Researching Collaboratively Within In-Service Contexts: Some Reflections On The Experiences Of The Seitt At The University Of Zimbabwe
Mtetwa, David K.J.
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The first phase of the Science Education In-service Teacher Training (SEITT) from 1995 to 1998 was largely a construction phase, that is, putting into place appropriate physical, management, and operational structures for the programme. The second phase from 1999 to 2002 focused on consolidating the structures and operations created during the first phase. Although each phase contained a research element, the nature of the research activity in the phases was somewhat different. The main outcomes accomplished by the research programme in the second phase of the SEITT were: enhancement of a sense of professionalism among the participants, development of research skills, establishment of socio-professional relations (buddy partnerships), publication of articles contributing to the growth of knowledge in in-service education, and increased advocacy for the SEITT model of in-service education. The main difficulties experienced in the execution of the programme included those that had to do with allegiance to team membership, attrition, and logistics for meetings and writing. Two important observations can be made from a reflective analysis of this research programme. First, there is need for some form of recognition of active teacher researchers within the Ministry’s reward system and second, the science and mathematics centres could be turned into research centre sites for both conceptualising and conducting this kind of research and disseminating the findings. The SEITT team has also gained from this experience a number of important insights on collaborative research as a mode of professional development, especially within in-service contexts. These include issues of team size and composition, inter-team member relations, and problems of ownership of research products that often brew acrimonious relations