Samoan Educators' Perceptions and Experiences of In-service Training in Implementing Curriculum Reform
This research study was undertaken in Samoa, a self-governing island nation in the Pacific. The main purpose of the study was to investigate the effectiveness of in-service training in implementing new curriculum reforms for senior history. This study sought to identify the barriers and facilitators of in-service training (INSET) workshops so that planning for future workshops can better equip teachers with the knowledge and skills to implement a curriculum. It also sought to obtain educators' views and understanding on any professional development policies. This study adopted an interpretive phenomenology methodology using a case study approach. Purposeful sampling was used to select the history teachers and Ministry of Education personnel for the study. Data was collected through the use of in-depth, semi-structured face-to-face interviews. Thematic analysis of the interviews revealed that although the teachers found the INSET to be effective, there were several barriers that prevented teachers from fully implementing the training into classroom practice. One of the notable barriers was the lack of support offered to teachers from principals and heads of departments in the critical stages of implementation. Another notable barrier, both at the school level and national level, was the lack of monitoring and evaluation of the in-service training. Teachers felt that there needed to be continuous and consistent monitoring and evaluation carried out by principals and Ministry of Education staff to ensure that the programme was being implemented effectively within the classrooms. The lack of monitoring and evaluation resulted in teachers reverting to traditional styles of teaching and learning. Another notable barrier was teacher quality. The success of any reform programme is heavily dependent on teachers and their willingness to fully and effectively implement a programme. This study found that teachers' lack of interest and motivation resulted in the curriculum not being implemented effectively into classroom practice. In trying to minimise the various problems and difficulties of centrally-planned INSET and professional development activities, the local policy on teacher training is a shift towards school-based training. This study found that teacher's professional development was more effective and relevant if it focused on developing their training needs within their own environments.