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Investigating communities of practice and ELT teacher research in Cambodia
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 21:05 authored by Chan Narith Keuk
This thesis is a qualitative study of English Language Teaching (ELT) research at tertiary-level in contemporary Cambodia. It comprises two phases. Phase 1 explores various views of ELT teacher research provided in a focus group discussion and two individual interviews by six Cambodian teachers representing different ELT institutions in Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital. Phase 2 investigates teachers‟ actual research activities through an ethnographically-informed case study, and the research engagement at different levels (macro, meso, and micro) in the context of the CamTESOL conference series. The study reveals that Cambodian ELT teachers hold unclear and confused conceptions of "teacher research‟ and "research‟ and this leads to difficulties in operationalising and carrying out research projects. This issue is compounded by the power of the CamTESOL conference series which has created a demand for research presentations, regardless of the underlying quality of the research, and established a research rhythm which has come to regulate the research timelines of most Cambodian ELT researchers‟ research engagement in their actual research projects. A consequence is that much of the research undertaken by Cambodian ELT teacher researchers lacks rigor and displays serious research shortcomings. The study also reveals that there were no true communities of practice functioning in the research practices of CamTESOL or individual ELT institutions in Cambodia. However, the research practices among individual ELT teachers come close to operating as a true community of practice. The study calls for reconceptualising "ELT teacher research‟ in Cambodia and adopting appropriate, workable operational mechanisms, i.e. a suitable modeling of a community of practice, for enhancing ELT teacher research practices there. The implications of ELT teacher research in the Cambodian setting are also of relevance to the development of ELT teacher research in other countries in the Southeast Asian region and beyond.