Exploring learner and teacher roles in curriculum development in a process approach to a basic English as a second language programme for adults

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This study explores the contribution that the learners and the teacher made to curriculum development in a process approach to English as a second language for adults. The research was carried out with a group of workers attending a basic English course in an adult education programme on the East Rand. This study covers the entire sixteen month period from 1986 to 1987, and was carried out by the teacher-as-researcher. The research methodology was a form of illuminative evaluation, using syllabus accounts. These accounts provided a record of what took place in the classroom and were organised into three main themes. Subsequent analysis of the accounts focussed on learner and teacher roles in determining the learning experiences generated in the classroom. These findings were then re-examined in the light of the literature on process approaches. Conclusions were drawn about these roles and the implications for teacher development and learner training. Subsequently these conclusions were presented as illuminative data to reflect upon the curriculum framework underlying process approaches. The conclusions drawn in this study challenge the assumption that learners and the teacher jointly and equally negotiate learning in a process approach. Instead they suggest that the teacher is very much in control as the overall manager of curriculum development, and that learners are secondary agents in this endeavour. The roles of both parties are also more complex and more interlinked than the literature implies. Following this, conclusions were drawn about the roles that learners and the teacher played in curriculum development in this study. The research went on to examine the broader implications of these findings, by assessing the feasibility of a process approach for large-scale adult basic education work in South Africa. From this assessment, a new 'hybrid' approach was proposed which retains important features of a process approach while modifying it to make it more accessible and appropriate for South Africa's needs. Finally, the study identified future research directions.

Bibliography: pages 299-310.