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Educational leadership: Inclusive education

Qualitative or Quantitative?

There are a number of reasons for conducting research. Doing research contributes to revealing lies or truths, building knowledge and efficient learning, as well as testing the validity and reliability of certain claims. Research becomes a must to uncover the issues unnoticed or hidden by society. And thereby it brings positive alterations into the life of the community.

There exist qualitative and quantitative research methods that aid to achieve the aforementioned goals. Each of them has its own benefits and drawbacks. Hence, it is difficult or even impossible to claim that one method is more valuable than the other. But more importantly, they need to be used in a balanced way so that they can provide a fuller context for the current situation.

Kazakhstan acknowledges the importance of research and, therefore, has devoted increasing attention to its development in all realms of life. As a student who reads a lot of research papers on different topics, I have become convinced that the country concentrates more on carrying out a quantitative research study. Most of the articles I have found contain statistical data. For instance, if we talk specifically about Inclusive education, there are numerous papers which tell about the overall number of children excluded from going to school, or about the amount of finance allocated to train teachers or to improve the conditions of facilities at schools. Consequently, the quantitative research instruments usually provide numerical descriptions that can be generalized to some larger population but are limited in details. Thus, there is a need to apply qualitative research method which would give more detailed and deeper explanations of certain issues happening in the country.

Qualitative research aims to analyze the deeper meaning of people’s behavior, experiences, beliefs, perceptions, feelings, and emotions. This method gives people a certain degree of freedom and confidence and creates the right atmosphere to enable people to express their voice through in-depth interviews, participant observation, and focus groups. That’s why I have chosen to apply the qualitative type of research for my thesis which touches an issue of training pre-service teachers. In my work, I am intending to include teacher educators as participants whose views and beliefs are not taken into consideration in designing policy reforms. By using qualitative research, I can give them more freedom and allow spontaneity rather than make them select from a set of “pre-determined responses”. I believe this investigation will help policymakers, researchers, teachers and me, as a future leader in education, realize the actual reasons of arising problems around the preparation of pre-service teachers.

Organization of a literature review section

To date, I have almost finished writing a literature review part of my thesis proposal, but, of course, it may need revising and editing. After reading a number of materials, in my thesis work, I have made a lot of changes with respect to which direction I should go in, and what I need to concentrate while writing the literature review. In my previous blog post, I wrote that teacher-centred learning, which makes students be oppressed, was/is practised in education systems of post-Soviet countries. However, having read various articles on teaching, I came to a conclusion that this style of teaching dominates in other countries as well, such as Turkey, Indonesia, and Qatar. Therefore, it can be wrong to state that such a way of teaching and learning exists only in post-Soviet contexts. Instead, I wrote that ‘teacher-centered learning’ continues to be used in many parts of the world.

Now, I would like to demonstrate how I organized my major themes in the literature review part, and some influential phrases or texts used to cite. My major theme relates to the training pre-service teachers receive in pedagogical universities. In order to smoothly go to that specific topic, I decided to begin my literature review with providing some general data on teaching quality as ‘one of the important school variables influencing student achievement’ (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, as cited in Silova, 2009). That is, I write about the necessity of using appropriate teaching methods/pedagogies which develop learners’ skills/talents, empower them for social change, and create an inclusive environment in classrooms/schools in order for every learner to feel accepted.

In the following paragraphs, I gradually turn to discussing on teaching methods utilized to train pre-service teachers in pedagogical universities in both western and post-soviet contexts. For that purpose, for example, I cite the studies of Iveta Silova (2009, 2010) who clearly illustrates the current state of teacher preparation processes in post-Soviet countries. Afterwards, I proceed with discussing specifically three theories of teaching and learning such as behaviourism, constructivist and critical pedagogical approach. To do this, I use research works of Kasey R. Larson (critical pedagogy), Kablan and Kaya (constructivist teaching) amongst others. I believe that these materials will assist me to better understand and analyze what teaching methods teachers at pedagogical universities of the country employ to teach pre-service teachers, and what pedagogies they teach pre-service teachers.

