Archive for October 28, 2009

Gestalt Psychology @ MUST

The following article was sent my Ms Imelda Kemeza, lecturer in Social Psychology at MUST:

Gestalt psychology is an approach to behaviour advocated by Max Wertheimer (1880-1943), Kurt Koffka(1886-1941), and Wolfgang Köhler(1887-1967) that humans perceive and think of wholes. They emphasise that humans learn by seeing new patterns and organizing them into a meaningful whole in the total situation not by associating bits of experiences as argued by the behaviourists (Chauhan, 1996).

The Gestalt Psychologists further observed that when we perceive something, properties emerge from the whole that are not found in any particular component (Wade and Tavris, 2003) As a result, they emphasise that in the teaching and learning process every type of instruction should start with a meaningful whole (Chauhan, 1996).Below are views of the Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Masters of Education, (Educational Psychology) students on the gestalt theory of learning:

  • Reward and motivate group work which promotes teamwork e.g. an individual presents on behalf of a group, yet the whole group is rewarded.
  • The whole precedes the parts for fair judgment e.g. a student on school practice is assessed on the whole of core and co-curricular activities.
  • Links relationship between real life experiences and current knowledge as a basis for good pedagogical practice.
  • Encourages contributions from parts, harmonize them to bring out the best.
  • Enhances organization of work; sequencing of work in steps.
  • Provides a basis for setting goals for future career development e.g. student’s performance provides direction of career: total score, best done, career.
  • Poses challenge of parts leading to whole e.g. in the results-oriented examinations, the process is ignored to look for good grade through malpractice. The whole might ignore the need for specialization.
  • Enables teacher to get average of all of a learner’s performances to calculate his/her GPA which gives the class of the degree/certificate.
  • Encourages continuity e.g. in research.
  • Good theory that emphasizes continuous practice. Daily exercises in maths or spelling exercises at the beginning of every lesson.

Compiled by Imelda Kemeza and the MA Students


The organization of schooling and further education has long been the idea of Curriculum.
It is not a new development, it is has only been altered through the years. The conceptualization and theorizing of the term Curriculum has suffered alterations in both meaning and context.
However context still offers parameters for definition.
To the Greek,Curriculum meant a running chariot which literally meant a course.
“Currere”was to run.
Keer a British scholar offered a definition: “All the learning which is planned and guided by the school, this may happen in groups or at individual level, inside or outside the school.
In Uganda traditional Education of children was informal and the Curriculum was centered at the needs of society. Core elements were survival techniques of the time
Main Curricular areas were hunting, apprenticeship, Fruit gathering, Cultural rites for various age groups and occurrences such as death and famine
Missionary education era
The organization of education procedures in Uganda started with the Missionaries (1900-1925).
They set up educational centers in the various regions of the country.
The target was to introduce skills in writing , reading and counting.
The first beneficiaries were sons to local chiefs and were taught religion in addition to the general Curriculum.
Colonial government 1925-1962
In 1925 the colonial government set up a department of education in an effort to centralize and monitor funding to education. Before the establishment of this department four commissions had been in charge of education issues in the country.
* Phelps –Stokes Commission
* Education Ordinance of 1924
* The colonial office Advisory Committee
* Advisory Committee on African Education
The commissions were put in place to iron out the differences among the missionary groups that were providing education in the country. The Curriculum at that time was service and agricultural based and farm Schools were opened at Bukalasa for the central and south region and Serere for the far east and north parts of the country. About the same time post primary technical schools were set up, and their graduates were teachers, clerks and office messengers of various cadres. Administration of Schools was in the hands of the Colonial masters through the missionary groups that were in charge of the daily affairs of the schools.
Post-colonial era
The year 1973, saw the establishment of a formal body to take care of curricular issues in the country. It was code named the National Curriculum Development Center (NCDC).
• It is charged with planning, designing, developing Curricular at all levels of education in Uganda.
• Monitor and Implement innovations like new syllabus, new methods of teaching extra
• Organize and manage training of teachers in curricular issues
• Design, develop and dispatching teaching materials.
• Evaluate the methods and teaching materials on ground.
The National Curriculum development center is still the major Curriculum developer in Uganda.
It charges other institutions such as the National Council for higher education with responsibilities to monitor academic standards in higher institutions of learning such as Universities and Colleges.
Many innovative programs have been natured in partnership with the National Curriculum development Center to improve given aspects in the education sector. Below is a list common innovative Programs running in the Country:
Universal Primary Education program (1997)
Affirmative Action for Special Categories ( 1994)
Special Needs Education (1996-1997)
Private Sponsorship in public Universities (1994), pioneered at Makerere University
Okello.v. and Ochieng, m.k (1996) Curriculum Studies
Farrant J.SA (1980), Principals and Practice of Education
Ministry of Education and Sports policy documents ( 1992 ,1999)