1 International education and student success: Developing a framework for the global educator Abstract Ebinepre Cocodia, PhD Garvan Institute, Sydney NSW 2010 Australia This paper provides an overview of professional learning for educators as a result of the continuous drive for student success from the global educator s perspective. Previous studies suggest that teacher education and professional development must continue to evolve to meet national and global economic development. For instance, Cocodia et al (2003) and Cocodia (2005) found that teachers with up to three decades or more experience in Australia, UK, Nigeria, Singapore and Korea reported that student abilities increased significantly in these countries over the last three decades. In view of international changes in education, abilities and education policy development worldwide, the current paper further presents a review and analysis of professional learning frameworks in Australia, Chile, Malaysia, Canada and Nigeria. This paper proposes a framework for international educators and its link to student success from the global educator s perspective. Keywords: student success, professional development, teachers, education, international education, Australia, Nigeria, Malaysia, Chile, Canada, professional learning.
2 1.0 Introduction Existing research suggests that student success will remain a priority for professional learning (e.g., Nir and Boglar, 2008; Ling and McKenzie, 2001) with more teaching and learning policies within educational institutions emphasizing greater focus on student success and learning (Bales, 2006). Educators are under increasing pressure to meet the needs of global learners more likely to learn with fewer barriers (Vescio, Ross and Adams, 2008). Hence, regardless of distance, location, varying time zones and language, students are able to overcome differences quite easily while acquiring new skills. The internet, multi-media and other virtual learning environments make learning more globally feasible (Cocodia, 2005). Institutions of learning have a priority to students whether at the higher education level or the primary education level. Education is constantly evolving to meet the demand of the global learner. As a result educators professional learning must be geared towards a more internationalized way of teaching and learning. This, in turn, may further develop international educators for a more global system of student learning, with fewer obstacles to learning due to advances in technology (Lederman, 2008) and the environment. 2.0 Literature Review 2.1 Student Success What then is student success? In one survey (Dean and Camp, 1998) found that educators define student success from an academic perspective. This includes maintaining academic success, graduating and the application of academically learned skills to real life experiences. Student success may also be described as when a student reaches set goals or fulfils an aspiration. This may include academic achievement and the attainment of academic competence in specific subjects or courses. The core aim is to further develop each student s intellectual and academic competence (Cocodia et al, 2003). However, students may place less emphasis on academic success particularly where there is greater focus on more general success. Student success may be linked to the student s perception of success as well as the teacher s skills and expressiveness in the class (Schonwetter, Perry, and Struthers, 1993). Student success may also be assessed by teachers based on the student s attitude and continuing motivation to learn (Cocodia et al, 2003). Drawing from existing student success literature, student success may be achieved where there are clear, cognitive learning outcomes, personal satisfaction, goal attainment, job placement, career advancement, civic skills, life skills, social and economic well-being, and a commitment to lifelong learning (Perma and Thomas, 2008). However, it can be argued that there is no limit to student success or narrowness to student success (Vescio, Ross and Adams, 2008).
3 2.2 Teacher Learning Teacher professional development consists of processes, activities and experiences that provide opportunities to broaden teacher learning. Teacher professional learning, therefore, focuses on the growth of teacher expertise which helps to improve student learning (Richardson, 2008). Both terms will be used interchangeably here. The Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) in 2007 reported that educators in 32 countries spend an average of 35 hours per week teaching students at various levels. Contact may be by direct classroom interaction or virtual learning environments. The use of online teaching and learning tools may further enhance student success due to flexibility and consideration for diverse learning styles. The amount of time spent with students is of utmost significance, particularly where student success is concerned (Cocodia, 2005). As teaching is an ever-changing field constantly evolving to meet the needs of the contemporary learner, it is vital that the educator s professional development is aligned to meet changing educational policies and environments globally (UNESCO, 2003). One size does not always fit all, therefore teaching and learning may be adapted to fit individual learning needs in virtual or non-virtual learning environments (Gravani, 2007). The international educator is better placed to deal with education policy changes, rapid technological and environmental changes. For instance, a thirty year study (Cocodia et al, 2003) found that technological advancement amongst other factors impacted on students abilities to learn in Korea, Singapore and Nigeria where these changes occurred more recently. Educators reported here that students were more street smart and technologically savvy which possibly influenced abilities. For this reason, educators at all levels are urged and even sometimes rewarded for pursuing continuous professional development (Vescio, Ross and Adams, 2008). For instance, some North American school boards and education departments include an additional pay loading for teachers who go on to pursue a Masters of Education degree. Similarly, teachers in Chile are rewarded with salary increases depending on professional development courses completed during their teaching career (OECD, 2003). This is of significance as it is essential for educators at all levels to develop new skills while remaining up to date on new trends, methods and research in specific instructional areas. The transition from research to practice is dependent on educators utilizing new skills, knowledge and experiences to improve student learning and enhance student success (Tytler, 2003). 3.0 Teacher Learning Models Framework There exists a wide range of literature on professional learning models. However, this paper focuses on four specific models currently used internationally by educators regardless of language and cultural differences. Teacher professional learning as described by Hoban (2002) includes four models:
