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GROUP 1. Rationalizing professional development, teacher beliefs, perceptions, and practice in the context of rural primary schools: Kenya

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Abstract:

Dissertation Faculty Chairperson: Prof. Carol Anne Spreen, University of Virginia
Anticipated stage in program as of May, 2011: Dissertation proposal stage/pre-field
Objectives and main questions: This dissertation proposal will be examining the beliefs, perceptions and practices of teachers in under-resourced rural primary schools in Kenya. Additionally, the study will explore the role of professional development (PD) of teachers in rural schools and how teachers negotiate and navigate around their personal beliefs and perceptions, and the demands of shifting pedagogy demands, increased enrollments, inadequate resources, a national curriculum and unique local school settings. Two main areas will be explored as they relate to teacher beliefs, perceptions and practices: professional development and resources, guided by the following research questions and sub-questions:
1. How do the beliefs and perceptions held by rural school teachers about what it means to be a teacher influence their practice and engagement with the national curriculum and learners at the local school level?
a. How do these beliefs and perceptions inform their views of (ministry-led) professional development programs?
b. In what ways do rural teachers demonstrate agency in their own PD?
c. Does PD mean the same for teachers, school leaders, education officials and policy makers?
d. Does the notion of the “good” teacher carry a shared definition by teachers, other educators, and policy makers?
2. Does the rural school teacher problematize the classroom experience in terms of policy and resources, or in some other way?
a. How do rural primary school teachers situate resources (inadequacy) in relation to their classroom practice and student-learning?
b. Do resources even matter, or what do rural primary school teachers identify as their main concerns and challenges in being effective practitioners?
c. What impact on their work, beliefs and perceptions, and the sense of self-worth, has the role of “outsiders” (including foreign providers of resources and PD programs) had on the rural primary school teacher?
d. How do government policies on deployment, transfers, and resource allocation influence the teachers’ personal beliefs, perceptions and practices?
Thesis Statement: Rural primary school teachers as do teachers in most poor regions are almost always on the receiving end of policy and reform directions. Kenya’s rural primary schools are generally under-resourced, over-enrolled and under-staffed, with primary school teachers often encountering conditions and realities dramatically different from what pre-service training prepared them for. These are practitioners with individual sets of beliefs and perceptions which must be accounted for if we are to understand the rural school teacher and design effective PD programs.
Theoretical framework: Embracing Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger’s communities of practice and situated learning theories, I take a critical view of beliefs, perceptions and practices as they relate to policy on professional development of teachers within the rural primary school teacher community in the face of pedagogical shifts and the reality of under-resourcing. There is a strong body of evidence to support the importance of understanding teacher beliefs and perceptions. In Kenya, a handful of studies have noted the dearth of PD programs to support teachers, and the need for school-based PD models. What is still missing is linking the the beliefs and perceptions to the PD models by injecting the teacher voices into the policy formulation through an emphasis on the strong communities formed by teachers as they together address the unique challenges of rural schooling and teaching. Because learning must be recognized as ‘embedded in activity, context and culture’, effective PD programs can only be those that recognize the uniqueness of rural schools and the teachers who teach in them.
Modes of Inquiry: Using a sample of 24 teachers from 6 rural schools based in 2 diverse rural districts in Kenya, this study will explore: school-based communities of practice; individual teacher beliefs and perceptions and how these play out in the classroom; and how teachers’ views of professional development programs converge or diverge from the articulated rationales by educators and policy makers. The primary data source will be in-class teacher observations, to be used as prompts for semi-structured interviews. Limited focus groups may be used at the end of the observations and interviews as needed. Interviews will be conducted with teachers, school heads, instructors/administrators of teacher training colleges, ministry officials at the different educational offices levels, and policy makers at the ministry headquarter.
Primary data sources will include teacher’s journals, lesson plans and notes, ministry of education policy documents, curricula and training manuals used in teacher training colleges and any other relevant documents available from educators, ministry officials at various levels and policy makers.
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Association:
Name: 55th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society
URL:
http://www.cies.us


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p493897_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Ngundi, James. "GROUP 1. Rationalizing professional development, teacher beliefs, perceptions, and practice in the context of rural primary schools: Kenya" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 55th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society, Fairmont Le Reine Elizabeth, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, May 01, 2011 <Not Available>. 2014-11-26 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p493897_index.html>

