Research and Evaluation
Knowledge Management at the Core of CASME's Operations
The Classroom Library Project was funded and managed by VVOB. in close collaboration with Professor Brahm Fleisch. The project was completed in close collaboration with the ELITS Directorate of KZNDoE and CASME (commissioned for implementation).
Professor Brahm Fleisch prepared this report. Professor Volker Schӧer undertook the
statistical analysis of the learner interview dataset. Sam Sapire assisted with the preparation
of the Data Management Chart and teacher datasets. Descriptions of implementation and
data collection have been drawn from the CASME management reports.
Considerable progress has been made in understanding how to improve the taching of early grade reading, using combined component models or the education triple cocktail.
(Piper et al, 2018, Fleisch, 2018).
This study reports on a randomized control trial that was designed to evaluate the effectiveness of the Classroom Library model. The intention of the Classroom Library model is to increase access to appropriate level storybooks for rural Foundation Phase learners in South Africa, and to increase reading of those books. There is a growing body of evidence that has shown the importance of independent reading for the development of fluency and comprehension (Toppings et al, 2007).
Strengthening Digital Learning in South African Schools: Improving Subject Advisors’ Digital Literacy through Professional Development
Strengthening digital learning has many benefits and is becoming increasingly important within the context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and the Covid-19 pandemic. In order to maximise the potential of digital learning, educators need to be empowered to use transformative pedagogies supported by Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), online tools and resources. Given the critical role that Subject Advisors play in supporting educators and curriculum delivery, it is vital that they have access to high quality professional development initiatives focused on improving their digital literacy. This policy brief explores Subject Advisors’ digital literacy and ways in which this could be strengthened. The brief suggests that an ICT and Digital Learning Framework for Subject Advisors be developed to guide their professional development in this area. Subject Advisor Professional Learning Communities (PLC) should also be established with a specific focus on digital learning. Finally, the ongoing monitoring and building of digital literacy skills for advisors and educators is recommended.
Resourcing the Curriculum Support Core for District Impact: Policy and Practice in Subject Advisor Post Provisioning
Human capacity constraints in district education offices can negatively affect the ability of advisors to fulfil their mandate. This policy brief draws on research on the post-provisioning, daily responsibilities, and workloads of all General Education and Training (GET) Phase Mathematics and English First Additional Language (EFAL) advisors. An analysis of the research data reveals staff shortages at this level, uneven post-provisioning across provinces and phases, and that advisors’ time could be used more effectively. Given the context of decreased real spending in education, it is important to find ways to maximise efficiencies and impact, as well as relieve some of the pressure placed on existing advisors. The research puts forward some suggestions, including encouraging a more strategic application of post-provisioning norms, improving the utilisation of advisors’ time by removing duties assigned to them that are beyond their job scope, and through better work coordination, and leveraging technology. At a policy level, this brief recommends that the Amended Policy on the Organisation, Roles and Responsibilities of Education Districts (DBE, 2018) be revisited to provide clarity on Intersen appointments; a phase revealed to be particularly burdened. The brief also calls for further investigation into potential inefficiencies of other sub-directorates/divisions that have focus areas that overlap with the work of advisors. This investigation will help strengthen relevant Departmental job descriptions and policy.
This study, commissioned by NECT for the DBE (DDG: Curriculum), funded by the Zenex Foundation, was conducted between July 2019 to October 2020.
Quantitative data (national)
Qualitative data (6 districts across 3 provinces – KZN, WC & FS)
The Research Study aimed to:
Two Policy Briefs have been written following the recommendations of the study. These will be published soon. Watch this space.
Education Researchers Respond to The COVID-19 Pandemic. This document reports the findings of (1) a desktop review on Grade R–12 and early childhood development (ECD) teaching and learning resources available for teachers, learners and parents; and (2) an online survey researching levels of access and engagement of teachers, learners and parents. This review forms part of a larger research project which aims to contribute meaningfully to finding solutions to the pressures being placed on education systems, by investigating the best mega-, meta- and microlevel education strategies that can be used during times of crisis.
CASME's Director, Henre Benson, and M&E specialist, Dr Tamlynn Fleetwood served as a co-researchers on the research theme.
The report is available here.
You can also explore other Theme Reports at www.jet.org.za
We are pleased to present a short mathematics education research review commissioned by Social Innovations for PEP Academies.
