Literary literacy for professinal preparartion of pre-service and conversion English teachers in Malaysia

Florence Kayad

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Pressures of internationalisation and globalisation, and the ambition to compete as a developed nation in the global economy without jeopardising its agenda for national identity, unity and equality of opportunity have forced Malaysia to reconsider earlier language policies. Recent strategies have incorporated a literature component in the English Language subject in primary and secondary schools but despite more than a decade of literature instruction, results in national and international tests show that literacy and proficiency in English among Malaysian students are below standards. With students’ poor performance in English linked to teachers’ apparent lack of proficiency in English and the expectation that all teachers of English in Malaysia are able to teach literature, it is necessary to examine how prospective teachers are prepared for the task.
The study reported in this thesis provides insights into how pre-service and conversion teachers of English deal with studying literature in English as part of their teacher education at tertiary level. This experience reflects the interface between theoretical and pedagogical knowledge of literature, conceptualised as literary literacy. The aim of the study was to develop a substantive theory on the literary literacy of pre-service and conversion teachers of English in Malaysia based on their experiences studying various literature courses at a Malaysian public university. This was achieved by investigating the participants’ perspectives on teaching and learning literature, comparing how they dealt with studying literature, and identifying literary literacy practices they considered useful for their professional preparation as future English and literature teachers at secondary school.
An interpretivist case study method was used to collect data from the two sub-case groups of participants. Primary data were drawn from a series of focus group interviews with 23 pre-service teachers and 16 conversion English teachers enrolled as undergraduates in a teaching degree programme at a Malaysian public university. Non-participant observations were conducted in the semester of study and documentary data such as course syllabus and reports, and the participants’ written works were collected. Individual interviews with the two lecturers who taught the literature courses were also conducted. All interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed, and documentary data were content-analysed. The sub-case studies were cross-analysed for divergent and convergent perspectives and emerging themes.
The findings of the study revealed that a variety of factors and the complex interplay between them accounted for the participants’ diverse perspectives. Key propositions implicating the literature learner, the literature teacher, and the literature curriculum in the Malaysian context were produced. A model of literary literacy for professional preparation was proposed as the intersection of language competence, literary competence and pedagogical knowledge. The participants’ literary literacy for their professional preparation was theorised as in a nascent state. The findings of this study have implications for policy and practice for the provision of quality literature education at all levels in the non-native English language context of Malaysia.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2015


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