EFL/ESP teacher development and classroom innovation through teacher-initiated action research
This study is an investigation of the potential of teacher-initiated action research for EFL/ESP teacher development and classroom innovation. The Collaborative Academic Writing Research Project (CAWRP), on which it is based, was carried out at the ESP Centre, Damascus University, in 1996-1997. It was in two phases, Baseline and Main. The researcher, a teacher in the context, assumed a participatory and facilitating role. The pedagogic problem was the teaching of research paper writing to postgraduate students. The CAWRP was proposed to ease this problem and introduce classroom innovation through teacher-initiated action research, the long-term aim of which was continuous professional development. The baseline research aimed at articulating a picture of teacher and context needs and assessing project viability. The proposal was refined in the light of the findings, and a programme of teacher development activities was agreed with the participants. This was implemented in the Main Phase, which had three stages: Orientation, Research and Reporting, and Summative Evaluation and Follow-up. The role of the researcher was to facilitate the teachers to self-direct their professional learning and introduce needed pedagogic innovations. The thesis is in eight chapters and 32 appendices. Chapter One sets the scene and introduces the study. Chapter Two focuses on the baseline investigation: its methodology, findings, and their implications for the Main Phase study. Chapter Three is a review of the relevant literature in the fields of teacher development and classroom innovation. Chapter Four focuses on project design and methodology and gives more details on the principles, values, strategies, and procedures that guided project implementation and how they worked out in action. Chapter Five reports the findings, focusing on the contribution of the Orientation Stage activities to the development of the teacher group as a whole (a total of 20 out of 23 Centre teachers). Its main sources of data are recordings, feedback questionnaires, and participant observation. Chapter Six focuses on the teachers who carried out action research and reported on it (8 out of the 20 Orientation Stage participants). It presents two case studies of frill participants, starting with their entry points and showing how they developed in the Research and Reporting Stage. One case exemplifies the experienced teachers and those who did research individually, and the other the novices and those who worked in collaboration. Chapter Seven reports on the participants' sununative evaluation of the project and the effect of this evaluation on project continuity. Chapter Eight summarises the main findings and evaluates them with reference to the literature, on the one hand, and design principles and methodology, on the other. In this chapter, I have looked critically at the lessons learnt from the study, discussed its significance and limitations, and put forward some recommendations. The appendices include some of the materials and documentary evidence used in the research.