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NORMS OF THEORIES FOR CONTINUING PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OF TEACHERS IN AFRICA: A TENTATIVE APPRAISAL

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					     NORMS OF THEORIES FOR CONTINUING PROFESSIONAL
     DEVELOPMENT OF TEACHERS IN AFRICA: A TENTATIVE
                                      APPRAISAL

                                            By

                            Dr. Nana Adu-Pipim Boaduo FRC

Senior Lecturer: Faculty of Education, Department of Continuing Professional Development,
Walter Sisulu University, Mthatha Campus and Affiliated Researcher, Faculty of Education,
Centre for Development Support, University of the Free State Bloemfontein Campus: South
                                           Africa

                              Email: pipimboaduo@live.co.za

                                 pipimboduo@yahoo.co.uk

                                  Mobile: +2783 766 4095

                                             &

                                    Dr. Daphne Gumbi

 Head: Department of Economic and Management Science Education, Faculty of Education,
                   Walter Sisulu University, Mthatha Campus: South Africa

                                 Email: ngumbi@wsu.ac.za

                                Mobile: +27 (0)82 202 1180




Mthatha, Eastern Cape

14th April 2020.




                                             1
      NORMS OF THEORIES FOR CONTINUING PROFESSIONAL
      DEVELOPMENT OF TEACHERS IN AFRICA: A TENTATIVE
                                       APPRAISAL



Abstract

Professional teachers, in the new millennium, are faced with the most daunting and
challenging decisions related to their roles in the provision of education to learners. With the
introduction of the Outcomes-Based Education (OBE) in South Africa, a teacher‟s role has
become compromised and completely changed. Generally, a professional teacher is required
to possess both general and specific knowledge, skills and understanding of the various
theoretical norms and goals of science of teaching that govern practice. Theory in both
academic and professional practices help to inform practitioners about the practical
application of these theories learned. Education professionals are aware that educational
science is a continuous and self-directing enterprise involving theory proposals,
developments, empirical testing and subsequent refinement of these theories to help inform
practice. The onus of the issue is that norms governing educational practice are not
necessarily congruent with the norms guiding practice of other professions. This paper
proposes to appraise the norms of theories that can be used to guide the continuing
professional development of teachers to make then conversant with practical, relevant,
feasible and applicable educational theories to improve their practices in the new millennium.




Key concepts:     educational theories, norms of theories, continuing professional teacher
development, educational practice.




                                               2
Introduction

Professional teachers will need the accumulated knowledge and skills in their professional
field for effective and efficient practice in the new millennium (Boaduo, 2008; Atkinson,
1972; Argyris et al, 1974). The reason for this is that progressive advancement in science and
technology has put a lot of pressure on all professionals who operate in the teaching-learning
educational environment. Honestly, most teachers in our schools today had their training over
ten years ago before the advent of any form of curriculum reform and innovation, which
make them obsolete and require adequate re-orientation and in-service education in the new
system (Ausubel, 1978; Argyris, 1993). These reforms and innovations in education affect
curriculum development, its content, delivery methods, resources required for the successful
implementation of the new syllabi.




The differences in the level of abstraction and generality between norms of theories must be

understood and accepted if practising teachers (also educators) are to develop and use

comprehensive theoretical knowledge and skills professionally to discharge their duties

effectively and efficiently (Argyris, 1993; Bandura, 1977). The development of theoretical

knowledge-base in the continuing professional development of teachers is needed to advance

the discipline of teacher education and training and of teaching in its scientific and

technological forms, especially in the Outcomes-Based Education (OBE) environment which

has taken some countries like Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa by storm in their bid to

reform and innovate their education systems (Boaduo, 2001; Buckley, 1967).




