The effect of isiZulu /English code switching as a medium of instruction on students' performance in and attitudes towards Biology
Author(s)Olugbara, Cecilia Temilola
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AbstractThis study investigated the effect of IsiZulu/English code switching as a medium of instruction on Grade 10 students' performance and their attitudes towards biology. The increased failure rate of Black South African students in science subjects and the acute shortage of science personnel across many sciences-based professional affiliations were the motivations for the study. Four secondary schools in Esikhawini and KwaDlangezwa Townships in KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa were randomly selected into experimental (IZECS) and comparison (EL) groups. Both quantitative and qualitative research approaches were used to collect data from these schools, in addition to a biology achievement test, a questionnaire and direct classroom observations. A pre-test and post-test non-equivalent comparison-group experimental design was used to measure the differences in the performance and attitudes of the students, following the IZECS and EL instructional interventions. The students were taught the human breathing system using IsiZulu/English code switching in the experimental and the English language only in the comparison group as the two independent variables. The dependent variables were the students' performance in biology and their attitudes towards the subject. Two hypotheses were formulated and tested at a= 0.05 level of significance. The t-test statistic was used to establish comparisons between the students' performance in biology and their attitudes towards biology between the two groups. The result of the comparisons showed a statistically significant difference between the two groups, in favour of the group that was taught using IsiZulu/English code switching on the performance in the post test. The attitudes of students in IsiZulu/English code switching group improved more favourably towards biology than those in the English language group following the interventions. The majority of the students that preferred IsiZulu/English code switching to other languages in both groups explained that the method would make biology easier to understand. Consequently, these students recommended that teachers should use IsiZulu/English code switching to teach biology for better understanding. They felt strongly that the adoption of IsiZulu/English code switching, as an instructional approach for teaching biology in Grade 10, would improve the students' performance and their attitudes towards the subject. Overall, the results from this study can be of use to teachers, educational planners and policy makers as they address the complex issue of language choice in South African classrooms.
Submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree MASTER OF EDUCATION in the Department of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education FACULTY OF EDUCATION at the UNIVERSITY OF ZULULAND, 2008.