Effective Professional Development for Teachers in Rural Pakistan: Perceptions of Key Stakeholders

Author: Ali Nawab

Nawab, Ali, 2018 Effective Professional Development for Teachers in Rural Pakistan: Perceptions of Key Stakeholders, Flinders University, College of Education, Psychology and Social Work

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There is significant evidence that teachers have the greatest influence on student achievement. For this reason, Professional Development (PD) of teachers is increasingly becoming the focus of educational reform. In the remote region of Pakistan where the research was conducted, there is a recognition of the limitations of initial teacher education for preparing teachers to encounter the persistently changing demands of contemporary schooling. As a result, various donor agencies have been intervening to supplement government efforts to provide Continuing Professional Development (CPD) opportunities to teachers. However, little research has been done to understand whether these programmes meet the expectations of the relevant stakeholders. Where research exists in Pakistan, it has mainly been conducted in urban or semi-urban areas. PD programmes in rural Pakistan and the perspectives of relevant stakeholders in those regions thus far have been unattended. This research examines the perceptions of key stakeholders on PD programmes for teachers in rural Pakistan to understand what makes PD effective and valued for them with a view to generating guidelines to inform the design and delivery of high quality Professional Learning (PL) in Pakistan in general and in rural Pakistan in particular. To do so, the research uses a qualitative case study approach and constructivist paradigm with the assumption that knowledge is not a fixed entity to be transferred across contexts rather it is situated and can be constructed. As such, the research draws on the experiences of the key stakeholders including providers of PD, officials of education department, school principals and teachers. Three major research strategies, namely, focus group interviews, surveys and document analyses are used to generate data. Data are analysed using ‘Constructionist’ Grounded Theory (Charmaz, 2008) to generate data-informed theory. The research findings included that stakeholders value a PD programme that is relevant to teachers’ immediate needs; focuses on both content and pedagogy; involves active learning experiences; extends over a long period and includes follow-up support. It is found that the majority of the PD programmes on offer for teachers lacked most of these features. The research outcomes also highlight the significance of the contextual factors (namely, those related to the system, school leaders and teachers) regarding their influence on the effectiveness of PD. Based on these findings, the research argues that the existing PD programmes offered for teachers in rural Pakistan are externally driven and less informed by the views, needs and experiences of stakeholders. Building on the views and experiences of the key stakeholders as well as informed by the recent trends in PD of teachers, this research develops a theory of effective PD for teachers in Pakistan in general and for rural Pakistan in particular.

Keywords: Effective Professional Development, Features of Professional Development, Professional Development in Educational Context, Rural Pakistan

Subject: Education thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2018
School: College of Education, Psychology and Social Work
Supervisor: Kerry Bissaker