Important reiterations about purposes, functions and responsibilities of education provision
need mention and discussion. The promotion and maintenance of professionally feasible,
relevant, applicable, functional and practical education provision with the basic aim of
making learners acquire relevant and applicable practical skills to equip them to play
meaningful future roles in their societies effectively and efficiently is an august objective that

                                                3
education policy makers and planners must achieve (Coombs, 1985). All national systems of
education aspire to this achievement. In an attempt to meet this goal, education policy makers
and planners must draw upon the continuously evolving knowledge base of the social
sciences. This base serves as a resource for innovation and reform for improvement of the
management, organization and administration and delivery of the unique services offered by
professional educators in their specialised fields of practice (Cole, 2000; Berger et al, 1967).




First, for professional teachers (primary, secondary and tertiary) to achieve their instructional

aims and objectives, the ideal environment for the propagation of positive culture of learning

for all learners should be vigorously revived and instituted, enforced and properly monitored

(Beauchamp, 1968; Berger et al, 1967). The implication is that inclusive education with

critical challenges must be the commitment for the new millennium. However, for this

commitment to be meaningful, education should be accessible to all learners no matter the

background and location. The education delivery process should become flexible with the

view of reaching all citizens. In Africa in particular, access and flexibility of structure have

been major concerns in the formation of new education policy documentation [Department of

Education 1995]. Flexibility of process is also very important because it is what every

participant does in the daily process of educating learners, especially educational

administrators and teachers who implement policy documents and see to their success.

Variation in the provision of education should be according to the needs of different

individuals and groups of learners and should become a possibility. In fact, flexibility has to

become the norm of the culture in all learning institutions so that all learners are reached in a

way that does not put some of them at a disadvantage. Idiomatically, it should become a

general expectation of the “way things should happen”, or ought to be.




                                                4
Second, there is need for relevance, appropriateness and applicability of the curriculum that

dictates what should be included, taught and learned (Bolton, 1967; Bloom, 1956). In Africa,

the content and process of education have been powerfully shaped by the colonial past

despite several years of political independence which accords freedom to the African states to

restructure and reform their education systems. This means that, in effect, both individuals

and whole communities have experienced education as something foreign to their needs.

Language legacy is just one example. Relevance, applicability, functionality and

appropriateness also refer to the utility value of what is taught to and learned by the learners

who have to make their way through society with the knowledge and skills that they acquired

while at school (Boaduo 2001). From this perspective, there is urgent need for major reforms

and innovations in the content as well as the context and the processes of teaching and

learning, which call for new teacher education and training for the ever changing teaching-

learning environment (Chinn et al, 1983; Chinn, 1980). This is a major paradigmatic issue

that would be covered in this text book. What has to be taught and learned should convey

specifically the most appropriate technological needs of the learners and society as a whole in

time perspective to help usher in the required social, economic, scientific and technological

development needs of recipients of the education being provided [Donald, Lazarus and

Lolwana 1999:22-23].




Third, a culture of respect, dedication, punctuality, responsibility, accountability and care for

property that is not directly ours should be cultivated in all learners to augment democratic

principles of society (Charles, 1996; Cermak, et al, 1979). This calls for more efforts on the

part of all the stakeholders in the provision of education to help instil intrinsic motivation in

our learners. In this regard, we need inclusive and responsible citizenship education that takes

                                               5
cognizance of human making and human well-being (Brunner et al, 1956; Bybee et al,

1982)). This is the kind of education that attempts to prepare all learners in every way

possible to fit comfortably into society and contribute towards its progress and development

irrespective of physical ability. Nothing should be left for chance.




Professional educators in the new millennium are faced with the most daunting and

challenging decisions related to their roles in the provision of education to learners (Brim,

1966;   Brown et al, 1989; Brunner, 1960). The role teachers played before the new

millennium was dictatorial and did not leave much for the learner to develop enquiring and

exploratory mind and the acquisition of applicable and practical knowledge and skills to be

able to make independent decisions and take part in the planning and structuring of their

education (Brunner, 1966, Brunner, 1990; Brunner, 1996).




A comprehensive knowledge of the methods of scientific inquiry, of systems and conceptual

theory development and of the pertinent criteria for evaluating theory for practical application

must be thoroughly understood and applied in the discharge of duties by professional

(Brainerd, 1978; Brim, 1960; Allen, 1999). Critical understanding of these norms of theories

is essential for all professional practitioners, specifically professional teachers who wish to

implement well-grounded knowledge-base expounded in the OBE Curriculum to contribute

to the expansion of knowledge and skills that can be serviceable to human kind in all areas of

life (Argyris, 1985; Argyris, 1982; Atkinson et al, 1965).




