Date of Award

Spring 2003

Project Type


Program or Major

Reading and Writing Instruction

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Paula M Salvio


Education in South Africa has, thankfully, not escaped the winds of change. The introduction of Outcomes-based Education (OBE) has generated much debate. How have technikons responded to the educational transformation impelled by sociopolitical change? I refer here specifically to the Communication curricula for engineers at Mangosuthu Technikon.

This research explores the effects in my Communication classroom of introducing performance, through games and a dramatic text. My intention is to subvert the potential dangers of OBE, given its behaviourist and prescriptive thrust, and a possible reversion to the transmission model in its application at Mantec. I argue that gaps in the historically decontextualised Communication curriculum may be addressed through the use of performance as a critical alternate literacy and pedagogic tool. Government policy supports the view of literacy as an inclusive act, contrasting with the exclusionary politics characteristic of apartheid. Educators also offer a rationale for the use of literary texts in developing language competence.

Vygotskian pedagogy, the social constructivist model of education and qualitative research methods condition this research. I consequently offer a comprehensive, multiperspectival view of the research experience my students and I shared during a semester, through a range of lenses and data collection tools. Many insights filtered through our experience. Students' journal reflections are captured throughout, and their capacity to demonstrate specified outcomes analysed. I saw in their presentations the beginnings of understanding of the power of performance and body language. Texts which raised issues relevant to their sociocultural, political and personal lives, were valued. Reading in class and performance techniques heightened participation and competence in comprehending, interacting and conversing. Students' culminating performances balanced a theoretical understanding with practical application, which drew on personal, political and sociocultural experiences. By the end of the semester, they exhibited more confidence in their own literacies and in building relationships.

The study concludes that a collective effort, made at institutional level, is necessary if we are to succeed at educational transformation through the methodology of OBE. We need a more considered, critical application, and to still seek other alternatives.