Exploring teacher conceptions of learner-centred pedagogy in the Maldives

Year: 2021

Author: Di Biase, Rhonda

Type of paper: Symposium

This paper considers pedagogical reform in the context of the Maldives and the promotion of learner-centred pedagogy (LCP). There is global momentum for promoting such practices, aligned with global targets such the Sustainable Development Goals. A gap between what is envisaged in LCP policy and what is practiced in teachers’ classrooms has been well documented across many low and middle-income countries. Central to pedagogical reform is the changing, yet critical role of the teacher. How LCP has been understood by teachers has been reported as a challenge where there is confusion about the scope and meaning of the intended changes and the teacher’s role within this. This study was designed to give voice to teachers: their priorities for their practice within this context of pedagogical reform and understanding of their challenges in implementing LCP. The findings here report from a larger study.  The research question for this study was How can teachers enact learner-centred pedagogy within the Maldivian education system? In this presentation, findings are reported about how LCP is understood by teachers. This highlights two areas for discussion: (1) the nature of student participation emphasizing that LCP is more than increasing student activity and involvement; and (2) the role of the teacher as a ‘facilitator of learning’ and how this is understood and enacted by teachers.  Through this study, it was found that the enabling conditions for reform pointed to the need to develop operational clarity of new practices for teachers. This means not only attending to the act of teaching and what it looks like in practice but also attending to the ideas underpinning these practices. LCP, where knowledge is constructed rather than transmitted, requires a reconceptualization of what successful learning looks like and a redefinition of the role of the teacher and student. Attending to the epistemological underpinnings of LCP is necessary if this term is to have any meaning for teachers.