Teaching Capacity Enhancement Plan

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In this plan I have chosen four goals and elaborated on them. I have added a further four sub-goals related to my main goals. I have set up the tasks related to the goals to operate sequentially. In other words my approach is that the activities would flow from one to the next over a 12 month period.

I have followed the T-DEPLOY model and tried to give equal weighing to each of the seven zones of influence in my justification. However, to enhance readability of my document I did not explicitly refer to T-DEPLOY nor attribute particular points to one or other of the T-DEPLOY zones of influence.

I realize that my word count is higher than that suggested. As it is my intention to carry out this plan now in my workplace I wanted it to be as true to life and accurate as possible.

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Globalization and innovations in information and communications technology has placed greater pressure on industry professionals in non-English speaking countries to develop proficiency in English. However, while this need has been recognized and incorporated in today's education curricula, there is also the realization that this is creating new challenges for educators. This has been very apparent in professional fields of study such as business and economics.

This paper will present a Teaching Capacity Enhancement Plan (TCEP) that has been largely developed based on my personal experience in teaching Diploma in Business courses at the Institute of Vocational Development (IVD) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). I have designed a plan that I believe will provide me with knowledge and skills to be a more effective teacher. I do not have a background in teaching, nor any formal education in teaching apart from other Masters courses at USQ over the past year. I have worked 25 years of my life in business and around two years ago took up this teaching position. While the language of instruction is English the communication ability of the students in English is very limited. The students in general are not interested in learning nor in participating in class. They are pursuing the Diploma program as it is a requirement of their employment (they are UAE Government employees) and they expect to pass with the minimum of effort.

Learning Goals

To develop insights to education and learning research related to business curricula

This objective is to address the deficiencies that may be due to the lack of a solid background in teaching or instruction. In the course of this objective, it is also important to be able to evaluate the significance of the medium of instruction, English, in students' participation and performance. As highlighted in the research developed by Mathes, Pollard-Durodola, Cárdenas-Hagan, Thompson and Vaughn (2007), non-native English speakers are likely to struggle with their studies due to the need to adapt new language skills, particularly if there are limitations to the practice or utility of the said language outside the classroom. This goal will include the collection of research related to the development of teaching competencies. Also, the research will summarize and collate research according to applicability to current classroom setting. Finally, efforts will also be made to map the research to determine how it can be utilized to support this TCEP.

To gain a deeper understanding of my classroom scenario

This objective aims to critically examine my classroom teaching and learning scenario so as to give me a better understanding of my students and a better understanding of how teaching and learning can take place. A few different strategies will be employed to achieve this goal. Through deep reflection I will try to correlate previous professional experience to current teaching functions. The re-examination based on current perspectives will also improve the transfer of professional learning, validating perceptions, skills and competencies (Pier, Clarke and Thomas, 2009). The reflection may also not be limited to professional experience but also may reach back into one's own experience as a student. I will also reflect on my past teaching at the Institute so as to get a better understanding of my past successes. Another strategy will be to gain a greater understanding of the attitudes of my students towards learning. This will be done by means of a survey and focus discussion groups (FDG's).

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To determine what skills the students need in order to increase their participation and involvement in learning activities

Considering that my students have already exhibited difficulties in other courses, there is a real need to encourage students to go beyond the requirements of the class, particularly in improving their English communication skills. Increasing their capacity to communicate can also increase their interest and confidence in participating in classroom activity and in applying learning in their respective workplace (George, 2009). Gess-Newsome, Southerland, Johnston and Woodbury (2003) link students increase in technical skills and competencies to the increase in their communication abilities. The main strategy to achieve this goal will be to conduct a questionnaire survey and hold focus discussion groups. The information learned from the previous goal will feed into this goal and shape and guide the survey and FDG.

