Student teaching is a unique opportunity for inexperienced, pre-service teachers to develop a clear professional identity and explore the full responsibilities of a practicing teacher while having solid, supervisory support from an experienced educator. However, this valuable educational opportunity needs improvement in today’s Pakistani educational system. The study incorporated student teachers, cooperating classroom teachers, and school administrators in the Punjab Province. Two local university education departments and, more specifically, four colleges designated for elementary teacher training affiliated with Pakistan’s University of Education, were used for the study through sampling techniques. Eighty-four student teachers, cooperating teachers, and school principals were interviewed.
In addition, a rating scale was administered to 150 student teachers and 44 cooperating teachers selected from the above mentioned institutions. The analysis of data revealed that Pakistani trainee-teachers were weak in discipline, lesson planning, classroom management, and content knowledge. They face the problems of transport, rigid school discipline, communication problems in English, and difficulty of teaching junior classes. These problems can be solved by more rigorous training in the above said weak areas. This manuscript discusses research findings, identifying both problems and solutions for Pakistan’s student teaching preparatory programs.
Keywords: Teacher training, problems, solutions, Pakistan, preparatory programs
The Islamic Republic of Pakistan was founded on the 14th of August 1947. Pakistan is the land of the Indus River, which flows through the country for 2500 kilometers (1600 miles) from the Himalaya and Karakoram mountain ranges to the Arabian Sea. It is a land of snow-covered peaks and burning deserts, of fertile mountain valleys and irrigated plains. It has an estimated population of 151.5 million. Agriculture is the hub of Pakistan’s economy which consists of both crops and livestock products. The education sector in Pakistan suffers from insufficient financial input, low levels of efficiency for implementation of programs, and poor quality of management, monitoring, supervision, and teaching. Each of these deficiencies contributes to Pakistan’s illiteracy rate, which is one of the lowest in the world, and the lowest among countries of comparative resources and social/economic
Teacher Training in Pakistan: Problems and Solutions for Student Teaching Preparatory Programs 180 situations (Memon, 2007). Additionally, Pakistan is facing the problem of overcrowded classes in its schools. Usually there are 50 students in a class; but, in some cases, there may be as many as 120 students. This issue is rarely addressed in teacher training. The teacher education programs in Pakistan do not significantly raise the level of knowledge and skills of teachers so that there is any measurable impact on the students’ learning (Situation Analysis of Teacher Education in Pakistan, 2006).
There is no single ruling authority to provide proper guidance and direction to these institutions to monitor their program quality. Teacher trainers usually do not have experience teaching in the schools for which they prepare new teachers; that is why teacher trainers tend to teach in a theoretical way. Trainee-teacher outcomes are more closely related to the level of education of the instructors rather than their professional qualifications. In Pakistan, the core subjects in pre-service teacher training are: educational psychology, teaching strategies, foundations of education, educational administration and supervision, curriculum development, and educational measurement and evaluation. The student teaching experience in Pakistan is 8-10 weeks long.
Pakistani educators are facing many of the same obstacles as their peers across the globe, one of which is the delivery of quality teacher training. To address this issue, an empirical study was conducted to explore deficiencies and propose improvement strategies for problems currently faced by Pakistani trainee-teachers (i.e., student teachers), cooperating classroom teachers, and school administrators. Furthermore, the study examined the general condition of Pakistan’s student teaching programs.
The study incorporated trainee-teachers, cooperating classroom teachers, and school administrators in the Punjab Province of Pakistan. Local university education departments and, more specifically, three colleges designated for elementary teacher training affiliated with Pakistan’s University of Education were used for the study. Eighty-four student teachers, cooperating teachers, and school principals were interviewed. In addition, a rating scale was administered to 150 students selected from the above mentioned institutions.
2. Review of Literature
Development cannot be sustained if a country does not have competent and capable teachers in its schools (Hunzai, 2009). Research reveals that the standard of education can be improved by preparing competent and effective teachers (Bhat & Ganihar, 2006). Likewise, Iqbal (2005) found that the quality of teacher education is the most pivotal factor in determining the efficiency of an education system. Darling-Hammond (2000) reports that “teachers who have had more preparation for teaching are more confident and successful with students that those who have had little or none” (p.166).
In addition, Darling-Hammond indicates that programs with extended clinical preparation interwoven with coursework on learning and teaching produce teachers who are both more effective and more likely to enter and stay in teaching (2000, p. 166). Research also reveals that quality of teacher education has seriously been neglected both in content and methodology in Pakistan (Sheikh, 2000). In Pakistan, many of the teachers – even at the elementary school level – lack adequate content knowledge in subjects such as English, Science and Mathematics (Rashid, 2004). Thus, a research study such as the one described in this manuscript is a purposeful way to examine and develop procedures that provide future teachers with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes need to survive and thrive in the classroom.
