01 SES 04 C, The Impact of Teacher Professional Development Programmes
There are many countries that have an official bilingual policy, e.g. Cyprus, Finland and Canada. Despite the fact that ‘multilingualism has become a common phenomenon all across the globe’ (Singh, Zhang and Besmel, 2012: 350), it is more unusual for countries to embrace an official trilingual policy, as noted in countries such as Belgium, Switzerland and Hong Kong. It is argued, however, that this is to become more commonplace if countries wish to maintain their dual state languages or protect a minority language (Fang, 2017). This paper focuses its attention on one of the most developed instances of reform to formalise a trilingual policy in Kazakhstan. Actively pursued by authorities in the country, the policy is in response not only to sociolinguistic and political factors but also economic factors (Nazarbayev, 2018). As such, the State Program for Development and Functioning of Languages in the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2011-2020 recognises the importance of the Kazakh language as the state language and the Russian language as the language of interethnic communication, both serving as dual national languages to help build Kazakhstan’s identity. Coupled with this is the use of the English language to integrate the country into the world economy and global society (Baiteliyeva, 2015).
The main site for the rollout of Kazakhstan’s trilingual policy is educational institutions with an initial focus on secondary schools. As such, professional development opportunities are being used to up skill in-service school teachers across the country. One such programme is designed to improve the level of English language command of mainstream school staff in preparation for them teaching their subject – Computing, Physics, Chemistry or Biology – in English as a medium of instruction in Grades 10 and 11 in 2019. Delivered by the Educational Excellence Centre of Nazarbayev University, the teacher professional development programme aims to embrace a Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) approach as an integral and significant part of the programme.
This paper reports on funded research that was undertaken as part of an enquiry into the programme’s effectiveness partway through its implementation in November 2017. Researchers from Nazarbayev University and the University of Cambridge collaborated to question various stakeholders about the perceived benefits, issues and concerns of those delivering and receiving the teacher professional development programme, offering recommendations for its improvement. In an effort to provide insight into the attitudes of teacher attendees, trainers and administrators/co-ordinators, the research considered several of Walter and Briggs’ (2012: 1) seven attributes of professional development that make the most difference to teachers as a useful theoretical framework, e.g. the content of the teacher professional development programme, how the professional development programme enables teachers to work collaboratively with peers, and how the teacher professional development programme is supported by effective school leadership.
The paper critically explores select strengths of the programme along with aspects for improvement, with the purpose of considering practical ways to positively address these aspects of need to not only benefit the programme but also similar programmes in international contexts.
A mixed-methods approach to data collection was adopted (Plano Clark and Ivankova, 2016), complementing the strengths of the different data methods selected. A combination of four online surveys, 14 focus groups and 15 individual interviews were conducted in an effort to capture the general picture as well as more specific, richer data. The research followed the ethical procedures approved for the project by the Ethical Review Committee at Nazarbayev University. Data were collected from five different locations in Kazakhstan; these included Astana, Almaty and cities in North, South and West Kazakhstan. The qualitative data captured the attitudes of four different categories of respondents: those who were course participants (school teachers undertaking the teacher professional development course, n38), teacher trainers (trainers that were hired to deliver the teacher professional development coursen23), project co-ordinators (known as 'methodologists') who were in charge of the teacher professional development course logisticsn8), and project administrators, these being either junior or senior managers (n2. The focus groups and individual interviews lasted between 40-50 minutes and were conducted either in English, Kazakh or Russian. Survey data were drawn from a survey to 1257 teacher-trainees at the start of the course (reported previously – see Winter et al, 2017) and three further surveys completed by 606 teacher-attendees, 127 trainers and 74 methodologists at the end of the course. Transcripts were dutifully translated for researchers from the University of Cambridge to subsequently analyse. The qualitative data analysis software package NVIVO was used to code the data, embracing a semi-structured coding system that was developed by team members and then adopted and adapted by the rest of the research team.
With reference to Walter and Briggs’ (2012: 1) framework, preliminary analysis of the findings not only highlights numerous strengths but indicates a predominant number of issues and concerns linked to the very nature of the teacher professional development experience that unfortunately undermines its quality. Methodologists recognised how some course participants were disadvantaged at the start of the training if there were logistical issues in getting course books to the schools on time. Course participants regularly complained about “the need for more speaking” opportunities as these facilitated a concrete learning experience that the school teachers relished; instead, they were subjected to frequent written tests which were not favourably regarded. Some teacher trainers felt the need to ‘drill-teach’ the course participants whereas others offered numerous opportunities for the teachers to work collaboratively with their peers through role-play, games and other practical tasks. Concerns regarding the short duration of the teacher professional development programme (11 weeks) meant that there was a general angst from course participants that they would forget what they had been taught once the course was completed. Poor school leadership meant that some course participants were forced to engage in school work that was demanded of them by the school administration in the evening which hindered their ability to engage in necessary homework tasks set by the teacher trainers. Numerous practical recommendations are offered at the end of this paper in an effort to support the continued improved roll out of the programme across Kazakhstan and to benefit those in the international community who engage in teacher professional development programmes of this nature; these include revising the volume of course content, using formative assessment strategies to assess the progress of teacher attendees and making better use of online platforms such as Moodle.
Baiteliyeva, Z. (2015). Multilingualism in Kazakhstan and Problems of Teaching the Kazakh Language. [Online]. Available at: https://nur.nu.edu.kz/bitstream/handle/123456789/1704/Multilingualism_Baiteliyeva%20Zh..pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y (Accessed: 20 January 2018). Fang, T. T. (2017). How to Maintain a Minority Language through Education. Chinese Studies, 6, 1-11. Nazarbayev, N. (2018). State of the Nation Address by the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev. January 10, 2018. [Online]. Available at: http://mfa.gov.kz/en/baku/content-view/poslanie-prezidenta-respubliki-kazahstan-n-nazarbaeva-narodu-kazahstana-10-anvara-2018-g-5 (Accessed: 19 January 2018). Plano Clark, V. L. and Ivankova, N. V. (2016). Mixed Methods Research: A Guide to the Field. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Singh, N. K., Zhang, S. and Besmel, P. (2012). Globalization and language policies of multilingual societies: some case studies of south east Asia. Revista Brasileira de Linguística Aplicada, 12(2), 349-380. Walter, C. and Briggs, J. (2012). What professional development makes the most difference to teachers? A report sponsored by Oxford University Press. Oxford: University of Oxford Department of Education. [Online]. Available at: http://www.education.ox.ac.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/WalterBriggs_2012_TeacherDevelopment_public_v2.pdf (Accessed: 14 December 2017). Winter, L., Kambatyrova, A., & Gungor, D. (2017). Assessing regional variations in attitudes towards a Professional Development Programme to learn the English Language for teachers of Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Informatics. Bulletin of the Kazakh National Pedagogical University, 53(4), 43-56. Available at http://bulletin-pedagogic-sc.kaznu.kz/index.php/1-ped/article/view/451/435 (Accessed: 21 May 2018).
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