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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Investigating effects of contextualized science curricular experiences on students’ learning and their teachers’ teaching in Tanzania Massam, Winston Edward


This study investigated the effects of contextualized science curricular experiences on students’ learning and their teachers’ teaching in a Tanzanian context. One hundred and eighty (180) students from a select secondary school participated in an 8-months science curriculum with at least one contextualized science lesson occurring once a week. Data was collected from May to December 2013 through mixed methods techniques. Descriptive statistics, principal component, and confirmatory factor analyses constituted the quantitative analytical methods. These were complemented by qualitative methods including thematic analysis, outcomes of which characterized the students’ and teachers’ experiences of contextualized science. Key findings revealed: i) The approach helped students to learn science in a more meaningful way compared to the traditional approach which promoted learning by memorization of facts and preparation for exams; ii) The approach helped students deepen their conceptual understanding including applications in various real-world settings; iii) Students considered the benefits of learning science in this way as being over and above the quest to finish the syllabus and pass exams; iv) Students’ experiences with contextualized science learning had implications on how their teachers interpreted and enacted the curriculum; and v) The approach stimulated collaborative learning and teaching among students, their teachers, and between the students and their teachers. The study’s findings also revealed three major reasons for teachers’ reluctance to use contextually based mediations in their every day science teaching. These included: i) The centralized, overloaded, and yet, rigid and strict nature of Tanzania’s syllabi; ii) Prior teacher preparation and schooling background; and iii) Dominant traditional paper and pencil mode of assessment and evaluation of students. The study’s findings have implications for curriculum and instruction as well as theory and future research.

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