Document Type

Conference Paper

Book Title or Conference Proceedings Title

Quality in education: Teaching and leadership in challenging times

Department

Institute for Educational Development, Pakistan

Abstract

This paper presents our findings from a research initiated to support teachers’ continuous development through action research in the rural context of a developing country. The study investigated the experiences of seven teachers and teacher educators from the rural context of Pakistan, who spent nearly six months undertaking action research projects as part of a follow-up strategy for a university based teacher education programme. After the completion of the university-based programme, the participants had gone back to their respective institutes and were expected to initiate action research projects in order to implement new knowledge/learning. It was also a strategy to ensure the continuity of their professional growth. This study was designed to follow-up the participants’ implementation of their action research plans in order to understand the processes involved in bringing reform in the teaching and learning situation in their context and identify related issues. The data includes pre and post conference discussion sessions with the participants as well as the observations of their classroom practice. The findings suggest that as part of their action research plans, and through the facilitators’ support in the context, the participants were able to initiate change efforts and introduce innovative ideas in the classroom. The participants’ engagement in this experience provided them with the opportunity and motivation to think about the actions that may improve their practice. However, going beyond the initial level of efforts in terms of being able to influence their teaching or teacher learning practices or to improve the learning experiences of students in classroom, were still difficult for them. Due to various constraints, the participants on their own were not able to understand and address the complex issues related to teaching or teacher learning. We conclude that action research in the rural context of a developing country can possibly be seen as a collaborative endeavor only. Various constraints restrict the possibility of engaging in action research as a self-initiated and self-sustained process of individual’s learning and growth. This paper, therefore, present an overview of how action research was redefined for the context of a developing country: What were the constraints that hindered the process; what were the opportunities that could facilitate the process; and what were the conditions that are necessary for teachers to engage in action research as an effective way to promote self-learning and self-growth.