by S Mokoena · 2017 · Cited by 14 — technology in addressing the problem. Keywords: Teaching practice, open and distance learning, student teachers, experiences,. South Africa. .
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122 Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education – TOJDE April 2017 ISS N 1302 – 6488 Volume: 18 Number: 2 Article 1 0 STUDENT TEACHERS EXPERIENCES OF TEACHING PRACTICE AT OPEN AND DISTANCE LEARNING INSTITUTION IN SOUTH AFRICA Dr. Sello MOKOENA Department of Educational Leadership and Management University of South Africa Pretoria, South Africa ABSTRACT This small – scale study focused on the experiences of student teachers towards teaching practice in an o pen and d istance l earning (ODL) institution in South Africa. The sample consisted of 6 5 fourth year students enrolled for Bachelor of Education , specializing in secondary school teaching. The mixed – method research design consisting of quantitative and qualitative approaches was used. Q uestionnaire and individual interview discussions were used as instruments for data collecti on . Descriptive statistics was used to analyze quantitative data. Content analysis was used to analyze qualitative data. The study revealed that student teachers experienced challenges with regard to on – time placement in schools, supervision and mentoring . Based on the findings, recommendations were made . A mong others wa s that mentors and university contracted supervisors should be constantly empowered through workshops to work effectively in leading and guiding student teachers. On the issues of placement of students in approved schools, the university should consider implementing a system which will enable students to place themselves online. Placing students in approved schools is a major challenge for the ODL institution in South Africa given the great number of students that ha ve to be placed in schools every year a nd the slow pace at which the institution is moving to integrate technology in addressing the problem . Keywords: T eaching practice, o pen and d istance l earning, s tudent teachers, e xperiences, South Africa . INTRODUCTION Higher e ducation i nstitutions offe ring teacher education program s in South Africa are required in terms of education polic ies to ensure that their students are placed in schools where they can interact with the realities of the classroom teaching and the broader school environment ( Integrated Strategic Planning Framework for Teacher Education and Development in South Africa, 2011 2015; Minimum Requirements for Teacher Education Qualifications, 2011; Department of Basic Education and Training, 2011; Department of Higher Education an d Training, 2011). This activity where student teachers are placed in schools in order to gain teaching experience is referred to as teaching practice (Department of Basic Education and Training, 2011; Department of Higher Education and Training, 2011). A number of concepts such as practice teaching , field studies , infield experiences , school – based and internship are used in describ ing this activity (Taneja, 2000 : 35 ). However, the o pen and d istance l earning (ODL) institution under study prefer s to use since it embraces all the learning experiences of student teachers in schools. T eaching practice has three major connotations , namely the practice of teaching skills and acquisition of the role of a teacher, the whole range of experiences that a student teacher go es through in schools and the practical aspects of the course as distinct from

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123 theoretical studies (Nwanekezi, Okoli & Mezieobi, 2011) . Therefore, teaching practice offers student teachers the opportunity to learn and develop as professional teachers along the dimensions of pedagogic knowledge, subject matter knowledge, pastoral knowledge, ecological knowledge, inquiry kn owledge and personal knowledge (Mtetwa & Dyanda , 2003). Tillema, Smith and Leshem (201 0) are of the view that during the teaching, student teachers experience a learning situation that is unique and different from campus – based learning as they are called upon to respond to new circumstances. In the same vein, Komba and Kira (2013) note that during teaching practice, student and classroom achievements . It is also the time when they evaluate their own teaching experiences through interactions with teachers and lecturers and, through self – reflection, implement a variety of approaches, strategies and skills with a view to bring ing about meaningful