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Title: Teacher collaboration for professional learning : case studies of three schools in Kazakhstan
Author: Ayubayeva, Nazipa
ISNI:       0000 0004 7231 9774
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis explores the nature of teacher collaboration for professional learning, key enabling and inhibiting factors, and their implication for the development of a culture of collaboration for professional learning in Kazakhstani schools. The current teacher professional development reform initiative in Kazakhstani secondary education has incorporated teacher collaboration as a strategy to encourage teachers to take ownership of innovations and changes. The underlying assumption for it is that when teachers engage in professional collaboration, there is both an individual and collective benefit. However, an increasing scepticism that followed the initial enthusiasm about the benefits of teacher collaboration in Western countries, where a second look at collaboration from a cultural and micropolitical perspective identified the contradictions between human agency and power, voluntarism and determinism, action and settings. Against this background, this study was undertaken to examine the Kazakhstani teachers’ beliefs, values and attitudes towards collaboration and interdependence. The study draws upon case study data gathered in three purposefully selected Kazakhstani schools. The first two schools represent Kazakhstani schools established during the Soviet communist era. One of them is selected from among the comprehensive rural schools and the second is a gymnasium located in a district town. The third one is an autonomous school tasked to serve as a platform to pilot a new reform initiative before its dissemination to all the mainstream schools of the country. Each case-study was covered during a six-to-seven week period, which corresponds to a term in a school year in Kazakhstan. The findings demonstrate the dependence of teachers’ personal beliefs and values about teacher collaboration on micropolitical, school organisational culture, and socio-political factors, mainly inherited as a legacy of the Soviet education system, as well as ambiguities in the understanding and implementation of reform initiatives dictated from the top. The study suggests that Kazakhstani school history and the culture of the teaching profession possess the potential to overcome these barriers, for there is a tradition of peer evaluation and peer observation in the system with teachers expected to observe and be observed by other teachers on a frequent basis within an appropriately defined school organisational structure, which historically is seen by the authorities as a means of control. The study concludes that it is of particular importance to build on the momentum of the recent reform initiatives and help teachers to develop agency by providing the support and conditions conducive to the continued development of professional learning communities based on teacher collaboration for learning.
Supervisor: McLellan, Ros ; McLaughlin, Colleen Sponsor: Nazarbayev University
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Teacher learning ; Professional development ; Education policy