IN‐SERVICE TRAININGS CONTINUED TO BE OPTIONS FOR SUSTAINING ACADEMICS PROFESSIONAL COMPETENCIES: EVIDENCES IN ADAMA AND HARAMAYA UNIVERSITIES

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IN‐SERVICE TRAININGS CONTINUED TO BE OPTIONS FOR SUSTAINING ACADEMICS PROFESSIONAL COMPETENCIES: EVIDENCES IN ADAMA AND HARAMAYA UNIVERSITIES

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  PP. 134 – 147 EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF BUSINESS AND SOCIAL SCIENCES   134 European Journal of Business and Social Sciences, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp 134‐147,  April   2013.  URL: http://www.ejbss.com/recent.aspx   ISSN: 2235 ‐767X IN ‐ SERVICE   TRAININGS   CONTINUED   TO   BE   OPTIONS   FOR   SUSTAINING    ACADEMICS   PROFESSIONAL   COMPETENCIES:   EVIDENCES   IN    ADAMA    AND   HARAMAYA   UNIVERSITIES   Yilfashewa   Seyoum,   Teacher   Educator,   Faculty of Education and Behavioral Sciences Haramaya University& PhD Student, College of Education, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia    ABSTRACT   he article targeted to investigate whether the present mode of professional development, INSET continued to be an effective means for shaping instructors’ way of thinking as well as a way augmenting professional competencies of practitioners or not. A case study and quasi‐experimental designs were combined as preferred approaches for a critical examination of the problem. Using purposive sampling about 59 academics and program leaders were taken part as a means for sources of information. The result revealed that INSET was the unwavering main gateway for the present professional development initiatives. Academics who took part in professional development training had shown more consideration about the importance of professional development program than those who have no experience in professional development initiatives. Academic staff members assured that they need more time to assimilate trainings and implement new theories into their classroom practices and to share good practices with colleagues. Suggestions for improving professional development focused on the necessity to prioritize individual needs, decreasing the duration of the training and improving the quality of the training manuals. More importantly, time to reflect, follow up on the outcome of the trainings and resources for implementation of the professional development trainings found to be in short supply and in need of systematic attention. Key   terms:  INSET (In‐service Training), Professional development, Perceptions, Competencies, Academics/Faculties T  PP. 134 – 147 EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF BUSINESS AND SOCIAL SCIENCES   135 I.   Introduction Investments in research and innovation are to a considerable extent moderated by the prestige and quality of higher education. Higher education is an important aspect of the ‘absorptive capacity’ of societies, the degree to which new knowledge is accessed, comprehended and exploited, reserved, and a crucial means of realizing the ambition of making our country, Ethiopia more innovative. As one of the main ‘outlets’ for research, higher education is the most imperative routes along which research has an impact on society, knowledge flowing via the heads of people into applications in daily life. State-of-the-art insights on teaching scientists how to teach, thus leveraging the knowledge embedded in their research, can be expected to increase the return on investment in science and technology. As means for bolstering research and academic excellences in higher education, educational institutions should strive for quality of student learning. And, to help all students to learn in and for changing the environment, academics in the university need a better understanding of teaching and learning issues as well as to advance their pedagogic competences. Many current methods, such as widespread lecturing to students, relegate students to passivity, tend to focus narrowly on subject knowledge, and, thus, are derisory. Instead, effective teaching needs to put student learning at the centre of the teaching process. Meanwhile, in this new millennium, everyone is experiencing unprecedented changes in world economy due to new developments in science and technology, media revolution and internationalization. All these have revolutionized the education sector too. These rapid advances in technology brought about knowledge explosion and knowledge revolution. In the context of rapid changes, it is imperative that academics must update their knowledge and skills and be conversant with the latest developments in the field. It is mentioned in National Academics Professional Development Guideline (MOE, 2009) document that academics have multiple roles to perform like teaching, research, development of learning and coordinated  programs for professional development. The Professional Development of academics implies his/her growth in knowledge of his subject, in pedagogy and training techniques, in his love for students and for his institution, in moral and ethical values and growth of his desire to give his best to the world of learning and society. No profession can grow and be productive unless its members are cultivated professionally and are  prepared to undergo sacrifices. Meanwhile, in a recent massification of higher education institutions, the number of universities reaches from two to nine up to 2006, and from nine to thirty three in late 2012. This dramatic change in number of universities has been a driving force to increase the population of students and academic staff members in the country system of higher education. In this condition, the possibility of getting trained academic staffs that are equipped with pedagogical and subject knowledge has been a great challenge. And, in order to fill this deficiency, the establishment of academic staff professional development should be emphasized thoughtfully. Thus, since professional development is fundamental to the survival and growth of higher education, institutions must vigilantly plan, implement and follow up them to ensure their sustainability in the changing demands and accountability (Daniel, 2004 & Milligan, 1999). It was in this context “ In-Service Trainings Continued to be an Options for Sustaining Academics Professional Competencies in Adama and