Title page for ETD etd-06092006-133416

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Mjoni-Mwale, Hasten
Author's Email Address hmjonimw@vt.edu
URN etd-06092006-133416
Title Safe Schools for Teaching and Learning: Developing a School-wide, Self-study Process
Degree PhD
Department Teaching and Learning
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Tlou, Josiah S. Committee Chair
Barksdale, Mary Alice Committee Member
Kelly, Patricia Proudfoot Committee Member
Niles, Jerome A. Committee Member
  • school improvement
  • safe learning environment
  • teachers' behaviors
  • public primary schools in Malawi
  • professional development
Date of Defense 2006-04-03
Availability unrestricted
This study examined public primary school teachers’ perceptions of the factors contributing to safe school learning environments. Teachers’ perceptions and behaviors were examined to assist task force members to develop and conduct a self-study process for enhancing a safe learning environment for pupils.

Twenty-eight primary school teachers from one public primary school in Malawi participated in the study. Data on teachers’ perceptions and behaviors were collected through a survey. Frequencies and percentages were used to analyze the survey data on teachers’ perceptions. The data from the self-study process generated the discussions in the task force meetings where teachers shared their perceptions of classroom practices that contributed to a safe learning environment.

The task force conducted a four-step self-study process. The steps of the process were building awareness and community, developing a group focus, implementing the ideas of the group focus, and reflecting on the practice. The participating teachers’ experiences suggested that the process discouraged teachers from direct instruction and encouraged them to actively engage students more in their learning. As a result the teachers experienced fewer discipline problems in their classes.

The perceptions of teachers in the survey indicated that the school environment was generally positive for teaching and learning. However, there were some elements that could adversely affect school safety. For example, there were problems in maintaining some of the school facilities such as books and children’s latrines. The finding of the self-study process indicated that the school could develop elements of school safety. For example, the teachers in the study developed positive attitudes toward their teaching and learning. They reported for school activities on time and involved learners in their learning.

The study had a number of implications for teaching and learning and teacher educators. The self-study process, for example, was able to change teachers’ attitudes about their learners, thereby enhancing the learner-teacher classroom relationship. Suggestions for further research are also given. For example, further studies could focus on the replication of the study in other schools in order to examine the self-study process in different school contexts. And such replication could assist further understanding and refinement of the self-study process for addressing school safety as well as other identified school problems.

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