Supporting active learning teaching techniques through collaborative learning and feedback in Zanzibar, a challenging educational context

Thesis event information

Date and time of the thesis defence

Place of the thesis defence

University of Oulu, Linnanmaa, lecture hall IT115

Topic of the dissertation

Supporting active learning teaching techniques through collaborative learning and feedback in Zanzibar, a challenging educational context

Doctoral candidate

Master of Education Mwanakhamis Ameir

Faculty and unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Education, Learning and Educational Technology Research Unit (LET)

Subject of study



Professor Eero Ropo, Tampere University


Professor Sanna Järvelä , University of Oulu

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Relevant pedagogical support for teachers can facilitate the application of active learning teaching techniques (ALTTs), even in challenging educational contexts

Access to educational technologies and environments that are conducive to teaching and learning is known to have an impact on instructional activities. However, such access is not always available in large classes of up to 100 students without educational technologies. Meanwhile, it has been shown that active learning is facilitated by the use of different teaching techniques such as collaborative learning and feedback. However, little research has been conducted to investigate the possibility of using ALTTs in teaching and learning challenging contexts (TLCCs).

This dissertation investigates teachers’ knowledge and use of ALTTs in Zanzibar challenging context. A training program in active learning, collaborative learning, and feedback was conducted to support teachers’ activities.

The main research question aimed to explore what the teachers’ ALTTs were before and after their training; classroom observations, semi-structured interviews, and an open-ended questionnaire were conducted to examine participants’ perceptions and applications of relevant techniques. The results show that these teachers used more and higher quality ALTTs after training than before. After the training program, the teachers were seen to facilitate working in collaborative groups, sharing ideas, interaction, and feedback. Some of these activities were observed rarely or not found at all in lessons before the program.

These results show that the teachers lacked sufficient theoretical and practical knowledge of particular teaching techniques and possessed only some knowledge of others which they often failed to implement in classroom activities before the training. These results are in line with current acknowledgement of the importance of effective in-service training for teachers. The results also reflect existing understanding of the significance of the teacher’s role in the educational process. Additionally, the results suggest that activities related to active learning, collaborative learning, and feedback are powerful in developing more active classroom practices.

In this study, the application of ALTTs supported by collaborative learning and feedback minimized the difficulties faced by the teachers in their TLCC. Existing research has also shown that such interactive approaches have a positive influence on the teaching and learning process. In this study, most of learning activities were carried out by students themselves under the teachers’ instruction. However, the results also emphasize that an appropriate educational environment is critical for effective teaching and learning processes; the application of ALTTs in small classes with sufficient teaching resources would likely be even more effective.

The new understanding developed in this dissertation is the knowledge that, through training, the application of ALTTs is possible even in TLCCs where the teacher’s role is more significant than in educationally conducive environments. This dissertation is therefore of practical importance for such challenging contexts, the implication being that there is an opportunity to enhance educational activities through teachers’ professional development without having to wait for sufficient finances to reduce class size or enable access to relevant technologies. Future studies should look to investigate the impact of applying ALTTs with students learning in the same contexts.
Last updated: 1.3.2023