Professional Development through CoPs: A Case Study of EFL Teachers in China

Ping Wang (2010). Professional Development through CoPs: A Case Study of EFL Teachers in China PhD Thesis, School of Education, The University of Queensland.

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Author Ping Wang
Thesis Title Professional Development through CoPs: A Case Study of EFL Teachers in China
School, Centre or Institute School of Education
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2010-03-01
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Associate Professor Karen Moni
Dr. Christina Gitsaki
Total pages 260
Total colour pages 3
Total black and white pages 257
Subjects 13 Education
Abstract/Summary The aims of this study were to investigate tertiary English language teachers’ needs, experiences, and expectations for PD in oral English discussion strategies, to develop a transformative model of professional development using a CoP framework, and to consider how teachers transformed their learning through completing this PD program. To achieve these aims, a case study was designed that used both quantitative and qualitative data collection methods to collect data from multiple sources. Data were collected from: (1) a questionnaire of 30 EFL teachers in the English department of a Chinese university; and (2) interviews with four teachers who volunteered to participate in the CoP; and (3) audio transcriptions of ten professional development meetings, blogs and follow-up electronic interviews six months later. These data were analysed using quantitative and qualitative techniques. The key findings from the analysis of the teacher PD questionnaires and preliminary interview responses showed that although the English teachers in the research site lacked PD experience, they had positive perceptions and expectations for PD activities. However, it was found that PD activities that the respondents had previous attended had been mainly trainer-centred and not relevant to their actual classroom teaching. The teachers reported a need for more opportunities to work with their peers in groups, and for professional development more closely aligned with their needs that considered their other professional commitments and workloads. Based on these findings, a PD program using a Communities of Practice framework was designed to assist teachers to develop new strategies for teaching English oral language skills. Analysis of the transcripts from the PD meetings, post-PD interviews, and electronic interviews revealed that the process of PD implementation was more complex than the initial framework had suggested. First, the outcomes after the implementation of the model varied more than anticipated. The teachers negotiated meanings to enable them to introduce new practices, persisted with their old practice, and adapted, rather than directly adopting, activities. Second, the teachers’ change in practice was smaller than anticipated. Third, the teacher change related to thinking as well as practice. The PD model using a CoP framework was then refined and extended based on these findings. The study also reported an individual case study of one participant’s (Yang’s) learning in the PD program. It was found that Yang went through a significant evolution in her learning. She came to the program as an “outsider” and a listener who was willing to learn new practice from the other teachers. She experienced various cycles during which she implemented what she learned in the meetings and achieved transformation, which included both adaptation and adoption of new strategies in her teaching. The findings revealed that the process of teacher transformative learning in a CoP was complex, cyclical and requires further facilitation and extended participation in face-to-face group activities. Implications were drawn from these findings about directions for future research including: further research in the Chinese context for deeper understanding of teacher transformative learning in PD, and further research on implementing the model in other contexts to explore teachers transformative PD and to investigate the possibility of extending this model to a larger context. This study is an example of how a professional development model using a Community of Practice framework could be implemented for EFL teacher transformative learning in one Chinese university. The study proposed a model, then refined and extended this model which might be applied to other research contexts.
Keyword Teacher professional development, Communities of Practice, China, EFL teacher
Additional Notes Pages should be printed in coulour: 165, 170, 188 Pages should be printed in landscape: 106, 119, 133, 148, 188, 190, 251-260.

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Created: Thu, 22 Jul 2010, 08:57:30 EST by Ms Ping Wang on behalf of Library - Information Access Service