Teacher education seeks to reshape the attitudes, remodel the habits, and reconstitute the personality of the teacher (Zaman, 2000). Yet, this process of reshaping, remodeling and reconstituting for the purpose of developing effective teachers is a challenging and complex one, and teacher education programs have engaged in spirited discussions as to how to define an ‘effective teacher.’ For the purposes of this study, the following qualities of an effective teacher, originally presented by The National Research Center on English Learning Achievement (1998) are utilized: (a) ability to motivate students toward high academic engagement and competence; (b) excellent classroom management; (c)
Muhammad Sarwar and Shafqat Hussain
ability to foster a positive, reinforcing, cooperative environment; (d) teaching skills in context; (e) an emphasis on literature; (f) heavy emphasis on reading and writing; (g) a match between accelerating demands and student competence; (h) encouraging self-regulation; and (i) connections across curricula. These listed qualities cannot be adequately emphasized nor implemented without effective teacher training. Thus, it can be promoted that student teaching is an essential step in preparing a successful teacher.
Student teaching offers an opportunity to achieve learning goals without the responsibilities faced by full-time teachers while, simultaneously, allowing pre-service teachers a chance to confirm their career choice, to apply learned pedagogy to a professional context within a close mentoring relationship, to gain professional confidence, and to bridge the gap between the pre-professional and professional world (University of Nebraska Kearney, 2005; University of Iowa, 2007). It is evident that student teaching can and should be a valuable learning experience; however, to be effective, all involved in the process must be aware of and understand the problematic issues that can arise during the student teaching experience. That is the objective of this study – (a) to identify and explore the problems faced by student teachers, cooperating classroom teachers, and school administration in the Punjab Province of Pakistan, (b) to identify the areas of weakness in Pakistan student teaching programs, and (c) to propose strategies for the improvement of student teaching.
3. Research Methodology
All trainee-teachers, cooperating school teachers, and school administrators in Pakistan’s Punjab Province served as the overall population of this study. Multistage sampling technique was used to select samples from the population. The selected samples consisted of 278 respondents of which 84 were interviewed and 194 were administered rating scales, including 150 trainee-teachers and 44 teacher-trainers. In the first stage, three universities were selected from all universities in Punjab. In the second stage, 10 teacher-trainers, 10 trainee-teachers and 8 school-administrators were selected for interviews from each university.
As a result, a total of 30 teacher-trainers, 30 trainee-teachers and 24 school administrators were selected for interviews. The interview content focused on participant’s perceptions of administrative problems faced by trainee-teachers during student teaching. With regard to the research rating scale, 194 respondents, including 150 trainee-teachers and 44 teacher-trainers, were selected. Ten teacher-trainers and 25 trainee-teachers were selected from each of the following: Department of Education, G. C. U Faisalabad; and, Department of education, University of Sargodha. Six teacher-trainers and 25 trainee-teachers were selected from each of the following colleges affiliated with the University of Education:
Govt. College for Elementary Teachers (Gakhar) Gujranwala
Govt. College for Elementary Teachers Gujrat
Govt. College for Elementary Teachers (Lalamusa) Gujrat
Govt. College of Education College Lower Mall Lahore
The researchers created an interview schedule by consulting with research methodological experts and with the participating trainee-teachers and school administrators. After completing the interview schedule, the researchers interviewed 30 teacher-trainers, 30 trainee-teachers and 24 school administrators. After conducting the interviews and analyzing the associated data, the researchers developed and validated a rating scale, Perceptions of Academic Problems of Trainee-Teachers During Student Teaching (see appendix), to collect large scale data from the remaining research sample of trainee-teachers and cooperating teachers (n = 194). The Cronbach Alpha reliability coefficient of the rating scale was 0.92. The rating scale explored participant’s perceptions of academic problems faced by trainee teachers during student teaching.
Teacher Training in Pakistan: Problems and Solutions for Student Teaching Preparatory Programs 182
The findings of this research study have been divided into two parts. Part I: Summary of Interview Findings on Administrative Problems To this regard, the findings are included in the following statements: • Pakistani school administrators acknowledge that teacher education institutions do not prepare teachers as per the needs of the schools. According to administrators, the trainee-teachers are weak in discipline, lesson planning, classroom management, and content knowledge. • All interviewees believe student teachers face serious transportation problems that affect their student teaching responsibilities. Approximately 90 percent of student teachers are female. In Pakistan, female teenagers are not permitted to live alone. As a result, many live at home and commute long distances to participate in student teaching.
• Trainee-teachers perceive that rigid school discipline and language issues were major problems. In Pakistan, two types of school exist: Urdu Medium Schools (where the language requirement is Urdu) and English Medium Schools (where the language requirement is English). Many teacher preparation programs train teachers in the language of English. Since different terminology is used in the Urdu and English languages, the data revealed that student teachers experience language barriers while teaching in Urdu Medium schools.
• In Pakistani governmental schools, as well as in a majority of private schools, corporal punishment is still used as a classroom management strategy. Student teachers expressed discomfort with their role in carrying out this type of punishment. • Compounding classroom management issues for student teachers is learner characteristics and classroom size. For example, at the junior level (ages 4-7), the attention span of students is limited.
