The influence of professional learning communities employing quality teaching framework on English as a foreign language teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge for promotion of higher order thinking in rural Indonesia

Author: Welmince Djulete

  • Thesis download: available for open access on 12 Oct 2024.

Djulete, Welmince, 2021 The influence of professional learning communities employing quality teaching framework on English as a foreign language teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge for promotion of higher order thinking in rural Indonesia, Flinders University, College of Education, Psychology and Social Work

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Indonesian students are not performing well academically in comparison to their peers from other countries, as reported by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). This is also the case in the context of teaching English as a foreign language (EFL). One of the key contributors to student learning outcomes is quality of teaching. There is a gap between teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) related to teaching higher order thinking (HOT) in classrooms in rural areas in Indonesia. This thesis reports an investigation that aimed to identify EFL teachers’ PCK knowledge and develop their teaching quality through improving their PCK in relation to teaching HOT in EFL. It details how a Professional Learning Community (PLC) intervention was carried out in two schools in rural Indonesia and discusses changes in teachers’ PCK during and after the intervention was completed.

Three studies are reported in the thesis. Study 1 focuses on understanding the status of EFL teachers’ PCK, their beliefs about and needs related to teaching HOT. The findings of this study informed Study 2 which documents how a PLC to develop PCK related to promoting HOT was designed, implemented with five EFL teachers, and evaluated. The investigation employed the Quality Teaching Framework (QTF) (New South Wales Department of Education and Training [NSWDET], 2003) and Video-Based Reflection (VBR). The QTF was used because it draws connections between teachers’ PCK and other knowledge categories and can be used to promote HOT in teaching and learning. Study 3 focuses on evaluating the long-term impact and sustainability of the PLC on the teachers’ PCK. Desimone’s framework (2009) is employed to study the impact of the PLC.

A mixed method approach was employed in this investigation. Data were collected via a survey questionnaire, individual interviews, classroom observations, and documents. Fifty-two teachers completed the initial survey and five of these teachers volunteered to participate in a long-term professional learning intervention. Thematic data analysis was employed to analyse qualitative data in NVivo version 12 (QSR, 2018) in all three studies. Quantitative data were analysed using SPSS version 25 (IBM, 2018).

The findings of Study 1 revealed that EFL teachers had few opportunities to collaborate, de-privatise their practice and reflect on their teaching. They had limited PCK for teaching HOT and held the belief that their students were not capable of learning HOT in their EFL classrooms. They employed a teacher-centred approach to teaching, based classroom work on textbooks and oriented their teaching to cover lower order thinking (LOT).

The findings of Study 2 highlighted the effects of a PLC intervention that employed the QTF on teachers’ PCK for promoting HOT in their EFL lessons. It showed that the five participating teachers had improved their PCK, teaching quality, and that their beliefs and attitudes related to teaching HOT were more positive. However, while recognising the importance of HOT in EFL lessons, they expressed the view that they required more time to develop a deeper understanding of HOT in order to teach it successfully. The PLC contributed to changes in teachers’ PCK beliefs and attitudes related to teaching HOT, and to their beliefs about rural students’ ability to learn HOT.

The findings of Study 3 showed that, except for a change in the teachers’ views about developing a quality learning environment, there was no significant difference in the five teachers’ PCK from the time of the pre-intervention assessment to the time of the post-intervention assessment survey conducted a year later. Interviews with the four teacher participants in the PLC indicated that they were starting to feel confident about designing lesson plans and recognised that it is important to integrate HOT into EFL lessons. However, they struggled to enact HOT in their teaching and were not able to sustain insights developed in the PLC because external and internal contextual factors hindered them from doing this. These findings support other research advising that changes in teachers’ attitudes, beliefs and practice take time and that in order to sustain gains from professional learning interventions, such as this PLC conducted with rural teachers in Indonesia, it is important to consider contextual factors. These include having school leadership support, regular time for in-depth professional discussions and critical reflection, a well-designed and implemented program with a facilitator, a targeted program and a follow-up program that identifies and caters for teachers’ professional learning needs.

This investigation provides a significant contribution to current and future research on EFL teachers’ PCK development and the viability and sustainability of PLC interventions in rural areas of Indonesia. It highlights the need for teachers to understand HOT in order to be able to promote HOT in EFL lessons. This research is also relevant to the Indonesian Government efforts for improving teachers’ knowledge and teaching quality and contributes to new understandings of the value of implementing professional learning interventions that use the QTF in the Indonesian rural context where access to professional learning is limited. In addition, it shows the value of using VBR to stimulate EFL teachers’ critical reflection on their teaching practice. Overall, the findings of this research could support educational reform efforts in Indonesia in general, and assist efforts to improve the quality of EFL teaching and learning in rural eastern Indonesia in particular. A final contribution of the research is the description of a pedagogical structure that could be used in a PLC to help EFL teachers understand and teach HOT.

Keywords: Professional Learning Community, EFL Teachers’ Professional Learning, Higher Order thinking, Pedagogical Content Knowledge, Quality Teaching Framework, Video-Based Reflection

Subject: Education thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2021
School: College of Education, Psychology and Social Work
Supervisor: Dr Mirella Wyra