Social and cultural relevance of aspects of Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS), meteorological literacy and meteorological science conceptions
Riffel, Alvin Daniel
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This research study examines those aspects of Indigenous Knowledge (IK) that could be socially and culturally relevant in the Western Cape Province, South Africa, for teaching meteorological science concepts in a grade 9 Social Science (Geography) classroom using dialogical argumentation as an instructional model (DAIM). The literature reviewed in this study explains the use of argumentation as an instructional method of classroom teaching in particular dialogical argumentation, combined with IKS (Indigenous Knowledge Systems), which in this study is seen as a powerful tool both in enhancing learners’ views and positively identifying indigenous knowledge systems within their own cultures and communities, and as tool that facilitates the learning of (meteorological) literacy and science concepts. With the development of the New Curriculum Statements (NCS) and the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS) for schools, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) of South Africa acknowledges a strong drive towards recognising and affirming the critical role of IK, especially with respect to science and technology education. The policy suggests that the Department of Education take steps to begin the phased integration of IK into curricula and relevant accreditation frameworks. Using a quasi-experimental research design model, the study employed both quantitative and qualitative methods (mixed-methods) to collect data in two public secondary schools in Cape Town, in the Western Cape Province, South Africa. A survey questionnaire on attitudes towards, and perceptions of high school, of a group of grade 9 learners, as well as their conceptions of weather, was administered before the main study to give the researcher baseline information and to develop pilot instruments to use in the main study. An experimental group (E-group) of learners were exposed to an intervention - the results were recorded against a control group (C-group) that were exposed to no intervention. Both the E-group and C-group were exposed to a Meteorological Literacy Test (MLT) evaluation before and after the DAIM intervention. The results from the two groups were then compared and analysed according to the two theoretical frameworks underpinning the study, namely, Toulmin’s Argumentation Pattern - TAP (Toulmin, 1958) and Contiguity Argumentation Theory - CAT (Ogunniyi, 1997). The findings of this study revealed that: Firstly, the socio-cultural background of learners has an influence on their conceptions of weather prediction and there was a significant difference between boy’s and girls’ pre-test conceptions about the existence of indigenous knowledge systems within the community they live in. For instance, from the learners’ excerpts, it emerged that the girls presented predominantly rural experiences as opposed to those of the boys which were predominantly from urban settings. Secondly, those E-group learners exposed to the DAIM intervention shifted from being predominantly equipollent to the school science to emergent stances and they found a way of connecting their IK to the school science. The DAIM model which allowed argumentation to occur amongst learners seemed to have enhanced their understanding of the relevance of IK and how its underlying scientific claims relate to that of school science. Thirdly, the argumentation-based instructional model was found to be effective to a certain extent in equipping the in-service teachers with the necessary argumentation skills that could enable them to take part in a meaningful discourse. The study drew on the personal experiences and encounters from a variety of sources. These included storytelling-and sharing, academic talks with local community members recorded during the research journey, formal round table discussion and talks at international and local conferences, conference presentations, informal interviews, indigenous chats at social event-meetings, and shared experiences at IKS training workshops as a facilitator. These encounters lead to the formulation of the research study and occurred throughout the country in various parts of the Southern African continent including: Namibia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Botswana, Tanzania and Mozambique.