.
Students ideas about biological concepts, and alternative conceptions
  • LESIA P. and DOIDGE M. (1996). Urban and rural pupils views about the causes of albinism and mental retardation. Proceedings of the Fourth Annual Meeting of the Southern African Association for Research in Mathematics and Science Education. pp. 171-178. University of the North, Pietersburg, 25-28 January.
  • LINKONYANE, J. and SANDERS, M. (1997). South African matric biology textbooks as a possible source of erroneous ideas about respiration. In SANDERS, M (Ed). Proceedings of the Fifth Annual Meeting of the Southern African Association for Research in Mathematics and Science Education. pp. 421-428 22 - 26 January. University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.
  • MOLETSANE, G and SANDERS, G. (1995). Erroneous ideas held by first-year university students about chromosomes and related concepts. Biology Proceedings. The 16th National Convention of the Federation of Natural Science and Mathematics Education Associations of South Africa. pp 45 - 58 "Looking for links". 9-14 July 1995. Johannesburg College of Education, Johannesburg.
  • MOLETSANE, G and SANDERS, M. (1996). The development of a test of understanding of genetics concepts, and its use with first-year university students. Proceedings of the Fourth Annual Meeting of the Southern African Association for Research in Mathematics and Science Education. pp. 221-226. 23 - 28 January. University of the North, Pietersburg.
  • SANDERS, M (1993) Erroneous ideas about respiration: The teacher factor. Journal for Research in Science Teaching, 30(8):919-934.
  • SANDERS, M and CRAMER, F (1992) Matric Biology pupils ideas about respiration: implications for science educators. South African Journal of Science, 88(10/11), 543-548.
  • SANDERS, M., MOLETSANE, G., DONALD, C., and CRITCHLEY, A. (1997). First-year university students problems in understanding basic concepts of plant reproduction. South African Journal of Botany, 63(6):330-341.
  • SANDERS, M and SEBEGO, L. (1995). Batswana children s ideas about "sex determination" before they are taught the topic in biology. Biology Proceedings. The 16th National Convention of the Federation of Natural Science and Mathematics Education Associations of South Africa. pp 87-98. "Looking for links". 9-14 July 1995. Johannesburg College of Education, Johannesburg.
  • SANDERS, M and SEBEGO, L. (1996). Developing and using a research instrument to establish pupils ideas about sex determination. Proceedings of the Fourth Annual Meeting of the Southern African Association for Research in Mathematics and Science Education. pp. 307-312. 23 - 28 January. University of the North, Pietersburg.
Language problems in the learning of biology
  • SANDERS, M and MOKUKU, T. (1994). How valid is face validity? Proceedings of the Second Annual Meeting of the Southern African Association for Research and Development in Mathematics and Science Education, pp 479-489. University of Durban-Westville, Durban, 27 - 30 January.
  • SANDERS, M. and MOGODI, G. (1998). Terminology problems experienced by Standard Eight Ecology pupils. Proceedings of the Sixth Annual Meeting of the Southern African Association for Research in Mathematics and Science Education. pp. 314-324. 14 - 17 January 1998. University of South Africa. Pretoria.
  • SANDERS, M and NHLAPHO, V. (1994). Are we teaching gobbledygook in ecology? Problems experienced by English first-language and second-language speakers with terms used in their textbooks. Proceedings of the Second Annual Meeting of the Southern African Association for Research and Development in Mathematics and Science Education, pp 490-495. University of Durban-Westville, Durban, 27 - 30 January.
Outcomes-based education
  • SANDERS, M. (1999). Implementing Outcomes Based Education in South Africa: What lessons can science educators learn from classroom practitioners in New Zealand? Proceedings of the Seventh Annual Meeting of the Southern African Association for Research in Mathematics and Science Education. pp. 382-405. 13 - 16 January 1999. University of Harare, Zimbabwe.
Science, Technology and Society
  • DOIDGE M. (1995). Changing the face of biology teaching in South Africa: the STS approach". Proceedings of the 16th National Convention on Mathematics and Natural Science Education, pp. 31-36. Johannesburg College of Education, 9-14 July.
The educational situation in the country
  • DOIDGE M (1991). Looking back, looking forward - the plight of the Sowetan biology teacher. Proceedings of the 14th National Convention on Mathematics and Natural Science Education, pp. 1-10. Cape Town, 1-5 July.
  • SANDERS, M (1992) Problems and issues in science education in South Africa. A poster-discussion presented at the conference on "Science teacher education: a framework for professional development". 29 March - 10 April 1992. A British Council Course. King s College London. University of London.
Teaching skills in biology
  • SANDERS, M and DOIDGE, M (1994) Teaching and assessing thinking skills in biology. Journal of Educational Evaluation, 3(2), 39-56.


