Creating sustainable physical sciences learning environments: A case for decolonised and transformative learning

  • Moeketsi Freddie Tlali University of the Free State, South Africa
Keywords: Decolonisation, Transformation, Empowerment, Sustainable education, Sustainable physical sciences learning environments, Meaningful learning, Critical cross-field outcomes, Service-learning projects


There is an urgent need for transformation and decolonisation of teaching and learning of physical sciences. This need is evidenced by, among other factors, the alarming rate at which learner enrolment in physical sciences and science education, in general, is decreasing. Central to these causes is apparent, persistent below-expectation learner performance in science education, which, in turn, causes scepticism about the quality of teaching and learning, and questions about the quality of support given to teachers to sustain the required level of learner performance. Thus, decolonisation and transformation of teaching and learning should persistently pursue meaningful and functional knowledge creation. To this end, service-learning projects for teaching and learning physical sciences hold promise. The main reason for this consideration resides in the empowering capacity and resultant decolonising and transformative nature of the created knowledge. Thus, using service-learning projects to create knowledge that is meaningful and functional is equivalent to creating sustainable physical sciences learning environments. Bricolage’s principles of multiple perspectives and multiple theories served as a useful lens for scrutinising the diverse knowledge of the participants. Van Dijk’s socio-cognitive critical discourse analysis was pivotal for analysing, interpreting and making sense of participants’ prevalent knowledge and experiences. The principles of participatory action research and free attitude interviews were applied as an approach and technique for data generation. The major finding suggests that using service learning projects to create sustainable (physical sciences) learning environments, contributes substantially to decolonising and transforming teaching and learning.


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