Iranian TEFL Ph.D. Candidates’ Conception of Professional Identity Development in Doctoral Education
DOR: 20.1001.1.23223898.2021.

Document Type : Research Paper


1 English Department, Faculty of Persian Literature and Foreign Languages, South Tehran Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of English, Faculty of Humanities, Garmsar Branch, Islamic Azad University, Garmsar, Iran


The present study investigated the TEFL Ph.D. candidates’ conception (TPCs) of professional identity development (PID) during doctoral program. To this end, under a mixed-method design, two instruments were used to collect data: a four-point Likert-scale researcher-made questionnaire and semi-structured interviews. First, the questionnaire was mailed to 80 Iranian Ph.D. students selected through simple random sampling. Then, to yield an in-depth understanding of how they develop their professional identity, 10 participants with more than 10 years of teaching experience were asked to take part in the interview. The results obtained from the analysis of the elicited data indicated that majority of the participants believed that lack of practical professional development courses, lack of scholarship, lack of employer support, the high cost of Ph.D. opportunities, and trivial increase in job satisfaction and security were among the hurdles of to their professional identity development. Regarding the factors influencing some participants’ withdrawal from Ph.D. studies, the results revealed that feeling of isolation and lack of dissertation writing groups were the most significant reasons. The findings of the study can have some pedagogical implications for teacher education programs in that they can be used to emphasize their strengths, eliminate their weaknesses, and to provide stakeholders with ample opportunities to improve the quality of doctoral education.


Abednia, A. (2012). Teachers’ professional identity: Contributions of a critical EFL teacher education course in Iran. Teaching and teacher education, 28(5), 706-717.
Ali, A., Kohun, F., & Levy, Y. (2007). Dealing with Social Isolation to Minimize Doctoral Attrition- A Four Stage Framework. International Journal of Doctoral Studies, 2(1), 33-49.
Beijaard, D., Meijer, P. C., & Verloop, N. (2004). Reconsidering research on teachers’ professional identity. Teaching and teacher education, 20(2), 107-128.
Brown, L., & Watson, P. (2010). Understanding the experiences of female doctoral students. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 34(3), 385-404.
Cardona, J. J. (2013). Determined to Succeed: Motivation Towards Doctoral Degree Completion.
Crosby, K. S. (2015). The relationship between administrative support and burnout in turnaround schools.
De Valero, Y. F. (2001). Departmental factors affecting time-to-degree and completion rates of doctoral students at one land-grant research institution. The Journal of Higher Education, 72(3), 341-367.
Dörnyei, Z. (2007). Research methods in applied linguistics: Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methodologies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Gholami, J., Alinasab, M., Ayiewbey, S., & Nasimfar, M. (2019). Transition to PhD Program in TEFL: A Cross-Sectional Account of Students' Concerns. The Journal of Applied Linguistics and Applied Literature: Dynamics and Advances, 7(2), 63-98.
Gray, S. M. (2012). From principles to practice: Collegial observation for teacher development. Tesol Journal, 3(2), 231-255.
Gururaj, S., Heilig, J. V., & Somers, P. (2010). Graduate Student Persistence: Evidence from Three Decades. Journal of Student Financial Aid, 40(1), 31-46.
Inman, D., & Marlow, L. (2004). Teacher retention: Why do beginning teachers remain in the profession? Education, 124(4).
Izadinia, M. (2016). Student teachers’ and mentor teachers’ perceptions and expectations of a mentoring relationship: do they match or clash? Professional Development in Education, 42(3), 387-402.
Khany, R., & Malekzadeh, P. (2015). Associations among EFL Teachers' Professional Identity, Professional Vitality, and Creativity. Teaching English Language, 9(2), 37-74.
Knobloch, N., & Whittington, M. S. (2002). Novice teachers' perceptions of support, teacher preparation quality, and student teaching experience related to teacher efficacy. Journal of Vocational Education Research, 27(3), 331-341.
Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation: Cambridge university press.
Leijen, Ä., Lepp, L., & Remmik, M. (2016). Why did I drop out? Former students’ recollections about their study process and factors related to leaving the doctoral studies. Studies in Continuing Education, 38(2), 129-144.
Levecque, K., Anseel, F., De Beuckelaer, A., Van der Heyden, J., & Gisle, L. (2017). Work organization and mental health problems in PhD students. Research Policy, 46(4), 868-879.
Longfield, A., Romas, J., & Irwin, J. D. (2006). The self-worth, physical and social activities of graduate students: A qualitative study. College Student Journal, 40(2), 282-293.
Mofrad, E. Z. (2016). Exploring the professional identity of the Iranian English teachers: The case of English institutes of Iranshahr. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 6(4), 843-848.
Muszynski, S. Y. (1990). The relationship between demographic/situational factors, cognitive/affective variables, and needs and time to completion of the doctoral program in psychology.
Nature. (2019). The mental health of researchers demands urgent attention. Nature575, 257-258.
Pocock, B., Elton, J., Green, D., McMahon, C., & Pritchard, S. (2011). Juggling work, home and learning in low-paid occupations: a qualitative study: National Centre for Vocational Education Research.
Pyhältö, K., Toom, A., Stubb, J., & Lonka, K. (2012). Challenges of becoming a scholar: A study of doctoral students' problems and well-being. International Scholarly Research Notices, 2012.
Richards, J. C., & Lockhart, C. (1991). Teacher development through peer observation. Tesol Journal, 1(2), 7-10.
Smith, S. U., Hayes, S., & Shea, P. (2017). A Critical Review of the Use of Wenger's Community of Practice (CoP) Theoretical Framework in Online and Blended Learning Research, 2000-2014. Online learning, 21(1), 209-237.
Son, J.-B., & Park, S.-S. (2014). Academic experiences of international PhD students in Australian higher education: From an EAP program to a PhD program. International Journal of Pedagogies and Learning, 9(1), 26-37.
Sverdlik, A., Hall, N. C., McAlpine, L., & Hubbard, K. (2018). The PhD experience: A review of the factors influencing doctoral students’ completion, achievement, and well-being. International Journal of Doctoral Studies, 13(1), 361-388.
Teng, M. F. (2017). Emotional Development and Construction of Teacher Identity: Narrative Interactions about the Pre-Service Teachers' Practicum Experiences. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 42(11), 117-134.
Varghese, M., Morgan, B., Johnston, B., & Johnson, K. A. (2005). Theorizing language teacher identity: Three perspectives and beyond. Journal of language, Identity, and Education, 4(1), 21-44.
Wellington, J., & Sikes, P. (2006). ‘A doctorate in a tight compartment’: why do students choose a professional doctorate and what impact does it have on their personal and professional lives? Studies in Higher Education, 31(6), 723-734.
Wenger, E. (1999). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity: Cambridge university press.
Volume 9, Issue 37 - Serial Number 37
October 2021
Pages 49-63
  • Receive Date: 16 November 2020
  • Revise Date: 10 February 2021
  • Accept Date: 03 June 2021
  • First Publish Date: 03 June 2021