22 SES 07 B, International Perspectives on Professional Development
Professional development (PD) trajectories should provide a transformative experience in order to have a sustainable impact on academics educational beliefs and their teaching practices. Immerging university teachers in an unfamiliar international context and unknown university system might help academic to re-evaluate their educational beliefs.
Any educational reform that is inconsistent with the beliefs of those responsible for its execution will be unsuccessful (Verloop, 2003). Therefore educational professional development of university staff is a critical element of success especially of the reforms in Kazakh higher education system. Since independence in 1991, Higher Education in Kazakhstan has been developing rapidly from a highly centralized Soviet system to what is called a ‘world class system’. Current reforms aim to increase the autonomy of universities, improve the quality of teaching and research, and to internationalize education. The Bologna process has been adopted and is being implemented (OECD, 2007). This large scale and long-term national educational reform is still an ungoing process in which academics are challenged to re-evaluate their educational beliefs and re-negotiate their teaching practice.
The Bolashak International Scholarship program, funded by the Government of Kazakhstan, provides a wide range of scholarships, including grants for academic staff to participate in professional development trainings at Universities outside Kazakhstan. In this study we systematically evaluated the professional development of Kazakh academics as a result of a three months international PD trajectory in The Netherlands.
Design of a transformative learning experience
At the start of the PD trajectory an assessment of learning needs and wishes took place. Main topics of interest as formulated by the participants include: modern teaching methods in their subject areas, IT in education, how to teach critical thinking and research, improving own and students English proficiency, academic writing, and how to publish in international research journals. Additionally participants indicate their desire to build relationships with Dutch colleagues in their subject areas.
Through an activating teaching approach during the PD trajectory participants were engaged in educational training, collaborative learning and joint curriculum development for the training. The trajectory consisted of five topics: educational methods, action research, academic English, project management and networking (including guest lectures and site visits). As an outcome of the PD each individual participant wrote an action research proposal to be implemented in Kazakhstan after return. Furthermore project proposals were prepared as group work. These consisted of a variety of educational topics and methodologies. In some groups educational design projects were produced and in other groups review articles or outlines for an educational research project.
During the PD trajectory in The Netherlands, the participants were immerged in a new cultural and academic environment. For them that acted as an opportunity to acquire new knowledge and skills and to re-evaluate educational beliefs. According to ongoing evaluations almost all our Kazakh colleagues embrace these opportunities with enthusiasm. Most often the training products were of high standard.
But does their professional development last beyond their training period?
Does an international Professional Development trajectory for Kazakh University teachers in the Netherlands change the participants’ educational beliefs and teaching practice?
Bridges, D., Kurakbayev, K. & Kambatyrova, A. (2014) Lost - and Found - in Translation? Interpreting the Process of the International and Intranational Translation of Educational Policy and Practice in Kazakhstan. In David Bridges (editor), Educational Reform and Internationalisation. The Case of School Reform in Kazakhstan. Cambridge University Press. Guskey, T. R. (2002) Professional Development and Teacher Change. Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, Vol. 8, 381-391. Lowman, J. (1996), Characteristics of exemplary teachers. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 33–40. OECD (2007) Reviews of National Policies for Education: Higher Education in Kazakhstan 2007. The World Bank, Washington/OECD Publishing, Paris. Trigwell, K. & Prosser, M. (1996). Congruence between intention and strategy in university science teachers' approaches to teaching. Higher Education 32, 77-87. Sagintayeva, A. Kurakbayev, K. (2014) Understanding the transition of public universities to institutional autonomy in Kazakhstan. European Journal of Higher Education. Verloop, N. (2003) De leraar. In N. Verloop & J. Lowyck (Red.), Onderwijskunde, een kennisbasis voor professionals (pp. 194-249). Groningen/Houten: Wolters-Noordhoff.
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