Haramaya Universities ” conducted so that deterrents in the developments of academics could  be weeded out and suggestions could be made to take remedial steps for desirable improvement in orientation and refresher programs. Studies based on empirical work on Academic Professional Development are very less. Studies like Anto (2006), Aster (2007), Fekadu(2007), Minale(2006), Temesgen (2006), Tektle (2007), (Asgedom, 2007), Yilfashewa(2011, 2012), (Aytaged, 2012) having same relevance are available and found that orientation programs conducted by Academic Staff Colleges/ schools designed to improve the skills, the methods of teaching, broadening the attitude, personality and horizon of the young  PP. 134 – 147 EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF BUSINESS AND SOCIAL SCIENCES   136 faculties are found to be useful. But, still there is an immediate need to study the impact of courses conducted by researchers on the professional growth of university instructors. The present venture is an attempt in this direction. Objectives of the study The overall aim of this investigation was to understand and make analysis on how the present framework of  professional development, training secured the anticipated effect on practitioners thinking and professional  practices. Specifically, it is intended to:    Recognize in what way and by what means professional development training is conducted in Adama and Haramaya universities    Determine the effect of specific professional development training on trainees practices    Identify whether there is/are significant difference in practitioners practices before and after training along certain respondents attributes. II.   Review of Related Literature Conception of professional development Fook & Sidhu (2010) suggests that the term faculty development and professional development is used interchangeably to explain the same phenomenon. Nichols (1999), associate both elements of personal development and institutionally led activities in his definition of professional development that is continuous throughout one’s professional career. From the view point of the European Quality Assurance Division literature on quality assurance code of practice, discussion of professional development are concentrated on the systematic institutional provision and recognition of academic staff development including mentoring and training to upgrade academic skills identified as teaching, research and provision of expert consultation services (European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education, EAQAHE, 2005). According to Grundy and Robison (2004), professional development serves three functions (extension, renewal and growth) and is usually initiated through two drivers (systemic and personal). Systemic  professional development is typically associated with renewal whereas personal professional development may serve all three functions. Exploring the reasons for a “personal desire and motivation by academics to sustain and enhance their professional lives” (Grundy & Robison, 2004, p. 147), particularly in higher education where there is a shortage of qualified faculties, may help providers to plan appropriate content and knowledge building experiences to enrich and retain more academic staff in the profession (Martinez, 2004). Mode of Professional Development In an attempt to elucidate the mode of professional development programs, scholars use different terms to explain the perception of professional development models. Some use the term “type”, others prefer the term “framework”, and still others insist to use the term “strategy” to elaborate the term mode/type of  professional development program. In this context, however, an attempt was made to consider the first two approaches, type and frameworks of professional development. In an endeavor to have better understanding of the mode of professional development, an attempt was made to discuss under the following major themes.  PP. 134 – 147 EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF BUSINESS AND SOCIAL SCIENCES   137  A. Type of Professional Development Programs In one way or another literature has been discussing various modes of professional development activities. For example, Sparks & Loucks-Horsley (1989) believe that professional development opportunities must  provide variety in focus, duration, and intensity. Accordingly, they describe five models of professional development: a)    Individually guided staff development  :  Academics read professional publications, discuss practices with colleagues, and experiment with new strategies on their own initiative. This model may be used with or without a formal goal-setting process that is part of the institution’s supervision or evaluation plan. An underlying assumption of this model is that individuals can best judge their own learning needs and act on them. The professional development needs of a mechanical physics veteran nearing retirement are different from those of a novice academic, so professional development experiences must be varied.  b)   Observation/assessment  :  Academics serve as mentors to novice academic, or engage in collegial observation (peer coaching) programs, in order to provide feedback on classroom behaviors consistent with individual or school goals. Underlying assumptions are that reflection and analysis as a means to  professional growth and that reflection can be enhanced by outside observation. When academics have opportunities to get practical feedback from other academics and can see positive classroom changes as a result of taking new approaches, they are more appropriate to continue to improve. Research by Joyce and Showers (1988) showed that significant classroom change was associated with academic training followed by peer coaching and feedback. c)    Involvement in a development/improvement process : Academics are asked to develop or adapt curriculum, design new programs, or engage in systematic improvement processes. One assumption underlying this model is that adults learn most effectively when they have a need to know or a problem to solve. Another is that through the process of joint involvement, academics will be more likely to share ideas about teaching and learning in general. Statewide, all-school, and district-level efforts illustrate the variety of ways academics are involved in development