RESEARCH REPORTS AND THESES

BSc (Honours) research reports

  • Banda, G. (1993). An investigation of spatial problems in biology. Unpublished Honours research project. Department of Botany, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. (Supervisor Martie Sanders)
  • Duze, J. (1992) The identification and remediation of erroneous ideas about osmosis and diffusion. Unpublished Honours research project. Department of Zoology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. (Supervisor Martie Sanders)
  • Langenegger, C. (1995) The identification of problems in observation and drawing skills of Standard Eight Biology pupils and the remediation of these problems. Unpublished Honours research project. Department of Botany, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. (Supervisor Martie Sanders)
  • Ledwaba, J. (1993) An investigation of biology textbooks as a source of erroneous ideas about respiration. Unpublished Honours research project. Department of Zoology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. (Supervisor Martie Sanders)
  • M ke, J. (1993) College of Science students perceptions of the facilities available for practical work, and the methods of doing practical work in their Senior Biology classes. Unpublished Honours research project. Department of Botany, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. (Supervisors Martie Sanders and Megan Doidge)
  • Matlala, S. (1993) Standard Nine Biology textbooks as a source of erroneous ideas about genetics. Unpublished Honours research project. Department of Botany, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. (Supervisor Martie Sanders)
  • Themane, W. (1990) Pupils understanding of osmosis and diffusion.Unpublished Honours research project. Department of Botany, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. (Supervisor Martie Sanders)
Masters research reports
  • Banda, G. (1995) The effect of concept mapping on students attitudes towards and understanding of biology concepts. Unpublished Masters research report. Department of Botany, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. (Supervisor Martie Sanders)
  • Cramer, F. (1988) The identification of some pupil misconceptions about respiration: A case study. Unpublished Masters research report. Department of Botany, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. (Supervisor Martie Sanders)
  • Doidge, M. (1991) An investigation into how Standard Eight Biology textbooks are used in Soweto schools, and the suitability of these textbooks for teacher and student use. Unpublished Masters research report. Department of Botany, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.(Supervisor Martie Sanders)
  • Frisby, K. (1997) A comparison of the effects of inquiry and expository teaching approaches on pupil understanding and attitud towards biology. Unpublished Masters research report. Department of Botany, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. (Supervisor Martie Sanders)
  • Haslam, S. (1990) Some factors related to pupils misconceptions about broad classification in biology Unpublished Masters research report. Department of Botany, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. (Supervisor Martie Sanders)
  • Korving, C. (1995). The effect of the design of a practical manual on the learning of and attitudes towards plant anatomy amongst first year college students. (Supervisor Megan Doidge)
  • Lesia, P. (1995). Urban and rural pupils ideas about some aspects of inheritance: A case study in Lesotho. (Supervisor Megan Doidge)
  • Linkonyane, J. (1997) South African matric Biology textbooks as a possible source of erroneous ideas about respiration. Unpublished Masters research report. Department of Botany, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. (Supervisor Martie Sanders)
  • Mech, I. (1990) A comparative study of the inquiry and illustrative approaches to the teaching of microscope skills Unpublished Masters research report. Department of Botany, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. (Supervisor Martie Sanders)
  • Mokuku, T. (1993) Biology and language: Evaluating the validity of a multiple-choice test for use with standard eight English second language ecology students. Unpublished Masters research report. Department of Botany, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. (Supervisor Martie Sanders)
  • Moletsane, G. (1995) Ideas held by first-year biology students about chromosomes and related concepts. Unpublished Masters research report. Department of Botany, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. (Supervisor Martie Sanders)
  • Nhlapho, V. (1993) Problems encountered by English first language and English second language pupils with technical and non-technical terms used in ecology. Unpublished Masters research report. Department of Botany, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. (Supervisor Martie Sanders)
  • Orsmond, C. (1998) The development and evaluation of a package for teaching critical thinking skills in biology. Unpublished Masters research report. Department of Botany, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.(Supervisor Martie Sanders)
  • Poliah, R. (1993) A survey of the perceptions and attitudes of pupils and teachers to biology practical work, in Indian secondary schools in the PWV area in the Transv l Unpublished Masters research report. Department of Education, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.(Supervisor Martie Sanders)
  • Sebego, L. (1995) Batswana children s understanding of the concept sex determination . Unpublished Masters research report. Department of Botany, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.(Supervisor Martie Sanders)
PhD thesis
  • McCarthy, S. (1994) The identification and remediation of alternative conceptions about broad levels of classification in biology. Unpublished PhD thesis. Department of Zoology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. (Supervisor Martie Sanders)


OUR CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE EDUCATION COMMUNITY IN SOUTH AFRICA

In addition to the applied research being conducted, the School of Animal, Plant & Environmental Siences , through the two science education members of staff, is actively engaged in numerous other activities with important implications for education in the country, in particular regarding the new Natural Sciences Learning Area and the Outcomes-Based Education initiative, Curriculum 2005.

