Research and Evaluation Reports

Teacher Development

The Zenex Foundation has commissioned a number of research and evaluation studies since its inception in 1995, and from which the Foundation draws lessons that inform programme development, policy and practice.

The most recent research and evaluation reports are clustered under five categories, with a brief summary of each report available for download once you click through to a specific category below. The categories are:

For more comprehensive details on the reports, please contact the Zenex Foundation at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

This brief report makes a case for focusing on the instructional core to bring about educational change in schools and improve learner performance, using the system as the unit of change. The “instructional core” is a term coined by international education researcher, Prof. Richard Elmore.

It is defined as the interaction between teachers, learners and learner materials in a particular context and over specific content. The argument is advanced through tracking the theoretical changes in the field of education improvement in South Africa over the past decade.

It then looks at literature on key elements of the instructional infrastructure that must be in alignment and coherence to facilitate instructional change. It concludes by considering change strategies that are most effective for different school types.

Initial Teacher Education (ITE) in South Africa currently experiences three major problems in delivering high quality teachers capable of effective teaching:

  • an inadequate supply of teachers for the schooling system;
  • the poor quality of some Initial Teacher Education programmes which results in the majority of newly qualified teachers (NQTs) being inadequate to the tasks facing them in schools across the country; and
  • the generally poor quality of distance education and the large part it plays in the total provision of new teachers.

The traditional form of ITE in South Africa follows the international norm – a four-year university-based programme – and is provided by 23 universities, either by face-to-face or distance education.

This evaluation of the effectiveness of a project to train Grade 4 to 12 educators from 60 Eastern Cape schools in Science and the use of Micro-Science kits that were provided to the schools, was funded by the Zenex Foundation and conducted by Bayview Consortium from 2002 to 2006.

Classroom observations revealed that only 50% of the teachers in the programme could develop their lessons to link with the science kits, while learners rarely used the apparatus or were afforded the opportunity to do so. The evaluation suggested that the project had very little impact on learner performance in the classroom, and makes a number of recommendations as to how the impact of the now discontinued project could be improved in future.

This evaluation of the effectiveness of the 36-week long English learning programme in selected Dinaledi schools was funded by the Zenex Foundation and conducted by Angela Schaffer and Kathy Watters from 2007 to 2009.

Issues addressed in the evaluation included whether there needed to be any additional English language provision in Dinaledi schools in order to have a positive impact on FET level Mathematics and Science results, and whether any future language interventions were required for improved learner comprehension and performance in Mathematics and Science. The report makes a number of findings and recommendations to strengthen the programme.

This evaluation of the impact of an Advanced Certificate in Education (ACE) programme in Language Education for English teachers and a BEd programme for FET Mathematics teachers in Limpopo, was funded by the Zenex Foundation and conducted by Benita van Wyk in 2008.

Among the issues addressed in the evaluation are whether the beneficiary teachers gained the appropriate skills and values to enhance their teaching capacity, whether learner results improved as a result of having better qualified teachers in the classroom, and to assess whether this model of teacher development is more effective than other methods of teacher development.

In 2007, the Zenex Foundation launched an initiative to impact school improvement. The project was rolled out from 2007 – 2009, and a revised project rolled out from 2010 – 2011. The main goal of the initiative was defined as increasing learner success, particularly in English, Mathematics and Science, supporting school management and improving the quality of classroom teaching. The evaluation report documents and discusses the final outcomes of the project. Given the constraints in the design as well as methodology and logistics, the evaluation study is best described as an outcome evaluation study and not an impact evaluation study.

This evaluation of the efficacy of the ACE delivery model for the development of Mathematics teachers in the Eastern Cape, and its potential for replication, was funded by the Zenex Foundation and conducted by Kelello Consulting from 2010 to 2012.

Issues addressed in the evaluation included the impact of the ACE programme in improving the quality of teaching practice in delivering the Mathematics curriculum and the impact on learner performance. The report makes a number of recommendations to strengthen the programme.

The evaluation sought to understand the extent and nature of the use of the Manipulative, with particular focus on the factors promoting and retarding the use of the Manipulatives in the classroom. The evaluators investigated whether and how the support materials and/or workshops assisted teachers in teaching mathematics, and whether the Mathematics Manipulatives and support materials promoted learner knowledge, skills and content mastery in Mathematics.

The evaluation of a two-year project to provide English language and pedagogical skills training to Science educators. The project engaged the services of English Language and Environmental Trust (ELET) and Dr Sharon Grussendorff to train and support educators in the English language and pedagogical skills respectively. The purpose of the evaluation was to assess the extent to which different interventions in the project were implemented and the impact these interventions had on the teaching and learning of Science and learner performance in the participating schools.

This evaluation of the effectiveness of an internship model to develop 10 pre-service teachers with high-quality Mathematics, Science or English knowledge and teaching skills, was funded by the Zenex Foundation and conducted by the Evaluation Research Agency from 2012 to 2015.

The objective of the evaluation was to examine the merits of this specific model of pre-service education. The report makes a substantial contribution towards documenting pre-service teacher training innovation, its replicability as a model for pre-service teacher training in both public and independent schools, and its potential to influence the way pre-service teacher training is implemented in South Africa.

This evaluation of the effectiveness of a project to equip 20 FET Mathematics educators with a three-year BEd qualification and improve learner performance in Mathematics, was funded by the Zenex Foundation and conducted by Benita van Wyk in 2009.

Apart from increasing the number of qualified Mathematics teachers, the programme also sought to coach and mentor teachers through classroom support and provide teachers with the necessary resources to effectively implement their new skills and knowledge. The evaluation assesses whether this specific model of educator development was more effective than other methods of teacher development, and provides evidence of whether the project achieved its targeted outcomes and impact.

The Upgrading of Mathematics Educators Project was a custom-designed BEd programme offered through the University of Fort Hare. It was distinctive in that it included a strong on-site support and mentoring component, while focused on upgrading the content knowledge and pedagogic skills of Mathematics teachers.

This evaluation of the effectiveness of a project to deliver a BEd course to 38 teachers in the Fort Beaufort area with a subsequent year of on-site classroom support was funded by the Zenex Foundation and conducted by Professor Paul Hobden from 2006 to 2008.

The objective of the evaluation was to provide information on the extent to which a three-year qualification can make a positive contribution to the quality of Mathematics teaching in Grades 10 to 12. A key finding of the evaluation was that the BEd programme teachers produce a more positive learning environment than teachers who have not done the programme, but this in itself is not enough to address the developmental backlog of Grade 10 learners – a serious intervention was required to ensure that learners entering Grade 10 have basic Mathematics skills.