Motivating students attending a teacher education programme in Hong Kong using quality learning teams
Purpose. In 1995, the Government of Hong Kong amalgamated six independent, Government sponsored Colleges of Education, which offered Certificate in Education courses, into the Hong Kong Institute of Education. The remit of the newly-formed, autonomous Institute was to attain university status and to upgrade courses to degree and post-degree level. Many of the existing staff remained with the newly-formed institute while a recruitment drive resulted in an increase in international lecturing staff. This study results from action research, undertaken by the author, to develop pedagogy suitable for both the international lecturing staff and the Chinese student teachers. The research set out to take advantage of the diverse backgrounds of the lecturing staff. Of the various pedagogic strategies employed by lecturing staff, the Total Quality Management (TQM) approach emerged as the most effective, promoting as it does a way for the students to plumb co-operatively the often difficult depths of what they are studying, as well as motivating them in their chosen career. The stringent examination system in Hong Kong, the lack of university places and the economic situation all play their part in determining the student population in the Institute of Education where students whose first choice is to enter the teaching profession could well be outnumbered by those who consider themselves without more attractive alternatives. In addition, the lecturing staff from overseas became aware of the Chinese culture of 'Shame’ among their students - the students who had failed were castigated and further marginalized by their family and friends. It was hoped that the employment of a TQM approach through the use of Quality Learning Teams would help to combat this 'shame' and, hopefully, increase the self-confidence of these 'shamed' students. The project's aim was to introduce and role-model a different pedagogic practice and to utilise constructivist-based pedagogy so that two major outcomes could be measured: (1) that student teachers would become active and confident learners who would themselves challenge their own pupils and (2) that colleagues outside the project could observe the usefulness of this alternative pedagogy and make use of the innovation in their own lecture rooms. This involved investigation of diverse aspects of teaching and learning. Research on individual areas has been quite extensive, but little research has been done in this particular area with regard to student teachers in Hong Kong and it is, therefore, the purpose of this study to add to existing knowledge, with specific emphasis on Quality Learning Teams. The rationale for the study was, on the one hand, the Hong Kong Special Administration (HKSAR) Government Educational Reforms, but also - and more importantly for the lecturers concerned - the search for a means to inculcate a culture of co-operative learning within the student-teacher body, as well as a means for international lecturing staff to create an effective pedagogy, utilizing both mother tongue and English as languages of instruction. Major Findings. The findings of the study indicated that student learning was enhanced by using Quality Learning Teams. This was demonstrated by the overall module results which showed higher module grades for the groups who were subjected to the innovative pedagogy than for those groups who were subjected to the normal 'traditional' pedagogy. Student self-esteem, self-confidence, trust in peers, and a work ethos of self-sufficiency developed amongst the majority of student teachers. Language skills were enhanced and strategies for learning were improved. It is hoped that the results of this study will assist in the future planning of courses in the education of student-teachers and in creating a more 'risk-taking' culture within the lecturing staff at the Institute.