Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Learner-centred teaching in Tanzania: Geography teachers' perceptions and experiences

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posted on 2021-11-14, 01:29 authored by Mtitu, Evaristo Andreas

The shift from teacher-centred to learner-centred teaching approaches is one of the aspects embarked on to address quality issues in delivery of secondary education in Tanzania. The basis for a shift in teaching paradigm has been motivated by the need for learners to effectively engage in the knowledge construction process.This thesis reports the findings about Learner-Centred Teaching (LCT) in Tanzania from the perceptions and experiences of secondary school geography teachers. Applying a lens of a critical perspective (CP) approach as a theoretical framework, the study sought to respond to the major question: how do geography teachers perceive and experience regarding Learner-Centred Teaching in Tanzania’s secondary school? The main question was guided by four sub-research questions which included: how do geography teachers in Tanzania understand LCT?; how does a teacher’s pedagogical reasoning and decision-making during the planning process reflect LCT beliefs?; how does a teacher’s teaching practice reflect LCT beliefs?; and how does a teacher’s evaluation of classroom instructional practices place the learner at the centre of instruction? The research focus was to assess the implementation of LCT approach as advocated by the educational policy and the mandated curriculum documents.  The study utilised the interpretive and constructivist qualitative case study approach involving nine case studies purposely selected from three research sites. The data were collected using semi-structured interviews, classroom observations and detailed reviews of teachers’ own teaching portfolios. Applying an interpretive generative inductive data analysis approach, data were analysed based on the specific meaning patterns that were emerging from individual case studies. Themes were developed by comparing and contrasting meaning patterns within and across case studies.  Findings presented aspects which influence teachers’ practices of LCT including: the constructivist view of knowledge construction, role of language and cultural context in LCT, teacher-students’ power relation, and the nature of the curriculum. Other aspects raised include: teachers’ substantive and syntactic knowledge and classroom organisation and management. The study also presents some dilemmas against implementation of LCT. These dilemmas include language barrier, class sizes; curriculum design; and teacher shortage, and shortage of instructional resources. Other dilemmas include: lack of both inservice training for LCT and cultural-context specific curriculum relevance.  The researcher recommends the need to address dilemmas in the implementation of LCT approaches such as: class sizes, curriculum design, and teacher shortage; shortage of instructional resources and facilities; and the medium of instruction; geography curriculum should be designed to allow teachers’ flexibility; and teachers’ need of mastery in the substantive and syntactic knowledge. Other recommendations include: teachers’ need of in-service training regarding the conceptual and theoretical understanding of LCT, its approaches, and application in geography classrooms; teachers’ use of an integrated-formative evaluation and assessment approaches; and the need of further research on aspects around the same topic, taking into consideration different theoretical orientations and methodological approaches.  The study contributes knowledge to the international literature regarding LCT and its implementation complexities from the developing economy’s perspectives. In particular, the study contributes to the understanding of LCT from a CP theoretical framework. It also provides an avenue for debate and consideration on the importance of initial and in-service teacher education, the curriculum, and the need to integrate learners’ culture for effective implementation of LCT. The researcher has developed three models to support the practice of LCT. These are: the constructivist learning process; an integrated LCT based curriculum; and the classroom organisation and management framework models.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970113 Expanding Knowledge in Education

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Te Kura Māori


Penetito, Wally; Starkey, Louise