Classroom Observation Study: Quality of Teaching and Learning in Primary Schools in Kenya, Cross-sectional survey in 6 districts in Kenya
Cross-sectional survey in 6 districts in Kenya
This study was funded by Google.org. The study began in 2008 and will end in 2011. Field work was done between May and July 2009 for the first round and February and March 2010 for the second round. The purpose of this field report is (1) to document how the data was collected; (2) to act as a reference to those who will be writing scientific papers, processing, and analyzing the data; and (30 consolidate the findings for purposes of sharing with key stakeholders including teachers and Ministry of Education. The report has five sections: Section 1 presents the study background. Section two presents data collection issues. Section three outlines the district and individual school reports. Section four captures the challenges experienced. Section five outlines the lessons learnt and recommendations for future classroom-based studies.
1.2 Purpose of the study
The purpose of this study was to examine the teaching process and generate information relevant to objective policy advice on the quality of teaching and learning. The intention is that by sharing the evidence generated by this study with policy makers, it is hoped that it will lead to the improvement of the quality of teaching in primary schools in Kenya. It sought to understand whether classroom interactions, including how aspects such as 'Opportunity to Learn' explain learning achievement.
1.3 Research questions guiding the study
The following are the main research questions guiding the study. However, the data collected is rich on teaching practice information and will make it possible to answer several other research questions.
a). What are the differences and similarities in teaching practice among teachers in high and low performance schools?
b). Does the observed teaching practice explain student achievement?
c). Do teacher attributes explain student's learning achievement?
d). What policy recommendations on teaching practices can improve the quality of teaching in primary education?
Based on the guiding research questions, the following research papers have been conceptualized and are being finalized for publication as publicly available and accessible APHRC Working Papers.
a) Do teachers who have a good understanding of maths demonstrate better teaching practice in the classrooms?
b) Does teaching practice explain differences in learner achievement in low and high performing schools?
c) Social relations as predictors of achievement in maths in Kenya primary schools.
Other questions that the data may help to answer
a) Do opportunities to learn (measured by teacher absenteeism, curriculum completion, and bullying and class size) explain learning gains.
b) To what extent do student characteristics, classroom sitting arrangements and classroom participation explain learning gains?
c) Assess whether female and male teachers differ in mathematics teaching and content knowledge, and whether this is reflected in pupils' mathematics performance.
Version 1.2, 2014. Anonymized with DOI and Recommended Citation added.
Time on task
Six districts in Kenya: Embu, Nairobi, Gucha, Garissa, Muranga and Baringo and 12 schools in each district
Unit of Analysis
Grade 6 pupils in the selected schools, the headteacher and Math, English and Science Teachers
Producers and sponsors
Authoring entity/Primary investigators
African Population and Health Research Center
Dr. Moses Ngware
Dr. Moses Oketch
Data entry clerks
District Education Offices
The target was districts that had consistently perfomed at the bottom, middle and top for 5 consective years. The selection of the best and poor performing districts and schools, the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) results of the last five years available were used to rank districts (nationally) and schools (at district level). School performance in national examinations (a proxy indicator for student achievement) in Kenya varies by geographical and ecological regions of the country. Based on the distribution of school mean scores in a district, schools were categorized as low performing and high performing schools in any given year.
Specifically, six districts in Kenya, two that have consistently been ranked in the bottom 10% of the KCPE examinations over the past 4 years, two that have been consistently ranked within the middle 20% and another two that have consistently been ranked in the top 10% over the same period were selected for the study. A total of 72 schools, 12 in each of the six districts were randomly selected for the study. The schools selected for the study included six that had consistently been ranked in the bottom 20%, and six that had consistently been ranked in the top 20%. A further selection criterion for the schools ensured a mix of rural, peri-urban and urban schools in the sample. While taking a national representation in to account, the sample size was influenced by resource availability.
In the selected schools, grade six pupils were included. In case of multi-streams one grade was randomly selected.
Total of 72 schools, all the head teachers interviwed, 2436 pupils, 213 teachers
Dates of Data Collection (YYYY/MM/DD)
R1 - complete survey
R2 - re-assessed pupils
Time periods (YYYY/MM/DD)
Mode of data collection
Data collection, coordination and quality assurance
To administer the instruments at school level, the research team arrived at school before the start of the school day (except in cases where logistics could not allow) and introduced themselves to the head teacher, deputy head teacher or school manager in the case of private schools. Prior to the data collection, a researcher visited the school to inform the management about the intended data collection exercise. During such visits, the head teachers and managers or their representative were briefed on the study. School heads or managers either consented or declined to give permission for the study to be conducted within their schools. Schools that declined were immediately replaced following the selection criteria that had been described above. Four private and one public school declined to participate in the study. Out of these schools that declined, three were private schools and a public school in Nairobi; the fourth private school was in Murang'a district.
