Governing The Work Of The Teachers Education Essay

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This chapter focuses on the method used for the study. Initially the researcher has gone through the background of the problem by visiting various municipal schools and thought critically upon the situation of formulation of the title of the problem. At last, the researcher succeeded in formulating the problem.

After the location and definition of the problem, the researcher formulated the objectives, assumptions and limitations. The related literature and various researches conducted at various levels in the field of the language teaching have been reviewed and the tools for the present study have been finalized. From the various tools, questionnaire and interviews were used for data collection. Then the researcher selected sampling design for the present study.

Methods used for the Present Study

Taking into consideration, the nature of this research work, the researcher has used mainly the following two methods -

Descriptive Survey Method

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Experimental Method

Descriptive Survey Method

Descriptive research is primarily concerned with describing the nature or conditions and degree in detail of the present situation (Landman.1988.59). The emphasis is on describe rather than or judge or interpret. It assesses the nature of existing conditions.

A descriptive study describes and interprets what is. It is concerned with conditions or relationships that exist, opinions that are held, processes that are going on, effects that are evident, or trends that are developing. It is primarily concerned with the present although it often considers past events as they relate to correct conditions.

Descriptive research also involves events that have already taken place and may be related to a present condition (Best and Khan, 2004. 105-106). Descriptive validity refers to accuracy in the reporting of descriptive information. (Bruke - Johnson, 1997.283).

Experimental Research

In an experimental design, the researcher intervenes with a procedure that determines what the subjects will experience. In other words, the investigator has some control over what will happen to the subjects by systematically imposing or withholding specified interventions which will lead for further research work.

Although the experimental method finds its greatest utility in the laboratory; it can effectively be applied within non laboratory settings such as classroom where significant factors or variables can be controlled to some degree. The events can be predicted and variable relationships can be generalized outside the laboratory to a wider interest of population.

Methodology of Investigation

A survey of the teaching situation at Municipal schools of Vijayawada, A.P., is taken. This involved a detailed examination/study of the teachers' behaviour in the teaching/learning context.

This study required to:

Obtain data pertaining to the conditions governing the work of the teachers, i.e., their general socio-economic environment and the educational climate in which they are required to perform / teach;

Make a study of the instructional programme after collecting the data on teaching techniques, methods and materials which are used currently;

Assess the teachers' attitudes towards learners and teaching, i.e. obtain data on their qualifications - educational as well as professional, their teaching experience, teaching strategies and language competence and the motivational factors which would help them to become better teachers;

Analyze the teaching aids used, and evaluate the kind of help learners derive from them and further help they need to get, to obtain language in a better way.

The Method used for the Research

The researcher has used Descriptive Survey Method to study the present problems faced by the students and the teachers while teaching/learning English language. The tools were prepared accordingly and used by the researcher. Hence, the researcher has mainly used survey method for the present study.

The Experimental Method has been used for finding out the effects of an in-service training programme on teachers' performance.

Experimental Design

The same group was used to observe the teaching behaviour before and after the training. Hence it was a single group design.

Variable

In this research the variable was the In-Service training Programme provided to the English Language teachers. It was independent variable and teaching performance of the teachers was dependent variable.

A Mixed Method

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Hence, a mixed method i.e., descriptive survey method and experimental method together was implemented to conduct the research.

The Tools used for Data collection

The construction of a research instrument or tool for data collection is the most important aspect of a research because anything one says by way of findings or conclusions is based upon the type of information one collects, and the data collected is entirely dependent upon the questions that one asks of the respondents. The tools employ distinctive ways of describing and quantifying the data. Each tool used is particularly appropriate for certain sources of data, yielding information of the kind and in the form that can be most effectively used (Best and Khan, 2004.207).

The following research instruments were used for the present study

(i) Observation of English language classes

(ii) Questionnaire

(iii) Interviews

(iv) Study of relevant documents.

Observation of the class

To get authentic and proper information about teachers' performance, observation of their teaching is quite useful. As the present study especially deals with the 'process of learning English at school level', it is important to know the teachers' problems while teaching English in the actual classrooms. The experimental method was used for some part of the present study. In it, the researcher observed the classes periodically. This observation was considered as the pre-test apart from the questionnaire. The observation schedule was used as a text to measure the change in the performance of the teachers. (The lesson observation schedule is given in appendix 'C').

Questionnaire

As the present study was related to find out teachers' problems while teaching English, the researcher has decided to use the questionnaire as the main device to collect information from the respondents.

There are certain reasons for using questionnaire as a main device to collect information:

Nature of the Subject

The teaching of the English language depends on various factors. The

factors like teachers' education, experience, pre-service, in-service training, reference books, use of magazines, his/her family background, educational atmosphere, teaching aids, syllabus etc. are directly or indirectly related to teaching - learning process. Hence, these factors should be studied at a time. It shows that the subject has a lot of scope and many dimensions. Therefore, in order to get information relation to all these factors, the best technique of the questionnaire was used by the researchers.

