Exploring collaborative learning of Further Education and Training Business Studies teachers in one cluster in the Pholela Circuit.
Magoso, Siyabonga Andrias.
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There have been various reforms to the South African education system since 1994. These reforms have included continuous professional development initiatives for teachers, policy and curriculum changes. Teacher development initiatives demand teachers collaborate together in order to produce excellent quality results. Moreover, significant changes had been implemented to ensure that the quality of teaching and learning improves in South African schools. The objective of this study is to explore the collaborative activities that grade 10 business studies teachers engage in during cluster meetings and to examine how these activities contribute to collaborative learning of grade 10 business studies teachers. The study adopted a qualitative case study approach located within the interpretive paradigm. This study used Brodie’s (2013) framework of the power of professional learning communities to identify the type of collaborative activities that took place in the cluster meetings and Stoll, Bolam, McMahon, Wallace, and Thomas (2006) framework of professional learning communities: a review of the literature to examine the extent to which cluster a serves as an effective PLC for Further Education and Training business studies teachers. Purposive sampling was used to select five business studies teachers in the Pholela circuit of Harry Gwala district. Convenience sampling was used to select the most accessible schools and participants for this study. Semi-structured interviews and observations were used to generate data from participants. The findings of this study highlighted that there are two major activities which took place in the business studies cluster meetings namely, moderation and setting of assessment tasks. Teachers meet quarterly to moderate formal assessments tasks that were written in the previous term. The findings further indicated that teachers collaborate in a cluster for setting of assessment tasks for various grades. These include common tests, assignments, oral presentations and research projects. However, the findings highlighted that the discussion of subject content was not sufficient to promote teacher learning and development. Additionally, the findings indicated the business studies cluster was regarded as an effective PLC since it reflected majority of the characteristics of functional learning communities. The findings of this research could assist the Department of Education in identifying ways to improve clusters as a vehicle for professional development.