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Student-centered pedagogy's causal mechanisms: An explanatory mixed methods analysis of the impact of in-service teacher professional development in EthiopiaBenjamin Piper
An Ethiopian cluster-based in-service teacher professional development program used student-centered strategies to increase teacher knowledge and skills, thereby improving teacher pedagogy and, theoretically, increasing student achievement. This program is similar to dozens of other donor-funded in-service teacher professional development programs in other low-income countries, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. Unfortunately, there has been limited research investigating the impact of these programs on student achievement, and even fewer that combine student achievement impact analysis with investigation of the causal mechanisms by which these teacher professional development programs have an impact. This thesis uses a mixed-methods evaluation design to investigate the mechanism by which the in-service program improved student achievement. The evaluation design evaluates the various portions of the theory of change for the program, and synthesizes qualitative and quantitative data analysis. Quantitatively, I employ a multi-level differences-in-differences methodology to show that the program does in fact increase student achievement by between .2 and .4 standard deviations. This thesis shows that the in-service teacher professional development program was particularly successful for girls, and those with unqualified and experienced teachers. I also find that in English and Mathematics the program has a moderately-sized statistically significant impact, but that the impact is highest in Science. The qualitative portion of the thesis uses three stages of in-depth observational analysis and interviews to determine whether the program's theory of changed worked as this program, and the dozens of other like it in Sub-Saharan Africa, assumed. In fact, an increase in an incidence of student-centered pedagogy was not likely the mechanism that increased student achievement. While teachers trained by the program had more knowledge of student-centered concepts, their practice showed no more student-centeredness than untrained teachers. Trained teachers are better able to identify appropriate strategies for instruction in particular topics, more reflective on the pedagogical choices, and have a larger store of pedagogical strategies. It appears, therefore, that the in-service teacher professional development program, while unable to change pedagogical methods, was able to change teacher's decision-making, though not in the ways assumed by the program.
Education; International education; Mixed methods; Education policy; Student-centered; Teacher training; Africa; Professional development; Ethiopia; Inservice; Educational tests & measurements; School administration; Teacher education; Pedagogy; 0530:Teacher education; 0514:School administration; 0288:Educational tests & measurements
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