Teachers' and learners' perceptions, from four ex-Model C primary schools in Cape Town, on how and why computers are used in the Grade 7 classroom

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

The proliferation of computers in education has been studied for many years (Kulik, 1983; Loveless 1996; Underwood & Underwood 1990) including therein a diversity of standpoints from the examination of the effects of the computer on learners to the influence of computers on learning, problem solving and achievement, as well as other aspects of schooling (as cited in Lauman 2000: 2). However, little attention has been afforded to address individuals' perceptions, namely those of teachers and learners, of the technology. Given the great investments by schools due to high expectations concerning the educational benefits of computers, it is important that such research be conducted. The purpose of this study was to investigate teachers' and learners' perceptions from four ex-Model C primary schools, on how and why computers are used in the Grade 7 classroom. The data was collected primarily by means of a questionnaire, which assessed the perceptions of teachers and learners re computer usage in Grade 7, with findings substantiated by observations and teacher interviews. The study found that: (1) most teachers were comfortable with using computers and expressed positive attitudes towards computer use; (2) teachers agreed that they integrate the computer into the classroom for student-centred learning, independent learning, as a research tool and as a communication tool; (3) teachers view the computer as optimally used for word processing, with importance placed on such skills; (4) teachers believe technology is an integral part of the process of educating their learners; and (5) teachers are of the opinion that their learners perceive the computer to be important, relevant, appealing, valuable, involving and needed. Analysis of the learner data revealed that: (1) learners express enjoyment with using the computer in Grade 7; (2) learners affirm the importance of computers as learning tools; (3) learners perceive that when undertaking tasks they enjoy on the computer they find the computer to be 'entertaining', while the worst thing about the computer is perceived to be 'computer malfunctions' and 'the age of the computer' (i.e. how old the computer was); (4) learners believe the computer has a positive impact on their school work; (5) learners perceive the use of the computer in Grade 7 to be important, interesting, exciting, meaningful and needed; and (6) they feel the computer is used to prepare them for their future. The findings of this study afford us a glimpse into how a sample group of South African teachers and learners in the ex-Model C primary school context, perceive computer use in the Grade 7 classroom. Further research with larger, more representative samples is recommended in this fairly untouched area of research, particularly in South Africa, as technology continues to take on a more significant role in South African schools.

Bibliography: leaves 91-106.