Innovative Study by Resilient Graduate puts Science Education in the Spotlight
Dr Raeesa Ismail graduated with a PhD in Science Education at the University of KwaZulu-Natal for her research into the way Science teachers engaged in curriculum innovating in 2015 - 2016, focusing particularly on environment and sustainability education.
Her PhD study, completed in just over two years, titled Exploring how Science Teachers Engage in Curriculum Innovating in Environment and Sustainability Education, located the Science teacher as the centre of the curriculum innovating.
She paid astute attention to the intellectual discourse and public debates about environmental crises. Drawing on local and international literature, and the curriculum as a vehicle to address environmental crises within the South African context, Ismail generated a sound rationale for her research.
Rogan’s (2006) Zone of Feasible Innovation (ZFI) which was used to frame the study draws on Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). The ZFI focuses on the appropriateness of innovation in the form of teaching or learning strategies, with key emphasis on context as a whole. Ismail merged the benefits of both the ZPD and the ZFI in her study, culminating in the creation of her own model on enabling teachers to engage in curriculum innovating.
Her supervisor, Dr Ronicka Mudaly, said Ismail demonstrated intellectual strength in much needed, contextually relevant research in science education and in the ability to engage in scholarly debates, write in an erudite manner and present coherent, cogent arguments. ‘Ismail also showed the ability to adapt and improvise in the field, in order to generate rich data.’
The examiner of Ismail’s PhD thesis said: ‘This is a ground breaking study that explores an issue that is relevant to our everyday life – environment and sustainability education within the context of curriculum innovating. She should continue to submit the findings for publications in journals for wider sharing, particularly amongst the proponents of innovative teaching of global environmental issues.’
Ismail has already successfully co-authored and published two SAPSE accredited articles based on her work.
Ismail has been an exemplary academic achiever throughout her educational journey and her work ethic is worthy of emulation by students in the field of teacher education. In her final year of her B.Ed. degree she achieved six distinctions and the Dean’s Commendation award. In addition, to her excellent academic achievement she became a registered member of the Golden Key International Honour Society. In 2011 she completed her B.Ed. Honours degree with first class pass attaining four certificates of merit. In April 2014 she graduated with her Master’s in Education degree summa cum laude.
Ismail has demonstrated excellent scholarship and is currently working towards professorship.
Words: Melissa Mungroo