Construction of meaning by second language students in access physics classes in Lesotho.

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dc.contributor.author Qhobela, Makomosela
dc.date.accessioned 2008-12-19T09:27:51Z
dc.date.available 2008-12-19T09:27:51Z
dc.date.issued 2008-12-19T09:27:51Z
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10539/5895
dc.description.abstract This generic qualitative study was aimed at enculturating, through a four staged intervention, access students at Lerotholi Polytechnic in Maseru, Lesotho. The core purpose was to give students an opportunity to practice using Discourses of science as the meaningful way of learning. The intervention predetermined stages were named Conceptual Foundation, Conceptual Initiation, Conceptual Formulation, and Conceptual Application. This two week intervention introducing the concept of interaction of magnetic field patterns, was implemented in 2002 and 2003 academic years. The design of the intervention was informed by sociocultural theory and situated cognition. The basic tenet therefore in this study is that learning science is a social phenomenon, it is situated and distributed across physical and social aspects. On the basis of this position, this study adapted learning science as enculturation into community of practice. Data collected in this study was analysed using a discourse analysis approach in which the main tool comprised studying semiotic, activity, material, political, and sociocultural aspects (acronym SAMPS) of a situation. Two aspects, activity and semiotic, were identified as being critical in understanding meaning – making and therefore foregrounded. The activity aspect of Discourse analysis highlighted emergent categories comprising each predetermined stage. Activities identified in these emergent categories reveal students’ talk, and/or practicing of Discourses of science, commencing from a level of talk that is dominated by prior knowledge recollection. Then it becomes ventriloquation, gradually developing to higher cognitive demand than mere recollection of prior knowledge. Lastly the activities show own talk used to develop and express understanding of application. The semiotic aspect analysis underlines the importance of the following issues during the process of introduction as well as practicing of ways of engaging scientific Discourses; Communicative approaches and discourse patterns, Practicing of Discourses of science, and Language of learning and teaching. Evidently, construction of meaning is related to communicative approaches and discourse patterns that students engage. The four communicative approaches identified, Statement – Answer – Statement, Statement – Question – Statement, Explanation – Answer – Explanation, and Explanation – Answer – Explanation lead to two discourse patterns that students engaged in interpersonal communication; the surface and deep dialogue discourse patterns. Surface Dialogue refers to a communication between two or more people engaging Statement – Accept – iii Statement or Explanation – Accept – Explanation approach. Deep Dialogue refers to an interpersonal communication between two, or more, people engaging Statement – Question – Statement or Explanation – Question – Explanation patterns. Though deep dialogue approach occurred throughout the four stages of the intervention, it is observed that the occurrence improved during the last two stages. Interestingly, during the Conceptual Initiation stage, deep dialogue incidences were scarce. Arguably the classification of interpersonal talk is a pertinent conclusion insofar as talking, coupled with other stuff Discourses, is taken as critical step in enculturation. When drawing conclusions about the effectiveness of the intervention, the following considerations are important. Firstly, the core understanding of the practicing of Discourses of science is that in any classroom members of the setting, students participate by practising Discourses of a different, but aspired, community. Secondly, the proficiency of the language of learning and teaching (LoLT) is a critical element, with enormous potential of contributing negatively towards construction of meaning. Three important conclusions have been made in relation to this study in general. Firstly, the strategy to enculturate access students, coming from different backgrounds with different learning styles, has helped them to construct meaning of the physics phenomenon. Secondly, Communicative approaches and discourse patterns, practising of Discourses of science, and the language of learning and teaching enabled, and/or disabled, students to use the language of science. Lastly, the intervention implemented in this study proved to be beneficial in enhancing the sharing of meaning among students and, in general, encouraging talk which otherwise would not have taken place. en
dc.language.iso en en
dc.title Construction of meaning by second language students in access physics classes in Lesotho. en
dc.type Thesis en


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