Academic research outputs

Working with our South African partners, we are committed to learning from our work and constantly improving projects and interventions. Research initiatives led by UWE academics help us to identify key priorities for future projects, amplify the voices of stakeholders and evaluate the quality and impact of our work. This helps us understand where to concentrate our efforts and how to do so most effectively ensuring our work is evidence based.

We are always actively engaged in research and planning for future research. The following are examples of some of our research outputs.

Can the use of a book levelling APP support the development of the knowledge and skills needed to teach reading in rural and township schools for pre-service and in service teachers? A British Academy Global Challenge Fund project.
South Africa has historically low literacy levels and teachers face multiple challenges in their endeavours to elevate levels of literacy. This is especially prevalent in rural and township schools where teachers face the additional challenges of isolation, limited resources and access to professional development. The UWE team, in partnership with the University of Zululand were awarded British Academy funding to develop a handheld App that aimed to support pre and in-service teachers with the teaching of reading comprehension. The App uses photo text recognition to provide an approximate reading level for books and so enabling teachers to match books to learners' (aged 9–12) stage of reading development in order to facilitate their independent reading. In addition, the App provides a range of strategies for teaching comprehension that could supplement other professional development available and support in the planning of lessons. In-service teachers (n = 120) from PZ schools and beyond and preservice teachers (n = 93) from the University of Zululand took part in this mixed-methods study. The main finding from the study was that whilst participants were positive about the App, many did not access the App independently and this has led to further research project planning to consider collaborative approaches to addressing this. There are currently two published articles about the project and its findings and two that are awaiting publication.

A systematic review of the effectiveness of reading comprehension interventions in the South African multilingual context.
The first article sought to identify current effective reading comprehension interventions in South Africa and so enable the App design to take these into consideration.
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‘It's like a compass which I use to find direction’: Findings and learning from an evaluation of an App designed to support the teaching of reading comprehension in rural and township schools in South Africa.
The second article focuses on the findings of the research.
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Difference as an essential teacher in a Them-Us international context: Pre-service teachers’ reflections on a university township teaching project.
This article explores perspectives from Project Zulu Township Teacher volunteers as they reflect on their experiences of living and working with Project Zulu host schools and families. Researching this has helped us to consider how we prepare our student volunteers and work with our South African partners to help everyone to get the most from the intercultural experience. 
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‘I wasn't worried because I wasn't being judged’: The development of pre-service teacher professional capital, pedagogical instinct and discretionary judgement during an overseas teaching placement.
This study explored growth in professional judgement experienced by UK teacher training students who volunteered on Project Zulu’s Township Teaching programme. Accounts from the students suggest that experiences such as thinking on their feet, following their instincts, having increased autonomy and being treated like professionals contributed to an overall sense that they were able and permitted to exercise their professional judgements more often than on their domestic placements. 
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Continuing Professional Teacher Development in South Africa: To investigate the barriers, incentives, and opportunities for ICT training in a Rural Township Primary School [unpublished thesis].
This paper examines the factors that influence educators to undertake Continuing Professional Teacher Development at a single rural school in South Africa. It is important that we understand what motivates these educators to take part and what prevents them from doing so. Only when we fully understand the social setting, its inherent constraints and the needs of the educators and the school can we begin to address any barriers to undertaking ICT training.
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