To identify social support systems to augment classroom learning

More and more, there is a realization that education is a social experience and that the prestige of education can be a primary motivator to students (Howard, 2010). As many of my students are not attending out of their own choice (i.e. it is an employment requirement), there is a need to emphasize the social relevance of professional education and training to validate the importance of the courses (Kincaid, Peshak and Childs, 2006). Also it is important to consider the support systems available to the students as in accordance with local cultural and social dynamics, the validation of peers is given high consideration. In the context of this course, support systems refer to various programs such training, counselling, or mentoring being provided by the state or the community. A catalogue of support systems available to students will be identified and mapped to the needs identified in the previous goal. This will be presented to students and they will be asked to contact appropriate programs. They will be required to report back on their experiences.

Sub-goals

The following sub-goals are based on the primary goals above.

To evaluate and document preliminary studies

At this point in the TCEP, research that has been gathered will be consolidated and will serve as the benchmark. Students will be encouraged to participate in the support programs that are appropriate to their needs. In the absence of programs that they can directly participate in I may be able to design interventions, or make recommendations. More importantly, the consolidation of the study at this point will be critical to evaluating the effectiveness of the TCEP. The consolidated report will be open for inspection for any interested stakeholder.

To evaluate progression of student performance and participation and consolidate survey and FGD results

The TCEP's relevance can only be realized if it results in actual improvements in the students' participation and performance in class. To be able to effectively track and study their performance, the students' performance will be evaluated on the 24th and 36th week of the TCEP. This will allow a period of development of 12 weeks for each evaluation period. The evaluations that will be conducted will again use a student survey and a FGD. The results will then be consolidated to present an outline of the progress made in improving students' participation in class. The evaluation will also reinforce to students the need to improve classroom performance. On the part of the teacher and the TCEP initiative itself, the periodic evaluation will map the factors and impact of the TCEP directly to student performance.

To present results of study to students, colleagues and other stakeholders and consolidate feedback for final report

The presentation of the results will serve not only as another step in consolidating the progress of the TCEP but also to validate results and to highlight to participants the research value of the program being implemented. Separate schedules will be made for the presentation of the result for students and then for colleagues and other stakeholders. The different schedules are simply to account for differences in perspective that may be adapted by the two sets of audiences regarding the use of the TCEP being implemented. I will conduct a comparison of the preliminary evaluations of performance and participation of students as of Week 12 to the subsequent Week 24 and 36 evaluations.

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To present final report determining how well the TCEP program met the TCEP objectives

This TCEP will conclude with a final report. The main elements of the study will be described which consist of the preliminary study, the comparative evaluations, the feedbacks, and lastly, analysis and recommendations.

Significance and Scope of Goals

The main influences on my choice of objectives for this TCEP were: (1) the realization that I needed to improve my knowledge in teaching and learning methods and in the latest research; (2) being relatively new to the Middle East I needed to get a better understanding of my students, their attitudes to learning and their needs; (3) I needed to find ways to support the students in their learning and to help them improve their communication in English and (4) I needed to find ways to motivate the students to participate in class and to develop in them an interest in learning.

My first objective of developing insights to education and learning research related to business curricula can be considered as a direct response to the realization that my career move from business to education was a far bigger challenge than I had originally anticipated. I needed to gain knowledge in education while at the same time derive maximum benefit from my past experience in business. In a study by Lawless and Pellegrino (2007), they point out that the integration of skills from previous disciplines requires the adjustment of perspectives. This implies that though expertise may be achieved in the practice of a discipline, this level of competency cannot be assumed when one's function is changed such as in the case of becoming a teacher. Thus, professional development, as in this TCEP, is of paramount importance. Johnson, Fargo and Jamison (2010) showed that the transformative capacity for professional development can be directly associated with student achievement.