and improvement processes. Many involve shared decision making and projects designed to improve the school as a whole. Research suggests that these efforts are most successful when participants identify a limited number of "ideal practices" around which to focus their initiatives. d)   Training:  Traditional staff development programs include formal presentations, lectures, demonstrations, role playing, and/or small-group activities that are based on a clear set of objectives. A significant assumption underlying this model is that traditional staff development (one-shot, large-group, expert- presented) adequately prepares academics to change present practices and replicate new ones in their classrooms. Research suggests that the training component works most effectively when followed up by classroom coaching, personal feedback, and troubleshooting meetings. e)   Continuous inquiry : Academic inquiry is gaining acceptance as a legitimate form of staff development. Research has shown that academics who have studied their own classrooms make more informed decisions about when and how to apply research; develop more supportive and collegial relationships with one another, and develop a broader perspective. Teacher inquiry may be an individual or a collaborative activity. Sometimes labeled "action research" or "quality improvement," the process starts  by asking questions, followed by developing a plan, collecting data, and analyzing the data in order to detect patterns and draw conclusions. Finally, findings are used to drive decisions and adjust practices. An important assumption underlying this model is that academics will develop new understandings as they formulate their own questions and collect their own data to answer them.  PP. 134 – 147 EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF BUSINESS AND SOCIAL SCIENCES   138  B. Frameworks of Professional Development Programs Given the nature of the academic profession, any Professional Development (PD) framework must take into account the cultural and political realities of how universities work. Moreover, so far as it is appropriate for the university environment and culture, a PD framework has to accommodate discussion of national, institutional and departmental requirements, as well as those of the individual. For instance, the framework should acknowledge that PD has many purposes, including support for achieving the individual’s career goals, and for employers to update staff knowledge (Rothwell & Arnold, 2006). At the national level, attempts at homogenizing PD arrangements for new lecturers have met with varied levels of success (Prosser et al, 2006), but there is no reason to abandon the attempt, and so national standards should also be in the frame. The framework should also acknowledge the importance of the student learning experience, and of scholarship. Meanwhile, it has already been acknowledged that academics very often develop themselves using non-formal learning, and yet PD schemes in different professions often do not even mention “workplace learning” (Roscoe, 2002, ). In fact, this non-formal, non-accredited, often unacknowledged activity could be termed the ‘invisible curriculum’ in an academic’s learning. It includes all those professional activities, many of which are visible but not conceived of as PD, but which contribute to the academic becoming a more competent professional. This non-formal learning is difficult to measure;  but, again, there is no reason to ignore it. Gordon (2004) in his book entitled “Professional Development for School Improvement”, and Glickman, et al. (2007), have given the following frameworks for Professional Development: Training, Collegial Support, Reflective Inquiry Frameworks, Teacher Leadership, and External Support Frameworks. Historically, the primary framework for the professional development of in-service educators has been training. The first systematic form of in-service training in the United States was the teacher institutes of the mid-eighteenth century, which had as their purpose the transmission to academics of subject area knowledge and “moral character” (spring, 1994 cited in Gordon, 2004). Eventually, the institutes changed their focus to training in the method of teaching. Throughout most of the twentieth century, training remained the corner stone of professional development (Stanford- Blair, 2000 cited in Bamber, 2009) A variety of training formats have been used over the years, including institutes, clinics, seminars, workshops, courses, academics, and individual training. Theoretically each of these formats is defined differently.  Institutes  are intensive learning experiences in a specific area of study. They often take place in a  period of one to three weeks. Clinics  focus on analyzing and solving specific problems or learning specific techniques through expert demonstration or coaching under authentic or simulated conditions. Seminars  are small groups working people closely with acknowledged experts in their fields. Participants meet regularly to receive training, hold discussions, and share information, and they may be involved in individual projects assisted by the seminar leader and other participants. Workshops  are flexible structures that focus on the discussion, demonstration, and application of skills and strategies. Training programs often involve a series of workshops spaced several weeks apart, with the application of skills in the work setting between workshops (Gordon, 2004). Courses  are usually highly systematized, with standardized learning outcomes, a required amount of instructional time, the completion of outside assignments, and a minimum standard of performance, usually in exchange for credit hours from a college or university or approved continuing education units.  Academies  are continuing or recurring programs, usually receiving long-term support from government agencies,  professional associations, an institution, higher education, or other institutions. They tend to focus on a  particular area of study, and may serve as organizational umbrella offering training in the focus area through a variety of other formats. For example, an academy might periodically offer institutes, seminars, workshops, courses, and so on. Finally, individualized training  allows the participants to complete a
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