APA Citation:

Ngundi, J. , 2011-05-01 "GROUP 1. Rationalizing professional development, teacher beliefs, perceptions, and practice in the context of rural primary schools: Kenya" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 55th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society, Fairmont Le Reine Elizabeth, Montreal, Quebec, Canada <Not Available>. 2014-11-26 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p493897_index.html

Publication Type: CIES New Scholar Fellow Proposal
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: Dissertation Faculty Chairperson: Prof. Carol Anne Spreen, University of Virginia
Anticipated stage in program as of May, 2011: Dissertation proposal stage/pre-field
Objectives and main questions: This dissertation proposal will be examining the beliefs, perceptions and practices of teachers in under-resourced rural primary schools in Kenya. Additionally, the study will explore the role of professional development (PD) of teachers in rural schools and how teachers negotiate and navigate around their personal beliefs and perceptions, and the demands of shifting pedagogy demands, increased enrollments, inadequate resources, a national curriculum and unique local school settings. Two main areas will be explored as they relate to teacher beliefs, perceptions and practices: professional development and resources, guided by the following research questions and sub-questions:
1. How do the beliefs and perceptions held by rural school teachers about what it means to be a teacher influence their practice and engagement with the national curriculum and learners at the local school level?
a. How do these beliefs and perceptions inform their views of (ministry-led) professional development programs?
b. In what ways do rural teachers demonstrate agency in their own PD?
c. Does PD mean the same for teachers, school leaders, education officials and policy makers?
d. Does the notion of the “good” teacher carry a shared definition by teachers, other educators, and policy makers?
2. Does the rural school teacher problematize the classroom experience in terms of policy and resources, or in some other way?
a. How do rural primary school teachers situate resources (inadequacy) in relation to their classroom practice and student-learning?
b. Do resources even matter, or what do rural primary school teachers identify as their main concerns and challenges in being effective practitioners?
c. What impact on their work, beliefs and perceptions, and the sense of self-worth, has the role of “outsiders” (including foreign providers of resources and PD programs) had on the rural primary school teacher?
d. How do government policies on deployment, transfers, and resource allocation influence the teachers’ personal beliefs, perceptions and practices?
Thesis Statement: Rural primary school teachers as do teachers in most poor regions are almost always on the receiving end of policy and reform directions. Kenya’s rural primary schools are generally under-resourced, over-enrolled and under-staffed, with primary school teachers often encountering conditions and realities dramatically different from what pre-service training prepared them for. These are practitioners with individual sets of beliefs and perceptions which must be accounted for if we are to understand the rural school teacher and design effective PD programs.
Theoretical framework: Embracing Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger’s communities of practice and situated learning theories, I take a critical view of beliefs, perceptions and practices as they relate to policy on professional development of teachers within the rural primary school teacher community in the face of pedagogical shifts and the reality of under-resourcing. There is a strong body of evidence to support the importance of understanding teacher beliefs and perceptions. In Kenya, a handful of studies have noted the dearth of PD programs to support teachers, and the need for school-based PD models. What is still missing is linking the the beliefs and perceptions to the PD models by injecting the teacher voices into the policy formulation through an emphasis on the strong communities formed by teachers as they together address the unique challenges of rural schooling and teaching. Because learning must be recognized as ‘embedded in activity, context and culture’, effective PD programs can only be those that recognize the uniqueness of rural schools and the teachers who teach in them.
Modes of Inquiry: Using a sample of 24 teachers from 6 rural schools based in 2 diverse rural districts in Kenya, this study will explore: school-based communities of practice; individual teacher beliefs and perceptions and how these play out in the classroom; and how teachers’ views of professional development programs converge or diverge from the articulated rationales by educators and policy makers. The primary data source will be in-class teacher observations, to be used as prompts for semi-structured interviews. Limited focus groups may be used at the end of the observations and interviews as needed. Interviews will be conducted with teachers, school heads, instructors/administrators of teacher training colleges, ministry officials at the different educational offices levels, and policy makers at the ministry headquarter.
Primary data sources will include teacher’s journals, lesson plans and notes, ministry of education policy documents, curricula and training manuals used in teacher training colleges and any other relevant documents available from educators, ministry officials at various levels and policy makers.


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