Robert DISHENA and Sello MOKOENA
University of South Africa
Problem Statement: Many schools use induction programmes with the aim of contributing to novice teachers’ well-being and professional development. However, the content of induction programmes varies across schools and countries. Given that existing studies do not conclusively establish the programme components with the greatest potential to affect the quality and retention of novice teachers, more research is needed to explore the aspects of induction programmes that are most productive.
Purpose of the Study: This exploratory qualitative multi-case study aimed to gain more insight into how novice teachers in Namibia perceive and experience their induction support. The specific research question that guided this study was: What is the current state of practice in Namibia to support novice teachers with induction programmes?
Method: In order to answer the guiding research question, the inquiry followed a qualitative approach. The small sample of eight novice teachers who had finished the induction period and had taught for one to two years was purposefully selected from two primary schools to participate in the study. The schools were selected on the basis of the following criteria: (1) proximity to the researcher, since the researcher is a resident of Namibia; (2) the number of sites manageable in terms of time, distance and cost; (3) availability of more than one novice teacher who graduated recently, making the sites relevant to the study; and (4) location of schools in different circuits to aim for different insights and experiences. Data collected through the focus group sessions were transcribed verbatim. An analysis followed an on-going and iterative non-linear process that identified common themes.
Findings: After analysis and interpretation of the literature and empirical findings, it was discovered that many schools in Namibia seem to use a form of induction programmes for novice teachers. However, based on the current study, it became apparent that some schools in Namibia use induction programmes with low-intensity activities, while others use induction programmes with high-intensity activities. Based on the interviews with the participants, the following themes in which induction programme activities differed were identified: the intensity/duration of the induction programme; resources offered in relation to induction programmes; the format/structure of support being used in the induction programme; the content of the induction programme; and lastly, the mentoring. Consequently, practical implications and recommendations to improve on these variations were offered.
Conclusions and Recommendations: In order to achieve its intended objectives, induction programmes have to be well organized and facilitated in schools. The study provides the following recommendations to establish this organization: there must be sufficient resources and mentors for all new teachers; mentors should be afforded opportunities to be capacitated so that they can offer professional guidance to novices; mentors and novice teachers should be afforded considerable time to spend on induction programme activities; timetables of mentors and novice teachers have to match with those of induction programmes; a physical space/office should be made available for meetings between mentors and novice teachers; and novice teachers should be allocated a reasonable teaching workload as compared to veteran teachers. Schools should use induction programmes with high-intensity activities in order to increase teacher effectiveness and retention.
Keywords: Novice teachers, experiences, low intensity induction programmes, high intensity induction programmes, Namibia.