                                                6
The professional teacher, unlike other professionals, will definitely need the accumulated

knowledge for effective and efficient practice in the new millennium more than any other

period in the history of human kind (Atkinson et al, 1968). The reason is that the progressive

advancement in science and technology has put all professionals on their toes to develop new

understanding of the educative environment. We need this to be able to provide education

concurring to the specific scientific and social needs and aspirations of the learners,

especially the roles they would have to play in their adult lives in the technologically advance

centuries to come (Ausubel et al, 1978; Bandura, 1969. We need to prepare such learners and

equip them with the skills and knowledge that they will need in the coming years to live

comfortably and make meaningful contribution towards the advancement of human kind (De

Will, 1981). This will be practically impossible without rigorous continuing professional

development of teachers (Boaduo, 2008; Cottrell, 1969; Department of Education, 1995).




Education professionals, especially classroom practitioners, are well aware that educational

science is a continuous, self-directing enterprise involving theory proposals, theory

developments, empirical testing and subsequent refinement of the proposed theories (Dickoff

et al, 1968; Gagne et al, 1992; Gallagher et al, 1981). It is necessary to be aware that norms

governing these activities are not necessarily congruent with the norms guiding practice of

other professionals (Cooley, 1964). It is therefore necessary to be specifically conversant with

practical, relevant, feasible application of systems and norms of theories and know the

contribution the knowledge can make towards the awareness of professional practitioners to

provide services relevant to the times as well as the needs and aspirations of learners, who in

turn, would have to serve their communities with the acquired knowledge and skills.



                                               7
Scientific inquiry norms


Like any other professionals, teachers are influenced by a set of standards or norms that

strictly guide their practice and behaviour (Gardner, 1993a; Gardner, 1993b). In other words,

their professional conduct is tuned to rules and regulations known as the code of conduct or

ethics. Scientists too are guided by a general set of norms as they participate in activities such

as theory construction, development of data measuring devices, data collection and analysis,

scientific reporting and policymaking (George, 1985). It is a well-known fact that individuals

in the social system of science are committed to the common goals of expanding the

boundaries of existing knowledge and improving its soundness. They are obliged to follow a

common set of rules or norms (Gibson, 1977; Goshin, 1969). No matter what other methods

are used, they must conform to the set of rules or norms deemed appropriate and acceptable

to practitioners. The most contentious of them is the issue of bio-ethics and the practice of

experimentation using human and animal subjects. This will be left for individual debate for

introspection.




The norms guiding scientific activities are different from those guiding educational activities.

The norms of the system of science prescribe the meticulous and sometimes tedious reporting

of scientific writing supported by volumes of statistics (Hardy, 1978; Harre, 1966). In this

perspective, the understanding of science norms can assist education professional

practitioners‟ awareness of the incongruity between science and some professional norms.

Such awareness may assist the professional practitioner in determining when scientific

knowledge can or cannot provide a reasonable basis for action (Hjelle, et al, 1992).




                                                8
Norm is a concept that originated in role theory. It refers to a set of rules or standards guiding

behaviour that most people in the profession agree with. Science norms discussed here are

broad guidelines, which make a significant impact on the work and activities of scientists.

Such norms may be particularly independent of each other (Hoy et al, 2001; Kerlinger, 1965).

Identifying important norms, even if they develop, makes it possible to develop a sound

understanding of the social system of science [Hardy & Conway 1978; Kuhn, 1972].




