Practical lessons in natural science: A case study

Sydney Mothokwa, Estelle Gaigher, Elize Randall†, Melanie Moen


This article reports a case study that contributes to the literature on the development of 21st century skills in science classrooms in South Africa. The study explores the manner in which four experienced natural
science teachers integrate practical lessons into their Grade 7 classes in the Limpopo province. The study is based on a theory of curriculum implementation for science education in developing countries. Data was collected through document
analysis, lesson observations and semistructured interviews. The results are discussed in terms of the preparation, enactment and assessment of practical lessons. The study revealed that these teachers presented practical tasks in a traditional
manner, rather than using 21st century approaches. Typically, lesson preparation lacked essential detail, while learners were passive observers, and assessment focused on knowledge rather than skills. Additionally, inadequate time allocation for
the teaching of natural science, coupled with a lack of appropriate resources, were identified as areas of concern. The insight gained in this study should be used to improve curriculum implementation and to guide teachers regarding practical
lesson integration in their classrooms.



Science skills; practical lessons; process skills; science curriculum; scientific investigation; CAPS

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