These students require constant attention and variety of activity – which is not always available because of limited resources. Furthermore, teaching strategies for this age group are not specifically taught in teacher education programs. Teachers are trained for elementary schools in the 5 to 13 age group (level I-VIII) and secondary schools in the 14-15 age group (level IX-X). Therefore, only generalists teach junior classes (ages 4-7). Furthermore, the class size is so large (usually 50 to 60 students) that classroom management problems are multiplied. • Trainee-teachers expressed concern that teacher trainers and cooperating teachers did not provide model lessons for observation. As a result, student teachers said they had difficulties with lesson planning techniques.
• In contrast, cooperating teachers complained about the availability of sufficient time to supervise student teachers because of the requirements of their job.
• Trainee-teachers expressed that an appropriate evaluation method for them is lacking – especially during the student teaching practicum. In Pakistan, about 40-50 trainee-teachers are assigned to one university faculty supervisor who also teaches full-time in the university setting. As such, it becomes very difficult to properly evaluate all students and, consequently, grades are awarded on the basis of only a few minutes of observation of classroom teaching. • Trainee-teachers expressed concern over availability of proper classroom resources including teaching materials, resource rooms, and technology equipment. However, it should be noted that the participants were not in agreement as to who was responsible for providing the materials and equipment.
Part II: Summary of Findings from the Research Rating Scale on Academic Problems The findings presented in this second section are derived from the research rating scale responses (the observational rating scale can be found in the appendix). Participants completing the rating scale included trainee-teachers and cooperating school teachers. The rating scale explored participant’s perceptions of academic problems faced by trainee-teachers during student teaching.
There were 25 items on the rating scale. According to the rating scale results, the traineeteachers’ comparatively strong areas where they faced fewer problems included: dress, confidence, body language, relevance with real life, organization of teaching, method of teaching, content mastery, feedback, classroom management, time management, respect for students, recapitulation, conclusion, and assigning homework.
The analysis of data further revealed that the trainee-teachers were weak in the following areas: lesson planning, language, pronunciation and grammar, questioning techniques, creation of a learningconducive classroom environment, connecting teaching to prior knowledge, flow and continuity in teaching, selection and use of teaching aids, introduction of a lesson, positively involving students, quantity of subject matter taught, and summarization of the lesson at the end of the teaching session. The top eleven academic problems (as perceived by trainee-teachers and cooperating teachers) can be found in Table 1. In addition, Table 1 provides the mean and ranking of each problem area.
The purpose of this research was to explore deficiencies and propose improvement strategies for problems currently faced by Pakistani trainee-teachers (student teachers), cooperating classroom teachers, and school administrators. Based on the findings of the research, the following initiatives and activities are recommended:
School administrators in Pakistan state that trainee-teachers do not handle student discipline appropriately. The problem may be due to lack of awareness and understanding of school discipline needs and policy. This situation may be improved by integrating case study methodology into university pre-service programs. Case studies could be developed with school administrators to depict
Teacher Training in Pakistan: Problems and Solutions for Student Teaching Preparatory Programs 184 the realities of their school environments – including unique discipline needs and school policy related to discipline.
A course on instructional planning should be included in the degree requirements of each trainee-teacher. The course should be conducted with input and coordination from all participants involved in the teacher preparation process, including administrators, teachers, university instructors, and pre-service teachers.
The Training of Trainers (TOT) should be a continuous part of the teacher training institutions. Furthermore, efforts should be made to decrease the supervision load of trainers so that student teachers can receive individualized evaluation and feedback on their performance. Standard formats for lesson planning should be analyzed, discussed and, once agreed upon, implemented. This will promote coordinated effort between the university and school supervisors. The result will be clearer expectations for trainee-teachers (student teachers) – and more consistent evaluation measures.
To improve English language acquisition, additional resources should be utilized such as: availability of English language software packages; availability of English movies, speakers, or other communications models; and seminars that focus on English language learning, including the use of language dictionaries and other resources that would assist students in learning and improving their English language.
Additional training for student teachers should be provided in the area of instructional questioning techniques, guided practice, effective presentations, and the creation and conducting of simulations (modeling) in order to make the classroom environment more experiential, engaging, and effective. A more engaging classroom environment will improve classroom management. Additional training for trainee-teachers should be provided in the areas of student evaluation and assessment methods to assist them in effectively determining the educational needs of each student. Furthermore, trainee-teacher should have opportunities to take the results of assessments and utilize them to design and deliver lessons that meet specific student needs so that optimum learning can occur.
Trainee-teachers should have the opportunity to observe model lessons from master teachers. After observation, student teachers should conduct micro-teaching lessons (with lesson cycle components) in front of experienced teachers and peers to improve their classroom instructional skills prior to entering the classroom.
Provision and proper use of teaching aids should be taught in teacher training institutes. Because of limited resources in the schools, there should be a focus on assisting student teachers in preparing and using no cost and low cost teaching aids. Schools are limited in such resources. Additional training for student teachers should provide insight and instruction on how to use cooperative learning and professional learning communities in order to better engage students in the learning process.
A focus group, consisting of membership from community resources (e.g., transportation services, families, community services) and participants in the student-teaching process (e.g., teachers, student teachers, university faculty, university administration, school administration) should be created to brainstorm resolutions for public and private transportation needs for female students.
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