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close this bookThe Malawi Integrated In-Service Teacher Education Project: An Analysis of the Curriculum and Its Delivery in the Colleges (CIE, 2000, 75 p.)
close this folderChapter 1: Issues and Context
View the document1.1 Introduction
View the document1.2 Some international issues around teacher education
View the document1.3 Analytical approaches used in this report
View the document1.4 Overview of the programme
View the document1.5 Data collection methods
View the document1.6 Context of the Study

1.5 Data collection methods

The main methods used for this report were analysis of MIITEP documents, semi-participant observation in the colleges, semi-structured interviews with selected tutors, and student focus groups. Some data from surveys of entering and exiting students has been used for triangulation purposes. The school-based component of MIITEP has been reported separately (Kunje and Chilembo, forthcoming), but will be referred to briefly where relevant.

1.5.1 Documentary analysis

The main source was the five Student Teacher Handbooks written for MIITEP. Effectively, they structure the curriculum; the syllabuses are embedded within them and they offer suggestions for teaching, being written as a series of 1 hour ‘units’, covering the whole course, which include content, pedagogy, and partial assessment. The first three were designed to be used during the residential course, and the last two during the school-based training; the latter comprise self-study units and outlines for zonal seminars.

These handbooks were written in a remarkably short space of time, by teams of local educationists. From the acknowledgements in the books, the subject teams seem to have had between 5-14 members, each team having representatives from the Malawi Institute of Education, tutors from one or more TTCs, and one or two district or regional education officers. (It is perhaps noteworthy that out of 95 writers/editors, only 20 appear to be women, 7 of whom were concentrated in the Home Economics team.) The writers were given two weeks training and a format for the units. The references show that the materials draw both on overseas sources and, quite heavily, on past curriculum documents developed in Malawi, such as the distance learning modules for the MASTEP course. Other MIITEP documents including the ‘Teacher Trainers Source Book’, written for orienting the tutors and other supervisors, were also used.

1.5.2 Selection of colleges and tutors for studying the residential component

We chose St. Joseph’s, an all-women’s college owned and run by the Catholic Church, and Blantyre Teachers’ College (BTC), mixed-sex and government-owned. In each college we drew a sample of ten lecturers, taking two tutors from each of the main subject areas (Education, English, Maths, Science), one above and one below the median age, adjusting as far as possible for gender and qualifications distributions. The two remaining slots were allocated to achieve more variety or to get a better balance. We interviewed them and observed each of them teach; one tutor was not observed and another was observed teaching both English and Foundation Studies. Most of the data was collected during two weeks in November 1998 when Cohort 6 were in residence. Further brief visits were made in October 1999 when Cohort 2 returned for revision.

Table 1.2: Sample of lessons observed: by subject and by age and sex of tutor


Younger

Older



Male

Female

Male

Female

Totals

Foundation Studies

2

-

-

2

4

English**

2

1

2

-

5

Maths

2

-

2

-

4

Science

-

1

1

1

3

Social Studies

-

-

1

-

1

Home Economics+

-

1

-

-

1

Creative Arts

-

1

1

-

2

Totals

6

4

7

3

20

* The dividing line is approximately early 40’s, which appeared to be the median age.

** Most tutors teach more than one subject. The tutor we selected for Foundation Studies invited us also to observe him teaching English, his main subject.

+ The woman science tutor was teaching Home Economics

1.5.3 Interviews: (See Appendix 1 for tutor interview schedule).

In most cases we interviewed them together, Janet Stuart (JS) asking the more general questions on career patterns and perspectives, and Demis Kunje (DK) eliciting their views on MIITEP. Occasionally, for reasons of time, we interviewed separately. 16 out of the 20 were tape-recorded and transcribed; for the others, detailed notes were taken. In St. Joseph’s the interviews did not reveal a great variety of views, or of practice in the classroom. In BTC the range both of views and of practice was somewhat wider, and more interviews might have revealed further variations. Overall, however, there were considerable similarities between the groups, and we have no reason to believe that they are very different from staff in the other four colleges; several of them had in fact taught in other colleges.

1.5.4 Observations

In most cases we both sat in the classroom for the whole lesson. DK kept a standard record of what the tutor and students were doing, noting briefly the activities at the end of each minute. JS kept a more variable running commentary, trying to capture some of the dialogue and describing the teaching methods; this enabled partial lesson protocols to be reconstructed. Some examples of the lessons, with commentary, are given in Chapter 3.

1.5.5 Focus groups. (see Appendix 2 for schedule of questions)

We held four group (between 3-5 members) interviews with students, one at St. Joseph’s and three at BTC. These groups were selected, from their questionnaires, to represent students with, respectively, JC and MSCE, and from more or less well-educated backgrounds. There were, however, few differences in their responses.

1.5.6 Surveys

Questionnaires covering a number of topics were administered to 171 Cohort 6 students when they entered the residential block in October 1998, and to 184 Cohort 2 students when they were revising for final exams in October 1999. Full details of these will be reported elsewhere, but this study has drawn on some of the data which related to student perception of college life and the curriculum.