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The professional development of teachers in Higher Education in Oman: a case study of English teachers in the Colleges of Applied Sciences

Al-Ghatrifi, Y. (2016) The professional development of teachers in Higher Education in Oman: a case study of English teachers in the Colleges of Applied Sciences. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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This study aims at promoting the professional development of teachers in Omani higher education in general and Colleges of Applied Sciences (CAS) in particular. It seeks to answer the following research questions: What is the existing provision for CPD at CAS? What are participants’ understandings of and aspirations for CPD? What are the obstacles to the implementation of effective CPD? In order to answer these questions, a qualitative research approach and, more specifically, a critical ethnographic case study of two of the constituent CAS colleges was employed. The theoretical underpinnings for the study are social constructivism, adult learning theory and the three-lens approach proposed by Fraser et al (2007) for the evaluation of CPD activities. Three main methods were used in data collection: documentary analysis of policy documents and reports related to professional development at CAS; focus group discussions with English teachers (local and expatriate), coordinators and heads of department; and interviews with senior managers, including deans and the Programme Director for English. The findings suggest that CPD was currently conducted on a very ad hoc basis and mainly took the form of one-off sessions, conferences and workshops. There was little evidence of other widely found CPD activities, such as training, professional learning communities, mentoring, reflection and online learning. CAS participants, however, including officials, senior and middle managers and teachers, all acknowledged the importance of teachers’ professional development and showed a high level of interest and support for the process. In terms of participants’ aspirations and understandings of CPD, important differences emerged in beliefs around teaching, curriculum and infrastructure and the ways that these impact on motivation to take part in professional development. The ex-pat teachers for instance, were more oriented towards personal goals because they were committed only to a short stay in Oman and expressed frustration at the preferential treatment received by local Omani teachers. The less-experienced teachers expressed an urgent need for guidance in teaching while more-experienced teachers, expatriate and Omani, were more concerned with issues such as the curriculum. Three main obstacles to the effective implementation of CPD at CAS emerged: the lack of an effective framework for CPD: organizational issues; social and personal issues and infrastructural issues. Recommendations are made as to possible ways forward.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Edwards, V.
Thesis/Report Department:Institute of Education
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education
ID Code:65934


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