Exploring dialogic approaches in teaching and learning: A study in a rural Kenyan community

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


In Kenya, there is a need to investigate the pedagogies that are currently applied to primary schools. This is important, because educators and researchers question the predominant use of teacher-centred pedagogies in Kenyan schools. Although pedagogical reforms have been slow in Kenya, the current government has stressed the importance of developing an education system that meets the needs of the students, a system that is also globally competitive. The use of dialogic pedagogies in classroom learning has been seen as valuable since students can actively engage (Mercer, 2008) and can question issues that relate to them (Freire, 1993; Ladson-Billings, 1994). These engagements have the potential to prepare students better for their lives outside of school.
This study is a mixture of methods under an ethnographic approach, through which I have aimed to obtain Kenyan teachers’ insider interpretations of their setting and practice. As Tabulawa suggests (2013), insiders’ voices and engagement are critical to the progress of pedagogical development in Africa. Therefore, I have explored with Kenyan teachers the current pedagogies of teaching and learning. I used four pedagogical spaces as lenses to help to determine how dialogic pedagogies can be applicable. The four pedagogic ‘spaces’ in the study are: interaction spaces, physical spaces, cultural spaces, and policy spaces. Two rural schools in Central Kenya were involved in data collection, plus a local community church.
The study revealed teachers’ everyday practices and provided information on key areas that would help pedagogical development. Additionally, the study indicated the need for pedagogical reforms that value the local context, meet Kenyan students’ needs and engage teachers in the process. A comprehensive scrutiny of the findings led to the recommendation of the ‘Harambee’ approach, which suggests how dialogic pedagogies could be employed in the Kenyan education.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Middlesex University
  • Robertson, Leena, Director of Studies, External person
  • Brook, Victoria, Supervisor, External person
Award date9 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020

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