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postgraduate thesis: Actualizing the power of learning : teacher autonomy in response to curriculum reform

TitleActualizing the power of learning : teacher autonomy in response to curriculum reform
Authors
Issue Date2015
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Xiao, J. [肖静]. (2015). Actualizing the power of learning : teacher autonomy in response to curriculum reform. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5610978
AbstractUnder the global climate of educational reform, teachers are generally viewed with high expectation as change agents. However, there is less attention to contextual challenges teachers confront in the process of responding to education reform. This thesis reports on a study on teacher autonomy in response to College English (CE) curriculum reform in mainland China which emphasizes learner autonomy as a major curriculum goal. The research questions are: (1) How is teacher autonomy manifested in their conceptualization of learner autonomy? (2) How is teacher autonomy manifested in their response to perceived external constraints against learner autonomy?   Tensions between accountability and responsibility are identified as a major issue in research on teacher autonomy. An alternative argument of harmonization between tensions is stated hypothetically. Based on a critical review of five main perspectives on teacher autonomy, i.e. behavioral, cognitive, contextual, political and psychological, theoretical gaps are identified with the proposal of a holistic perspective for investigation of the multiple dimensions of teacher autonomy. With critical synthesis of theoretical perspectives, and drawing on UNESCO’s four pillars of education and traditional Chinese philosophies, a preliminary conceptual framework is proposed for the launch of the study. Three CE teachers were purposefully selected as research participants. Through analysis of interviews, class observations and documents, the data went through rounds of reduction process to derive themes that reveal patterns of teacher autonomy.   Data analysis went through five stages, i.e. chronological data documentation, theme-based analysis within cases, cross-case analysis for parallel themes, cross-case analysis for developmental patterns and cross-chapter analysis for thesis construction.   This study contributes to research on teacher autonomy contextually and theoretically. It depicts CE teachers’ responses to contextual challenges, and discovers the dominant discourses which shape their responses to the curriculum reform. Primarily, a discourse of a hierarchical order of a one-way assessment system is identified, with a flow from course reviewers to teachers, from teachers to students. Another dominant discourse in CE curriculum reform is an emphasis on teaching techniques which hinder teachers from exploring deeper questions of ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘who’. A third dominant discourse is on performativity, which carries a constraining force against teacher autonomy as CE teachers are held accountable for conflicts among stereotyped curricular expectation, examination scores, students’ evaluation and publication requirements.   Theoretically, this study discovers three levels of teacher autonomy manifested in conceptualization and facilitation of learner autonomy. Teacher autonomy, according to this study, is not a static tension between the push for administrative accountability and the pull of educational responsibility, as suggested by much of the literature. Rather, it is an ongoing approximation to professional maturity. Another theoretical contribution of this study is a holistic perspective of teacher autonomy. It discovers a process of harmonizing accountability and responsibility through cultivation of the less visible inner self, which is just as important as the more visible outer self. Teacher autonomy is thus conceptualized as teachers’ inner freedom to take responsibility to turn external constraints into learning opportunities, hence building a harmonious relationship between the self and the environment.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
SubjectCurriculum change - China
Teaching, Freedom of - China
Dept/ProgramEducation
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/221216

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.authorXiao, Jing-
dc.contributor.author肖静-
dc.date.accessioned2015-11-04T23:12:01Z-
dc.date.available2015-11-04T23:12:01Z-
dc.date.issued2015-
dc.identifier.citationXiao, J. [肖静]. (2015). Actualizing the power of learning : teacher autonomy in response to curriculum reform. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5610978-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/221216-
dc.description.abstractUnder the global climate of educational reform, teachers are generally viewed with high expectation as change agents. However, there is less attention to contextual challenges teachers confront in the process of responding to education reform. This thesis reports on a study on teacher autonomy in response to College English (CE) curriculum reform in mainland China which emphasizes learner autonomy as a major curriculum goal. The research questions are: (1) How is teacher autonomy manifested in their conceptualization of learner autonomy? (2) How is teacher autonomy manifested in their response to perceived external constraints against learner autonomy?   Tensions between accountability and responsibility are identified as a major issue in research on teacher autonomy. An alternative argument of harmonization between tensions is stated hypothetically. Based on a critical review of five main perspectives on teacher autonomy, i.e. behavioral, cognitive, contextual, political and psychological, theoretical gaps are identified with the proposal of a holistic perspective for investigation of the multiple dimensions of teacher autonomy. With critical synthesis of theoretical perspectives, and drawing on UNESCO’s four pillars of education and traditional Chinese philosophies, a preliminary conceptual framework is proposed for the launch of the study. Three CE teachers were purposefully selected as research participants. Through analysis of interviews, class observations and documents, the data went through rounds of reduction process to derive themes that reveal patterns of teacher autonomy.   Data analysis went through five stages, i.e. chronological data documentation, theme-based analysis within cases, cross-case analysis for parallel themes, cross-case analysis for developmental patterns and cross-chapter analysis for thesis construction.   This study contributes to research on teacher autonomy contextually and theoretically. It depicts CE teachers’ responses to contextual challenges, and discovers the dominant discourses which shape their responses to the curriculum reform. Primarily, a discourse of a hierarchical order of a one-way assessment system is identified, with a flow from course reviewers to teachers, from teachers to students. Another dominant discourse in CE curriculum reform is an emphasis on teaching techniques which hinder teachers from exploring deeper questions of ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘who’. A third dominant discourse is on performativity, which carries a constraining force against teacher autonomy as CE teachers are held accountable for conflicts among stereotyped curricular expectation, examination scores, students’ evaluation and publication requirements.   Theoretically, this study discovers three levels of teacher autonomy manifested in conceptualization and facilitation of learner autonomy. Teacher autonomy, according to this study, is not a static tension between the push for administrative accountability and the pull of educational responsibility, as suggested by much of the literature. Rather, it is an ongoing approximation to professional maturity. Another theoretical contribution of this study is a holistic perspective of teacher autonomy. It discovers a process of harmonizing accountability and responsibility through cultivation of the less visible inner self, which is just as important as the more visible outer self. Teacher autonomy is thus conceptualized as teachers’ inner freedom to take responsibility to turn external constraints into learning opportunities, hence building a harmonious relationship between the self and the environment.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License-
dc.subject.lcshCurriculum change - China-
dc.subject.lcshTeaching, Freedom of - China-
dc.titleActualizing the power of learning : teacher autonomy in response to curriculum reform-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.identifier.hkulb5610978-
dc.description.thesisnameDoctor of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelDoctoral-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineEducation-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-

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