An Analysis of Pre-Service Science Teachers’ Perceptions of Science Teacher Preparation through Open and Distance Learning
The Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU) prepares secondary science teachers through Post Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) open distance learning (ODL). This is done in partnership with secondary schools, where pre-service teachers do attachment teaching practice (ATP). In this study, pre-service teachers are individuals who do not have professional teaching qualifications (temporary teachers), but are holders of non-teaching science degrees like Bachelor of Science (BSc) and Bachelor of Science Honours (BSc Hons). The PGDE prepares holders of these degrees to be Science Education teachers. The population in the study is comprised of pre-service science teachers at ZOU Regional Centre “P”. Participants were purposively and conveniently sampled. Through interviews and document analysis, the study investigated the extent to which ZOU prepares science teachers to produce secondary school graduates with science and technology (S&T) attributes relevant to Zimbabwe. Interview data was analysed through thematic analysis, while data from analysis of documents was compared to establish convergence and divergence among policy and curriculum issues. Findings show that ZOU is contributing greatly to the national objective of increasing the number of science teachers. While pre-service teachers had good subject content mastery, ‘the how to teach the subject content’ or science pedagogical content knowledge (SPCK) was weak. Therefore, improvement of pre-service science preparation in SPCK is needed, in order to produce desired S&T learner outcomes in schools.
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