Multigrade teachers’ perceptions of the benefits and challenges of learning and teaching in multigrade settings: a case study of selected primary schools in East London district

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University of Fort Hare


This study mainly focuses on the perceptions of multigrade teachers with regard to the benefits and challenges of learning and teaching in multigrade classes. In the light of literature reviewed, the reflections of the challenges from the empirical work were done and form the basis for tools to promote quality in teaching and learning in a multigrade setting. The study was conducted within the interpretive paradigm, where the researcher sought to understand the phenomena. The qualitative approach allowed the researcher to enter the participants’ life-worlds and study their lived-experiences. This means that dynamic, holistic and individual aspects of the teachers’ experiences were captured. This researcher was keen to capture this holistic aspect in its entirety, within the context of the teachers who experienced it. A multiple-case type of case- study design was preferred as more than one case was investigated. Through the use of phenomenological ‘hierarchical’ interviews and document analysis, the study revealed interesting data. It became evident in this empirical chapter that benefits were more inclined to learning as well the impact on learners’ social and cognitive advancement. The same cannot be said about the challenges. Challenges were mostly focused on the struggles experienced by teaching multigrade classes. Challenges included teaching learners of different levels of understanding simultaneously, a lack of learner support material and the teacher’s lack of skills and tools to teach these classes effectively. One step towards quality promotion in multigrade settings is to identify the challenges of the environment and develop a means to overcome the challenges. In this regard the literature supports the autonomy of the multigrade school when it addresses the problems.



Combination of grades -- Cross-cultural studies, Teachers -- In-service training, Basic education -- South Africa -- Eastern Cape, Teacher orientation -- South Africa -- Eastern Cape, Educational equalization -- Case studies, Teachers -- Case Studies