Title

The conceptual development of a geography teacher and application of the concepts in the classroom

Date of Award

8-1-2003

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Master of Education (M. Ed.)

Department

Institute for Educational Development, Karachi

Abstract

This small scale research project explores the process of geography teacher's conceptual development and its application in the classroom. The rational of the study is based on my personal experiences of learning geography as a student, teaching it in the school and having experience in the context of Pakistan. Realizing that geography is usually considered as an ‘unimportant' subject, which is taught superficially by the teachers created a need for me to conduct research on developing teacher's conceptual understating and its application in the classroom. Developing conceptual understanding of the teachers is one of the ways of improving the status of the Geography and helping people understand the significance of the subject. In order to do this research I worked with one secondary level Social Studies teacher in a private school of Karachi. The project started from examining the existing perception of the teacher about conceptual development and its application in the classroom. I was also engaged in identifying the existing teacher's conceptual understanding about particular topic, and finding teacher's existing strategies of applying concepts in the classroom. The findings of the reconnaissance stage highlighted some major issues related to the teacher's conception about ‘’Earth in space’’. This included limited understanding, alternative conception and the absence of understating about some of the concepts. Subsequently, on the basis of the issues a strategic general action plan was prepared and implemented to facilitate the teacher's conceptual development and its application in teaching the students. The planning and actions remained responsive to the change coming up from the experiences of the teacher's conceptual development. The data for the action process was collected through semi-structured interviews, lesson observation notes, researcher's and the teacher's reflective journals. Collecting and analyzing data was going hand on hand with the purpose of taking further actions for the teacher' conceptual development. The study reports the process of developing teacher's conceptual understanding with the help of the strategies such as discussion on reading materials, exploring the diagrams, demonstration of the phenomena and practicing the phenomena by the teacher. The implementation of the general action plan brought some significant changes in teacher's conception about ‘’Earth in space’’ and ultimately improved her practices in the classroom. The process of the teacher's conceptual development was exciting as well as challenging process. Exciting because the entire process helped the teacher to reconceptualize her existing conception and at times put her in mental dissonance. And challenging was because conceptual development is a gradual and slow process. Therefore, teaches require sufficient time to internalize the new concepts before they apply it in the classroom. The report concludes by sharing the learning from possibilities and challenges as a teacher educator and action researcher.

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