“…they feel that they have a voice and their voice is heard”: Towards Participatory Forms of Teachers’ CPD in Oman
AL Balushi, Khadija Darwish Ali
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
The area of teachers’ continuing professional development (CPD) is of growing interest internationally. In Oman, where this issue is given a lot of attention, the Ministry of Education spends a lot of money each year to provide many CPD opportunities for in-service TESOL teachers. However, the effectiveness of these initiatives and the impact they have on teaching and learning is questionable. This has been reflected in a number of research studies which have been conducted locally and which focus on various issues relating to teachers’ CPD but these studies have not addressed the issue critically. Given this, the current study attempts to critically examine the CPD system in the in-service TESOL context in Oman, and to improve the Government’s applied CPD strategy through suggesting a participatory model of CPD in Education. The study is situated in the critical paradigm and followed a multi-methodology transformative design using mixed methods to develop an understanding of the investigated issues from a macro and micro level. The study started with a quantitative phase using an online questionnaire and 331 English teachers and Senior English teachers responded to it. Phase two of the study was comprised of a case study to look in detail at the CPD system in Oman. Three schools were chosen for the case study with 18 participants/teachers. Semi-structured and focus group interviews as well as observations were used to collect data at this stage. The same 18 participants joined the action research (phase three) stage of the study to introduce them to the participatory model of CPD. This phase included three workshops and online discussion sessions, following this one focus group interview and 6 individual semi-structured interviews were conducted to see teachers’ reaction to the intervention; the participatory model. The findings showed that in-service TESOL teachers in Oman who participated in this study hold different beliefs about teaching as a profession and have different reasons for becoming teachers. The findings revealed that a key source influencing teachers’ CPD participation is their beliefs, and that participants’ hold a wide range of beliefs about CPD. Moreover, the findings disclosed that participants have experienced different types of activities which were mostly offered to them through the Ministry of Education in structured ways (e.g. INSET courses); yet, these did not respond to teachers’ individual needs.The study further indicated that the centralised top-down nature of the current CPD system seems to negatively affect the success of CPD in the in-service TESOL context in Oman. The study recommends that the role of teachers themselves in the provision of CPD is significant; the way teachers are currently marginalized and seen as grateful recipients of CPD do not provide the conditions for intelligent and responsive teaching profession. Furthermore, the evaluation of the participatory model of CPD adopted in this study showed that this model has positively impacted on participant teachers’ CPD and three aspects of change were noticed: teachers’ beliefs, their practices about CPD, and change in students (e.g. their reading habits). The findings revealed that this model has enabled participant teachers to make decisions regarding their CPD and encouraged them to play the role of critical reflective practitioners as well as prepared them to be future transformative intellectuals. Therefore, recommendations include the need for more informal, participatory and collaborative forms of CPD to be added to the current CPD system in Oman. The study further calls for new policies and practices to improve the teaching force in the country. These include stringent criteria for teachers’ selection and recruitment, developing strong educational policies regarding the initial teacher formation, considering teachers’ beliefs in any in-service CPD initiative, and raising teachers’ awareness to become responsible for their life-long career development. Most significantly, on the basis of the study findings, there is a need to reform teachers’ CPD in Oman to include dedication to building character, community, humanitarianism and democracy in young people.
PhD in Education