QUT Experience: Its Ripple Effect on Classroom and Research Productivity

By Matrose Galarion, Philippines

Metrobank’s Most Outstanding Teachers awards was through a study visit exchange to Australia through the  Strengthening Leadership and Teaching Excellence Skills (SLATES) program which is implemented by the Queensland University of Technology in partnership with the Queensland Education Leadership Institute which provided international benchmarking experience to the Filipino teachers through first-hand exposure to globally-recognized teaching programs in Australia. 

Being one of the ten Metrobank outstanding teacher awardees then I was given the opportunity to experience the QUT fellowship program for two (2) weeks.  In a span of two (2) weeks, I have observed and experienced its vision and mission “ QUT: A University for the Real World”.  Through series of discussion with different leaders, professors, school principals and teachers and classroom observations in Brisbane and Melbourne and attendance to international conference in Sydney, I was able to have a complete grasp of transformational leadership and the essence of fortifying research culture among the teachers. 

I have witnessed how Australia empowers its teachers   and emphasized inclusion in schools and utilize data in teaching and learning and governance of schools. Through an in-depth and personalized learning experience with different school principals and teachersI have gained the necessary skills to excel individually and how to create positive impact in the workplace. Part of the fellowship program, I have also learned how to implement a high-impact workplace project, designed to make a difference by embedding a culture of mentoring into the organization 

Increasing Learners’ Engagement and Outputs. Upon arriving from Australia, I was so excited to meet my students in the public school and to let them experience how their counterpart students in Australia were educated. Seeing significance of increasing learners’ engagement in the classroom,  I have allowed my students to experience collaboration and independent learning while respecting their fellow students.  

As a teacher, I considered the size, students’ abilities and makeup of each group as assigned members and created roles. I a

llowed my students to work cooperatively while as individual students they were able to retain their creativity and accountability. I made sure that every student played an important role in the group and be able to benefit from their duties and place in the group. 

What I did in some cases, and for some activitiesI grouped students with similar abilities together. In other instances, groups comprised of students with differing skill levels. Sometimes the stronger students will be able to teach and benefit the others, and all of them will benefit from their various strengths and talents. Working in teams duplicates the workplace for most professions so it’s beneficial for my students to get used to collaboration in the classroom. Aside from that, I have provided them problem-based exercises that allowed them to provide shared learning experiences. They were given an opportunity to learn through discussion, clarification and evaluation of ideas – with studies showing that students who connect with each other and wider communities through social learning attain higher level thinking and preserve information for longer than those working on their own.

A month after integrating the QUT experience and creating an impact in my classroom, I was promoted from Master Teacher 1 to Regional Education Supervisor at Department of Education Region 3. I was also designated as Regional Research Coordinator. Region 3 is made up of 7 provinces, Aurora, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac, Bataan and Zambales.  Under my care, there were twenty (20) Schools Division Offices having more than 75,000 public school teachers, 6,547 public and private schools with learners of 2, 839, 739. As the Regional Research Coordinator, fortifying a culture of research was a big challenge. In 2015 on my initial account, there were only 18 research outputs for the entire region. Very few teachers were engaged in the conduct of research.

As soon as I assumed my office in my new station, I needed to redesign my Re-entry Action Plan (REAP) from my QUT fellowship. I assessed the situation and came up with the study on MAPPING RESEARCH FACILITATORS’ PROFILE, RESEARCH COMPETENCIES AND ATTITUDES TOWARD RESEARCH: INPUT FOR A SUSTAINABLE RESEARCH CAPABILITY DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM

3 Year Sustainable Research Capability Development Program (SRCD) for Research Facilitators in Region 3 

In the development of the 3 Year Sustainable Research Development Program  (SRCD),   Best Practices in fortifying the culture of research among teachers which I have observed in my visit in Australia were integrated.  I have seen how teachers were encouraged and supported to conduct their research and disseminate their findings by attending to different research conferences.  Andrew Cheetham of the University of Western Sydney (UWS), Australia noted, “The research culture is the structure that gives [research behavior] significance and that allows us to understand and evaluate the research activity.” So, an institution’s culture of research is not simply a group of scholars who see the importance of research. A culture of research provides a supportive context in which research is uniformly expected, discussed, produced, and valued. 

Three C’s of Strategies were appliedCollaborate, Capacitate and Communicate. Intensive research leadership was also needed to implement the 3 C’s.  It requires vision and focused research management leadership.

Collaborate. Teresa Marchant recognizes the importance of similar characteristics in leadership of units with developing cultures of research. Important actions of “high level” administration include: Including research culture development as an item on important committee agendas; Providing a clear and publicized articulation of institutional research goals and expectations for individual researchers; Aligning all levels of the university with the cultural development strategy; and Making use of participative governing.   In Region 3, a contextualized Research Agenda was developed and was discussed to leaders of the twenty (20) Schools Division Offices as well as to teachers in public and private schools. The Research Agenda was also presented to the Regional Director of the Commission on Higher Education to motivate graduate school students to align their research in support of the K to 12 Curriculum.  Further, mentorship was strengthened from schools to the regional level. Experienced teachers and leaders with research skills were encouraged to share their expertise with those who need assistance developing their competence for research. Leadership that promotes openness was also practiced. Thus, creating a culture of mutual respect and trust.

Capacitate.  Based on the study conducted (Re-Entry Action Plan) there is a need to provide a formal avenue in which experienced researchers can train less experienced researchers. The major reason why teachers do not conduct research was due to lack of training in conducting research. Teachers and leaders were provided with varied trainings in research such as: Writing Research Proposals, Quantitative Research, Qualitative Research, Mixed-Method Research, Development of Research Instruments, Statistical Analysis and Use of Research Software. This is to improve the quality of research outputs of teachers and research leaders. Through the Basic Education Research Fund which was provided by the Department of Education more than thousand of participants composed of education program supervisors, public school district supervisors, principals and teachers were provided  yearly trainingsCapacitating the teachers was the initial step in fortifying research culture in Region 3. The need to obtain mastery on the different research methods was identified to be very significantTrainings were cascaded from the regional level, division level, district level to school level.  The goal is to capacitate everyone in the conduct of research. 

After each training, researchers were encouraged to submit their research proposals and avail of the research funding provided by the DepEd under the Policy and Research Program formerly known as Basic Education Research Fund (BERF).

Communicate.  Researchers were also encouraged to communicate their research outputsResearchers developed their confidence and enthusiasm in communicating their research findings from school level to international level.  Recognition of research excellence is also an important element for developing a culture of research which was practiced through the yearly conduct of Regional Research Evaluation and Congress. Winners are awarded with certificate of recognition and cash prizes. Research outputs were also published through the DepEd Region 3 PROBE journal to highlight the successes of researchers. Best practices in Research Management were also shared with other Regions in the country. Thus allowing them to duplicate what made us fortified our research culture. 

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