In-Depth Analysis of Contributing Factors Impacting Grade 12 Learners' Performance in Life Sciences “Investigation Questions”: A South African Case Study


  • Sakyiwaa Boateng
  • Bongeka Maliwa


Life Sciences; learners; learner performance; scientific investigation; teachers


This study sought to explore contributing factors affecting grade 12 learners’ performance in Life Sciences “investigation questions” in rural high schools in the Oliver Reginald Tambo Inland District of South Africa. The study was underpinned by the social constructivism theory. A qualitative case study design was employed to collect the data. Purposeful sampling was used to select three schools from one circuit. Three Life Sciences teachers and nine learners were purposefully selected to participate in the study. The interview was the main instrument used to collect data. The data were analysed using thematic analysis to generate themes. The main findings of the study indicated: teachers' low pedagogical content knowledge on practical investigation questions; a lack of teaching resources; a lack of parental support; and language proficiency influence on learner understanding. Thus, it is recommended that the Department of Basic Education provide all rural schools with well-furnished laboratories to enable the teachers to conduct practical investigation activities. Furthermore, teachers need to be trained regularly to enhance their content knowledge and equip them with the different pedagogies in teaching Life Science investigations


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