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Becoming a (better) teacher: a case study on classroom action research as an instrument for professional development in foreign language teacher education
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 03:05 authored by Nora Benitt
The education and professional development of foreign language teachers is a challenging endeavour – for the (student) teachers themselves, as well as for the teacher educators and institutions involved. In particular, the meaningful integration of theory and practice is central to the ongoing discussion as to how to conceptualise and implement foreign language teacher education. In this thesis, I investigate a cohort of 12 (student) teachers enrolled in the M.A. programme ‘E-LINGO – Teaching English to Young Learners’ in the form of a qualitative-interpretative case study with the aim to explore if, how and under what circumstances classroom action research, a core component of the programme, can foster professional development. The participants have different educational and cultural backgrounds and various levels of professional experience in the field of language teaching. Over a period of two years, I collected data from multiple sources (semi-structured group interviews, learning logs, portfolios and observation notes) and afterwards triangulated and interpreted the data to elicit indicators for professional development in the form of critical learning incidents. The data analysis was methodologically guided by the Documentary Method as developed by Bohnsack (1989). The findings suggest that classroom action research can foster professional development on different levels. On an affective level, it can lead to increased professional confidence and a growing understanding of teacher roles. On an interpersonal level, action research can enhance cooperative development through successful teamwork, commitment to the shared task and adequate support structures. On a cognitive level, it may lead to increased theoretical and methodological knowledge, depending on the quality of the input as well as on the (student) teachers’ commitment towards their learning. As the findings further indicate, these levels are closely interconnected and are strongly influenced by various socio-cultural factors of the teaching and learning context as well as the (student) teachers’ biographies.