Teacher as a main source of information

The teacher only can give information as they face the problems directly in the classroom while teaching. Hence, the researcher had used questionnaire for the teachers to collect the information related to the status of English language teaching.

Procedure to prepare the Questionnaire

Proper care was taken in framing all the items included in the questionnaire. Double-barreled questions (Best, 1978.161) and double negatives were avoided and adequate alternatives provided. Provision was made for the systematic quantification of response. Care was taken to make the directions precise, define important items, word the questions simply and clearly, questions were presented in a sequence proceeding from general to specific responses.

A brief preparation of the Questionnaire

The first questionnaire has three sections - A, B and C. and twenty five questions in all. Some questions have further subsections inserted for the purposes of receiving fuller feedback on all the aspects of the issues raised.

Structure of the questionnaire

It was divided into two parts:

General information of the teacher

This part one consisted of the teacher's general information regarding teachers' personal data, educational and professional qualifications. The purpose behind collecting such information was to find out teacher's overall academic achievement.

Classroom Teaching

This second part of the questionnaire consisted of the following points:

Methods used teaching English at high school level.

Teacher's ideas to develop linguistic skills.

Pre-service and in-service training and teacher's suggestions about them.

Techniques and the instructional materials used for teaching English.

Teacher's administrative and academic problems.

Difficulties faced by the teachers while teaching English.

Remedies to overcome these difficulties.

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[The questionnaire is given in appendix 'A']

Administration of the Pilot Study Questionnaire

The ten questionnaires were given to ten different teachers of municipal schools to fill in. Brief interviews - more of the nature of informal talks were conducted before handing over the questionnaires to the respondents. The teachers filled in the questionnaires carefully and also counted the time required for filling in the questionnaire.

The pilot study was helpful for the researcher to understand the following things regarding the nature of the questionnaire -

Which question was difficult to understand?

How much time was required to fill in the questionnaire?

Which were irrelevant questions?

Were the questions with proper sequence?

In this way the information related to the questionnaire was collected and changes were made accordingly.

Findings of the Pilot Study

The researcher found that the following findings were useful for the major study of this research:

All the respondents were at least graduates equipped with a teaching degree as diploma. However, only 50% of them had English as a major subject of study at the undergraduate or post graduate level and only 50% had specialized in English language teaching in their training course. This shows that most of the teachers recruited to English have not had enough English at School or University and proper training in English teaching methodology.

The respondents had an average 10 years of teaching experience. They taught about 5 periods a day, mostly to classes VI to X. Besides teaching English, they have to teach other subjects like Social Studies, Science or Mathematics in L1.

A survey of the teaching methods, techniques and procedures followed by the teachers to teach English revealed that they followed greatly diverse methods and no particular method could be identified as the major method. The respondents mainly used the convenient methods of teaching like translation into mother tongue, lecturing, dictating notes from the market guides.

Poems are mostly taught through recitation, explaining the central idea and the theme of summarizing the poem followed by question and answers (as per the demands of examinations). Grammar is taught technically giving the rules and drilling the structure, short stories through narration which created total silence in the class.

The respondents could not suggest much improvement in the teaching methods, techniques, procedures they followed to teach prose pieces, poems, grammar and short stories. At the most they try to convey some vague ideas by using the popular ELT jargon which they seemed to have come across during their long teaching experience. However, they strongly felt that proper motivation of the students and the use of other teaching-aids with proper training could help them to teach much better.

It was found that the whole process of classroom teaching was context oriented rather than language oriented. Language work was paid scant or no attention at all.

The respondents are very much aware of their lack of mastery of written and spoken English due to the poor listening and reading habits. Most of them specified that they would like to study written English, Spoken English, English grammar and usage as the main components of the proposed training programme. Some of them stated that they would like to study the useful teaching techniques.

The respondents' lack of interest in improving their teaching skills seems either to have been conditioned by the macro problems they face (such as large classes, non availability of text books, too much syllabus, and teacher's handbook, lack of able guidance, teaching aids, administrators' unhealthy attitudes towards them) on their long teaching experience or their being unaware of the improved/developed teaching methodology.

A lot of spelling and grammatical errors were detected in the respondents' use of English in filling in the questionnaires. Most of the teachers misspelt the word grammar as 'grammer'. There are many other such mistakes in their responses.

The above analysis of the respondents' competence of the language supported the researcher's assumption that the teachers should be given proper 'in-service training' to make them competent teachers. The keen desire to become competent teachers on the part of the respondents indicates the awareness of their weaknesses in the language they teach and the inadequacy of their teaching methodology.