learning (Komba & Kira, 2013). Thus, the underlying aim of teaching practice is to introduce students to, and prepare them for, the teaching profession (Nt s aluba & Chireshe, 2013) . As a result, a student teacher may not graduate in South African H igher E ducation I nstitutions without having undergone th e experience of teaching practice. CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK Teaching Practice as Part o f Teacher Training Programs a t ODL Institution i n South Africa The two most popular teacher training program s offered in South Africa n Higher Education Institutions are the Post – Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) (a teaching qualification obtained after a first degree) and the Bachelor of Education (BEd) degree (an integrated four – year course in initial teacher education). However, t he BEd degree program at the ODL institution under study consists of three phases, namely the Foundation Phase, the Intermediate and Senior Phase, and the Senior and Further Education and Training Phase. This kind of structure encompasses all phases of schooling in South Africa. The South African school education system incorporates four phases of schooling, namely the Foundation Phase, which includes the Reception year and Grades 1, 2 and 3; the Intermediate Phase, which includes Grades 4, 5 and 6; the Senior Ph ase, which is made up of Grades 7, 8 and 9 , and the Further Education and Training Phase, which covers Grades 10, 11 and 12. Students may either enroll for the four – year BEd program , specializing in a particular phase , or combine two of the phases. For example, those who prefer teaching younger children would enroll for a BEd Foundation Phase (Grades R 3), while those who prefer teaching older and much older children would enroll for a BEd Intermediate and Senior Phas e (Grades 4 9) or a BEd Senior and Further Education and Training Phase (Grades 10 12) respectively. Teaching practice as a focus of this study is a component of the formal academic program s such as the Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) and the Post – Graduat e Certificate in Education (PGCE) for preparing s tudent teachers . Reddy, Menkveld and Bitzer (2008) established that teaching practice for a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) and a Post – Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE ) is organized in different ways in South African Institutions Higher Learning, ranging from weekly visits to schools for teaching practice and to block periods of school visits in others. At the ODL institution under study, it is organized in block periods (six weeks). This situation of variations in the number of days or weeks that student teachers spend in the schools including the manner of teaching practice supervision is similar to a variety of teaching practice models in Tasmania most of which include sequenced sc hool placements supervised by cooperating teachers and university staff (Ntsaluba & Chireshe, 2013). The research was undertaken following a concern raised by the review panel for the Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC , 2008 ) wh ich conducted a program s audit at the University of South Africa ( UNISA ), Open and Distance Learning Institution (ODL) . A point of criticism in the report of the review panel relates to a compromised quality assurance in teaching practice component in both the BEd and PGCE program s. The report pointed out the following areas that needed to be improved: selection of schools, placement of student teachers, training of mentors and mentoring during the teaching

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124 tence and feedback to the university (HEQC, 2008). It is on the basis of the HEQC report that this study was conducted solely to capture the views of the student teachers towards teaching practice at UNISA. Most studies focus on the importance of teaching practice and its supervision, and they exclude other concerns of student teachers, even though they are essen tial elements in their program s . Marais and Meier (2004) emphasize that the type of concerns student teachers encounter should be given more attention to enable proper organization and coordination of the teaching practice. T , enabled formulation of the followin g main research question which guided this study was: W hat are the experiences in the teaching practice of distance learning students at UNISA? Previous Research Studies on Teaching Practice in ODL Institutions Internationally, teaching practice in Distance Education (DE) is an issue that has been researched for some time. Several studies on teacher training through Distance Education (DE) reveal that the organization of practice teaching for student teachers presents both logistical and educational challenges ( d u Plessis, 201 3 , Aldridge, Fraser & Ntuli, 2009). Problems facing practical teaching via DE include: the placing of students at approved schools, mentoring and supervising them during school visits, building relationships with all stakeholders, assessment, and feedb ack (du Plessis, 2013) . Mubika and Bukaliya (2013) s t a t e t h a t s om e p r o b l e m s in t h e t r a i n i n g o f t e a c h e r s t h roug h ODL a r i s e s p e c i f i c a l l y f ro m t h e n a t ur e o f d i s t a n c e e d u ca t i o n a m o n g w h i c h a r e t h e f ac t o r s to d o w ith i t s s c a l e , d i s t r i b u t i o n o f s tudents , technology integration, t u t o r s a n d s c h o o l s , r a ng e o f s t a k e h o l d e r s a n d p a r t n e r s r e s po n s i b l e f o r d i f f e r e n t t a s k s. These authors further teaching practice remains problematic and contentious (Mubika & Bukaliya, 2013) . Additionally, debates about the assessment of the practice of student teachers often reflect on – going philosophical debates about the nature of teacher education and traditional barriers between teachers and academics ( Mubika & Bukaliya, 2013 ). Despite this, practice teaching remains a pillar of teacher education as it provides opportunities for evaluating in – service teachers in authentic environments (Mubika & Bukaliya, 2013) I n – s e r v i c e t eac h e r s e n r o ll e d in d i s t a n c e p r o g r a m s a r e u s u a l l y in t h e ir p l ac e o f w or k w h e n t h e y a t t e n d t h e t ea c h e r t r a i n i n g p ro g r a m s . H o w e v e r , f i n d i n g t h e m e a n s to a ss e s s t h e ir t ea c h i n g p r a c t i c e e l ud e s m o s t i n s t i t u t i o n s . E d u c a t i o n a l d i f f i c u l t i e s a r i s e f r o m t h e o ld p r o b l e m o f i n t e g r a t i n g t h e o r y a n d pr ac t i c e . E d u c a t i o n a l d i f f i c u l t i e s a l s o a r i s e f r o m t h e f ac t t h a t t h e t a s k o f s u p e r v i s i n g c oup l e d w i th o t h e r d u t i e s m a k e s it a l mo s t i m p o ss i b l e f o r t h e t e a c h e r e d u c a t o r t o w i t n e s s a s a n i n – c l a ss ro o m o b s e r v e r t h e w i d e r a n g e o f i n s t r u c t i o n a l s t r a t e g i e s t h a t f o r m t h e b a s i s o f a n i n q u i r y l ea r n i n g e n v i r o n m e n t ( Mubika & Bukaliya, 2013 ) . Due to numerous challenges encountered by DE, some institution s had abandoned s u p e r v i s ion of t eac hi n g p r a c ti c e b eca u s e of or g a n i z a t i o n a l diff i c u l t i e s . H o w e v e r, v a r i o u s a l t e r n a t i v e s tr a t e g i e s h a v e b e e n p ut in p l ac e in a tt e mpts to mitigate t h e s u p e r v i s i o n n e e d s o f t h e t ea c h e r tr a i n ing pr o g r a m. For example, in Nepal p ee r – t e ac h i n g s e s s i o n s w o u l d be a rr a ng e d to i n tro d u c e a p r a c t i ca l e l e m e n t to t eac h e r e du ca t i o n ( H ol m e s , K a rm a c h a r y a & M a y o, 1 9 9 3 ). In B r a z il w h e re o n e of t h e t e a c h e r tr a i n ing p ro g r a m s h a d n o ca p a c i t y to s u p e r v i s e t ea c h ing p r a c ti c e , m i c rot e a c hi n g w a s i n c o r p or a t e d i n t o f ace – t o – f a c e s e s s i o n s wi t h t ea c h e r s ( Oli v e i ra & Ori v e l, 200 3) . T h e Op e n Uni v e r s i t y in Un i t e d Kin g d o m, do e s n o t s u p e r v i s e t e a c h ing pr a c t i c e b ut h a s tr i e d to l ink t h e o r y a n d pr a c ti c e b y i n v i t ing t e a c h e rs t o r e p o rt on t h e i r c l a ss room e x p e ri e n c e s o f i d e a s a n d pr ac t i ca l a c t i v i t i e s c o v e r e d i n t h e c o u r s e ( P e r r a t o n , 1 9 93). Partnerships with various stakeholders in t h e t e a c h e r e d u c a t i o n p r o g r a m s e r v e t o m a i n t a i n a c l e a r u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f t h e v a l u e o f t h e i r p ro g r a m w i t h p e o p l e w h o m a y w e l l b e t h e ir f u t u r e e m p l o y e r s . I n m a n y c o u n t r i e s w h e r e t h e r e a r e s e v e r a l pr o v i d e r s o f t e a c h e r e d u c a t i o n t h e r e c a n b e c o m p e t i t i o n f o r t h e u s e o f s c h o o l s . U n d e r s u c h