4 Traditional training model learning communities Workplace learning learning system The traditional training model describes teaching as a set of skills and competencies which are developed over time. These skills are learned from the first years of teaching thus remaining an ongoing learning process. This may include the acquisition of course specific skills or new teaching methods as a result of immediate or gradual changes which may occur over time. However, it may also include the development of new ways of dealing with changes in the learning environment such as the integration of computer technology or the development of distance learning programs. The professional learning communities model of professional development allows the educator to learn more informally through interaction and experience with others within the immediate learning professional environment. The assumption is that knowledge is readily available within the individual s environment. Hence the learner draws from those around through reflection, experience sharing and what works best attitudes. This form of professional development encourages educators to learn from each other. Workplace learning involves individual or group participation with the notion that learning may involve significant social interactions. This tends to be a more formal structured learning process. Hoban s professional learning system lays more emphasis on teacher learning for educational changes. It entails a more complex system which takes into consideration a whole range of factors such as the teacher s learning environment, learning communities, outcomes, students and other teachers. Here educators are recognized as central to education change and student success. Hoban s conceptual framework of professional learning systems explores student learning and teacher learning while emphasizing that both are indeed interconnected. Drawing from existing theories on professional learning, Hoban describes specific conditions for professional learning to be viable. Figure 1 below summarizes this: Conditions individual-in-social-action Individual-in-related-action Reflection Teachingcommunities Conceptual inputs Action Student feedback Time line Cognitive interactions Figure 1: Learning Systems (Hoban, 2002) Purpose Knowledge learner stores Social context School culture New knowledge Politics Leadership Physical setting leadership
5 4.0 Current trends in professional learning for the global educator 4.1 Method The drive for a more internationalized learner suggests that educators and administrators may engage in professional development from an international perspective. I will examine current professional learning framework from five countries. These countries are Malaysia, Nigeria, Australia, Canada and Chile. learning frameworks were retrieved from the Department of Education, teacher institutes or regional school boards for each country discussed here. The Ontario College of teachers and the Nova Scotia Department of Education s professional learning frameworks were retrieved for Canada. In the case of Chile OECD documents provided relevant information, while for Australia, Nigeria and Malaysia, the various Departments of Education and teacher institutes each make up the information below. Countries were selected at random from each continent where significant literature relevant to current trends in professional development exists. This paper presents comparisons and analysis of current developments as reported by educators and researchers in search of a more universal professional learning model common to the international educator. A review of literature from five countries found some consistency by location. Table 1 provides a summary below. Canada Nigeria Australia Chile Malaysia Additional Qualification courses and programs Academic Programs Learning communities with an emphasis on collaborative partnerships Learning through Practice Activities Technology and Learning Mentoring and Networking Networks Contributions Research Activities Refresher and upgrading courses Learning through experiences of self and others Workshops Seminars Significant focus on Technology and Learning Mentoring and Networking Networks Contributions Academic programs Learning communities Activities Mentoring and Networking Networks Contributions Research Activities Learning through experiences of self and others National Teachers Program exchanges Workshop to train teachers for the Enlaces, the IT education program Community Teacher Training Workshops The FFID program, promoting funding and scholarship intervention at the grassroots Train the trainer initiatives Research Activities In-Service courses Learning communities Mentoring and Networking Networks Contributions Research Activities Table 1: Reported Learning Models in 5 countries
6 4.2 Findings and Discussion The table above provides an overview of themes that emerged within each country s learning framework. Significantly, Canada and Chile reward teachers who obtain additional qualifications with a pay rise. This is not the case in New South Wales, Australia, for example. Although further learning is encouraged, teachers do not get increases in salaries based on obtaining a Master of Education for instance. However, there is significant attention placed on professional development, networking, mentoring and research activities. It should be noted that all countries presented here provide similar frameworks across the board. In-service is essential and interactions within professional environments occur. For instance, professional development via learning communities takes place with or without the learner initiating this model of professional learning. The Chilean learning system focuses on a train-the-trainer approach where more funding for educators retraining and professional development is encouraged. All but one (Nigeria) also emphasize research activities for educators as a means of professional learning. This may be linked to funding (or lack of). 