The Role of Teacher-Child Verbal and Nonverbal Prompts in Kindergarten Classrooms in Ghana
Pre-Elementary, Early Childhood, Kindergarten Teacher Education
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AbstractWhile previous studies have examined the educational system in Ghana, there seemed to be very little or no studies that had explored participation and engagement through teacher-child interactions in early childhood education in Ghanaian classrooms (Twum-Danso, 2013). The purpose of this video-based multiple case studies qualitative study of three Kindergarten classrooms in Cape Coast in the Central Region of Ghana was to identify verbal and nonverbal prompts that related to children’s participation in Ghanaian Kindergarten classroom settings. The data for the study were secondary, having been collected by a team of researchers for the New Civics Grant Program in an initial study to find apprenticeship and civic themes in Ghanaian Kindergarten classrooms. The design for the study was a qualitative video analysis of three early childhood centers in Cape Coast in the Central Region of Ghana using video cameras to capture classroom interactions to be able to answer the questions: What is the nature of Ghanaian Kindergarten teachers’ verbal and non-verbal prompts that relate to children’s participation during the instructional process? In what ways do children in Ghanaian Kindergartens participate during the instructional process? I applied the sociocultural perspective of Rogoff’s (1990, 1993, 2003) three foci of analysis that provided a useful conceptual tool for analyzing research with young children (Robbin, 2007). It highlights how children’s thinking is integrated with and constituted by contexts, collaboration, and signs and cultural tools (p. 48). The findings indicated that Ghanaian Kindergarten teachers’ verbal and nonverbal prompts that related to children’s participation during the instructional process were the use of questions, appreciation, gestures etc. The findings also showed that the ways in which Ghanaian Kindergarten children participated during the instructional process were verbal/oral responses, doing exercises and activities, and also using gestures. It was also found that pedagogical attitudes such as pedagogical sensitivity and understanding, discussion and conversation, and rules and management related to children’s participation during the instructional process. Ghanaian specific culturally relevant ways and practices of interactions between teachers and children were observed in the participant schools. Teachers used silence to convey messages of disapproval to the children, used eyeing to send messages of disapproval, and also used punishments and rewards to either encourage good behavior or stop bad behavior. Singing and dancing, building classroom community, and value on interpersonal connections were also found to be Ghanaian specific culturally relevant ways of interactions that teachers applied to the classroom interactions. All the teachers in the participant schools showed various forms of appreciation to the children as a way of reinforcing their behaviors and also for praise and redirection of attention. From the findings of the study, the following recommendations are made: 1. Pre service teacher preparation, and teacher education in general should be reorganized so that the contexts in which the teachers operate will then be guided by contextually relevant pedagogy (Young, 2010). Ghana needs a type of pedagogy that will empower teachers intellectually, socially, emotionally, and politically by using cultural referents to impart knowledge, skills, and attitudes (p. 248). 2. The provision of adequate teaching and learning materials would enable teachers engage children more on exercises and activities during the instructional process. The materials would help teachers to provide enough activities to engage the children’s attention during the instructional process. 3. Ghanaian specific culturally relevant ways of interactions between teachers and children must be taught as a course at the University of Cape Coast to help in the preparation of pre-service teachers.