The Need for a Context-Based Training Model: Reconceptualizing Pre-Service Primary Teacher Education in Kenya
Many studies have positively linked learner achievements to teacher quality. However, there has been an outcry in many African countries on low achievement of primary school pupils despite heavy investments in the sector. This has been largely attributed to poor quality of teachers as a result of the traditional concurrent content-based model of training that is structurally fragmented and conceptually impoverished and thus does not provide pre-service teachers with an opportunity to effectively engage in their learning. Consequently, pre-service teachers are not able to connect theory to practice. This study aimed at formulating a suitable pre-service primary teacher training model for Kenya and was guided by four null hypotheses. A quasi- experimental research design in form of pre-test/post-test longitudinal panel control group was used. This consisted of a stratified random sample of 80 first year pre-service teachers from Meru and Egoji colleges (40 for experimental and 40 for control groups). Primary teacher training colleges in Kenya select students from a national pool based on the same minimum entry criteria. The selection of the two colleges is meant to control experimental treatment diffusion. The experimental group was sub-divided into focus discussion groups of ten of equal gender proportions. The experimental group was treated through the use of focus discussion groups and use of reflective practice diaries which were components of the proposed pre-service primary teacher context-based learning model while the control group learnt under the traditional concurrent content-based training model. Pre-tests and post-tests in form of actual classroom observations were made for each member of the experimental and control groups. The findings obtained through the use of a t-test of independent means showed that the experimental group performed better than the control group. This led to the formulation of a context-based pre-service primary teachers training model that will help primary pre-service teachers link theory to practice and thus improve the quality of their teaching in primary schools.
Key Words: Context-based Learning, Cooperative Learning, Focus Discussion Groups, Pre-Service Teachers, Reflective Practice, School-based Learning, Traditional Concurrent Content-based learning Model.