*Electronic Theses and Dissertations (PhDs)

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    Professional learning communities for inclusive pedagogy: what teacher talk in professional communities reveals about teacher professional identity and agency
    (2023-09) Kimani, Anne Wacango Muguro
    In-service teacher learning for inclusive pedagogy seeks to address the perceived lack of capacity for teaching in inclusive classrooms in South Africa. Research suggests that teachers feel underprepared for this task, and that the prevalent delivery models for this learning, workshops, and short courses, have done little to enable sustained inclusive practices. This study took a new direction, arguing that simply acquiring knowledge and skills for inclusive teaching misses the need to focus on teacher professional identity and agency. The professional and institutional change required for teachers to be pedagogically responsive to a range of learners, demands that professional learning address teachers’ immediate realities, be a long term, school-based professional learning programme. A three-year study in a full-service school in Johannesburg, South Africa, investigated teacher talk within professional learning communities (PLCs). PLCs are situated in practice and can promote and sustain teachers’ learning over an extended period. Wenger’s (1998) theory of learning as social practice and Sfard and Prusak’s (2005) theory of identity as narrative provided analytical insights into identity and agency in the PLCs. The subject focus of the PLCs was inclusive pedagogy, and the analysis was based on the Inclusive Pedagogical Approach in Action (IPAA) (Florian & Spratt, 2013). Using a Critical interpretivism perspective, teacher talk in the PLCs and individual teacher interviews were analysed. Analysis of teacher talk in relation to the IPAA revealed two themes of talk: Inclusive Talk and Difference Talk. “Difference Talk” showed that the enactment of inclusion cannot be rigidly defined and demarcated in advance in every situation or in every instance or be abstracted from time and place. A nuanced interpretation of difference may help researchers avoid the binary distinctions about inclusive education and inclusive pedagogy and deficit interpretations about teachers’ practices. The findings show that even though teachers talked about enacting inclusive pedagogy they did not consider themselves inclusive educators. They implied that since they had not had ‘special education training’ they could not consider themselves as inclusive educators despite saying that they had taught in an inclusive manner. Participation in the PLCs enabled teachers to negotiate meaning and create a coherent community. A coherent community allowed teachers to challenge their perspectives about teaching inclusively and to share their experiences. This study contributes a conceptual understanding of the interplay between teachers’ professional identity and the sociocultural contexts of PLCs, and how teacher talk can mediate teacher learning for inclusive pedagogy. The findings could be of interest to teacher educators in designing professional learning communities for inclusive pedagogy
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    How are the relationships between South African universities and development understood?
    (2022) Molebatsi, Palesa Malehlohonolo
    Many development scholars argue that universities can and should address societal problems of poverty, inequality and unemployment. There is international literature that argues, in particular, two things: firstly, that certain economies thrive because they are knowledge driven; and secondly, that universities play a central role in preparing workers for the labour market. That same literature also goes on to argue that under-developed countries should emulate these economies, because this is a good way of achieving development. Thus, an increasing number of researchers and policy-makers in South Africa are interested in how universities do today, and can in the future, contribute to development. Empirical studies have been conducted analysing the relationship between South African universities and development. Yet, the evidence that exists, while useful, remains superficial. Specifically, it gives partial or incomplete analyses of the dynamics underlying the relationships between universities in South Africa, and development. The purpose of this study is to build an understanding of those dynamics. I develop an extended analytic framework with three ideal types (The Abstract University, the Entrepreneurial University and the Developmental University) and analyse two data sets, with the main finding that South African universities do not make significant entrepreneurial or developmental contributions to development. Simultaneously, they are expected to perform more welfare activities as part of their functions. I argue that a Welfare ideal-type university is emerging in South Africa which seems to undermine the essential core of the university: the development and acquisition of knowledge. A floundering can be observed with respect to the purpose, the norms and the form of the university in South Africa, with the result that the role of universities is increasingly loosely defined. This analysis illuminates a specific aspect of the relationship between universities and development in South Africa, namely that it is a two-way one: different approaches to development nationally and within universities lead to changes in the nature of the university, which in turn affects development. In the case of South Africa, where emphasis is placed on welfare activities, the question arises whether universities will continue to be universities in the future