Teachers as Adult Learners: Effecting Professional Development and Teacher Change in Primary Chinese Language Teaching and Learning through Variation Theory and Multi‐dimensional Reflective Dialogue

Project Number
OER 14/16 AGP

Project Duration
January 2017 - May 2019


Since 2004, multiple MTL reviews and reforms have been proposed and implemented in response to the lingua franca in Singapore society and the preferred language in home environments. Teachers have been facing many challenges in the implementation of these reforms. To better support teachers, various approaches and strategies have been adopted to meet the professional developmental needs of teachers, helping them to focus on student-centric learning. Internal MOE evaluation studies have also revealed the increased professionalism among teachers and student engagement levels have improved, with current efforts focused on the sustainability of good practices. Thus, there remains much that we can examine and support teachers in their professional development, particularly in how their practice aligns with the reforms and nationwide initiatives. The purpose of our study is to support teachers in their reflections of the difficulties and challenges encountered in their daily practices through taking two different perspectives in reviewing the actualized curriculum, specifically teachers' perspective of "What to teach? How to teach? Why am I teaching in this way?" and the students' perspective of "What did students learn? How did students learn? Why did they learn this way?” It is believed that by having discourse and reflecting on these two different perspectives, teachers could address their cognitive dissonance. In analyzing teachers' reflections, we will draw on their cognitive dissonance, specifically focusing on the following: (1) What are the issues faced by the teacher? (2) What are the attitudes of the teacher when facing cognitive dissonance? (3) What are the causes of these cognitive dissonances? (4) What are the strategies the teacher adopted to resolve these cognitive dissonances? (5)How do they feel about the cognitive dissonance? Thereafter, the teachers will be engaged in the Variation theory- Multiple perspectival reflective dialogic Professional Development Model (VT-MPR dialogic PD Model), which will guide teachers to design a course of action to resolve cognitive dissonances. This study base argumentation is in cognitive dissonance and the variation theory; the scope of the study includes looking into teachers' perception and cognition of the curriculum and their ability to bring about self-directed teacher professional development; In this study, the teachers' professional growth process is divided into 5 learning space; every space will leverage on student – teacher-teacher leaders/professionals; teacher - teacher-teacher leaders-professionals VT-MPR dialogue as reflective form. The four variation patterns, i.e. contrast, generalisation, separation and fusion will be integrated into the VT-MPR dialogue as the strategies used to facilitate teachers' review. This study adopts a qualitative method research design. Measurement of teachers' professional growth will take a phenomenal descriptive qualitative approach. This will be done by recording and transcribing the dialogue of the student-teacher-teacher leaders/professionals, teacher–teacher leaders-professionals , after which discourse analysis will be used for analyzing the data. Concurrently, interviews will be conducted at several time intervals to track teachers and students' perceptions on the instructional design of the lesson experience. Analysis of recordings of classroom enactment and student artifacts will also be carried out. The various data sets will help in documenting the professional growth of teachers and the ways in which their lesson design and practice help their students in the learning of CL. We propose a two-year research study, which will involve one primary school to proof the concept. Participants include teachers, students, teacher leaders (LT/HODs/STs) as well as professionals from SCCL and NIE.

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