Video recording was done during a normal lesson as stipulated in the school time table. Individual questionnaires were administered to headteachers and teachers while group questionnaires were administered to learners. For the learner numeracy assessment test, the field interviewer read the items to those who were not able to read on their own. Learners were given ample time to finish completing the questionnaire. The instrument captured both the test start and end times for each learner.
Data collection was done using four teams; each handling a school per day. The teams often consisted of two groups of four and two groups of three. Those with four members handled schools with high number of pupils. The composition of groups was done taking into consideration individual characteristics, abilities and background. It was also agreed that the teams remain temporary and hence regrouping was often done as a means of: 1) ensuring the FIs concentrate on the work, 2) improving the working relationship among all members and, 3) enhancing team building and teamwork. Such measures were taken to enhance the groups' productivity and maintain the quality of work done. These strategies proved to be very productive.
In the schools, the teams randomly selected one grade six class in cases where there was more than one stream. The numeracy test, learner questionnaire and maths lesson filming took place in this selected grade. The observations of English and Science lessons were done in the other grade 6 streams. This enabled interviewing to take place concurrently in different grade 6 streams. The interviews and assessment involved all the grade six pupils in the selected stream.
The mathematics teacher was observed while teaching a mathematics lesson and the lesson was captured on video for post-analysis. The teacher was also interviewed in order to establish his professional or teaching practices, and other attributes. The same was done for the English and Science teachers. Only the mathematics teacher sat for a numeracy assessment test. In addition, the head teacher provided information about the school. However, it was not always possible to find the respondents (teachers) in school. The absence of teachers necessitated callbacks. Proper planning and scheduling of callbacks therefore was considered an essential element of the whole process of coordinating data collection. Callbacks were done concurrently with data collection, or the research groups reorganized themselves to facilitate them.
To ensure the accurateness and completeness in data collection, a Master Data Sheet was kept where all the data sheets and questionnaires collected were tracked for the entire project period. Regular back checks and cleaning-up of questionnaires was also done in the field to ensure all the required data are sufficiently captured before leaving a particular district. Daily meetings were also held with team leaders to share lessons and give feedback on the findings of the field supervisor and team leaders' regular back checks in the filled questionnaires and spot checks. Regular meetings were also held with all members of the research team to discuss the progress of the study as well as various issues affecting the whole group. Important decisions were made and lessons shared on the appropriate ways of maintaining the productivity and quality of work done.
Different education researchers from APHRC visited the field a day or two before the team broke camp to go to the next district for purposes of spot checks and to monitor the progress, replenish survey instruments and address any challenges facing the field staff. The field supervisor and team leaders on the other hand carried out quality assurance activities such as performing random back-checks and cleaning to validate and ensure the accurateness and completeness of data collected as is normally done in all education field activities.
Type of Research Instrument
· Head teacher questionnaire: This instrument solicited information on school management, staffing, enrolment and parental participation in school affairs, among others.
· Teacher questionnaire: This solicited for information on biodata, qualification and training, discipline and syllabus coverage. The questionnaire was administered to grade six Maths, English and Science teachers.
· Learner questionnaire: The questionnaire solicited information on social economic background of the grade six learners and the school environment. This questionnaire was administered to grade six pupils in the selected schools.
· Mathematics teacher assessment tool, for grade six math teachers.
· Learner mathematics assessment tool, for pupils in the selected grade six streams.
Classroom observation and checklist tools:
· Classroom observation checklist: The checklist solicited information on availability of relevant textbooks, teacher and student made teaching and learning materials, other teaching resources, enrolment, learner absenteeism and lesson preparation.
· Opportunity to Learn (OTL) form: This form collected information from grade six exercise books that a learner used between January and November 2009. The information collected included date when the lesson was taught, and the main topic and subtopic as defined in grade six subject syllabus. In the absence of a main topic or subtopic, some contents of the lesson were recorded. These were later to be matched with main topic and subtopic from the s
Data editing took place at a number of stages throughout the processing, including:
a) Office editing and coding
b) During data entry
c) Structure checking and completeness
d) Secondary editing
Data entry was performed manually at APHRC's headquarters on desktop computers and was done using an in-house built system with a Microsoft Visual Basic and MS SQL softwares.
Head, Statistics and Surveys Unit
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African Population and Health Research Center, Classroom Observation Study: Quality of Teaching and Learning in Primary Schools in Kenya, 2011. APHRC, Nairobi. doi:11239/176-2009-022-1.2
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