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Perceptions of the effectiveness of a national professional development course for EFL teachers in Vietnam using the theory of practice architectures
thesisposted on 2022-05-11, 04:20 authored by Van Bui
Continuous teacher professional development is one strategy that educational stakeholders have chosen to improve teacher quality as part of education reforms. The same situation occurs in Vietnam with various teacher professional development courses for EFL teachers. Drawing on the theory of practice architectures, in this study I explored the arrangements that shaped the activities of a national EFL teacher professional development course in Vietnam (hereafter called EFL Course) as well as the arrangements that shaped teachers’ teaching practices after the course. I also investigated teachers’ and teacher educators’ perceptions of the effectiveness of EFL Course. Fifty-six teachers and eight teacher educators participated in this study. I adopted a qualitative approach in which data were collected from observations, questionnaires, and semi-structured interviews with the teachers and the teacher educators. The findings of this study indicate that different factors acted as arrangements in shaping the activities in EFL Course and teachers’ teaching. They included enablers and constraints coming from a range of resources at Vietnamese school and society from common languages (Vietnamese and English) to the role of English in the society. Among these factors, activities in EFL Course were mainly constrained by material economic arrangements, namely EFL Course operation including its blended delivery mode, scheduling, and duration, coursebook, and location. Teachers’ teaching was constrained primarily by social-political arrangements that included school structures and educational and socioeconomic systems. Importantly, this study highlights factors acting as practice traditions that contributed to shaping activities of EFL Course and teachers’ teaching. These factors were Confucianism, teacher-centred teaching methods, and the one-off cascade traditional approaches used in teacher professional development. This study exposes a mismatch in teachers’ and teacher educators’ expectations of the course as well as a disconnect between teachers’ and teacher educators’ perceptions of the course’s effect on teachers’ teaching practices. This study also indicates that more attention needs to be paid to multilayered systems, especially traditional values, that shape teacher professional development. Implications for policymakers, course providers, course participants, and researchers are provided to improve the effectiveness of teacher professional development courses.