From consultation with other teachers and business professionals, it is clear that in their workplaces the need for continuing education has been emphasized. In many institutions and organizations, continuing education and training are increasingly being considered as an integral of professional practice. According to interviews conducted by Hendricson, Anderson, Andrieu, Chadwick, Gregory, James and associates (2007), business professionals and teachers consider opportunities for continuing education as an important component of their compensation packages. Wang, Spalding, Sandra, Klecka and Lin (2010), highlight the need for teachers to become more proactive in the development of enhancement programs as teachers are most likely the ones who will have the best insight on how educational programs can be improved. Organizations need to encourage personal development initiatives and collaborative efforts with colleagues as a cost-effective and sustainable means for developing professional or teaching competencies (Cortese, 2005; Dunne, Goddard and Woolhouse, 2008; Marshall,2008). In studies developed by Powers, Gil-Kashiwabara, Geenen, Powers, Balandran and Palmer, (2005) and Howard (2010) they have been able to determine that students' perception of classroom effectiveness and significance of education were enhanced with the knowledge that their instructors were also undertaking professional development. The rationale is that teachers can be considered as instruments of learning that require maintenance and re-tooling and this comes in the form of training and education.

Most of the students in my classes have little interest in learning and generally do not participate in class activities. Their prior experience of education has been learning through memorization. In conversations with them about their primary and secondary education they maintain that learning was dull and boring. My second objective, which is to gain a deeper understanding of my classroom scenario, is in response to this issue. I realize that I need a better understanding of my students in terms of their attitudes, their beliefs and their interests and I need to critically examine the teaching and learning environment of my classroom. Educational research places responsibility on teachers to develop programs that can effectively engage students (Pier, Clarke & Thomas, 2009). Researchers have used the term engagement to refer to the quality of effort students themselves devote to educationally purposeful activities that contribute directly to desired outcomes (Hu and Kuh, 2002, in Richardson, Long, and Woodley, 2003).

Engaging learning environments are task-centered and support knowledge construction in accordance with constructivist theory (Oliver and Herrington, 2002). "It is what the student does that he learns, not what the teacher does (Tyler, 1949, p. 63 in Biggs, 2001, 224). If students are to meet desired outcomes in a reasonably effective manner, then the teacher's fundamental task is to get students to engage deeply in learning activities that are likely to result in their achieving those outcomes (Shuell 1986, 429 in Biggs, 2001, 225).

Therefore my second objective of gaining a deeper understanding of my classroom is intended to lead to the development of an engaging learning environment. In accordance with Duffy and Kirkley (2004), the tasks set must stimulate and arouse curiosity and instruction must be situated in problems and issues from familiar contexts.

My third and fourth objectives in this TCEP are concerned with determining what skills the students need in order for them to participate in class, and where appropriate support systems may be found. It is necessary to look at the characteristics of my students and their reasons for partaking in the Diploma program in order to understand my motives for these objectives. The learners are Arab speaking government employees of both sexes. As this is a segregated society male and female students cannot mix. They are placed in this Institute by their employers to develop their knowledge and skills in business. Their age range is from about 25 to 55 years of age. Their educational level varies from secondary level to diploma holders. About half of the students are not able to speak well in English and the majority of them are extremely poor writers of English. They are not interested in studying and many find ways to avoid writing their own assignments. They typically find people who will write the assignments for a fee. Those who do write their own assignments are generally not able to address the issues to meet the criteria. The above suggests that their attendance to the classes is just to comply with company requirements. Since there is no personal cost even though they recognize the prospective value of completing courses, they do not see the value of investing themselves in their classes. Researchers have written about similar issues in the Middle East. Firas (2009) says that "students (in the Middle East) are not brought up to see learning as something that can benefit them, but only as something that they must get through". Whitaker (2009) stated that many students did not appear to see the value in doing work for themselves. Dirani and Seung (2009) found that there is a lack of independent learning skills among Middle East students.

Thus, the objective to determine what skills are needed to increase students' participation and involvement in learning activities can be considered as a direct intervention or response to these issues. Considering this objective with the need to evaluate the role of the institution in the current situation, also gives rationale to the fourth objective of identifying support systems to augment classroom learning.

Support systems may be found in various sources such as different government bodies as well as within the Institute itself. The Institute recognises the need for support systems as we (the teachers) have been led to believe by recent communications that it is considered a priority area. The Institute has started providing professional development programs for the teachers. Thus the Institute is making efforts to develop professional competencies that can better support the education and development of students who can be competitive in global settings. The objectives in my TCEP are therefore in line with the thinking of the Institute and would receive the backing of the Institute to help me accomplish them successfully. Further the objectives related to support systems are in line with research findings such as that of George (2009) and Gess-Newsome, Southerland, Johnston and Woodbury (2003) who found that appropriate language support improved students' participation and performance, and Kincaid, Peshak and Childs ( 2006) who found that appropriate social support validated the importance of the course and thus improved participation.

