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Citation Information

Type Thesis or Dissertation - Doctor of Philosophy
Title Improving multigrade teaching: action research with teachers in rural Sri Lanka
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2005
URL http://eprints.ioe.ac.uk/20487/1/Vithanapathirana, Manjula V.pdf
The study focuses on prevalence, problems and effective strategies for multigrade
teaching. Through an intervention, planned and implemented collaboratively with
teachers, the study contributes to the improvement of multigrade teaching and status
of primary education in Sri Lanka.
The five research questions addressed by the field study were as follows: (i) What are
the contextual characteristics of multigrade teaching rural schools? (ii) What are the
current practices of multigrade teaching and the challenges faced by these
multigrade teachers? (iii) What innovations could be planned to improve multigrade
teaching? (iv) What is the nature of the intervention that could be made in
collaboration with teachers to improve multigrade teaching? (v) What is the impact
of the intervention? The action research framework developed to address these
questions was a multi-phased field study. The sample area was confined to a rural
education zone.
Phase 1 involved condensed fieldwork in thirty eight schools and a study of
multigrade practices through case studies in three schools. Phase 2 involved
developing an innovative strategy for multigrade teaching and its adoption through an
intervention with seventeen multigrade teachers from ten schools. Phase 3 studied
the impact on student achievement through a pre- and post-test-one-control-group
quasi-experimental design and obtaining feedback from teachers on their satisfaction.
Multigrade teaching was found to be a necessity in a range of school contexts and
their quality of teaching was unsatisfactory. During the intervention the innovative
lesson planning strategy accompanied by a reorganisation of mathematics curriculum
was adopted by multigrade teachers over a period of seven months. In-service support
was provided through workshops and school visits. The impact of the intervention
was positive.
The study recommends policy adjustments for reorganisation of the national primary
curricula to facilitate multigrade lesson planning, capacity building of teacher
educators on multigrade teaching, incorporation of multigrade teaching in teacher
education curricula accompanied by the use of collaborative frameworks in teacher
capacity building. The recommendations for research include follow-up studies on the
intervention, studies on prevalence of multigrade teaching, and small-scale action
research to evolve successful multigrade classroom practices.

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