The major determining norm of the behaviour of social scientists is the rule that states: “The

study of human behaviour will be objective and empirical”. The objectivity and empirical

validation implies that theories and research that are made public must always be testable and

at the same time be open to replication (Louw et al, 1999). Since the final test of theory is

objectivity, as opposed to subjectivity, both theoretical reasoning and other scientists make

research methods available for critical assessment (Marks, 1995). Scientific works can be

examined for their plausibility and the degree of their empirical support. A pluralism of

proposed theories, furthermore, provides for objective, empirical testing and can be

substantiated or withdrawn (Meighan, 1986; Neisser, 1976; Norman, 1982). For instance, in

everyday classroom of the professional educator learners behaviour like tantrums is

primarily genetically determined; has a primarily bio-chemical cause, or is socially induced is

not clear because the empirical evidence in educational psychology texts is not yet sufficient

to approve this (Piaget, 1929; Piaget, 1932; Piaget, 1952). Though the different theoretical

stances are plausible, they cannot all simultaneously be true. As a result, no one stance has

emerged with acceptable strong empirical support related to tantrums (Piaget, 1953; Piaget,

1968; Piaget, 1969). The research and debate in this sphere of professional educational

practice goes on ad infinitum.

                                                9
Theory and research must be critically scrutinised and openly evaluated by members of the

scientific community. Theories by their nature are problem statements (Piaget, 1969; Piaget,

1970. As problem statements, they call for solutions and answers. To get the solutions and

answers there is need to hypothesise about the problem statement. From this perspective,

there is also need to carry on research, which may lead to or may not lead to the solutions and

answers (Piaget, et al, 1969; Piaget et al 1973). In many cases, as evidenced by researches,

may even reveal further theories that would require further study (Phenix, 1963; Polit et al,

1987). This specific characteristic of theories creates a sort of cyclical spiral to all forms of

theories which, in the end [if ever there will be one] leads to understanding or confusion or

both. In simple terms, a theory is a set of ideas or assumptions that explains phenomenon or

creates further unexplained phenomenon (Scandura, 1973; Scandura, 1976; Scandura, 1977).

It has the most practical application in the understanding of any phenomenon upon which the

theory is based (Scandura et al, 1980).




The honest evaluation of not only one‟s own work but also the work of others upon which

one‟s work is based, is a highly valued means of generating valid knowledge. This idea

subscribes to comparative study of works by others thereby avoiding already identified

pitfalls (Scandura, 2004). The critical assessments of the validity of accumulated knowledge

are identical and where those theoretical and methodological problems that preclude the

testability of a theory and the interpretation of empirical findings are explored (Schank,

1982a; Schank, 1982b). This norm serves to increase the likelihood that research will be

replicated in order to examine the accuracy of empirical support claimed for theoretical

predictions and examine the validity of cumulative knowledge for subsequent application



                                               10
(Skinner, 1950; Skinner, 1968). This provides scientists of all categories with a bundle of

framework for working on a problem that requires solution.




Other related norms direct scientists to share their work with colleagues. That is the

significance of making research findings substantive to practice and practitioner through

recognised professional publications. This type of collegiality encourages not only sharing of

research findings but the sharing of techniques, strategies, methods and new ideas. Sharing

knowledge and skills of unsuccessful endeavours, dead-ends and other theoretical and

methodological problems, reduces all kinds of wasted effort (Suchman, 1988; Thomas, et al,

1966). Furthermore, this collegiality is intended to accelerate the growth of scientific

knowledge. Relative to the norms are the communications that occur both in the publications

and at professional meetings (Toffler, 1974). These communications serve as a vehicle for

contemporary professional educators to share views, methods, approaches, strategies, tactics

and ideas thereby adding to the knowledge base of professional practitioners to help them to

improve, advance, perfect and establish reliable database for subsequent retrieval and use by

present and future generations who may even advance on the knowledge base (Torres, 1985).




Another norm states that “Truth and value of scientific work rests on the merit of the work at

hand” (Ozman and Craver, 1986). This may depend on the scientist‟s prestige, fame,

nationality, political views and standing and professional allegiance. In this guise, recognition

is based on the credibility and significance of the work done and not on the person, time or

place associated with the contribution. It is important to indicate that practitioners must

accredit any plausible contribution in any field of endeavour for generations to come.


