Participatory action research in two primary schools in a rural Tanzanian village: An exploration of factors to cultivate changes in teaching and learning
This study draws insights on how traditional teaching and learning methods in one rural village in Tanzania can be changed through examining a collaboratively created after school program that focused on three content areas and used a participatory action research approach centered on co-operative inquiry. The key elements of the participatory action research approach drawn upon were using a participatory model to create a community of co-learners, designing the curriculum collectively, students collecting data in their communities about identified problems, requiring all participants to contribute, student groups disseminating their findings through presentations and an ongoing support system for teacher development in applying a student-centered pedagogy. Students responded through increased school attendance, confidence, self-esteem, and active engagement while teachers incorporated participatory methods of instruction in their classrooms. The factors accounting for the consensus of support by villagers and school and government leaders for the program include community and government buy-in, the creation of a community of learners, consistent follow up support for teachers and reinforcement of expectations.
Daniel M. Roberts is a research associate at Michigan State University. His research interests are in creative approaches for the training of teachers to use participatory methods of instruction which empower their students and enhance instruction through critical thinking. In addition to conducting ethnographic research on schooling in rural Tanzania, his current research examines the impact of college-readiness programs for disadvantaged students in urban and rural Michigan high schools.