An investigation of Pakistani university teacher-educators’ and student-teachers’ perceptions of the role and importance of inquiry-based pedagogy in their professional learning experiences in initial teacher education

Akhter, Nasrin (2013) An investigation of Pakistani university teacher-educators’ and student-teachers’ perceptions of the role and importance of inquiry-based pedagogy in their professional learning experiences in initial teacher education. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This research is motivated by a paradigm shift in Initial Science Teacher Education in Pakistan, which places emphasis on the use of inquiry-based pedagogy as a key method for improving student-teachers’ understanding of science. In the light of this key role for inquiry-based pedagogy, this study explores the perceptions of teacher-educators and student-teachers who are participating in an initial teacher education (ITE) program in a university in Pakistan. The main aims of the study are to explore (a) their perceptions about the components for inquiry-based pedagogy which are required to be undertaken properly in the classroom; (b) their perceptions of the role and importance of inquiry-based pedagogy and (c) their perceptions of the barriers that impede the practice of inquiry-based approaches. The study uses a methodological triangulation to gather data from science teacher-educators and student-teachers, employing four research tools: a teacher-educators’ questionnaire, a student-teachers’ questionnaire, semi-structured interviews with 20 science teacher-educators, and two focus groups with small groups of science student-teachers. Though, the researcher’s role as an insider helped in collecting robust and extensive data due to a personal familiarity with the native setting, it also brought challenges in conducting the teacher-educators’ interviews. The analysis of data from both teacher-educators and student-teachers converged on the overarching themes of the role of inquiry-based pedagogy in ITE, the relationship between inquiry and science literacy and the barriers impeding the practice of inquiry-based pedagogy.
Overall, it became clear that the conceptualization of inquiry-based learning with teacher-educators and student-teachers was rather limited. Nonetheless, the results of this study indicate that most teacher-educators were positive about the role and importance of inquiry-based pedagogy in ITE. The majority of teacher-educators appreciated their role as a facilitator of the learning process using inquiry and reported that they had developed an appreciation of the benefits of teaching science using inquiry-based pedagogy. Furthermore, teacher-educators strongly indicated an intention to use inquiry-based science teaching strategies in ITE in science though they tended to rely on questions as their main activity rather than using a range of inquiry-based instructional strategies. Moreover, the majority of teacher-educators reported that continued practice in teaching science courses and/or teaching method courses had contributed to their developing a fair understanding of inquiry-based pedagogy in science. The teacher-educators and student-teachers appreciated that inquiry-based pedagogy should be used in ITE because it helps in developing learning. The teacher-educators responded positively regarding the role of inquiry in developing science literacy and in enhancing the procedural understanding of student-teachers in science. Though most of the findings were supported by student-teachers’ responses from student-teachers’ questionnaires and focus groups, a gap was noted between the teacher-educators’ perceptions of the use of inquiry-base pedagogies and the student-teachers’ perceptions of their actual experiences in the science classroom in the responses given in the student-teachers’ focus groups. The results indicate that a majority of teacher-educators and students reported several serious barriers to using inquiry-based pedagogy. These were exam-based assessment, text-based curriculum in science courses, insufficient time, a lack of resources and a lack of university support. Furthermore, the majority of teacher-educators reported that the curriculum allows only limited exposure to inquiry when teacher-educators are burdened with a large teaching load as well as a shortage of time, limited resources and big classes. The teacher-educators commented that assessment allows them little autonomy in assessing student-teachers’ levels of science learning. Consequently, teacher-educators’ lack of motivation regarding the process of inquiry-based strategies was reported, which resulted in the reduced use of inquiry-based strategies. Thus, teacher-educators’ lack of motivation, difficulties in managing inquiry-based lessons and student-teachers’ low levels of confidence in using inquiry were all reported as more minor barriers which could be removed with a continued practice of inquiry-based approaches. Student-teachers’ perceptions from their questionnaires’ and focus groups’ data support the teacher-educators’ perceptions of the role and importance of inquiry-based pedagogy. Moreover, the majority of teacher-educators responded that student-teachers should be encouraged to develop an understanding of the process of inquiry. The emergent themes were discussed in the light of the existing literature in order to highlight similarities, as well as distinctive features in a Pakistani context. Finally, recommendations concerning the importance of inquiry-based pedagogy in science in ITE, the arrangement of resources, teacher-educators’ professional development, and preparation for student-teachers are presented for the attention of teacher-educators, the University administration, and Higher Education Authorities.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Initial Teacher Education (ITE), Inquiry-based Pedagogy, Teacher-educator, Student-teacher, Science Literacy
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Supervisor's Name: Baumfield, Prof. Vivienne and Hayward, Prof. Louise
Date of Award: 2013
Depositing User: Miss Nasrin Akhter
Unique ID: glathesis:2013-4383
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 13 Jun 2013 14:38
Last Modified: 18 Sep 2013 10:37

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