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Life Sciences teacher educators’ perspectives of the principle of knowledge integration in the Life Sciences teacher education curriculum
This study aimed at examining the Life Sciences teacher educator’s perceptions and perspectives of knowledge integration in the espoused curriculum prescribed by the South African Department of Higher Education and Training through the policy of Minimum Requirements for Teacher Qualifications (MRTEQ). The qualitative research design was adopted for data collection procedures. The selection of the sampling was purposive, in the sense that the Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) who participated were classified into two categories. The first category consisted of three historical or traditional universities and the second category was formed by three higher education institutions that emerged after the merger of Teacher training Colleges, Technikons and universities. The study targeted lecturers, senior lecturers and professors in the field of Life Sciences Education who participated in the development of curriculum for Life Science teacher education and training. The interviews were conducted to elicit data on the experiences and perceptions that influenced the process of designing and developing the curriculum blue print which came out as a product to be adopted by the institution. The results of the empirical study were analysed by using qualitative procedures, which are; coding of data, classification of data into categories and the identification of themes and issues. The contesting views and perceptions were summarised in the results highlighted follows: The school Life Science curriculum requires teachers who are capable of integrating knowledge from various domains of scientific knowledge but the study demonstrates that the Life Science teacher educators who participated in the study had views and perceptions that are not congruent with those of the curriculum as it presently stands. This could imply that the Life Science teachers educated and trained for the school Life Science curriculum could experience problem with its implementation in classrooms. The twenty first century teacher could be expected to demonstrate competences such as; critical thinking, creative thinking, logic and independent thinkers. The study further concluded that there are academics in Science Education departments who still adhere doggedly to the traditional ways teaching their own disciplines. This study confirms the importance of breaking the artificial disciplinary boundaries to facilitate interdisciplinary knowledge construction. This study endorses the emerging trend of knowledge integration in Science Educations.Finally the study suggests that collaborative and collegial deliberations among Science teacher educators and experts in various knowledge domains could be a way of finding common ground on issues highlighted in the study.