The findings of the pilot survey seem to confirm that the English teaching/learning situation has to be improved sufficiently.

The pilot study helped the researcher to improve the questionnaire. A few more items were incorporated. The attention was paid to the systematic presentation of the items and the overall appearance of the questionnaire.

A brief description of Questionnaire II

The second questionnaire had 32 items in all. Most of the items had parts and subparts. The questionnaire consisted of 7 pages. The items in the questionnaire may be classified as under.

Items seeking information on personal data: These items sought information on respondents' age, workloads in terms of time spent daily on family affairs, professional related activities, reading habits, and the time spent in speaking English daily. And also their personal habits with regard to the use of English in their daily life and their study habits.

Items seeking information on professional qualifications: These items sought information on the respondents' educational qualifications, their teaching experience and teaching level, how much time they spent on preparation for teaching, correction of note books, taking extra classes and actual teaching periods in the school daily.

Items seeking information on the respondents' teaching behaviour: These items sought information on how the teachers taught prose pieces, poems, grammar, short stories and composition to their pupils; which areas out of the ones mentioned here the respondents preferred to teach and why, which were some of the useful classroom teaching techniques according to them.

Items seeking information on motivational factors/morale boosting factors/the respondents' attitudes: These items sought to identify (i) the factors that would motivate the teachers to take up the proposed 'training programme', (ii) the factors which would boost the morale of the respondents as teachers of English and (iii) their attitudes towards merit rating in teaching (Best, 1978. 164-166 and 173).

Care was taken to adequately motivate the respondents before administering the questionnaire. The responses were collected from them before their training started. The questionnaire was given to eighty English language teachers working in Municipal Corporation Schools in Vijayawada, A.P. Sufficient time was given to them. Out of eighty, the researcher was able to collect seventy five filled in questionnaires. Out of these 75, only 70 are used in the present study as the responses of 5 teachers were incomplete. The wider scope of this questionnaire enabled the researcher to study the problems in greater depth and broader prospective. The questionnaire, thus, assumed the position of the major research instrument for gathering information from the respondents for the purpose of the main survey.

Interview

It is very flexible and can be used to collect large amount of information. The interview is superior to other tools because people are more willing to talk than to write. The researcher can explore issues, and probe as the situation requires.

Validity and reliability of the interview

The interviews are used to establish or otherwise the validity of the responses.

If the interview is based on properly designed structure, it is more valid.

Reliability of the interview can be evaluated by relating the question in a different manner.

The researcher has interviewed some of the teachers and headmasters and obtained information about the following points:

The present standard of the language competence of their students-

The problems faced by the English language teachers.

The role of the administrators, school and the surroundings in learning language.

Views about the 'in-service training' programme.

[The interview questionnaire is given in appendix 'C']

The findings of the Informal interviews with the Teachers

Most of the teachers are not aware of the aims and objectives of the text books they are teaching. Very few teachers work towards clearly defined goals. Teaching for them is simply discharging their duty. They do not use the 'Teachers Handbook' which provides guidance to the teachers on how to use the Reader, the Workbook, and the Supplementary Reader' effectively. They simply go on teaching the same subject, with the same tone; with same methodology- "Theory is different from practice" seems to be their stance when it comes to experimenting with new techniques.

The teachers are blind to the reality that their learners are the first generation learners. They do not seem to understand the fact that these learners need to invest extra time and effort to grasp and assimilate the things that they study, because of the many problems they face in day to day life as disadvantaged learners. Teachers, besides failing to see the reality, try to compare the performance of the first generation learners with that of learners with good educational background. Such comparison makes the disadvantaged learners feel ashamed of themselves and sometimes leads to dire consequences such as dropping out from school, skipping the language classes, developing negative attitude towards language learning.

The teachers do not seem to understand why the parents of these students cannot keep a check on the progress of their wards. They do not seem to bear in mind the fact that the parents are illiterates and daily wage workers. They complained that the parents never enquire after their children's academic progress.

The teachers also expressed their in-adequacy of teaching English efficiently. The keen desire to become competent teacher on the part of the respondents indicated their awareness of their weaknesses in the language they teach and the inadequacy of teaching methodology.

Inspite of their busy schedule of work and completion of the syllabus, the respondents expressed their willingness to take an intensive 'training programme' in order to improve their competence in the language teaching and develop the learning process of English of their students.

The Sample Design

A Sample is small proportion of a population, which represents the population properly.

Population

The study extends in scope to all the municipal corporation schools where the English language is taught and learnt at high school level. Since the English syllabi and the text books for Telugu medium are same through out Andhra Pradesh and most of the teachers of English continue to follow traditional methods of teaching, they have more or less same level of language competence, though; they are placed in diverse settings and come from widely different backgrounds.

