Technology-supported cooperative learning to enhance Self-Directed Learning

Project leader: Prof Elsa Mentz

Source of funding: NRF project (2018 - 2020)

Objectives:

The focus of this project will be on establishing effective technology-supported cooperative learning environments to enhance Self-Directed Learning.

Education and engineering students from NWU and students from Unisa will participate in this project. Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) combined with the social interdependence theory will be utilised as lens for this research within realism as philosophical paradigm.

A qualitative and quantitative design-based approach will be followed to develop, implement and evaluate effective cooperative learning interventions, supported by technology to enhance Self-Directed Learning in a higher education learning environment. The expected outcome is to develop a framework for implementing technology-supported cooperative learning, conducive to the enhancement of Self-Directed Learning.

This framework will include cooperative learning-embedded assessment, the impact of peer reflections as well as strategies for deeper learning. Furthermore, we will propose guidelines to evaluate the effectiveness of the integration of the five elements of cooperative learning in a technology-supported cooperative learning environment. With this project we ultimately aim to inform policy on higher education teaching and learning.

Multimodal multiliteracies in support of self-directed learning

Project leader: Prof Jako Olivier

Source of funding: NRF project (2018 - 2020)

Objectives:

The objectives of this research project are to:

  • Map the multiliteracies in selected subjects in terms of relevant policy documents and (paper-based and electronic) text books.

  • Determine what the affordances are of indigenous multiliteracies in support of self-directed learning delivered by means of digital technologies.

  • Explore how individualisation and differentiation of learning can be facilitated in terms of multimodal self-directed learning.

  • Research the fostering of metacognition by means of multimodal multiliteracies pedagogy.

Multimodal learning and Open Educational Resources (OER)

Project leader: Prof Jako Olivier

Source of funding: Internal funds (SDL)

Objectives:

The aim of the project is to (1) build networks in Southern Africa around OER and multimodal learning, (2) build capacity at the NWU and in Southern Africa, (3) train lecturers in multimodal learning and the creation and use of OER as well as (4) doing and dissemination research on OER and multimodal learning.

The project will also:

  • investigate the quality and cultural appropriateness of the application of self-directed multimodal learning;

  • determine the effective use of mobile devices (such as cell phones and tablets) for self-directed multimodal learning;

  • explore data mining of learning management systems (such as eFundi) as well as interactive study guides and relevant metadata;

  • determine what multiliteracies (in terms of language, visual, information and computer literacies) are required of contact and distance students in a self-directed learning context;

  • investigate how individualisation and differentiation can be accommodated within a multimodal learning context; and

  • determine how the use, establishment and contribution to open educational resources by lecturers can function in support of multimodal learning within a self-directed learning context.

Engaging pedagogies to address perennial issues in Science Education in South Africa

Project leader: Prof Marietjie Havenga

Source of funding: NRF project (2017 - 2019)

Objectives:

  • Main research aim: Determining to which extent engineering students' self-directed learning could be enhanced through the introduction of the problem-based learning strategy.

  • Determining to which extent cooperative elements can support PBL to enhance students’ self-directed learning

  • Determining to which extent blended learning can support PBL to enhance students’ self-directed learning.

  • Determining to which extent assessment can support PBL to enhance students’ self-directed learning.

  • Determining to which extent the integration of PBL enhances engineering students’ self-directed learning and indicating how the nature of this change enhances SDL.

  • Contributing to knowledge production regarding the enhancement of engineering students’ self-directed learning through the introduction of PBL.

The affordances of indigenous knowledge for Self-Directed Learning

Project leader: Prof Josef de Beer

Source of funding: NRF project (2016 - 2018)

Objectives:

The objectives of this research project are to determine:

  • How indigenous knowledge could best be incorporated in the school CAPS curriculum in science, mathematics and technology.

  • How science, technology and mathematics teachers view indigenous knowledge before and after a three-day short course on indigenous knowledge.

  • How teachers use problem-based learning and cooperative learning principles in teaching indigenous knowledge in their classrooms.

  • What problems teachers experience in transferring their knowledge of and skills on indigenous knowledge in their classrooms.

  • How the intervention on indigenous knowledge could promote self-directed learning among teachers and learners.

STEM teachers learning from Indigenous Knowledge Systems practitioners

Project leader: Prof Josef de Beer

Source of funding: NRF project (2016 - 2018)

Objectives:

The objectives of this research project are to determine:

  • How indigenous knowledge holders (and museums) could become a third partner in the school-university value chain.

  • How teachers could learn about indigenous knowledge in authentic situations from the holders of indigenous knowledge themselves.

  • Whether the holders of indigenous knowledge are self-directed learners.

  • How indigenous knowledge, as a means to better contextualise curricula, could foster SDL.

How Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) could best be used as a research lens in studying the incorporation of indigenous knowledge in the STEM classroom

Teachers without Borders: Creating indigenous knowledge science labs in rural schools

Project leader: Prof Josef de Beer

Source of funding: Fuchs Foundation (2016 - 2019)

Objectives:

The objectives of this research project are to determine:

  • How teacher agency could be developed and supported in STEM subjects.

  • How science-on-a-shoestring kits could best be utilised to promote problem-based learning in the classroom.

  • How project-based learning, utilising the resource packs developed, could promote SDL.

  • How a pedagogy of play, through the use of puppetry, could be used to provide learners with a more nuanced understanding of the nature of science and indigenous knowledge.

