Teaching International Teachers: How Saudi Arabian teachers experience learning about teaching during a New Zealand professional development course.
Duignan, Gerard Joseph
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Teaching and Learning
Tertiary teachers who travel to another country for professional development encounter difficulties studying in different cultural and educational contexts. This research study investigated how Saudi Arabian teachers of adult learners experience learning about teaching during a New Zealand professional development course. It is part of a larger investigation into ways to improve curriculum design for in-service teacher education short courses for international teachers. A single case study was undertaken to investigate the views of a group of male Saudi Arabian teachers from tertiary technical institutions while in Aotearoa New Zealand to learn the English language, computing studies and adult education. An interpretive, participant observation method was used involving group interviews, written questionnaire, and personal journal. Focus groups were conducted at the beginning and end of the professional development programme to solicit pre-course expectations, identify post-course views of the in-service teacher education programme, and seek suggestions for improvements for future courses. Using a grounded theory approach, a coded analysis of the findings was conducted drawing out emergent themes from the participants’ comments. The findings were grouped into four tensions experienced by the participants. These included, the priority given to learning English language over improving their teaching skills; responding to boredom and lack of student engagement, and difficulties managing student behaviour as part of the student-teacher relationship; a desire to learn new practical teaching methods, rather than being taught the theory of teaching and learning; and differences between the Saudi Arabian and New Zealand learning environments. Responses to these tensions are discussed alongside a framework for high quality learning activities and implications are drawn for improving inter-relationships between teacher and learner. A mismatch was identified between prior expectations and assumptions by the participants and the actual design of the curriculum. Cultural issues are discussed in the context of different educational worldviews, including the status and roles of the teacher in Western and Arab societies, employing a critical pedagogy, and curriculum design for teacher professional development. A model is proposed of deliberate acts of culturally responsive teaching which may assist teacher educators in higher education and support the sustainability of in-service professional development for international teachers.