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The influences of a gross motor development programme on the lives of rural marginalised multi-grade primary school learners
This study investigates the impact of a Gross Motor Development (GMD) programme on the lives of learners in marginalized multi-grade environments in rural areas of the Western Cape. Numerous studies globally suggest that gross motor development programmes bring stability, positive motivational changes and structure in learners’ lives constrained by challenging socio-economic environments (Portela, 2007, & Lopes et al., 2013). A transformative research paradigm was employed in order to address the research questions posed by this study. A purposive sampling technique was used to collect data from three schools, one in each of three Western Cape rural educational districts that border the Cape Metro; West Coast/Hopefield, Cape Winelands/Wellington and Overberg/Grabouw. In all three schools the Centre for Multi-grade Education had an academic research/training and support partnership. Within a trans-current mixed method design, qualitative data are used to substantiate and augment phenomena exposed by the quantitative data. The data in the qualitative phase of this study are collected using observations, reflective journals and journal notes. The research investigated the influence of an 18-month gross motor development programme on learners’ lives in three multi-grade schools in the Western Cape of South Africa. A sample of 50 (N=30 males and N=20 females), grade 4-6 multi-grade learners participated in the study. The gross motor skills were assessed using Project 4 – IMAD+ Test Battery, previously developed by the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Centre for Multi-grade Education. The test battery consisted of a series of physical exercises designed to assess gross motor proficiency. The scholastic achievement of learners was understood from the Annual National Assessment scores (ANA) of 2013.The data revealed that a total gross motor ability percentage score change occurred in the sample 50 (N=30 males and N=20 females) from 32.12 % to 56.82 %, indicating a significant overall gross motor improvement of 24.7 % in an 18 month period. Improved self-esteem, positive attitudinal and motivational changes and increases in class attendance occurred among the learners. This improvement aligns itself with research that indicates that the development and improvement of motor skills through physical activity are related to positive development of self-esteem among learners (Corbin, 2002:128-145). This study contributes to the growing body of knowledge on education at rural, marginalized schools, and suggests that providing learners with the opportunity to participate in a structured programme is likely to improve motivation which will contribute toward positive scholastic achievement. It is recommended that policymakers should encourage and implement structured gross motor skills development programmes at school. Further research on the influence of GMD provincially and nationally should be encouraged.