There is a need for a shift in the focus in the Business Studies curriculum from being ‘just about business’ to being ‘for business’, according to Education PhD graduate Dr Zodwa Dlamini.
Results from Dlamini’s research show that education authorities in the southern African countries of Eswatini, Lesotho and Botswana should review the Entrepreneurship and Business Ownership chapters in textbooks and refine them to foster greater critical thinking and problem-solving skills. ‘This will promote authentic, fit-for-purpose, context-driven deep learning that will serve as a germination bed for entrepreneurial activity and business ownership,’ she said.
Her work, supervised by Professor Sadhana Manik, examined assessment tasks in the Business Studies textbooks of Eswatini, Lesotho and Botswana with a view to establishing whether they helped learners to develop critical thinking and problems solving skills which are needed for a market-based economy supported by neoliberal ideology.
Said Dlamini, a lecturer in Business Studies at the University of Eswatini’s Faculty of Education: ‘I was interested in the idea behind the inclusion of Business Studies in the school curriculum to foster entrepreneurship and fight unemployment in developing nations.’
She believes her research findings will assist textbook writers to add more authentic tasks to develop the entrepreneurial skills required by developing countries as well as curriculum developers to restructure the curriculum to develop various skills and competencies with cognitively demanding assessment activities.
The study found that while the curriculum in the three countries being studied focused on entrepreneurship and business ownership, the assessment tasks in the textbooks did not necessarily promote critical thinking and problem-solving skills crucial for success in these fields.
The chapters which she analysed demonstrated an over-reliance on short answer tasks that tested lower-order thinking skills (LOTS), which only facilitated superficial learning. This finding was contrary to the objective of the specific chapters in the textbooks, which aimed to foster
entrepreneurship and business ownership among learners.
Dlamini recommended an Integrated Assessment Framework (IAF) to guide future analysis of end-of-chapter tasks in Business Studies textbooks. The IAF is expected to assist education authorities in the three Southern African countries to improve the quality of the assessment tasks in the textbooks and ensure they align with the objectives of the curriculum.
Both Dlamini and Manik presented their paper: Digging Deep into Business Studies Textbooks in Eswatini and Lesotho: Is there authentic Assessment in Business Studies Textbooks? at the virtual 12th International Conference on Business and Economic Development in Brooklyn, New York.
Dlamini faced various challenges during her research, including problems with her health which resulted in her being hospitalised. However, with the support of her family and friends, she persisted and completed her research. She thanked her supervisor for being encouraging and supportive throughout the course of her studies
Her daughter, Ms Siphiwe Mabaka Shongwe, says her mother’s achievements have inspired her to pursue a PhD.