                                               11
Other closely related norms encourage scientists to be open to new developments and

approach wherever, and whenever research suggests this to be appropriate (Wadsworth,

1978). However, scientists should not be biased or committed to a specific theory or

methodology to the extent that contradictory ideas, differing views and conflicting empirical

evidence are overlooked. Effectively and efficiently, critical scrutiny in every practice helps

to improve clarity of ideas proposed. The scientists, like education professionals, are

committed to seeking the truth wherever the research leads. This norm suggests that: “The

scientist should be flexible and should fairly evaluate the state of knowledge and be informed

of the most recent developments in the field”.




This, again, refers to communication. It is also true in the education profession where the

teacher is supposed to provide the most recent and up-to-date knowledge and skills available

to contemporary professional teachers as well as to the learners who may use such knowledge

and skills to advance themselves and contribute to the advancement of society.




Consequently, these general norms guide the activities of scientists in all fields and their

effects are seen in conceptual and methodological debates commonly found at scientific

meetings, in scientific publications and in the daily activities of all working professional

scientists. Therefore, science is a continuous self-correcting social activity. It is the only

reliable method for evaluating knowledge and disseminating the evaluated knowledge to

contemporary professional practitioners. Furthermore, communication has always been

indispensable.




                                                 12
The cycle of developing ideas, recreating and reformulating them and then testing hypothesis

and refining theories and concepts in the light of empirical evidence, is a slow but dependable

method. This slow self-correcting process may make scientifically based knowledge appear

irrelevant to individuals, like professional teachers in applied scientific fields. However, a

critical look at the slowness in this respect reveals the fact that it allows careful proposition to

be grounded on reliable knowledge base and there should be no deviation or sacrifice of time

in this perspective. The cycle must take its time to run through for perfect results to be

obtained.




If the education professional is frustrated by lack of specific knowledge to solve immediate

educational problems, this frustration may be ameliorated by the knowledge that the social

system of science has different norms of theories and goals more than does the social system

of the education professional. This does not mean that the professional teachers in education

practice cannot apply scientific stipulations.




Proposition and development of norms of theories


To be able to develop a theory, it is a requirement to formulate a generalized scheme of

relevant concepts. In other words, the theorist should perform a conceptual analysis. The

product of this step should be a conceptual framework whose worth can be assessed,

evaluated, verified and tested for universal conformity and application [Polio & Hungler

1987:93-94].




                                                 13
Understanding of science, theory development, the structure of theory and selected criteria

for evaluating theory is necessary for the education professional who is to contribute to the

body of scientific knowledge and the utilization of existing scientific knowledge. This

understanding facilitates the generation of a body of scientific knowledge relevant to

education practice and the utilization of appropriate knowledge relevant to the changing

times. This is definitely necessary if we are to enter the second millennium and face the ever-

increasing changes and dynamics of the scientific and technological age. We would have to

be on our toes to be relevant in our propositions if we are to make any meaningful

contribution as Durkheim quoted in Hoy and Miskel [2001:1] sums up:




„Although we set out primarily to study reality, it does not follow that we do not wish to

improve it. We should judge our researches to have no worth at all if they were to have only a

speculative interest. If we separate carefully the theoretical from the practical problems, it is

not the neglect of the latter but on the contrary, to be in a better position to solve them.‟




We, therefore, have mammoth task in the new millennium to make sure that professional

teachers are couched into their professional practice through adequate education and training

in theory proposition and its application in their professional practice. Theory without

informed practice is nothing more than an empty barrel which professionals may not need

because it will not enhance their professional practice.




                                                14
The place of norms of theories in educational practice

Concepts are the building blocks of theories. Our world would seize to exist without concepts

to relate to our day-to-day needs and activities. Concepts are principles and ideas that

emanate from the dire need of all scientists [loosely used] to express ideas considered

pertinent and which need to be conveyed to other practitioners thereby adding to the

knowledge slot. Theories are formal statements of the rules on which a subject of study is

based. These may also be ideas and principles, which are suggested to explain a fact or event.

Concepts and theories are therefore interrelated. The use of the word concept is not a new

phenomenon. It has been part of the historical background of education and science. This is

also very true in other disciplines within and outside the teaching and learning environments.