One of the challenges in my research project is a shortage of relevant and reliable data on teacher training in pedagogical universities in Kazakhstan. The country needs to pay much more attention to developing research studies as these may contribute to the improvement of an education system. I hope my research study will be a useful resource for other researchers.

P.S. Dear colleagues, if you have any suggestions/recommendations regarding the organization of my literature review, please, let me know.  Your opinion is important to me, as I am still working on it.

 

References:

Silova, I. (2009). The crisis of the post-soviet teaching profession in the Caucasus and Central Asia. Research in Comparative and International Education, 4, 4.

Silova, I., Moyer, A., Webster, C. & McAllister, S. (2010). Re-conceptualizing professional development of teacher educators in post-Soviet Latvia. Professional development in education, 36:1-2, 357-371, doi: 10.1080/19412550903457596

Kablan, Z. & Kaya, S. (2014). Preservice teachers’ constructivist teaching scores based on their learning styles. Australian Journal of teachers education, 39, 12.

My thesis topic

My thesis topic is ‘Teaching methods used in pedagogical universities in Kazakhstan’.

The role of a teacher in the successful implementation of inclusive education is essential, as he should possess necessary knowledge and skills to be competent to work with a great diversity of students in the class. However, a level of preparation of teachers to meet diverse learners remains low in Kazakhstan. Since I completed my bachelor’s degree in a pedagogical university in Kazakhstan, I am aware of the quality of training (pre-service) teachers in the country to a certain extent.

During my studies for bachelor’s I realized that in educational systems of many post-soviet countries, there is still ‘Soviet’ understanding of teaching and learning (Burkhalter & Shegebayev, 2010), when teachers have the sole authority in the classroom and ‘transmit knowledge from their mind to students’ mind’ (Kumaravadivelu, as cited in Mahmoodarabi & Khodabakhsh, 2015). However, learners participate passively in the learning process, that is, they just ‘receive, memorize and repeat information’ (Romanowski & Amatullah, 2016). This way of teaching and learning is perceived as banking method which makes students be oppressed because they are required to acquire knowledge rather than construct their own knowledge (Freire as cited in Romanowski & Amatullah, 2016). This tendency relates to neoliberal educational reforms in Kazakhstan, where schools put much emphasis on passing standardized tests based upon curriculum standards to ensure accountability. That narrow pedagogical approach that focuses on memorization give a priority to students with ‘good’ memories and provides a disadvantage to those students who require a more varied approach to understanding key concepts (Yakavets, 2013). But I believe that it is necessary for teachers to concentrate on student empowerment and to develop skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, reflective and communicative that are vital for the 21st-century citizens. This approach will be more inclusive and no one child with his different abilities will be left behind.

So, the purpose of my study is to investigate the pedagogy teachers employ to educate pre-service teachers in pedagogical universities in Kazakhstan. In order to appropriately analyze the research findings, in my thesis, I will explore different theories of teaching such as constructivist, behaviourist and critical pedagogy amongst others and look at studies involving pre-service teachers from a western perspective and then from post-soviet contexts. It is important to remember that the training pre-service teachers receive determines the way they teach their students and as a result have an impact on the skills their students develop. I believe that my work will bring a number of benefits to me as a future leader in inclusive education, teachers, researchers, and policy makers to understand the existing problems around the preparation of teachers in pedagogical universities and to find appropriate solutions to them.

References:

Burkhalter, N. & Shegebayev, M. (2010). The Critical Thinking Movement in Kazakhstan: a progress report. Research in Comparative and International Education, Vol 5, № 4.

Mahmoodarabi,  & Khodabakhsh,  (2015). Critical Pedagogy: EFL Teachers’ Views, Experience and Academic Degrees. English Language Teaching; Vol. 8, No. 6.

Romanowski, M. & Amatullah, T. (2016). Applying Concepts of Critical Pedagogy to  Qatar’s Educational Reform.

Yakavets, N. (2013). Education for Economic Competitiveness: Kazakhstan moving from a post-soviet to a Neoliberal Agenda. European educational research association.