Teachers’ understandings and uses of the case-based method to teach Tourism in Grades 10-12.
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The current national curriculum for secondary schools in South Africa envisages learners who can think critically and will be able to solve problems in the real world of work. To achieve this goal, the case-based methodology is often used as a teaching strategy because it provides a fertile ground to apply theoretical concepts to real-world situations while enhancing learner participation and developing critical skills. Given the practical nature of Tourism as a subject in the Further Education and Training (FET) phase in schooling in South Africa, the study examined teachers’ understandings and use of the case-based method in teaching Tourism in Grades 10-12. A qualitative case study methodology and interpretive paradigm were used. Three teachers from one school participated in this study and were purposely selected. Data were generated using semi-structured face-to-face interviews, lesson observations, and teachers’ reflective writings. The findings indicated a paradox in teachers’ understandings of the case-based method of teaching Tourism. On the one hand, they understood the case-based method as a valuable teaching strategy while, on the other hand, they perceived this method as complex and difficult to apply. It was evident from the data that the teachers predominantly used the traditional way of classroom instruction (often referred to as the ‘chalk and talk’ method) as they did not engage in active learning strategies such as discussions of case studies, which are required in the case-based method in teaching and learning. This suggests that the teachers did not provide opportunities for the formation of a learning community in which the learners could explore tourism concepts while also engaging in the collaborative construction of knowledge using the case-based method. The implication is that teachers’ use of case-based methodologies as a teaching and learning strategy in Tourism classrooms is dependent on their understanding of the case-based methodology. Therefore, this study concludes that these Tourism teachers did not possess adequate skills in transmitting the required knowledge of Tourism as the case-based method was not appropriately applied.