MLFTC alumna co-leads teacher prep project in nation of Georgia

Ketevan Chachkhiani Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College
October 03, 2023

Ketevan Chachkhiani (PhD, Educational Policy and Evaluation, ’23) grew up in the country of Georgia during the time it gained independence from the then-Soviet Union. Now she will be taking on the role of managing a grant-based project in support of pre-service teacher educator programs and systemic change in her home country.

Chachkhiani will be leading the implementation of the ASU-led activities as a part of the USAID-funded Educating the Future Activity in Georgia grant while managing cross-institutional integration and collaboration. The $14 million grant, awarded to Chemonics International, is being advanced in partnership with Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, which is a recipient of a $2.5 million sub-award.

At MLFTC, the grant project is led by Principal Investigator Iveta Silova, who is a professor and associate dean of global engagement. Both Chachkhiani and Liz Frias, MLFTC clinical associate professor, are contributing as co-principal investigators

The opportunity allows Chachkhiani, who lives in the Phoenix area with her family, to come full circle in her academic and professional development as a global education leader. It also strengthens MLFTC’s capacities as part of its extensive global engagement initiatives. 

In her previous roles with USAID, European Union, World Bank and UNICEF-funded programs, Chachkhiani has designed and led large-scale school reform initiatives and programs in Georgia and other post-socialist countries. Most recently, she supported the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia in developing a long-term sectoral strategy in general education. 

“The Soviet legacy in countries such as Georgia continues to influence all aspects of society, including how schools and universities operate, yet at the same time it allows for a solid space for individuals and organizations within the country to evaluate new opportunities to adapt, modify and transform current systems,” Chachkhiani says.

Chachkhiani chose to pursue her PhD with ASU’s Mary Fulton Teachers College as it allowed her to build on her past professional experience and research, which focused on  teacher policies,  education and professional development and school leadership and governance models in the nation of Georgia and other post-Soviet countries. It also enabled her to continue and deepen previous research collaboration with Silova in the area of post-socialist education transformations and international development. 

“Teacher autonomy, classroom behavior and professional development has been one of my areas of interest, particularly in the context of countries that are in the process of evolving their education systems,” she says. 

Her research at MLFTC advances understanding of the implications of teacher autonomy for teachers, students and educational systems in general.

Explaining her research in an academic context, Chachkhiani says she analyzed systematically selected empirical and conceptual studies to unpack the complexities and variations in the benefits and risks associated with teacher autonomy. By employing historical discourse analysis, she also studied how the Ministry of Education used written language in the national curricula to shape autonomy discourse in her home country, Georgia. In her dissertation, Chachkhiani developed a taxonomy of teacher autonomy as freedom from input and output control. Using data from 43 countries, she explored the moderating role of each type of autonomy for classroom practices, student achievement and educational equity. 

Chachkhiani has also collaboratively explored the development of research in post-Soviet Georgia. One of her studies explored individual-level reasons that motivate faculty at Georgian universities to engage in the process of collaborating with colleagues internationally on research projects. The research revealed that faculty at Georgian universities are more oriented toward collaboration with their peers from European countries and the United States. This preference is influenced by such factors as higher quality of science, higher level of freedom and autonomy, personal contacts and networks, as well as language competencies.

At MLFTC, Chachkhiani says she was able to expand her her areas of research interests and engage in collaborative inquiries with her mentors — Silova and Margarita Pivovarova, associate director of doctoral programs  and fellow students on environmental awareness, post-socialist  transformations, nationalism, literacies of childhood and pedagogies of time in post-Soviet context. She also has shared her knowledge and research skills teaching a masters-level course in research methods at MLFTC.

“Through my work at MLFTC, I feel very fortunate to be able to contribute to a greater understanding around systems change in the context of global environments and education,” she says. “I look forward to leveraging my research and practice in this new role through MLFTC that is aimed at supporting stronger teacher preparation and student outcomes globally.”

Learn more about Chachkhiani and her research.

Learn more about MLFTC’s other global project around the world, such as:

  • Collaborating with Uganda to improve  early grade reading outcomes for Ugandan school children.
  • Enhancing primary teacher preparation in Morocco through a comprehensive systems approach in partnership with Moroccan university faculty.
  • Strengthening higher education access in Malawi.