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125 pr e s s u r e t h e s c h o o l / i n s t i t u t i o n a l li n k s a r e e s p e c i a l l y v u l n e r a b l e to t h e e f f e c t s o f m i s u n d e r s t a n d i n g . T h e s u p e r v i s i o n t h a t o c c ur s dur i n g f i e l d e x p e r i e n c e a l s o r e f l e c t s t h e o r e t i ca l a n d pr a c t i c a l c o n d i ti o n s . D ur i n g s u p e r v i s i o n bo th t h e m e n t o r ( a l s o kn o w n a s t h e c o o p e r a t i n g t eac h e r ) a n d t h e l e c t u r e r , n ee d to c o op e r a t e a n d f i n d s o l u ti o n to t h e p r ob l e m s t h a t m a y b e a f f e c t i n g t h e t ea c h i n g pr a c ti c e f o r t e a c h e r s t ud e n t s . I n s om e ca s e s , i t i s a l s o o f t e n t h e ca s e t h a t i t is d i f f i c u l t f o r a t e a c h e r e du ca t i o n i n s t i t u t i o n to f i n d s u f f i c i e n t s c h o o l s in w h i c h to p l a c e t h e i r s t ud e n t s ( Mubika & Bukaliya, 2013 ) . On the issue of mentoring, Halloway (2001) s t a te s t h a t t h e m e n t o r g e n e r a l l y t a k e s o n t h e ro le o f m e n t or i n g a n d s u p por t i n g s t u d e n t t e a c h e r f r o m a s e n s e o f c omm i t m e n t to t h e ir pro f e s s i o n r a t h e r t h a n o f c o m m i t m e n t to a n y i n s t it u ti o n o r f o r t h e r e mu n e r a ti o n . S u c h a rr a n g e m e n ts u s u a l l y r e q u i r e t h e s c h o o l o r t h e m e n t o r t eac h e r to w or k e x c l u s i v e l y w i t h t h e c o n t r a c t e d i n s t it u ti o n a n d t h u s c l o s e t h a t li n k f o r o t h e r i n s t i t u t i o n s a n d t h e i r s t ud e n t s . Me n t or s n e e d s p ec i a l p r e p a r a t i o n f o r t h e i r ro l e s o t h a t t h e e x p e r i e n c e t h e y p ro v i d e l i n k s wi t h t h e pro g r a m g o a l s . Therefore training of m e n t o r s is a l s o a c r it i c a l a s p ec t b e f o r e t h e m e n t or s ca n b e a s s i gn e d to p a r t i c u l a r s t ud e n t t e a c h e r s ( Halloway, 2001) RESEARCH METHOD The study focused on the experiences of student teachers towards teaching practice in an open and distance learning (ODL) institution in South Africa. The research was conducted at UNISA, and more specifically in the Department of Teaching Practice, one of the biggest departments in the College of Education in the university. UNISA was selected for the following reasons: firstly it has a large student po pulation compared with other universities in South Africa, and secondly it was easier for the researcher and author of this article to conduct this study as he is a lecturer in the College of Education at UNISA. This study used a mixed – method design which is the combination of qualitative and quantitative methods. Morgan (2014) contends that mixed – method help s answer questions that cannot be answered by qualitative or quantitative methods alone. The mixed – method design was found to be appropriate for this study as it would potentially yield a better understanding of the challenges faced by student teachers in an ODL context. In line with Cohen, Manion and Morrison (2007), qua litative data from in dividual in – depth interviews was used to complement quantitative data and for the purposes of triangulation. Participants of the Study The research study targeted 15 0 undergraduate distance education students who were in their fourth year of study enrolled for the module in teaching methods (subject didactics) of life sciences for a BEd degree, specializing in secondary – school teaching. The L ife S ciences module was selected because it is one of the priority learning areas for the South African Depa rtment of Basic Education. The sampling ratio of 4 0% (n=60) was decided on, following the sampling guidelines as provided by Grinnel and Williams (1990:127), who consider performing basic statistical procedures on a sample of 4 0% as being sufficient. The sample may be relatively small for a quantitative study; but the sampling frame contained the complete target population. In addition, purposeful sampling was used to select the qualitative sample. Purposeful sampling occurs when individuals are selected w ho possess the characteristics or attributes of interest to the study (Creswell, 2013). Five (5) students as illustrated in Table 1 also in their fourth year of study were selected for qualitative interviews. These five (5) students did not complete the q uestionnaires for quantitative data . The entire sample of 65 students had already completed three cycles of teaching practice.

