The Effectiveness of the Use of Practical Work in Teaching Electric Circuits in Grade 11 Physical Sciences
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There is a history of poor results in grade 12 physical sciences in South Africa. This underperformance is particularly evident in the Eastern Cape's rural areas generally and in previously disadvantaged schools in specific. There are several factors that lead to this problem. One factor that has been identified is the lack of practical work in science teaching due to lack of resources for practical work. This study investigated the effectiveness of the use of practical work to teach electric circuits in grade 11. The researcher was prompted by the National Diagnostic Report for grade 12 for the past four years which showed that learners were not doing well on practical-based questions on electric circuits. The case study was conducted in a rural school where the researcher is employed in Dutywa district in the Eastern Cape Province. Two grade 11 classes participated in the research; one as a control group consisting of 60 learners and the other as an experimental group with a total of 65 learners. This study is underpinned by the theory of constructivism. Data was collected using qualitative and quantitative research methods. Two instruments, questionnaires and interviews, were used in the research. The study found the practical approach to teaching electric circuits resulted in learners achieving higher marks in tests compared to the class where purely theoretical approach was adopted. The study also highlighted that learners expressed a greater appreciation for being hands-on in the physical sciences classroom as they perceived that this activity improved their understanding and achievement in physical sciences tests and examinations. The study proposes a greater integration of practical work during teaching which could lead to a positive effect on physical sciences results in the Eastern Cape. Greater involvement of learners through practical work could help learners to understand better practical-based questions on electric circuits and could also serve as a teaching strategy to improve learning in other areas of the curriculum.