The subsequent phases of the study are expressed in the form of sub-goals. In these phases I will evaluate the progress made in student participation and performance. I will present the results of the study to students, colleagues and other stakeholders and I will consolidate the results with all feedback in a final report. The presentations and final report will highlight the social relevance of the TCEP. As has been shown in other education research efforts, it is imperative that research participants be able to see the conclusion of a study to reinforce their perception of its relevance and value (Roxå, Olsson and Mårtensson 2008).

The final report for the whole TCEP will be the finalization of the whole TCEP initiative. The most important component of the report will be the analysis and recommendations. This will bring to full circle the TCEP efforts which were first motivated by personal challenges encountered in teaching IVD courses.

Implementation Plan

The current TCEP is to serve as a platform for future enhancement programs. The objectives of the TCEP reflect the recognition of the need to develop insights into existing conditions affecting classrooms and how current teaching experience and skills can be utilized to increase students' appreciation, participation and performance.

The plan is designed to run over a twelve month period. To allow for vacations the schedule shows a total of 46 weeks. After the completion of the first twelve weeks of the current plan, two twelve-week evaluation periods will be set to determine if there has been any progress in students' performance. After these two evaluations, the preliminary study will be evaluated and a determination will be made whether the TCEP was able to mitigate the concerns raised during the preliminary study. At this stage, the study will also determine whether the available support systems are able to respond to students' needs and also how teachers' intervention and professional development can increase student participation and performance.

The next phases of the TCEP will then focus on evaluating the significance of the study results. Aside from evaluating the progression of students, the periodic evaluations will also serve as method of reinforcement. Students will be reminded of the need to increase their participation and performance as well as their direct participation in the research being conducted. The third and last phase of the TCEP will then focus on the validation of the study results to students, colleagues and other stakeholders. The study will be presented to students, colleagues and other stakeholders: feedback on the study results will then be incorporated into the final report that will be the conclusion of the current TCEP.

While objectives such as the first of studying research on education is shown to be carried out over three week period it should be noted that the activity will not terminate after three weeks but will continue on into the future.

Objective

Strategies

Tasks

Resources

Evaluation

Week

To develop insights to education and learning research related to business curricula in response to globalization

Augment teaching competency and aptitudes through acquisition of education insights and principles from current education research and other literature

Collect research related to the development of teaching competencies

Peer-reviewed journals and articles, institution-hosted internet resources

An understanding of education research or literature

1

Summarize and collate research according to applicability to current classroom setting

Note that while results are required for this objective after week 3 it will continue throughout the whole period and into the future

2

Map the research to determine how it can be used

3

To examine current teaching scenario based on current research on classroom and learning strategies

Critically examine my classroom teaching and learning scenario.

Elicit information from students in order to understand their attitudes towards learning

Reflect on my past experiences

Develop a survey

Produce FGD guide questions.

FGD materials

Surveys

Participation of at least 70% of students in the FGD

4

Conduct Survey-1 and FGD-1

5

Create a summary of findings

Document my past successes in teaching

Document ideas on transfer of past experience to current teaching

Documents produced

6

To determine what skills the students need in order to increase their participation and involvement in learning activities

Correlate research to actual classroom scenarios

Elicit information from students in order to understand what skills they may require

Develop second survey and second FGD guide questions

Roll-out Survey-2 and FGD-2

Student survey, FGD materials,

statistical analysis software

Learner's profile,

Participation of at least 70% of students in the survey and FGD

Identified skills' importance should be validated at the end of the study by showing high correlation to student's performance in subsequent evaluations

7

Create a summary of findings

Create Learners' Profile

8

To identify support systems to augment classroom learning

Increase the relevance of TCEP by aligning it with other related initiatives or other institutions with similar concerns