In the proposition of norms of theories various approaches to the meanings of the words like

concept and theory can be identified their functions practically applied in the educating

process. Concepts are vehicles of thought that involve images [Dock & Stewart 1920:249;

Harre 1966:3-4]. They are abstract notions and similar in definition to ideas. All impressions

received by sensing our environment evolve into concepts [Toffler 1974:12]. Chinn and

Jacobs [1983:200] define a concept as a “complex mental formulation of an object, property

or event that is derived from individual perception and experience”. Individuals vary in the

specific images or notions they perceive in relation to a given concept. In the education

profession, the following significant concepts influence and determine practice:


                     school [environment]

                     individual [learner, pupil, student, child]

                     teacher [educator, facilitator, director, initiator]

                     curriculum [content of syllabi]
                                               15
                        family [group of things with identical needs]




Among these concepts, the core of the practice of education is the individual learner. It is

from the learner that other concepts are derived. Without any of these enumerated above

education cannot evolve either as a science or as a professional field of practice. Education

has specific ends and means to achieve. The major ends of education, according to Carr

[1995] are:


                 The training of man‟s body

                 The formation of man‟s character

                 The cultivation of man‟s mind

These are related to one another and once achieved make man the unique and ideal creature

capable of changing his environment for the benefit of himself or herself. The means through

which this end can be achieved has tasked men to propose theories to guide their quest for

solutions to problems.




Since concepts create images abstract in nature, they tend to have different meanings and can

lead to different interpretations. Concepts are also strongly influenced by previous learning

experiences. For instance, the concept of an individual learner creates an endless supply of

notions and ideas. These images may relate to old and young, son and daughter, father and

mother or teacher and pupil. This kind of word association also leads to identifying related

concepts so that increased clarification is always necessary.




                                                  16
When communicating, educators often use concepts followed by some explanation or

description in order to increase the clarity of the message. Misinterpretation usually leads to

misunderstanding, which is caused by lack of clarification in the meaning of words

representing the concepts. While it is not essential to agree on the meaning of a particular

term, it is important to describe it sufficiently so that the image one attempts to project

becomes explicit. Specifically, undefined concepts tend to be too generalised in nature to

assist in understanding specifics of our unique experiences. For instance, in presenting a

research report, there is always need to present a list of concepts used in the report that do not

denote the conventional meaning found in dictionaries. This kind of provision guides the

reader to the contextual connotation of the concepts defined leading to a better understanding

of the research report. Furthermore, defined concepts do not necessarily indicate a plan for

implementation. For this reason, the use of concepts alone without norms of theories is of

little help in influencing education practice. A proposed theory must have its supporting

concepts to make it unique and applicable when selected for use in a discussion.




In the professional education practice where the educator [teacher] and the learner [student,

pupil, and child] interact and relate to each other concepts are the main elements used to

develop educational theories. These theories form the basis for education practice. The

education professional must have a thorough understanding of the meaning of the words

concepts and theory in this respect.




In the professional education practice as well as in other disciplines the meaning of the

concept theory varies. This variety of interpretation is a method of researching and exploring


                                               17
for truths and clarity. Even though the lack of precise definition may lead some to a state of

confusion and frustration, it allows the option of developing a definition of theory that is

functional for the practice of education [Chinn & Jacobs 1983:200; Phenix 1963:1-2].


Fawcett (1986) and Burr 1973) hold the view that theories are constructed through the use of

several diverse strategies that employ inductive, deductive or retroductive thought processes.

To them inductive strategies use concrete observations of phenomena in the real world to

build theories. Data collected to substantiate the theoretical proposition may include direct

observations of individuals, groups, situations or events; they may be case studies of such

phenomena reported in the literature consulted. In either of the instances provided the data

are usually examined for regularities, which are then stated as propositions, from which the

theory emerges.




