Teacher as a Researcher: Evaluation of Teachers' Perceptions on Scientific Research

Article excerpt

Abstract

Reforms in education can only be done if teachers who apply these reforms directly participate in the reform process. Moreover, this participation can only be possible if teachers are trained through pre-service and in-service to have a researcher identity inclined to change and development. The main purpose of this study is to investigate elementary school teachers' perceptions about research conducted in their schools. The sample of the study consists of 42 female and 36 male teachers who worked at different elementary schools. Fifty four of the teachers were classroom teachers and 24 of them were branch teachers. The Teachers' Perceptions about Scientific Research Questionnaire developed by the researcher was used to gather the data. This instrument was developed on the basis of questionnaire prepared by Everton, Galton and Pell (2002) and consists of 4 questions about teachers' personal characteristics, 5 close-ended and 14 openended questions about teachers' perceptions on scientific research. Percentage and frequency distributions of the data were computed for the close-ended questions and content analysis was used for the open-ended questions. Results show that 27 % of the teachers benefited from educational research. The major means of reaching the research findings were media sources such as newspapers, television, radio etc. The least used sources were in-service education courses and communication with academicians. Thirty three percent of the teachers indicated that they really benefited from educational research findings. The major problems that teachers encountered about research were: the research topics being not interesting or related to teachers' real problems; research questions being unclear and too long; a researcher with weak human relation skills; and not believing the benefits of the research topic. It is concluded that the Ministry of Education and school administrators give little importance to research findings and do not care much about practical applications of research findings. Finally, it is concluded that schools have limited opportunities for research.

Key Words

Scientific Research, Teacher as Researcher, Teachers Perceptions on Scientific Research.

For a successful reform process, teachers must renew their knowledge and skills and keep themselves open to learning and development. Educating teachers with a researcher identity is an important goal in teacher education programs. It has been pointed out in the literature that not only do teachers not conduct research, but also they are not the spectators of professional publications or the user of research results (Alber & Nelson, 2002; Babkie & Provost, 2004; Cuban, 1988; Hastie, 1992; McBee, 2004; Richardson, 1990; Shamai & Kfir, 2002; Shkedi, 1998). Basic research creates knowledge and applied studies aim to use this knowledge in resolving real-life problems. It has been suggested that the basic and applied research be integrated. No research study can single out teachers from this scientific process in the field of education and social sciences. According to Shamai and Kfir (2002), participating in a research means being in a partnership in creating the knowledge. But Shkedi (1998) indicated that there is a big gap between the researchers' and teachers' worlds and research literature is not a part of teachers' libraries. Shkedi point out two reasons why there is this big gap. The first reason is the language used in research reports. The language is usually found to be difficult to understand for teachers. The other reason is the lack of communication between researchers and teachers in practice. According to White (1992), there is another reason and that is academic research is not based on practice.

Çepni and Küçük (2002) indicated that it is difficult to find much research that was conducted by teachers in the Turkish educational literature. They considered this issue as an indicator of the teachers' lack of research culture and the lack of skills in scientific writing. …

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