"THE OBSERVER FACILITATOR" : EXPERIENCING THE ROLE OF OBSERVER WHILE FACILITATING A RESEARCH PROJECT
University of East London (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN10 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Conference name: 2nd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-7 July, 2010
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:The paper shares the researcher’s experience during data collection process in three classrooms at different polytechnics in Malaysia. The paper describes the dilemma of the researcher role where the researcher was an observer as well as a facilitator and a teacher while conducting her own research study. The purpose of the research study was to investigate a new teaching strategy that has been designed, and developed by the researcher with the desire being to help to improve students’ generic competencies and attitude towards learning civil engineering subject. The researcher then had to deliver and implement her own invented teaching strategies by acting as a facilitator/teacher, and at the same time had to situate herself as the observer who evaluate the new teaching technique that has been developed. The approach has been employed to three experimental groups of first semester students undertaking three-years Civil Engineering Courses.
The researcher is not only the observer or the facilitator, but also part of the process as she has been engaged in the activities that set out to observe the teaching-learning processes, and has been located in the ‘natural settings’ of classrooms under investigation. However, her role became one of the ethical issues for critical reflection as she had not disclosed her true identity with the intention being to reduce the distance between her and the students thereby creating a more comfortable and largely familiar learning environment.
While it was initially difficult to combine the facilitator/teacher and the observer role at the same time, the researcher found it hugely useful to have the assistance of a video operator to video-film the various teaching and learning processes. Besides the video, students ‘log sheets’ were employed to explore students’ feeling and perception about the new strategy to teaching.
The researcher found that, besides the desire to accomplish the teaching task, the roles of the ‘observer facilitator’ is really a tough job and time consuming. Despite the concomitant exhaustion, the researcher finally managed to balance the competing roles of observer as well as facilitator, and this type of research allowed the researcher to be directly involved observing the classroom learning process with more liberty. The role gives opportunities to the researcher to interfere and create the learning situations, directly experience students thought, feeling, actions and behaviour which are precious for her research project.
Keywords: Observer Facilitator, observer, facilitator/teacher, teaching approach/strategy/technique.