  • How teachers’ professional development could be enhanced through well-functioning communities of practice.

Fostering Aspects of Self-Directed Learning through Personalized and Adaptive Instruction Design in Online Learning Environments (SDL-PAID)

Project leader: Prof Christo van der Westhuizen

Source of funding: Joint Research Project funding: Swiss Distance University of Applied Sciences (SDUAS) and NWU

Objectives:

The aim of this study is twofold. Firstly, to determine the aspects that foster SDL and domain-specific skills by personalised and adaptive instruction design in online learning environments (SDS-PAID), and secondly to propose a framework for designing on-demand domain-specific SDL online learning environments for personalised and adaptive learning experiences. A number of domain topics of Natural Sciences have been chosen to serve as examples. This study is also guided by the following three-pronged research question to determine:

  • To what extent it is possible to foster domain-specific knowledge with adaptive instruction when implementing self-regulation and student control over the learning tasks (considering pre-knowledge, procrastination, engagement, as well as interferences between learning activities and performance/behaviour measuring).

  • What domain-specific technology-based environments should be designed to develop the relevant self-directed skills that students will carry into subsequent learning situations.

  • Which factors have to be considered to implement at scale Adaptive Technology-based learning Systems in a university (case bases: SDUAS and NWU).

Conceptualizing SDL in South Africa: Praxis towards Sustainable Empowering Learning Environments

Project leader: Prof Charlene Du Toit-Brits

Source of funding: SDL project

Objectives:

The overall objective is to conceptualize Self-Directed Learning within the unique South African context to improve ALL teaching environments that will result in effective SDL practices in South African schools.

The potential of the acceptance and implementation of this proposed framework includes:

  • effective self-directed learning in the disadvantaged learner; 

  • increase SDL skills of these learners, as well as other learners in the same  classroom, , where they can take responsibility for their own learning; and

  • an increase in these learners’ academic, emotional and/or cultural preparedness which can improve their ability and/or preparedness to be self-directed learners for life. 

This framework could also be used as assistance to teachers to cultivate self-directed learners. Teachers also need to take learners’ environments into consideration when employing SDL in their classrooms.

Geography teachers’ self-directed learning abilities, their involvement in self-directed professional development activities and the implementation of active teaching and learning strategies.

Project leader: Prof. A Golightly

Source of funding: IREA funds

Objectives:

  • Explore geography teachers’ level of SDL abilities in geography education;

  • Investigate in which self-directed professional development activities geography teachers participate to promote their subject knowledge and their teaching and learning skills in geography education;

  • Determine possible reasons why geography teachers do or do not get involved in self-directed professional development activities to improve their geography knowledge and teaching and learning practices;

  • Determine geography teachers’ implementation of active learning strategies and methods, such as PBL, in their geography classrooms;

  • Explore the relationship between geography teachers’ level of SDL abilities, their involvement in self-directed professional development activities and the implementation of active teaching and learning strategies in geography education;

  • Investigate the effective training of geography teachers and preservice teachers in the implementation of PBL, as an active learning strategy, in geography classrooms; and

  • Determine geography teachers’ and student teachers’ experiences with regard to the planning, designing and implementation of PBL tasks for the South African geography curriculum.

Develop guidelines for the Department of Education and SACE to enhance and support geography teachers’ involvement in self-directed professional development activities to effectively implement active learning strategies in their classrooms.

The effects of cooperative learning on solving authentic mathematics problems: A case for self-directed learning.

Project leader: Mr. Mahlaba Sfiso Cebolenkosi

Source of funding: Self Directed Learning Funded Project

Objectives: This project is being done with a broad aim of evaluating the effects of cooperation and authentic mathematics problem solving to promote self-directed learning in second year preservice mathematics teachers. The aim is to establish the significance of solving authentic mathematics problems in a cooperative learning environment for preservice mathematics teachers` self-directed learning.

 

The effect of utilizing a historically themed trading card game on self-directed learning in a 3rd year BEd history module.

Project leader: Dr. Byron Bunt

Source of funding: SoTL funding

Objectives: To establish the effect of using a historically themed trading card game on the development of self-directed learning in a 3rd year BEd history module

Developing effective habits of mind for self-directed learning through a blended learning gamification strategy in a 4th year BEd module.

Project leader: Dr. Byron Bunt

Source of funding: None

Objectives: To determine how successful a blended learning gamification strategy is in developing self-direction and effective habits of mind

Establishing the merits of a school-wide community of practice project utilising teaching strategies for the development of self-directed learning. 

Project leader: Dr Deon van Tonder

Source of funding: 

Objectives: The main objective of the study is to establish and explore how a school-wide community of practice project that focuses on effective teaching strategies, supports the development of self-directed learning among first- to fourth-year BEd students.

Self-directed induction programme for beginner teachers.

Project leader: Dr Deon van Tonder

Source of funding: 

Objectives: The main objective of the study is to establish and explore how a self-directed induction programme can equip beginner teachers to survive their first years of teaching and remain empowered in the continually changing environment of education.

 

Solving real-world problems in problem-based contexts to enhance mathematics students’ self-directed learning skills.

Project leader: Dr Tertia Jordaan

Source of funding: SOTL funds

 Objectives:

 

  1. To determine how cooperative group work can contribute to mathematics students’ solving real-world problems.

  2. To determine the role of reflection when students solve real-world problems in PBL contexts.

  3. To determine the extent to which mathematics students’ self-directed learning skills are enhanced in PBL contexts