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Title: Establishing a New Teachership through Interactive Radio Instruction:Evaluating the impact of IRI on teachers’ practices in Malawian primary schools
Authors: Shaba, Chester B. K.
Supervisor(s): Field, John
Nicoll, Katherine
Keywords: teacher practice
interactive radio instruction
school culture
active learning
teacher cultural transformation
teacher professional development
Issue Date: 8-Dec-2009
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: Abstract This evaluation research study is concerned with the quality of support and in-service development for Malawian primary teachers through the medium of radio. The study aims to evaluate the influence that the current United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded interactive radio instruction (IRI) programme has on teachers’ behaviours, with the aim of proposing some guidelines for the development of a model of continuing professional development (CPD), appropriate to the Malawian context, using IRI. It identifies the teacher as a critical entity in raising levels of learners’ achievement within the primary school and posits that through improved teacher support and development, higher levels of learner achievement can be attained. The study identifies the potential that communication technology in the form of interactive radio instruction (IRI) offers in improving CPD of teachers at a cost that could be affordable to disadvantaged school communities in the country. The study takes place in a context where the Malawi government has been challenged to provide quality universal primary education after introducing free primary education (FPE) in 1994, which resulted in a massive expansion of primary schools, resulting in acute shortages of teachers. The study has drawn on aspects of practice theory and in particular the work of Giddens (1984), Bourdieu (1977, 1978), Shatzki et al (2001) and Reckwitz (2002a) in an attempt to emphasise the role of artefacts, such as interactive radio, as part of social practice. A practice theoretic perspective has been used to highlight the contentious role played by learning-objects in teacher practice and the need for flexibility and innovation in employing learning-objects like interactive radio as part of teaching practice. To carry out a critical exploration of the issues of teacher learning and practice, a longitudinal qualitative research approach was proposed for the evaluation of the existing IRI programme in Malawi. As the researcher was also actively involved in the planning of the Malawi IRI programme from onset, he therefore maintained a dual role of researcher and co-founder throughout the research process. The empirical evidence employed within this research was elicited through three main processes: interview survey, participant observation and focus groups in order to achieve validity through methodical triangulation. The analysis of this evidence shows the considerable difficulties faced by classroom teachers in attempting to adopt interactive radio and therefore be able to use interactive/active learner-centred instruction as part of their ongoing teaching practice. The analysis, however, also highlights the possibility of exploiting interactive radio for provision of an integrated, sustainable CPD of teachers in educationally deprived school communities. Overall, the research study puts emphasis on the need for paying attention to the social practices (contextually specific) within which the use of educational technologies (such as interactive radio), are enmeshed. There is need to explicate the details of such practices (instead of adopting a narrow, technical, focus on attributes of interactive radio itself) in order to improve the efficacy of using interactive radio.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Affiliation: School of Education

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