To do justice to this concept a brief review of some of the literature on theories is necessary

to give clarity to the concept theory. Epistemologically, the word theory evolved from the

Greek word theoria, which meant vision. Based on its sensory nature, the development of

theories should be viewed as a rational and intellectual exercise leading to the disclosure of

truth. Involved in this intellectual process is comparing, experimenting and uncovering

relationships [Phenix 1963:1-2]. This approach to the meaning of theory makes most

individuals in the education profession potential theory builders [George 1985:4].




It is important to indicate that education recognises that anyone who is capable of speaking is

a potential theorist (Boaduo, 2010). Education professionals who are practitioners frequently

claim to have vision or truths about beliefs that strongly influence their actions. This

                                              18
interpretation is helpful in allowing the education professional to believe that anyone is

capable of theorizing as an intellectual human being. This is of little true value in the

development of a sound body of knowledge based on research derived from theory. Theories

need to do more than just foster intellectual visions of how education professional

practitioners might practice [Meighan 1986:88].




Norms of theories can also be viewed as a set of interrelated concepts that give systematic

view of a phenomenon that is explanatory and predictive in nature [Kerlinger 1965:11].

However, educational theories should be viewed as an interrelationship of these basic

concepts and should be used to explain systematically approaches to education practice and

to predict outcomes [Donald, Lazarus & Lolwana 1999:42-43 & 126-138]. In this respect, the

extent of predictability depends on the amount of research available and on the theorist‟s skill

in studying existing knowledge and in linking concepts and theories to form new theories

[Torres in George (ed.) 1985:4].




Professional education practitioners previously used intuition, habit and tradition as the basis

for making education decisions. For instance, in teaching a learner to solve a practical

mathematical problem using a particular educational theory should give strong clues as to the

outcomes of the practice to resolve the problem. If this is related to the use of a particular

theory or law, for instance the use of reciprocals in fractions or the Pythagoras theorem in

geometry, given the correct data about the learner and the problem to be solved, we can

expect certain results to occur from the administration of the process. In this way, the

outcome has the element of predication. Classification is used to simplify objects in a form of


                                              19
grouping and relating facts in this grouping in order to generalise about them. This is similar

to sampling when conducting research since all the population cannot be consulted within a

given sphere. This has assisted in explaining events. It has also helped us to develop

important predictive ingredients of norms of theories and view education theories as a way of

assisting and explaining approaches to practice [Beachamp 1968:23-24]. It is therefore

important to understand the purpose of theories and their basic characteristics so that they can

be used to make predictions about learners and their learning problems. These are effective

tools to help professional educators in their daily practice in the school environment.




Education professional practitioners should view a theory as a way of relating concepts using

definitions that assist in developing significant interrelationships to classify approaches to

practice (See figure 1).


Figure 1: Concepts essential for education practice



                                       EDUCATION


                       INTERRELATIONSHIPS OF CONCEPTS
                                   THEORY

                       SCHOOL - SOCIETY - ENVIRONMENT



                                       LEARNER


                                                        KNOWLEDGE & SKILLS
             EDUCATION




                                               20
Source: George, J.B. (1985:3). Nursing Theories: The base for professional practice

(modified by author)




Conclusion


In this paper attention has been paid to a number of theories with potential impact on the

professional education practitioner. The discussion has centred on the relevance of these

theories to educational practice. Particular attention has been given to conception of models

as bases for conceptual framework. This explains why these theories affect the way they are

used to predict and explain events that affect education practice in the classrooms and lecture

halls. Constant reference to these theories by the education practitioner will serve as a

purgative to help improve practice. It is suggested that what has been discussed serve as

guide and for that reason, the professional education practitioner should be dynamic in the

choice and application of these theories and seek further sources of information for keeps.


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Argyris, C. 1982 Reasoning, Learning and Action: Individual and Organisational.

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Argyris, C., Putman, R. & Smith, D. 1985 Action Science. San Fransisco: Jossey-

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Argyris, C. & Schon, D. 1974 The theory in practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

                                              21
Atkinson, R.C. 1972 Ingredients for a theory of instruction. In American

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Atkinson, R.C., Bower, G. & Crothers, E.J. 1965 An Introduction to Mathematical

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