Building capacity of teacher educators to implement action research : Feasibility of a local model
In the area of in-service professional development programmes, action research is considered to be a tool for generating practical knowledge and bringing improvement in practices. Teacher could use action research as a process for professional learning, and to improve classroom practices, where students could be one of the beneficiaries. However, the task is challenging in a developing country like Pakistan, where the concept of classroom research is not well recognized. Therefore, responding to the demands of the changing world and knowing the significance of action research, AKU-IED had offered Action Research course to two cohort of participant under Strengthening Teacher Education in Pakistan (STEP) project. Two variants of intervention were implemented as part of this course including: (i) face to face only; and (ii) face to face with field support. All course participants (CPs) were practicing teacher educators with no research background, from distinct teacher education institutes of Sindh and Balochistan. This paper reports how much this course helped to improve CPs’ knowledge and understanding about action research and explored their experiences and skills to implement action research in their workplace. In order to gauge participants ‘knowledge and understanding’ as well as ‘experiences’ of using action research in their context two assessment tools were administered before and after the course. The internal consistency of the knowledge test (α = 0.61) and experience questionnaire (α = 0.87) was found to be satisfactory. Data were analysed using appropriate statistical strategies to describe knowledge & understanding (mean) and to make comparison between two variants of the course (t-test, effect size). Overall, the result exhibits significant increase (p < 0.01) in mean test scores as well as confidence in implementing action research across two variants. However, the magnitude of this difference was comparatively bigger (test r = 0.70; experience r = 0.91) for face to face (f2f) and field support as compared to the face to face only (test r = 0.37; experience r = 0.86). In other words, field support seemed to have contributed positively in participant knowledge and reported skills of implementing action research. Based on these finding it is recommended that including action research course in teacher training programmes would be beneficial to nurture inquiry based culture in education. Furthermore, initial researchers would benefit more by scaffolding their learning through field support.