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126 Table 1. Description of the qualitative research sample Student Teachers (N=5) Gender Female Male 3 2 Qualification & Phase BEd (Senior & FET Phase) Pseudonyms of participants Student A; B; C; D and E 5 Data Collection Tools A non – experimental descriptive survey research design involving quantitative data was used to collect data from members of the population in order to determine their views toward teaching practice in an ODL context. A combination of questionnaire and semi – structured interview guides for individual interviews were used to collect quantitative and qualitative data respectively. A questionnaire consisting of 8 items, adapted from Caires (IEPTP) was used to collect data. The questionnaire consisted of t wo parts. The first part was designed to elicit socio – demographic data from the students teachers and contained closed questions (multiple – choice or yes/no questions). The second part of the questionnaire, represented in T able 2 w as designed to elicit information on the degree of agreement with the ite m statement presented on the questionnaire following the purpose of the study. The items in th is part of the questionnaire were also closed questions. Individual interview discussions with fourth year student teachers were conducted in order to obtain a better understanding of a problem or an assessment of a problem, concern, new product, program or idea (MacMillan & Schumacher, 2006). The semi – structured interview guide was used to generate information on the challenges faced by the student teachers in a n ODL context. An expert in teacher education discipline checked Furthermore, to ensure quality of qualitative data, participant or member – checking was used to confirm with the participant that the data were what the research participant meant. Data C ollection P rocedure The researcher distributed the questionnaires with the aid of lecturers and supervisors who supervised students during teaching practice. Other questionnaires were self – administered by the researcher since he is involved in the supervision of student teachers during teaching practice in schools. The questionnaires were collected on the spot. All distributed questionnaires were retu rned. Five (5) students who participated in the interviews were purposefully selected from the group of students who did not complete the quantitative questionnaire. The rationale was to determine if the information provided in the questionnaire would be c onfirme d or reputed or elaborated upon when a different approach was used. Interviews were conducted after working hours and each interview lasted for thirty minutes. The researcher took notes during individual interviews and to enhance accuracy mechanical ly recorded the discussions with the use of an audiotape recorder. Data A nalysis The researcher made use of descriptive statistics to analyze data collected by way of questionnaires. Qualitative data were analyzed with the content analysis method, one of the qualitative data analysis strategies (Cresswell, 2009). For content analysis, first, data were coded by dividing the text into small units and unitized until themes and relationships were identified. Verbal codes reflecting or illustrating the main fin dings from the interview discussions were presented.

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127 Ethical C onsiderations The questionnaire contained a section explaining the purpose of the study, confidentiality and the voluntary nature of the study. The participants gave informed consent verbally. However, confidentiality was guaranteed by making sure that the data could not be linked to individual respondents by name since the participants were not requested to write t heir names on the questionnaires (Ntsaluba, 2012). FINDINGS AND DISCUSSIONS Findings from Q uanti tative Q uestionnaire Biographical information Participants provided biographical information regarding age, gender and ethnicity, and the phase and the sector they would prefer to teach the following year. T he majority of the participants ( 7 0 %) were aged below 30 years, thus being able to offer several future years to the teaching profession. The gender balance was expectedly uneven with 8 0 % being female participants and 2 0 % being male participants. This situation confirms the notion that most men do not wish t o enter the teaching profession (Mokoena, 2012) . Ta ble 2 . Biographical information (N=60) Student Teacher Gender Frequency % Female 48 80 Male 12 20 Student Teacher Age Frequency % 30 and younger 42 70 31 – 39 12 20 40 and above 6 10 Responses from closed questionnaires items Table 3 . Responses of student teachers (N=60) Variables Yes No Frequency % Frequency % 1 Were you placed on time at the school not far away from where you live? 1 0 33 5 0 83 2 Were you placed in a well – resourced school? 35 58 25 41 3 Were you supervised during your teaching practice in schools? 1 5 25 4 5 75 4 Were you supervised by the University lecturers? 20 33 40 66 5 Was the supervision arranged by the University? 60 0 6 Was the supervision beneficial towards your training as a teacher? 36 60 24 40 7 Were you assigned a mentor during the practice teaching ? 40 66 20 33 8 Was the mentoring beneficial towards your training as a teacher ? 2 5 41 3 5 58 Results in T able 3 show that 83% of the student teachers indicated that they were not placed on time in approved schools in order to do their teaching practice. This is the biggest challenge Unisa is faced with, that is placing more than 20 000 students in a year using manual system (phoning – in the schools) . Therefore , there is a need for the university to re – visit the current student placement system . Again, 75% indicated that they were not supervised while placed in school s for teaching practice. This problem could be linked to a shortage of supervisors. At this stage the University is relying heavily

