Unexplored Areas of Teacher Collaboration: Evidence from a Bangladeshi Rural Primary school

Rahman, Md Shajedur (2020). Unexplored Areas of Teacher Collaboration: Evidence from a Bangladeshi Rural Primary school. PhD thesis The Open University.


This study investigated how teachers in a rural primary school in Bangladesh understood collaboration, how it was exercised in a daily routine context and the factors that influenced their collaborative activities in a school setting. Teachers’ collaboration in such a Low- and Middle-Income Country (LMIC) context is underexplored. Moreover, collaborative professional development is a policy imperative in this country, and it was assumed that findings of this study may inform teachers, policymakers and teacher educators when designing and implementing School-Based Teacher Development (SBTD) programmes.

A Critical Realist (CR) philosophy was adopted which calls for an understanding of the deep social structure and human agency to understand a social event. It allowed an in-depth understanding of the social context of the school and the agency of the teachers. An ethnographic approach adopted in this study helped to obtain authentic data about teachers’ day-to-day collaborative practice in the school context.

A range of data collection methods including the audio recording of staffroom conversations, participant observations and interviews was undertaken for two months. A thematic analysis of the data showed that teachers understood collaboration as a matter of their day-to-day activities, which are not restricted to formal professional works but also include a range of informal, professional, social and emotional activities. Teachers were involved in planned and unplanned collaboration with the majority of them being unplanned social conversations. Yet, the collaborative activities seemed to have little impact on teachers’ professional development. Teachers’ understanding of collaboration and the nature of their collaborative activities were very much shaped by the wider culture and organisational norms and regulations. This study concluded that teachers need to be supported to use the collaborative spaces for their professional development. Further research is needed to identify the way teachers can be supported to utilise their collaboration.

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