An exploratory study of primary school teachers’ perceptions of group work as a way of teaching English in public sector primary schools of Punjab

Arshad, Hafiz Muhammad (2017) An exploratory study of primary school teachers’ perceptions of group work as a way of teaching English in public sector primary schools of Punjab. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This study was designed to explore primary teachers’ perceptions of group work as a way of teaching English in public sector primary schools of Punjab. In particular, the study attempted to ascertain how primary teachers view group work, whether they think it may have benefits and/or drawbacks if implemented as a way of teaching English in the primary classroom and what are their perceived impediments to implementing it in public sector primary schools of Punjab To explore the aspects stated above, I adopted a mixed methods qualitative approach for the research. Twenty participants from eight primary schools of District Jhang were selected for data collection. The participants were given questionnaires and data collected from questionnaires provided a baseline to decide what to further investigate in the interviews. The questionnaire responses guided me to further investigate participants’ understanding of group work in terms of it as (1) a way of teaching English (2) the perceived benefits and/or drawbacks of implementing group work in primary English classroom, and (3) factors that may impede the implementation of group work as a way of teaching English.
To analyse the data obtained by questionnaires and interviews, I adopted a hybrid deductive/inductive thematic analysis. The initial analysis of participants’ responses suggested that participants had a flawed understanding of group work. Participants’ responses further suggested that physical layout and teaching practices as perceived by the participants were traditional or teacher-centred and that current settings in primary schools were unlikely to support group work as a teaching methodology. The analysis also informed that participants perceived a number of factors in the current primary school settings which may not support group work as a way of teaching English in public sector primary schools of Punjab. These factors included conditions in primary school, poor supply of teaching resources, flawed teacher training, lack of teacher autonomy among others. Moreover, the analysis of participants’ responses suggested that primary teachers work in difficult conditions which do not encourage them to reflect on their teaching and adopt different ways of activity-based learning. During the later stages of thematic analysis, an underlying theme of professional identity began to unfold, which was found compelling due to its relationship with teachers’ apparent lack of interest in initiatives to try to change the current status of classroom layout and use various methodologies of teaching English in primary classroom. The emergence of this theme changed the focus of the thesis, as it was clear that lack of agency, confidence and autonomy were the key to the teachers’ reluctance to engage with new pedagogical practices.
It is clear from the findings that for participants to feel enabled to adopt more activity-based methodologies such as group work, changes to their working conditions, better training opportunities and greater teacher autonomy in decision making, both collegiately and regarding pedagogy, are necessary. In addition, teachers’ poor perception of their professional roles and responsibilities needs to be enhanced through purposeful teacher training. If these changes are put in place, teachers may become more motivated and willing to try new approaches in their classrooms. However, after conducting this research, I consider that introducing such changes in the primary school settings in Pakistan would be a laborious, time-consuming and expensive process. In the present scenario, it would be necessary for the head teachers to provide teachers greater opportunities to reflect on their classroom practices and discuss issues with colleagues. In addition, primary schools could engage researchers and student-teachers from local universities and training colleges to work together with primary teachers to ensure that teachers have the chance to have a a broader sense of a variety of teaching approaches and how they may be implemented with support.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: ELT, Group work, language pedagogy, theory and practice, primary school teaching.
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1501 Primary Education
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Supervisor's Name: Dickson, Dr. Beth and Critchen, Dr. Hazel
Date of Award: 2017
Depositing User: Dr Hafiz Arshad
Unique ID: glathesis:2017-30945
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 05 Nov 2018 17:36
Last Modified: 03 Jan 2019 17:04

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