Investigating multigrade teaching (MGT) and learning practices in Maldives: Developing a framework for MGT

Author Identifier

Aniyath Ali

Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Education

First Supervisor

Pauline Roberts

Second Supervisor

Rozita Dass


Multigrade teaching (MGT) is a feature of schooling widely practised in many countries. MGT is typically instigated to provide education for socially disadvantaged groups of children, which can bring considerable benefit to all concerned. The literature shows that there is a paucity of research into MGT, particularly into pedagogical practices and teaching strategies. The previous researchers who have advocated the adoption of MGT, lack discussion on the pedagogical applications and contextual considerations for remote schools. This research explores how MGT is operationalised in the island nation, Republic of Maldives and proposes an MGT framework for its improvement.

A qualitative multiple case study design was employed for the investigation, with five MGT schools from the Maldives and one independent multi-age school in Western Australia for comparison. Semi-structured individual interviews, focus groups, and online questionnaires served as data collection methods. Data were obtained from principals, teachers, and parents of the selected case study schools. The data were analysed using reflexive thematic analysis (RTA). Each of the six MGT schools was examined initially as a single case and then a set of cross-case conclusions was drawn from the case studies in the Maldives and the case study in Western Australia.

The results and findings of the research identified that while principals, teachers and parents held positive perceptions about MGT, they were confronting many challenges such as: lack of professional support and training, time management, content integration, teacher turnover, inadequate resources, and lack of flexibility for schools implementing MGT. The results also showed that having no proper teaching guidelines in place created burdens for teachers teaching in MGT classrooms. Despite these limitations, some of the successful practices used by these teachers were recognised as: use of a buddy system, use of a variety of activities, thematic based teaching, and group learning. The researcher concludes by proposing a framework that could be adopted in teaching MGT classrooms to further enhance the current practice of MGT in the Maldives. The researcher also recommends capacity building through in-service training as an important determinant to consider for successful MGT.

While differentiated instruction is acknowledged to be a compelling technique in all classrooms, the researcher also suggests it would be beneficial to include a module of differentiated learning designed specifically for teaching multi-age classrooms in teacher pre-service programs. The findings from this research may assist to develop intervention programs for MGT in the Maldives, devise evidence-based policies and action plans for improving the overall quality of MGT in the country and contribute to the literature about MGT in remote schools, particularly teaching strategies used in MGT classes.



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