Exploring constraints on and support for quality teaching at a higher education institution in Malaysia : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Education at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

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Massey University
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This thesis is an exploratory case study of one institution of higher learning in Malaysia. Teachers’ active involvement in a wide variety of quality activities raised concerns about their teaching quality. The literature review suggested that there was no universally accepted definition of quality teaching. There was also lack of a definition in Malaysian research studies and government reports. The aim of this study was to explore teachers’ perceptions of quality teaching at the case institution in order to better support the institution’s quality assurance efforts. The research questions investigated the teachers’ perceptions of quality teaching, the kinds of existing support they found helpful or needed enhancement, and the kinds of existing constraints that needed rectifying. A mixed methods approach was employed comprising teacher and manager interviews, document analysis and a teacher survey to elicit themes relevant to the research questions. The key findings were that many teachers held transmission-based teaching perceptions although some student-centred perceptions were also evident. A major constraint on quality teaching was quality assurance activities that were drawing teachers’ focus away from teaching. Other impediments included class size, poor student quality and inadequate resources. A major support for quality teaching was teaching-related courses that needed to be made more relevant for teachers of various levels of experience and provided in a more structured manner. Other kinds of support that needed enhancement included mechanisms to evaluate teaching, outcomes based education (OBE) curriculum transformation and a quality assurance framework related to OBE. Recommendations were made for institution managers and professional developers including developing and promoting a systems framework that promotes and values quality teaching as of equal importance to quality research, developing a clear articulation of the institution’s teaching philosophy, improving material resources, aligning all systems to support the shift to OBE, and providing professional development support that could expand teachers’ conceptions of teaching. Findings from the case study were discussed against the backdrop of Malaysia’s efforts to cope with global trends in higher education. Critical adaptation of Western concepts and the need to develop the nation’s own idea of quality teaching were also discussed.
Quality teaching, Teacher effectiveness, Teaching, Malaysia, Higher education, Malaysia, Professional development