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129 challenge of placing of student teachers in approved schools to undertake teaching practice (du Plessis, 2013) . It also became apparent during the intervie ws that some schools are willing to accommodate student teachers, however, at some schools there is poor management, non – existent timetables, lack of staff and non – mentoring all these impact negatively on the practice, leaving some students demotivated and disillusioned . Theme 2: Supervision and assessment procedures As indicated earlier in this article, teaching practice is an integral part of Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) and Post – Graduate Certificate at Unisa, a DE institution. In support of this, module lecturers are expected to design workbooks, visit schools during teaching practice and are available to students to discuss problems. During the interviews it emerged that some students, especially those who have registered a four a year degree qualificat ion were visited twice others once over the three cycle s of teaching practice. For example , student teacher C had this to say: Last year when I was doing my second teaching practice no one from the university visited me. And how do they expect us to be eff ective teachers on completion of our degree if they do not support us. Sharing the same view, student teacher D remarked as follows: The following week will be my last week doing teaching practice at this school. However, I have not been visited by any of my lecturers or supervisors. I do not know whether it will be possible for the remaining week to be visited and have the needed asses sments. Analysis of these quotations from the student teachers is an indication that the supervision of student teachers during teaching practice was ineffective despite HEQC audit report which urged lecturers at Unisa to improve teaching practice (HEQC, 2008). Again, these views reiterate a compromised quality assurance issue raised in the HEQC report. Theme 3: Apart from the organization of the teaching practice, the researcher was also curious to know from the participants if teaching practice had improved their teaching skills. o pportunity for the development and consolidation of a significant variety of knowledge student teacher B had this to say: No! In my opinion, teaching practice is not effective at all in improving our teaching skills. How can it be effective when we are not supervised and assessed the way it is recommended? In some instance we do not receive the required number of visits and a ssessments and there are occasions when some of us are not assessed the whole teaching practice period. In the same vein, student teacher A remarked as follows: How can you expect effectiveness in teaching practice while the supervision and assessment is not up to the scratch? For example let me supervisors come assessments, most of them do not stay longer in the classroom throughout the lesson or until the lesson ends. Some stay only for o nly ten minutes whereas the lesson is forty minutes. How can you we . When these quotations are carefully analyzed , these injustices could be linked to the limited number of lectures or supervisors who are alw ays in a rush to assess large enrolments rate has increased at Unisa.

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130 CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS In true spirit, UNISA can produce good teachers through teaching practice. Howev er, the quality of the program tends to deteriorate with the increasing numbers of students needing placement in schools. As the student enrolment increases, some students are placed in schools with inadequate facilities. The former reduces the control of students placed in schools and the latter reduce s the relevancy of the program . Far from gaining valuable experience, students may be exposed to depressing conditions in schools which are hostile to the principles and methods supported by t he university teaching practice unit. Instead of reinforcing theory, the experience may make it appear irrelevant. In order to build positive attitude of students towards teaching practice at UNISA , we propose the following : Problems facing the teaching practice unit at UNISA include the placing of more than 20 000 students at approved schools every year for teaching practice, the turn – around time in placing such a big number in approved schools, the shortage of supervisors to support and evaluate student lessons, the lack of support strategies, and contracted supervisors who lack knowledge and skills to evaluate certain critical learning areas, such as mathematics, science and technology. Another major challenge relates to the slow pace at which the unive rsity is moving to integrate technology in addressing the problem. Given the great number of students that have to be placed in school s every year, the university should introduce an online placement system where students can place themselves by a click o f a computer or a cell phone button . However, prior arrangements should be sought with the affected schools to ensure that students are accommodated without any difficulty. In addition, the affected ODL institution should enter into an agreement with the Department of Education to ensure that all the school s are loaded on the system. In fact all relevant stakeholders should be consulted and participate towards the design of the software. Figure 1 serves as guideline on how the envisaged system should be de signed to alleviate the challenge relating to student placement at UNISA. Log – in with the student number Select Province Select City / Town Select type of school (Primary, Secondary, Foundation) Name of School Select supervisor Date for assessment/Visit Send confirmation by SMS to the Supervisor/Lecturer Acceptance/Rejection by the Supervisor with a reason Figure 1: Proposed Online Student Placement System

