The impact of guided reflective practice on the teaching of English as a foreign language in higher education in Cyprus

Christodoulou, Niki (2013) The impact of guided reflective practice on the teaching of English as a foreign language in higher education in Cyprus. EdD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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The present thesis is an in-depth examination of the potential of facilitating reflective practice in the educational world of Teaching English as a Foreign Language in Higher Education. More specifically, the current thesis investigates the impact of Guided Reflective Practice on the practice of five university teachers of English as a Foreign Language in Cyprus.

Although language research increasingly acknowledges the importance of reflection in excavating the personal, individual and emotional nature of teachers’ work, educational policies and professional teaching standards tend to overlook the humanistic and emotional dimensions of the teacher’s role. Teachers are passionate human beings and their identity, behaviour and emotions are intimately connected with their personal beliefs and values, thus their reflective selves. At the same time, emotions are also socially constructed and a teacher’s behaviour emerges as a result of interactions with others. Successful teacher interactions, however, presuppose an environment of trust, openness and willingness. In such a context, the individual can feel free to both engage in a journey of self-awareness and co-construct knowledge in a reflective dialogue with others who can facilitate the reframing of pre-existing beliefs and practices. Few empirical studies exist which illustrate the incorporation of reflective practice as a facilitative and developmental tool offered to Higher Education English as a Foreign Language in-service teachers in a co-educational and appreciative environment.

The main purpose of this investigation is the increased understanding of ‘self’ and EFL practice through learning to apply reflective practice as a vehicle for mindful and caring interactions with others. The study incorporates insights from humanistic learning theory, relational cultural theory and critical constructivism. It also examines the ways in which the research process has influenced and reshaped my practice and identity as English as a Foreign Language educator and reflective facilitator.

I link my research commitment to my belief in the uniqueness of the individual and the importance of learning as a result of building human relationships through reflective and dialogical interactions with others. Using an action inquiry methodology and qualitative data collection and analysis, the study endeavoured to address three research questions by investigating the teachers’ perceptions of the impact of guided reflective practice and assessing their response to the process. Data collection methods included reflective journals, reflective inquiry group meetings, dialogue observation sessions based on video-recordings, online chats, and holistic interviews.

From the present study emerged the Collaborative, Appreciative, Reflective Enquiry (CARE) model for teacher development, revealing new understandings and insights for TEFL through practices in which emotions are a primary catalyst for transformational teacher learning. The proposed CARE model of guided reflective practice constitutes an alternative framework which identifies ways of facilitating and operationalising reflection in an ‘acritical’ and appreciative context, highlighting its emancipatory potential as a tool for growth and development and not as an institutional requirement.

I am claiming that the significance of my research lies in the fact that it offers new conceptualisations vis-à-vis the capacity of teachers of Higher Education English as a Foreign Language to learn and maximise their potential through reflection when they feel appreciated as individuals and educators. More specifically, findings about participants’ and my own learning reveal an increased self-awareness and awareness of practice, an ability to critically reflect on context without being judgmental of others, and a willingness to reframe practice. More importantly, however, findings show a felt appreciation for the therapeutic effects of reflection and a positive approach to practice as a result of being guided and supported in the reflective practice process by understanding others.

Implications include the significance of appreciative reflective practice in teacher interactions and collaboration, of teacher agency in the knowledge production in Teaching English as a Foreign Language, and the importance of positive emotionality in empowering teachers to live out their identities and values in practice. It is my hope that this small pocket of teacher reform in the study can pave the way forward to similar reform initiatives in the Teaching English as a Foreign Language domain that would entail human connectedness and caring in teacher learning through reflection.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (EdD)
Supervisors: Sinclair, B.B.
Smethem, L.
Keywords: Evolutionary Mentoring, Teacher Reflective and Cooperative Development, Appreciative Inquiry
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1024 Teaching
P Language and literature > PE English
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Education
Item ID: 13635
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 07 Mar 2014 17:32
Last Modified: 13 Sep 2016 14:44

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