01 SES 07 C, Factors Affecting the Professional Development of Women Educators
This paper with its focus on the professional development needs of female teachers in schools in Pakistan addresses in a very direct way the foci of Network 1 and also the theme of this conference'Education in an Era of Risk – the Role of Educational Research for the Future'.The professional learning and development needsof teachers in developing world countries reflects the reality that while individual professional learning is necessary but not sufficient for sustainable change within groups and organisations.The realities of teaching in many developing countries create challenges forthe provision of teacher development. The lack of sufficient resources indicatethat initiativesto encourage ongoing teacher development will be hampered (Reid &Kleinhenz, 2015). Teacher development that occurs independently ofthe school context and without ongoing support for implementation may be challenged by therealities of the classroom environment and lack of understanding among teaching colleaguesand the school leadership. In many developing countries professional development is challenging.Mohammad & Harlech-Jones (2008) found that teachers in Pakistan who had undertaken an in-service trainingcourse at a university did not immediately implement the practicesthey had learned. The practices taught during in-service training were often difficult to implement due to timeconstraints and other responsibilities (Mohammad & Harlech-Jones, 2008). In addition to the lack of resources there is the challenge of limited autonomy, autocratic and hierarchal leadership styles and low degrees of change initiation (Oplatka, 2004). For Karstanje& Webber (2008) a better understanding of local customs and cultural norms is required asprofessional development initiatives may need long incubation periods in settings where they are introduced. However, at the same time, Oplatka (2004) has argued that there are a number of specific issues that still need to be addressed such as providing teachers with adequate training on instructional issues; address issues of autonomy, democracy, and improve the responsiveness of teachers and school systems to parents and children.
This study has the following objectives:
- To gain insights into the views of congregation leadership about the professional development needs of female staff in schools in Pakistan.
- To explore the mechanisms that are currently in place which promote and support, mentoring and professional development approaches in these schools.
- To identify the key challenges in meeting the professional needs of female teachers in these schools.
- To assess the changed nature of provision by the congregation in terms of student diversity, faith diversity and the expectations of governments in both of these countries with reference to the professional development of female teachers.
The theoretical approach underpinning the study is Archer’s theory of social realism. Archer (2010) suggests that a realist asks what needs to be in place in order for things to operate in a particular way. Through analytical dualism, Archer (1995) separates structure (the external world) into the spheres of structure and culture. Structure represents material goods and social positions. Culture represents ideas and beliefs. Agency encompasses human action and interaction.Within Archer’s social realist analysis, it is possible to identify structural, cultural and agency interactions that impact upon the provision of professional development opportunities for female teachers and their engagement with such opportunities.
A total of 10elite interviews are currently being conducted with the leaders of the religious congregation and the findings will be reported in August at the conference. The interviewing process commenced with a pilot stage. The selected participants were emailed prior to the interview in order to introduce the research formally, provide contact information, articulate the intent of the study, request participation and identify the anticipated data that the participants would be expected to provide.Assurances of confidentiality, anonymity and evidence that the interview aspect of the study was awarded full ethical approval from the institutionin which the study was based was given to each participant. The interview schedules for the elite interviews was developed and participants were recruited based on their knowledge and experience of working in schools in Pakistan to capture their different perspectives and viewpoints in relation to future planning for the professional development needs of female teachers in the congregation’s schools in these respective countries. A number of themes were included in the interview schedule to capture the structural, cultural and agency aspects of professional development needs of female teachers as perceived by the leaders of the congregation. These included changes in education provision by the congregation in these countries; what contexts and structural factors impacted upon provision; how did the congregation shape or react to changes; how did the congregation support the professional development needs of its female teachers and how has this changed over time with reference to the identification of needs, supporting continuing professional development and what they view as the challenges faced by female teachers who wish to undertake professional development through their careers. The data will be analysed using NVivo and Gilligan et al. (2006) ‘Listening Guide’ framework.
This is an understudied area in the context of professional development particularly with reference to the developing world context and will contribute to the research literature in the field. This findings from this study will yield useful insights into the complexities that underpin the provision of professional development and support for female teachers in developing world countries. It will also identify the approaches being adopted by one religious congregation to sustain its mission in the context of diminishing personnel and resources particularly in the context of providing inclusive education for students from diverse backgrounds. This findings from this aspect of the study will provide the basis to conduct in-depth interviews with women teachers working in the congregation schools to see if their needs actually reflect what the leadership of the congregation have identified as priority areas for future professional development.
Archer, M. S. (1995). Realist social theory: the morphogenetic approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Gilligan, C., Spencer, S.R., Weinberg, K.M. & Bertsch, T. (2005). On the listening guide: A voice – centred relational method. In S. Hesse-Biber and P. Leavy (Eds.), Emergent methods in social research(pp.253-271). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Karstanje P and Webber CF (2008). Programs for school principal preparation in East Europe. Journal ofEducational Administration 46(6): 762–776. Mohammad, R. & Harlech-Jones, B. (2008). Working as partners for classroom reform. International Journal of Educational Development, 28(5):534–545. Oplatka, I. (2004). The principalship in developing countries: context, characteristics and reality, Comparative Education, 40:3, 427-448, DOI: 10.1080/0305006042000274872. Reid, Kate; Kleinhenz, Elizabeth (2015). Supporting teacher development: Literature review. Canberra: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
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