The review considers some of the research in mathematics education with particular relevance to extra-curricula mathematics programmes in primary schools. It is not an exhaustive literature review but takes as its frame of reference the research with a focus on mathematics teaching and learning at the transition between Foundation and Intermediate Phase.
LAUNCH of the Mathematics Education Research, Development and Practice Forum
2 February 2018 | 13h00 to 14h30
@ CASME, Pinetown
ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION #1
MATHEMATICS CURRICULUM REFORMS
The Centre for the Advancement of Science and Mathematics Education (CASME) is pleased to announce the launch of a new multi-sectoral mathematics education forum. The CASME Mathematics Education Research, Development and Practice Forum (MERDeP Forum) is an independently hosted forum for bridging the divide in research, development, policy and practice in mathematics education.
Through the forum, CASME plans to host MERDeP discussions on a bi-annual basis. The issues, topics and agenda may be suggested by the community of researchers, teachers, teacher educators, education department members and other practitioners. The forum will also serve as a Professional Networking platform.
MERDaP is for you if you are interested in participating in
The topic to launch the first MERDaP Forum is a Roundtable Discussion #1 on ICMI Study 24: SCHOOL MATHEMATICS CURRICULUM REFORMS
TOPIC: What is ICMI Study 24 and how can I participate?
FACILITATOR: Prof Renuka Vithal
WHO SHOULD ATTEND? Researchers, Teacher Educators, Development practitioners, trainers and facilitators, in fact anyone with a genuine interest in all aspects of school mathematics curriculum reforms.
Participants in this Roundtable will be given a brief overview of the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction (ICMI) Study 24 on School Mathematics Curriculum Reforms: Challenges, Changes and Opportunities (see attached Discussion Document).
This will be followed with an opportunity to engage in a question and answer session about the study as well as engage about possibilities for participation in the ICMI 24 Study Conference (to take place in Japan, 26-30 Nov 2018) and the publications arising from the study.
Prof Renuka Vithal is the former Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Teaching and Learning, Dean of Education and Professor of Mathematics Education of the University of KwaZulu-Natal; and is currently Co-Chair of ICMI Study 24. She is also a member of the Board of Trustees of CASME.
VENUE CASME, 23 Caversham Road, Pinetown
DATE Friday, 2 February
TIME 13h00 to 14h30
The formation of CASME was a significant moment in the history of mathematics and science education in South Africa. It acknowledged the fundamental injustices of Apartheid education and represented a decisive move on the part of its founders.
In 2005, science and mathematics remain at the centre of our hopes and dreams for a better society. These subjects provide the basis for successful modern living and cannot be separated from our everyday lives. CASME maintains that professional mathematics and science teachers are the key agents for meeting the challenge of accelerating scientific and technological advancement.
The Jula Carnegie Project was initiated and implemented in 2002 by the Centre for the Advancement of Science and Mathematics Education (CASME) through funding from the American-based Carnegie Corporation.
The overall goal of the project was to contribute towards the improvement of the performance of senior secondary learners in Mathematics and Physical Science in Kwazulu Natal province in general and in the Ukhahlamba and Zululand regions in particular. Professional development of teachers in these regions was a main strategic objective for the project. CASME has been involved in this field since 1985 and had accumulated a lot of expertise to execute such a project successfully.
The word Jula encapsulates the vision of the project. This is a Zulu word for deep. The project envisaged helping teachers and learners gain deeper understanding of the mathematics and science concepts. This would contribute to the enjoyment of the subjects and consequently improve their attitudes towards the two subjects.
The major outcome judgement of this evaluation can be summed up in few words.
There is no doubt that Casme has had a very profound, positive influence on science and mathematics education in KwaZulu-Natal.
Every piece of available evidence from every source that could be tapped pointed to the successes of Casme, and, despite deliberate probing, no negative evidence of any substance regarding the overall goals of Casme came to light.
This report could be filled with glorifying evidence and testimonials heaping praise on both the organization and, most particularly, the highly competent and dedicated individuals within Casme. However, beyond providing positive reinforcement to Casme, such a report would be of little use.
Casme is not without problems, and as South Africa changes, so must Casme change. As such, the bulk of this report is dedicated to providing information and suggestions for change that should serve Casme as it strives to meet the challenges of the future. However, readers should bear in mind the overall positive judgement of Casme as they progress through this report.