Development of curricula
  • The new IEB Senior Biology curriculum: Martie Sanders designed the context-based, skills-focussed model on which the new Senior Biology syllabus of the Independent Examinations Board is based, and worked on the team which developed the new curriculum document (introduced in 1996).
  • National Learning Area Committee for the Natural Sciences: Martie Sanders (representating the Independent Examinations Board) and Meg Doidge (representing the Gauteng Department of Education) served on this Committee, whose task was to develop the Natural Sciences framework for Curriculum 2005.
  • Gauteng Learning Area Committee for the Natural Sciences: Meg Doidge is the provincial representative for the Natural Science Learning Area, Gauteng Department of Education. Together with the Natural Science Co-ordinator for Gauteng, she co-ordinates the work of the Gauteng Learning Area Committee. This committee is translating National Policy into practice at Provincial level.
  • Gauteng Institute for Curriculum Development: Meg Doidge is a member of Natural Science team working at the Gauteng Institute for Curriculum Development developing progress maps and learning programmes for Curriculum 2005.
Development of curriculum materials
  • Textbooks: Meg Doidge is an author for a new series of senior biology textbooks designed for Curriculum 2005 and published by Maskew Miller Longman. The first of three proposed textbooks is available. CLITHEROE F., DILLEY L., DOIDGE M., MARSDEN S., THEMANE W. and MTOMBENI G.(1999). Focus on Biology, Grade 10. Cape Town, Maskew Miller Longman. Meg has also consulted for two publishing groups. Martie Sanders has been extensively involved as a reader and consultant for four publishing groups.
  • Teaching and learning materials: A range of curriculum packages have been produced as a result of postgraduate work done under the supervision of Martie Sanders. These include an inquiry approach to teaching microscope skills, an inquiry approach to teaching aspects of circulation, the use of concept mapping in biology, teaching classification at Grade 7 level, teaching critical thinking in Grade 9 Biology, teaching drawing skills, teaching osmosis and diffusion.
Professional development of biology teachers (pre-service)
  • Both staff members are actively involved in the pre-service development of science teachers, teaching the Biology Methodology component of the Higher Diploma in Education (Postgraduate).

Professional development of biology teachers (in-service)

Both staff members are involved in a range of formal and informal activities contributing to the professional development of in-service teachers.

  • Further Diploma in Education: Involvement on management and curriculum committees, reviewing of distance education curriculum materials in the sciences, and in teaching aspects of the course for general science teachers.
  • Honours: Both staff have been involved in presenting topics for the BEd and BSc (Honours) in Science Education and in supervising research projects.
  • MSc (Science Education) and MEd by coursework and research report: In addition to supervising research projects for this degree, courses presented by the School of Animal, Plant & Environmental Sciences staff include
    • Problems and Issues in Science Education
    • Science Education in Developing Countries
    • "Misconceptions" in Biology
    • Research Methods and Design in Science Education.
  • Workshops: Both staff contribute extensively to workshops for teachers, for example those run by the at various teachers centres, or by teachers organizations such as the South African Association for Teachers of Biology, as well as at the Science Teachers Function held annually at Wits.
  • Conferences A wide range of talks have been given by both staff at numerous teachers conferences such as those of the Federation of Teachers of Mathematics, Physical Science and Biology; the Transv l Teachers Association; and the National Union of Educators.
Professional development of science education researchers
  • In addition to running the Research Methods and Design in Science Education course as part of the MSc in Science Education at Wits, Martie Sanders has run numerous workshops in various centres around the country as part of the FRD capacity-building initiative to develop science education researchers in the country, and presented a number of conference papers focussing on ways to improve the quality of science education research.
Conferences
  • Both staff members regularly present papers at conferences. Martie Sanders has served on the organizing committees of several science education conferences, and was the Chairperson of the organizing committee of the 1997 conference of the Southern African Association for Research in Mathematics and Science Education. She will be responsible for re-introducing the biennial conference for teachers of natural science and technology, in July 2000.

Other activities

Both staff members are actively engaged

  • as examiners for science education courses and higher degree research at other universities and colleges of education,
  • as judges at Expo and other science competitions.