From Importer of Knowledge to Researcher of the Self: Exploring the Utility of Collaborative Action Research in Distance Second Language Professional Development

Document Type : Research Paper

Authors

1 Department of English, Isfahan (Khorasegan) Branch, Islamic Azad University, Isfahan, Iran

2 Department of English language, Isfahan (Khorasegan) Branch, Islamic Azad University, Isfahan, Iran.

3 Department of English Language, Isfahan (Khorasgan) Branch, Islamic Azad University, Isfahan, Iran

Abstract

Teacher professional development, as a burgeoning term, has attracted a surge of interest in English language teaching. In second language (L2) professional development, the common orthodoxy has been one which considers teachers as that of knowledge consumers. It is commonly argued that top-down approaches to teachers’ professional development has done little to maximize teachers’ professionalism. To unravel the above-mentioned dilemma, this study was an attempt to implement collaborative action research, as a viable means, to boost teachers’ professional development in a networked community of shared knowledge. To this end, thirteen male and female Iranian English teachers, within the age range of 22-35, were selected through convenience sampling. The selected participants were added to a group in WhatsApp. The online classes began with plenary debate, mostly in the form of workshops through problematizing a particular topic, which were directly linked to teachers’ actual teaching experience. Insights into the EFL teachers’ professional development were acquired through the triangulation of data from four main sources (i.e., teachers’ professional journals, reflective journals, action research projects, and semi-structured interviews). The findings revealed that engaging EFL teachers in a collaborative dialogue in a networked community of shared knowledge ultimately culminated in development of action research projects which resulted in sustained L2 professional development, whereby participating teachers developed a broader understanding of research and adopted reflective inquiry in their L2 teaching practices. The findings have important implications for language teachers in general, and EFL teachers, syllabus designers, and material developers, in particular.

Keywords


Abednia, A. (2012). Teachers’ professional identity: Contribution of a critical EFL teacher education course in Iran. Teaching and Teacher Education, 28(5), 706-717.
Allwright, D. (2003). Exploratory practice: Rethinking practitioner research in language teaching. Language Teaching Research, 7, 113-141.
Ary, D., Jacobs, L., Sorensen, C., & Walker, D. (2014). Introduction to research in education. Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
Bell, J. (1999). Doing your research project: A guide for first-time researchers in education and social science. Buckingham: Open University Press.
Borg, S. (2015). Professional development for English language teachers: Perspectives from higher education in Turkey. British Council.
Brog, S. (2005). Classroom research in ELT in Oman. Ministry of Education.
Burns, A. (1999). Collaborative action research for English language teachers. Cambridge University Press.
Burns, A. (2005). Action research: An evolving paradigm? Language Teaching, 38(2), 57–74.
Burns, A. (2009). Action research in second language teacher education. In A. Burns & J.C. Richards (Eds.), The Cambridge guide to second language teacher education (pp. 289-297). Cambridge University Press.
Burns, A. (2010). Doing action research in English language teaching. Routledge.
Charmaz, K., & Belgrave, L. (2012). Qualitative interviewing and grounded theory analysis. The SAGE handbook of interview research: The complexity of the craft, 2, 347-365.
Craft, A. (1996). Continuing professional development. Open University Press.
Crookes, G., & Chandler, P. M. (2001). Introducing action research into the education of postsecondary foreign language teachers. Foreign Language Annals, 34(2), 131-140.
Dewey, J. (1929). The source of science education. Liveright.
Dikilitas, K., & Griffiths, C. (2017). Developing language teacher autonomy through action research. Palgrave Macmillan.
Dikilitas, K., & Dayli, D. (2018). Teachers’ professional identity development through action research. ELT Journal, 72(4), 415-424.
Haig, B. D. (1995). Grounded theory as scientific method. Philosophy of Education, 28(1), 1-11.
Herring, S. (2004). Computer-mediated discourse analysis: An approach to researching online behavior. In S. Barb, R., Kling, & J. Gray, (Eds.). Designing for virtual communities in the service of learning (pp. 338-378). Cambridge University Press.
Hong, C., & Lawrence, S. (2011). Action research in teacher education: Classroom inquiry, reflection, and data-driven decision making. Journal of Inquiry and Action in Education, 4(2), 2011.
Kabilan, M. K., & Rajab, B. M. (2010). The utilization of internet by Palestinian English language teachers focusing on uses, practices and barriers and overall contribution to professional development. IJEDICT, 6(3), 56-72.
Kemmis, S., & McTaggart, R. (1988). The action research planner. Deakin University Press.
King, P., & Kitchener, K. S. (1994). Developing reflective judgment. Jossey-Bass.
Jones, J. (2004). The many benefits of a research component in English language teacher education: A case study. Prospect: An Australian Journal of TESOL, 19(2), 25-38.
Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge university press.
Levin, B., & Rock, T. (2003).The effects of collaborative action research on preservice and experienced teacher partners in professional development schools. Journal of Teacher Education, 54, 135-149.
Locke, T., Alcorn, N., & O’Neill, J. (2013). Ethical issues in collaborative action research. Educational Action Research, 21(1), 107-123.
Mackey, A., & Gass, S. M. (2005). Second language research. Lawrence Erlbaum Association.
McDonough, K. (2006). Action research and the professional development of graduate teaching assistants. The Modern Language Journal, 6, 33-47.
McIntosh, P. (2010). Action research and reflective practice. Routledge.
McNiff, J. (2013). Action research: Principles and practice. Routledge.
Mills, G. E. (2003). Action research: A guide for the teacher researcher. Prentice Hall.
Molle, D. (2013). Facilitating professional development for teachers of English language learners. Teaching and Teacher Education, 29, 197-207.
Nunan, D. (1989). Understanding language classrooms: A guide for teacher-initiated action. Prentice Hall.
Pelton, R. P. (2010). Action research for teacher candidates: Using classroom data to enhance instruction. R & L Education.
Rainey, I. (2000). Action research and the English as a foreign language practitioner: Time to take stock. Educational Action Research, 8, 65-91.
Richards, J. C. (2008). Second language teacher education today. RELC Journal, 39(2), 158-177.
Richards, J. C., & Farrell, T. S. C. (2005). Professional development for language teachers: Strategies for teacher learning. Cambridge University Press.
Rienties, B., Brouwer, N., & Lygo-Baker, S. (2012). The effect of online professional development on higher education teachers’ beliefs and intentions toward learning facilitation and technology. Teaching and Teacher Education, 29, 122-131.
Thorne, C., & Qiang, W. (1996). Action research in language teacher education. ELT Journal, 50, 254-262.
Vrasidas, C., & Zembylas, M. (2004). Online professional development: Lessons from the field. Education and Training, 46, 326-334.
Wallace, M. J. (1998). Action research for language instructors. Cambridge University Press.
Walsh, C. S., Shrestha, P., & Hedges, C. (2011). Leveraging low-cost mobile technologies in Bangladesh: A case study of innovative practices for teacher professional development and communicative English language teaching. In R. Kwan, C. McNaught, P. Tsang, F. L. Wang & K. C. Li (Eds.), Enhancing learning through technology. Education unplugged: Mobile technologies and Web 2.0 (pp. 152-166). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.
Wang, Q., & Zhang, H. (2013). Promoting teacher autonomy through university-school collaborative action research. Language Teaching Research, 0(0), 1-20.
Wilson, S., & Berne, J. (1999). Teacher learning and the acquisition of professional knowledge: An examination of research on contemporary professional development. Review of Research in Education, 24,173-209.
Yates, C. (2007). Teacher education policy: International development discourses and the development of teacher education. UNESCO.