Journal directory listing - Volume 66 (2021) - Journal of Research in Education Sciences【66(3)】September

Needs Assessment of Cross-Border Teachers’ Professional Development Under the Southbound Policy: Case Study of Five Malaysian-Chinese Independent Secondary Schools Author: Karen Hui-Jung Chen (Department of Education, National Taipei University of Education), Lin-Hui Lee (Tzu Chi Senior High School Affiliated with Tzu Chi University)

Vol.&No.:Vol. 66, No. 3
Date:September 2021

    Under the New Southbound policy, the government of Taiwan is promoting the exchange and cultivation of bilateral talents with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, in which Malaysia is included. Although Malaysian organizations have been devoted to enhancing the professional development of schoolteachers for years, room for improvement remains, especially for those in Chinese independent secondary schools. Teacher universities in Taiwan are cooperating with these secondary schools by accepting Malaysian students for teacher education, in addition to providing workshops or degree programs to in-service teachers for professional development. However, most teacher education programs in Taiwan are designed for preparing teachers to fulfill compulsory education needs. The challenge is to help those who are willing to become cross-border teachers enhance their teaching profession while maintaining program quality to meet requirements and standards.
    The aim of this study was to assess the professional development needs of teachers in Chinese independent secondary schools in Malaysia; the study particularly focused on the teachers who have become independent secondary schoolteachers after receiving teacher education in Taiwanese universities and those who received diplomas from other countries but received teacher training from the universities in Taiwan. Importance-Performance Analysis (IPA) and discrepancy analysis were used to perform a needs assessment. IPA has been applied to various areas in education and service industries. Previous studies have proved that combining IPA and discrepancy analysis can improve research validity (Hudson et al., 2004). Therefore, this study applied IPA and discrepancy analysis simultaneously to determine the key factors necessary for more effective professional development. In addition, this study referred to the theoretical framework of teacher professional development in Furner and McCulla (2019) and expanded the environmental factors by adding the influence of national context to explore the cross-border teachers’ professional development needs. Accordingly, two research questions were investigated in this study: (1) What are the differences between the performance and importance (expectation) levels of independent middle school teachers? (2) Under the influence of environmental factors and different time spans in teaching experiences, what are the differences in teachers’ professional development needs?
    On the basis of previous studies (Day & Gu, 2007; Furner & McCulla, 2019), this study established a two-dimensional framework to analyze the key factors influencing teachers’ professional development. The vertical dimension was related to personal, organizational (school), and social (country) environmental factors. This study explored how and the mechanism through which these three-level environmental factors shape teachers’ professional development needs. The horizontal dimension was related to a teacher’s career stage and focused on how teachers change their professional development needs at each of their career stages. 
    This study utilized surveys, individual interviews, and focus group interviews for data collection. The survey consisted seven pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) attributes and each of them was rated for its importance and performance level by the schoolteachers themselves. A total of 140 responses were returned, and 69 teachers and administrators were interviewed. For data analysis, this study combined IPA and discrepancy analysis to assess needs and determine the improvement priorities. A data-centered diagonal-line model based on previous studies (Abalo et al., 2007; Wyród-Wróbel & Biesok, 2017) was applied. Performance scores were plotted on the X-axis, and importance scores related to the attributes were plotted on the Y-axis. The data center point (means of importance and performance) was selected as the crosshair to construct a two-dimensional plot. A diagonal line was drawn to meet the data center point to divide the traditional IPA graph into six areas. The area above the diagonal lines was considered to represent an improvement-requiring zone and was further divided into three areas: concentrate here, warning, and improvement areas. The area below the diagonal line was the same as that established in the traditional IPA described by Martilla and James (1977); this area was further divided into three areas: low priority, keep up the good work, and possible overkill areas. After conducting the IPA, this study utilized discrepancy analysis to obtain more information on the differences between importance (expectation) and performance by applying a paired-sample t-test to examine whether a significant discrepancy existed.
    The study results revealed that national context affected teacher learning. Teachers who graduated from local universities in Malaysia revealed less need for teaching strategies compared with those who studied abroad in Taiwan. However, teachers who received cross-border degrees in Taiwan and China displayed similar learning demands, except that the demand for P3 (subject knowledge) was lower for teachers who graduated from universities in Taiwan than for those who graduated from universities in China.
    Regarding school context, teachers’ professional development needs were different in the case study schools. Teachers at three case study schools (A, B, and E) had similar learning needs, but those at the other two schools (C and D) had different needs. The principal of school D devoted his efforts to engage teachers in school-based professional development. By participating in intra- and inter-disciplinary meetings, teachers cooperated in developing new courses and jointly designed new teaching methods. Therefore, teachers’ demand for teaching strategies was lower than other attributes. School C, located in east Malaysia, had a different culture and school context compared with those in west Malaysia. Many students left school in east Malaysia before graduation to prepare for studying abroad or obtaining jobs. Because students’ learning motivation and learning needs were different from those in west Malaysia, this special school context influenced teachers’ professional development needs in school C.
    Concerning personal factors, teachers teaching Chinese exhibited lower demands for professional development in teaching strategies than did other subject teachers. Provided with self-study materials, the teachers spent more time trying innovative teaching strategies and teaching students higher-order thinking skills. Therefore, teachers’ learning demands for teaching strategies were relatively low.
    Teachers’ learning needs at different career stages were determined to be influenced by environmental factors. According to the literature, early career teachers focus on developing classroom management strategies (Furner & McCulla, 2019); however, this study revealed different results. Novice teachers with less than 3 years of teaching experience had a high demand for professional growth in subject knowledge but low demand for class management. According to the interviews, the low demand was because the teachers had participated in several workshops in classroom management during orientation trainings. Experienced teachers (4-7 years of teaching experience), as reported by Furner and McCulla (2019), still concentrate on learning classroom management skills but gradually shift to enhance their instructional strategies. However, this study determined that teachers at a later career stage had a high demand for teaching strategies but no demand for class management. Teachers with more than 21 years of experience exhibited a high demand for teaching strategies, which is similar to the observations by Day and Gu (2007).
    This study revealed that the three-level (personal, school, and national) environmental factors and different career stages influenced the needs of professional development. Applying IPA and discrepancy analysis to conduct needs assessment can help execute a comprehensive examination of the needs of cross-border teacher learning. One-size-fits-all professional development cannot fulfill teachers’ learning needs. Instead, providing teachers with various professional development programs by considering their academic qualifications, teaching experiences, and school contexts is valuable. The results of the study will be provided to the teacher education programs for universities in Taiwan as well as for the government to assess the implementation of educational policies.

Keywords:importance-performance analysis, teacher professional knowledge, teacher professional development, cross-border teacher education, needs assessment

《Full Text》 檔名

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APA FormatChen, K. H.-J., & Lee, L.-H. (2021). Needs assessment of cross-border teachers’ professional development under the southbound policy: Case study of five Malaysian-Chinese independent secondary schools. Journal of Research in Education Sciences, 66(3), 107-159.