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Following the Yellow Brick Road of Teacher Training: a Fourth Generation Evaluation of an INSET Course in Istanbul
Godfrey, James Thompson
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Evaluation of teacher training has been conducted primarily on pre-service contexts and has focussed almost exclusively on evidence of impact in terms of changes in teachers’ behaviour or beliefs. Using a responsive / constructivist methodology my research focuses on an in-service context and takes the participants as the starting point of the research in order to examine both the processes of teacher learning (i.e. how do teachers learn) as well as the product (what are their claims, concerns and issues) regarding the training programme. The emergent data is analysed with findings grounded in the literature of teacher learning and parallels made with my own reflections on the processes of learning through the research experience itself. The evaluation focuses on a Cambridge In Service Certificate of English Language Teaching (ICELT) training course which is designed as an internationally appropriate INSET programme that can satisfy the training needs of (both native and non-native) EFL teachers. The research is valuable because we do not know how teachers learn on a training course. Through a review of the literature and exploiting the imagery of a metaphorical journey of development, I formulate a framework for analysing teacher learning which distinguishes between practical (applied) knowledge, conceptual knowledge and knowledge of self. This theoretical framework provides a lens to analyse data emerging during the evaluation. The research advocates an alternative ‘constructivist – responsive’ method of evaluation for teacher education programmes that has the dual aim of learning through the evaluation (process) as well as from the evaluation (product). The research methods follow a Fourth Generation Evaluation model (Guba and Lincoln 1979). The results show that in terms of the evaluation outcomes (product) we can identify modes of learning that concern tasks (how), knowing (what) and awareness of self and socio-cultural context (why). Analysis of the teachers’ talk as collaborative interaction showed little evidence of learning taking place. There were no obvious sections of exploratory talk that is conducive to the construction of new meanings and learning. However by analysing teachers’ talk as a manifestation of individual modes of thinking we are able to identify modes of thinking that have clear parallels with the framework of teacher learning depicted above: techno-rationale thought (how), reflective thought (what) and critical thought (why).The descriptive framework therefore depicts the integration of levels for both the process of learning and the products of learning and as such is a powerful tool for teacher educators. Teachers need to operate on all three levels in their professional lives. The study challenges some well-established assumptions in teacher training evaluation. In terms of epistemology, teacher learning is life-long and individual. Human learning occurs on three levels: physical (body), mental (mind) and spiritual (soul) and these levels describe how we think as well as what we do. Evaluation of any training course needs to take into consideration the dimensions of learning, the influence of the socio-cultural context and recognise the interconnectedness of process and product (i.e. how the traveling and the journey interact).
EdD in TESOL