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131 There should be a teaching practice handbook for the students so that they can fol low a uniform method of preparing a lesson. Rules and regulations of practice teaching should also be stipulated in this handbook. In addition to the handbook, a Teaching Practice Guidebook is required. Such a guidebook will outline the procedures of teaching practice modules. It will also deal with the following: how a school is chosen /allocated ; introduction to the school ; allocation of subjects / learning areas in each level of school education in South Africa ; and t he i nvolvement of mentor teachers . The visit by UNISA supervisors should also be explained in detail so that student teachers will know what to expect and to do during the visit. While some respondents indicated that the supervision and mentoring were beneficial towards their training, others felt exploited and unsupported by the mentors. The study therefore recommended that teacher training institutions should work hand in hand wi th the schools and organize workshops to empower and support mentors. This would mean identifying the mentor teaches with the assistance of the schools especially school management to ensu re that the student teachers know fro m t h e start what is expecte d of them, their full responsibilities and to what extent they can be assisted in becoming well qualified and quality teachers in South Africa. Receiving schools should be encouraged to be positive about teaching practice . Teaching practice should not be seen as an evaluation or assessment of whether one is a good teacher or not , but should be about the qualities, passion, commitment and willingness to make a difference in people s lives, especially the learners and the com munities around the schools. Peer support should be encouraged during teaching practice. This means that teachers must be encouraged to work harmoniously with the student s in giving advice , general assistance and mentoring. This will possibly inspire the student teachers as it eliminates the fear of the teaching practice environment by encourag ing the culture of collegiality and togetherness. This will hopefully improve the attitudes of the student teachers , based on their experiences of teaching practice. BIODATA and CONTACT ADDRESSES of AUTHOR(S) Dr. Sello MOKOENA is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Management at the University of South Africa ( Unisa). In 2004, he received his PhD degree in education management from Unisa. His research interests include: school effectiveness and improvement, school governance, education management and leadership, online learning and, distance education. He has pu blished extensively in both national and international journals. Prof. Dr. Sello MOKOENA Department of Educational Leadership and Management 1 Preller Street, University of South Africa South Africa, 0003 Phone: +27124293111 E – mail:

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132 REFERENCES Aldridge, J., Fraser, B. , & Ntuli, S. (2009). Utilizing learning environment assessments to improve teaching practices among in – service teachers undertakin g a distance – education program . South African Journal of Education , 29 (2),147. Caires, S., & Almeida, L. (2005). Teaching Practice in Initial Teacher Education; its impact on for Teaching: International Research and Pedagogy , 3 ,111 – 120. Cohen , L . , Manion , L . , & Morrison , K . ( 2007 ) . Research Methods in Education. London: Routledge. Creswell, J. W. (2009). Research design . California: Sage Publications. Department of Basic and Higher Education and Training. (2011). Integrated Strategic Planning Framework for Teacher Education and Development in South Africa (2011 – 2015). Pretoria: Government Printer. Department of Higher Education and Training. (2011). The Minimum Requirements for Teacher Education Qualifications . Pretoria: Government Printer. Du Plessis, E. (2013). Mentoring challenges in the teaching practice of distance learning students. The Independent Institute of Higher Education , 8 ,1 – 16. Grinnell, R.M., & Williams, M. (1990). Research in social work: a primer. Itasca, IL: Peacock. Halloway, J. (2001). The benefits of mentoring. Educational Leadership , 58 , 85 – 86. Higher Education Quality Committee. (2008) . Audit Report of University of South Africa , 12 May. Pretoria: Council on Higher Education. H o l m e s , D. R . , K a rm a c h a r y a , D. M . , & Ma y o , J . K. (1 9 9 3 ) . R a d i o e du c a ti o n i n N e pa l. I n H . P e rr a t o n ( E d . ) , Di s t a n c e e d u c a ti o n f o r t e ac h e r t r a i n i ng . N e w Y or k : R ou t l e d g e . Komba, S.C. , & Kira, E.S. (2013). The Effectiveness of teaching Practice in Improving Journal of Education and Practice , 4 (1), 157 – 163. Maphosa, C., Shumba, J., & Shumba, A. (2007). Mentorship for students on teaching pra ctice in Zimbabwe: Are studen South African Journal of Higher Education , 21 , 296 – 307. Marais, P. , practical teaching. African Education Review, 1 (2) , 220 – 233. McMillan J . H . , & Schumacher , S . ( 2006 ) . Research in Education Evidence – based Enquiry. New York: Pearson. South Africa (Part 1). International Journal of Social Sciences , 31 (2), 117 – 126. Morgan, D.L. (2014). Integrating Qualitative & Quantitative Methods : A Pragmatic Approach . USA: Sage Publications. Mtetwa D.K. , & Dyanda, C. (2003). Outcomes of a teaching practice. In: F Zindi, M

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