Japanese Collaborative Concept Core of PhD Research
Using an ancient Japanese collaborative concept to help teachers in South Africa integrate new technologies in their lessons may seem misplaced but it helped Dr Avash Juggernath earn a PhD in Science Education.
Juggernath’s study, supervised by Professor Nadaraj Govender, explored teachers’ experiences of Lesson Study which is a Japanese form of professional development for integrating Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in teaching.
Juggernath chose a career in education because he wanted ‘to make a difference in the world’, with his love of teaching leading him to consider things from various perspectives, especially those of the learner.
He says he noticed throughout his 22-year teaching career how learners interact with each other and learn, which resulted in his interest in ICTs.
During studies for his doctorate, his emphasis changed from his role as a science teacher to one of a digital learning initiator. Interactions with teachers had alerted him to how despite being competent in using ICTs, they often had difficulty integrating the technologies in their lessons.
Juggernath said a turning point occurred when a senior teacher asked him the following: ‘I know how to use the technology but how do I use it in teaching?’ This question resulted in research that launched Juggernath’s PhD journey. ‘I began researching professional development approaches and came across Lesson Study. Based on what I had read, it represented what seemed like a suitable way of helping teachers integrate ICTs in their teaching in a holistic manner.’
Commenting on his doctoral journey, he said: ‘The hard work and long hours helped me develop a deep sense of respect for academics and the challenges they face.’
Referring to Juggernath’s research, an examiner remarked: ‘It is independent ground-breaking research that is worth publishing so that it can be shared with a broader research community in the fields of science, mathematics and technology education.
‘One of the most significant challenges, among others, was maintaining a balance between family time and finding time to write. These challenges helped me develop time management skills,’ said Juggernath.
‘The study has resulted in a significant contribution to the limited body of knowledge on the use of Lesson Study to integrate ICT in teaching and shown the potential and use of the method as an alternative to traditional forms of professional development, illustrating how teachers can be agents of change and work collaboratively in integrating ICT in their teaching.’
Juggernath said the PhD experience was long, challenging, and filled with emotionally-charged moments. ‘But thanks to the unwavering support of my supervisor Professor Nadaraj Govender; my wife, Karishma; children, Suharsh and Upasana; other family members; and friends, it ended successfully. My heartfelt appreciation goes out to those special people in my life.’
Words: Melissa Mungroo