A reflective study of the factors that influence learner performance in physical sciences in an education district of the Eastern Cape Province
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This study was conducted in three rural high schools in the province of the Eastern Cape, South Africa whose physical sciences results were not consistent. The main issue in the research was that when schools’ results improve it becomes a challenge to keep it consistent. It is therefore important to reflect and assess what were the good practices that resulted in the results improving. Practices by both teachers and learners need reflection in order to keep what works and get rid of all the bad influences that affect the achievement of physical sciences results. The physical sciences performance for the past three years (2011-2013) for the whole country (excluding 2014) had shown steady improvement, but this could not readily mean that all was well in our schools. There is more to be done because the physical sciences results are not highly rated against those of other countries. The research itself was an attempt to highlight the importance of always looking back at what has been influencing the teaching and learning in the classroom, whether good or bad results were achieved, to see what practices could still be improved, while also looking at or reflecting on the strategies used by educators in delivering the subject matter. The study used reflective practice theory which was related by several authors. The physical sciences learners and physical sciences teachers were the participants where interviews were conducted to obtain reflections by the participants. The data was collected at three different schools whose learners had passed grade 12 in physical sciences to reflect on their own experiences in the teaching and learning of physical sciences. The study identified a number of factors affecting the performance in physical sciences, particularly in the three schools sampled in the district of the Eastern Cape. The factors include the lack of resources, lack of time to complete the syllabus, exclusion of practical work, learner participation, inability of learners to explain or present what was taught in the physical science classes and teacher confidence. The study contributes to identifying the factors that contributed to the poor performance in physical sciences and demonstrates that reflection is a key strategy that teachers could employ to ensure that the teaching and learning environment receive the value-addition it deserves.