Make a catalogue of social support systems available to students on the needs identified in the student survey

Internet, student survey, institute student support bodies

catalogue of course/support programs available to students

Identification of at least five programs that can be accessed by students; at least 25% of current students accessing such programs for at least a month during the course of the study

9

Present these social support programs to students

10

Ask students to contact appropriate programs and for them to prepare a brief report of their experience

Ask students to make their presentations

11

Sub Goals

Tasks

Resources

Week

To evaluate and document preliminary studies

Present a summary of TCEP for the consumption of colleagues and other interested stakeholders establishing current student and classroom competencies

TCEP preliminary summary, presentation materials and equipment

12

To evaluate progression of student performance and participation and consolidate survey and FGD results

Complete first evaluation survey and FGD

Student survey, FGD materials, statistical analysis software

24

Complete second evaluation survey and FGD evaluation

36

To present results of study to students, colleagues and other stakeholders and consolidate feedback for final report

Schedule presentation to students and collect feed back

TCEP preliminary summary, evaluation reports, presentation materials

39

Schedule presentation to colleagues and other stakeholders and collect feedback

40

Compare preliminary evaluations of performance and participation to Week 24 and 36 evaluations

41-42

Determine if statistical significance, if any, of the study to students participation and performance

43-44

To present final report describing how the TCEP program met the TCEP objectives

Finalization of paper and conclusion of TCEP

Final report

45

Presentation/submission of final report

46

Reflections and Insights

Education has always been an important concern of societies. However, in the context of globalization, the factors that affect classroom and curriculum effectiveness have become more complicated. This has become very apparent in the field of business because of the nature of today's economies and marketplace. Like any other field of interest the need to develop effective programs has to be rooted in research and provide benefit at the grassroots level, which, in the context of this work, is the actual classroom. It is not surprising that the UAE, an emerging business destination in the Middle East, is making significant efforts to encourage the internationalization of its business curricula and professionals. As much as it can be a boon to its citizens, this has also created greater pressure in performance, requiring not only the acquisition of professional skills but also social skills such as communication and accommodating more global perspectives. Making students here in the UAE realize this is already challenging enough but when it is in conjunction with the need to learning a foreign language, it is to be expected that students' performance will leave a lot to be desired.

My experience as an instructor at the IVD has highlighted the need to understand the social and cultural factors that can affect my students. What could be construed as apathy may be due to a lack of appreciation of the opportunities that they are being given. What can be seen as a lack of quality in the papers because of lack of perception of the lessons may be also due to limitation in language and communication. In the course of the development of this TCEP, some of the literature that I read mentioned the importance of transformative education. Though this may seem a lofty objective, unless the students' perspectives on learning change and they realize the importance and benefit to them of their courses, then their participation and learning will not be given a higher priority. In all stages of the TCEP, there is an effort to involve research stakeholders. Though this has been primarily aimed at highlighting the social relevance of the initiative being undertaken it should also be seen as an effort to cultivate long-term commitment to the development of research. It is important, I feel, to not only recognize that educational perspectives are changing due to globalization and other developments, but to realize that more and more changes are up ahead. Without the recognition of this and the need for long-term commitment to developing research, then curricula will lag behind the actual needs of students and teachers alike and classrooms will not be as effective as they should.

As an educator, one of the biggest challenges for me has been developing teaching skills after the transition to education from business. To be able to effectively do so, there is a need to "translate" professional learning to classroom application. This can only be possible if one is willing to invest in learning about education theories, developing learning tools and techniques and improving collaboration with students. The government in UAE as well as the IVD has proven itself very willing to support the development of their students through education and professional development. Thus, it can also be assumed that if research on teaching and learning is carried out by teachers, then it will supported by the Institute and will result in enhanced learning environments with the necessary support and resources to realize the full potential of courses.

In conclusion, though the current TCEP is limited to developing research insights and initiating access of support systems for students, the potential of this TCEP to improve the classroom can still be considered substantial. Further development and enhancement of this and other such plans in the future will be critically important for the improvement of teaching and learning.