The researcher found that the recommendations made in the study on the basis of the survey are not specified to the schools/teachers which are examined, but are generalized.

All the same the research was limited to the Municipal Corporation Schools of Vijayawada, A.P. There are 29 high schools (including 1 Urdu medium, 2 schools both English and Telugu medium and 1 Tamil medium) and 15 Upper Primary Schools (including 3 Urdu medium) and 75 Elementary schools consisting of 28,450 students (as on 30.06.2009). However, the researcher selected only 25 Telugu Medium High Schools and 12 Upper Primary Schools. They are altogether 37 Telugu medium Municipal Corporation Schools in Vijayawada. These schools were situated both urban and semi-urban areas.

Selection of Respondent Teachers

The study was limited to the teachers teaching English at Upper Primary and High Schools of Municipal Corporation Schools of Vijayawada, A.P. Hence, the sample for the study included English teachers.

The researcher got the list of schools from the Municipal Corporation office and contacted the headmasters of these schools and requested to give a list of English teachers teaching at upper primary and high school level.

She could get a list of 80 English teachers. All 80 teachers were selected for the study.

Selection of teachers for in-service training

It was decided to select 40 teachers altogether representing all the upper primary and high schools. English teachers were selected randomly from the selected schools. Hence, there were 40 English teachers in the sample for the experiment. (A list of 40 teachers is given in appendix E)

Selection of the students for the Pre-test and Post-test

The researcher decided to select 200 students studying in high schools of Municipal Corporation Schools of Vijayawada, A.P. The VIII and IX class students were selected randomly from these schools. The Pre-test was given before the in-service training programme for the teachers and the post-test after the training programme.

Procedure of the Research

The procedure was divided into following two parts:

Visit of the Municipal Schools

The researcher first prepared a letter to the Municipal Corporation office to get the approval for conducting the present study and appealed the headmasters to Co-operate with the researcher.

[The letter is given in appendix 'D']

In the first part i.e. the Survey, the researcher used two important tools i.e. the questionnaire and the interview. [See 3.3.2 & 3.3.3]

The researcher personally went to each Municipal Corporation School and handed over the questionnaire to English language teachers. Enough time was given them. Some of the filled in questionnaires were immediately received. At the same time the researcher also had discussion with the teachers about the present status of teaching English in these schools.

The questionnaires were given to 80 teachers in total. They were given ample time to fill in the questionnaires. Out of them, 70 duly filled in questionnaires were received by the researcher. These teachers comprised the major part of the sample. The response was more than 85%.

Table No.3.1: Percentage of respondent teachers

Total No. of Teachers selected

No. of Teachers Responded

Percentage of Responses

80

70

85%

The data collected through the questionnaires was classified, analyzed and interpreted. The interpretation was taken into consideration while preparing in-service training programme.

As the researcher personally visited these schools, interviewed some of the headmasters/headmistresses and observed the classroom conditions, the researcher could collect the present position of the schools regarding teaching of English, infrastructure facilities that the schools have and the problems teachers face while teaching English language. (See 1.5.2)

The information collected through the interviews was also useful to formulate in-service training programme.

The Experiment

The researcher observed the lessons of a few English language teachers with the help of the experts using observation schedule.

[The observation schedule is given in appendix 'C']

From the lesson observations, following things were observed

The Classes were totally teacher centred.

No authentic material or teaching aids were used for classroom teaching.

Teachers followed the old methodology for teaching. Emphasis was on translation into mother tongue.

Classes were not active. There were very less interactions in the classes.

Teachers did not have communicative competence.

The students were very passive in the class.

There was no rapport between the teacher and the students.

After considering all these drawbacks the researcher came to the conclusion that the teachers should be given a sort of in-service training to develop communicative competence and for that purpose she arranged an in-service training programme for the teachers.

Necessity, Importance and Relevance of In-Service training for the English teachers

Not long ago, it was the function of the 'teacher to teach' and the duty of the students to learn.' Teachers had nothing to do with learning. Good teaching was synonymous with the sound knowledge of one's subject and ability to 'speak out' the information in the class. The concept of teaching has undergone a rapid change since then. Teaching is recognized as a skill. With the growing body of research in the fields of teaching and learning, greater emphasis is being laid on training the teachers in the use of new methods and techniques of teaching which have their foundation in theories of learning, human motivation, observation of teaching behaviour, etc. This job is not only to produce learning but to ensure their learners become skilled users of the language.

Hence, an attempt will be made to give an in-service training programme for the English language teachers of Municipal Corporation Schools of Vijayawada, A.P. In this training, the researcher along with her colleagues, enable teachers to identify and analyze problems related to their own teaching, to develop solutions for some of these problems and to apply the solutions arrived at in their own classrooms.