01 SES 06 B, Networks and Collaborative Approaches to Professional Learning
There is increasing evidence that professional networking is one of the necessary conditions for teacher professionalism at an individual and system level (Hargreaves and Fullan, 2012; OECD, 2016; Shirley, 2017) and, moreover, is an essential component of successful educational change (Daly, 2010; Daly, Liou, Tran, Cornelissen, & Park, 2014). Therefore, education systems, aimed for system-wide improvements, should consider necessary systems in place that promote, understand and support professional networks of educators, using the potential of all possible structures, systems, and technologies.
In line with the latest research on teacher professionalism and educational change, Kazakhstan is also promoting an idea of teacher professional networks within the entire process of reforming its education system. Being the 9-th largest country in the world, 56.8% of Kazakhstan population live in urban areas (Kazinform, 2015). Consequently, 61.6 % of teachers are working in geographically isolated rural area with limited educational resources and fewer opportunities for professional development in comparison to their colleagues in urban areas (IAC, 2015). Therefore, to provide equity for knowledge access and speed of its horizontal and vertical proliferation within Kazakhstani educators, there is an immense need to develop a virtual professional network infrastructure and to support such relationships. In this way, leveraging technology within teacher professional networks provides an additional and important opportunity not only for teacher professional development at a system level but also for successful reform implementation.
However, to be able to support and strengthen professional networks in virtual reality, there is a need not only to understand the theory behind this phenomenon but also to understand existent trends in a certain context, influenced by various factors, such as economic resources, educational policy, and culture. In this light, Robson (2016) stresses the need for this research by citing Cuban (2001) and Selwyn (2011) and pointing that the “state of reality that at the turn of the century not enough professionals were engaging in online social spaces to warrant the hype, and it is so often the case in educational IT initiatives, the political discourses did not correspond with the messy realities of our education system on the ground”. What is more, a recent literature review of studies in relation to teachers’ informal online communities and networks, conducted by Macia and García (2016) states that most of the studies are those of developed countries and stressed the absence of studies from post-Soviet Union counties.
Exploring the nature of knowledge sharing behavior within virtual professional networks of teachers in Kazakhstan, the present paper will consider this phenomenon through the lenses of social cognitive theory. In accordance with social cognitive theory, the behavior of human beings, particularly their choice, motivation, and self-regulation is based on belief systems, and one of the central is the belief of personal efficacy. According to Bandura (1997, p. 116), efficacy beliefs control people’s activity through four main processes, such as motivational, cognitive, affective and selective, and these “different processes usually operate in concert, rather than in isolation, in the ongoing regulation of human functioning”.
Owing to the nature of identified research question the study use mixed method approach. Parallel mixed methods research design of the present study involves paper-based questionnaire and face-to-face interviews of teachers. While the quantitative data (questionnaires) is collected from the whole sample, the qualitative data (interviews) is collected from a subset of individuals of the sample (parallel mixed-methods design, same/subsample). The respondents of the questionnaire were selected with a help of multi-stage cluster sampling procedure. By means of stratified sampling procedure, 29 schools have been visited.
This paper will report on the preliminary findings from the field research. At the time of submission, the first analysis shows that self-efficacy (both web-specific and professional) plays key role in knowledge-sharing as well as knowledge-receiving behaviour. Self-efficacy belief is strongly correlated with motivational, cognitive, affective processes, which in turn are strongly associated with knowledge-sharing behaviour. Consideration of cognitive process revealed that secondary school teachers’ decisions to share knowledge within virtual professional networks are strongly associated with required time and effort as well as with their conception of being mistaken and loss of knowledge. As for motivational process, the teachers’ knowledge-sharing behaviour is significantly predicted by satisfaction (perceived ease of use, appreciation and reciprocity) and performance expectation (professional learning and reputation). Simultaneously, the analysis of preliminary findings suggests that teachers’ knowledge-sharing intention is associated with affective process such as sense of identity, feeling of specialness and sense of isolation.
Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. Macmillan. Daly, A. J. (Ed.). (2010). Social network theory and educational change (Vol. 8). Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press. Daly, A. J., Liou, Y.-H., Tran, N. A., Cornelissen, F., & Park, V. (2014). The rise of neurotics: Social networks, leadership, and efficacy in district reform. Educational Administration Quarterly, 50(2), 233–278. Hargreaves, A., & Fullan, M. (2012). Professional capital: Transforming teaching in every school. Teachers College Press. IAC (2015). Перспективы развития сельских школ [Prospects of rural school development]. Retrieved from: http://iac.kz/ru/publishing/perspektivy-razvitiya-selskih-shkol Kazinform. (2015). Population of Kazakhstan reaches 17 563 300 [webpage]. Retrieved from Macià, M., & García, I. (2016). Informal online communities and networks as a source of teacher professional development: A review. Teaching and Teacher Education, 55, 291–307. OECD (2016). Supporting Teacher Professionalism: Insights from TALIS 2013, TALIS, OECD Publishing, Paris. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264248601-en Robson, J. (2016). Engagement in structured social space: an investigation of teachers’ online peer-to-peer interaction. Learning, Media and Technology, 41(1), 119–139. Shirley, D. (2017). The new imperatives of educational change: Achievement with integrity. Taylor & Francis.
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