Enhancing Professional Development through Classroom Action Research Projects: A Case Study of Secondary English Teachers in Palu City, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia
This study explored the experience of five senior secondary teachers in Palu city, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia who participated in a pilot of Classroom Action Research (CAR) project that held by the Provincial Education Office (locally termed as DIKJAR Provinsi) five years ago. These teachers attended a five-day CAR workshop in 2005 and went on to conduct a small-scale project of CAR in their own classroom working collaboratively with other teachers in their schools. The main purpose of this study was consider the benefits and barriers of doing CAR, to understand the nature of support from school principal, colleagues and supervisor that helped the teachers conduct a successful CAR project, to investigate factors that impact on the sustainability of the practice of CAR beyond one pilot over a longer timeframe, and to find out teachers’ perception of how CAR as professional development (PD) programme should be effectively planned and implemented. This study adopted a qualitative case study approach. Purposive sampling was used to select the teachers who participated in the CAR pilot for the study. Data was collected through in-depth interviews, brief semi-structured interviews with a closed-response questionnaire, and the collection of policy documents. Interviews were also held with local DIKJAR staff and one of the workshop instructors who provided documents pertaining to the pilot. The thematic analysis of this data revealed that engaging with CAR impacted on teachers’ teaching practices, teachers’ awareness and better understanding of students’ learning problems, and their role as a teaching professional, and their personal and professional development. Some notable barriers that teachers experienced during their CAR project were insufficient knowledge of CAR concepts, lack of advice, lack of assistance from research project collaborators and a time constraint. The study found teachers were well supported by school principals with administrative help as well as recognition of effort. Colleagues provided support as mentors or giving advice. The study also found 3 of 5 teachers continued CAR approaches in their classroom after their first pilot experience, believing CAR is a path toward their own PD; while the other two gave limited knowledge of CAR as the main reason for the lack of motivation to carry on. This study also found for CAR to be a sustainable practice for teachers, such a PD programme should be designed to fit the teaching background and subject area of participants and provide internal (e.g. school principals, colleagues), and external support (e.g. mentors from teacher educators, teacher trainers, and master teachers) as well as the chance to get recognition of their work. The implication of the study for facilitating teachers to grow professionally through CAR is discussed.