4.3 Developing a Global Framework Hoban s (2002) model may provide a useful framework for professional learning for the global educator particularly where the overarching interest (or goal) of the teacher remains student success. As mentioned previously, this model focuses on educational change and changing environments. Hoban s framework also allows for student feedback which is an essential aspect of the learning process for both teacher and student. It may be practicable for educators to utilize a model that would suit specific environments or cultures as the need arises. Hoban s model is significantly relevant where changes in the learning environment occur. However, there is no one size fits all approach to professional learning. Rapid changes and development in some countries may lead to modification of each model. It may also be implemented interchangeably. It is proposed that all four models discussed earlier: traditional training, professional learning communities, workplace learning and professional learning systems be utilized depending on specific requirements or benchmarking needs of educators and administration without losing focus on the needs of the student (see Figure 2). Implementation of a global framework for professional development may involve utilizing any of the above models based on its relevance to each learner. Such a framework focuses on development of self, development of the student, and the development of the specific educational institution in question with a focus on change. In doing so, the educator takes on various aspects of all four models i.e., professional learning communities, traditional training, professional learning system and workplace learning. In addition, from the educators perspective, teaching and learning
7 environments may also support mentoring, networking, research activities, the pursuit of additional qualifications and learning through experiences of self and others. Figure 2 shows that in-service courses take place within the global framework in an educational environment. This may require the educator to be away from the classroom for specific periods of time. Workshops and seminars are more widespread methods of delivering in-service training. The global framework also emphasizes integrating technology in learning. This enables the educator to develop new skills and methods of empowering the learner where the focus remains student success. Learning communities with an emphasis on collaborative partnerships are essential. Partnership may be within the school community or outside of the school community. Learning communities provide a valuable means of sharing and developing new skills formally and informally. Discussions with colleagues and observation of colleagues practices may enhance student success through experiences of self and others. Mentoring programs may be structured in such a way that experienced educators are attached to less experienced ones to further develop individual teaching and learning skills. This may assist more experienced teachers to develop leadership skills. Timelines should be drawn up to assess milestones as they go along. Networking and professional contributions are also significant serving as means of developing new skills through contact with teaching communities and other professionals. Student feedback and teacher reflections may further develop both teacher and student where the common goal is student success. Student feedback may be subject specific or school specific. Research activities should be encouraged. This may be in the form of collaborative research activities with other educational institutions and research centres. Educators may seek to investigate specific questions relevant to teaching and learning in the classroom. This may entail collecting, interpreting and analyzing data. The aim here is the shift from research into practice.
8 In-Service courses Workshops Seminars Significant focus on Technology and Learning Learning communities with an emphasis on collaborative partnerships Learning through Practice Learning through experiences of self and others learning system Traditional training model Workplace learning learning communities Mentoring and Networking Networks Contributions Student feedback Research Activities Figure 2: Learning for the Global Educator Model
9 5.0 Conclusion and Future Directions As more education departments and institutions of learning develop new policy promoting student success, educators should remain flexibility and willing to embrace new changes. learning frameworks may enable and develop teachers skills. It also makes educators more competent while engaging all participants in the learning process within and outside of the classroom. Learners should be able to apply their learning to real world situations. Attempts to develop a single framework for the international educator suggest that educators are limited to a specific model of learning. However, this is not the case as educators are not limited to a single learning model. It is evident that professional learning models may help learners develop survival skills. They also help expand the educators instructional flexibility while acquiring instructional expertise. In addition, professional learning models contribute to professional growth and promote or develop potential leadership skills (Leithwood, 1992). The use of multiple professional learning frameworks to help develop the international educator should therefore be encouraged. Future direction may consider the global learner in more technologically advanced environments. The use of technology and the web as a means of learning provides more flexibility in a fast-paced world. This suggests that face-to-face learning may continue to decline with fewer students actually attending classes. Already this is the case in some higher institutions and where postgraduate and even undergraduate degrees are awarded after completing a period of online and distance study. In addition, global educators may utilize Hoban s model where it is acknowledged that the teacher is flexible, willing and able to adapt to educational changes as well as student learning requirements in an ever-changing environment. Although Hoban focuses on learning and school change this does not limit the educator to the traditional school environment. Learning occurs outside of the classroom as well as in the traditional school environment. Future directions may utilize this model from a global educator s perspective. For instance, the educator draws from colleagues experiences and self. The educator also brings with him/her his beliefs, culture, social experiences to educational environments. It should be noted that Hoban s model of teacher learning for professional change embraces professional learning via the use of information technology and communication. A global framework may therefore utilize information technology and communication as a significant means of professional development (Hoban, 2002). This may encourage the educator to take ownership of the learning process without feeling as though an outsider or non-educator is in control of the learning process. Online learning communities and face-to-face-learning for educators from various countries and cultures may be developed independently or collaboratively as learning does not occur in isolation. Learners may benefit from online networking with other educators, mentoring, traditional learning or workplace learning models. Drawing from Hoban s model the
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