EFL Instructors' Perceptions Regarding Conducting Action Research

EFL Instructors' Perceptions Regarding Conducting Action Research

Eftima Khalil (Bahcesehir University, Istanbul, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/IJTEPD.2019070104

Abstract

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in teachers' professional development through action research and teachers are expected to be engaged in action research. Thus, this study aimed to explore the perceptions of Turkish EFL teachers regarding conducting action research in their classrooms. The participants were 16 Turkish EFL teachers who enrolled in Master of Art (M.A) specialized in English Language Education at a private university in Istanbul, Turkey. The data was collected by means of a questionnaire consisting of two sections to deeply investigate the impacts of action research on the EFL teachers. The results revealed that teachers have positive attitudes towards action research. Even though certain barriers do exist such as lack of time, lack of knowledge, and lack of support from other teachers, the teachers believe that they have grown both personally and professionally through their experiences as teacher researchers. Teachers in this study also described steps that could be taken to make action research more effective and widespread.
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Introduction

Learning to teach is a lifelong process and never-ending journey with success and failure; what matters most is continuity in the long run. Based on the notion of lifelong professional learning, teachers should keep up to date with professional development in the field of teaching, rethink and assess classroom practices and make changes in order to address different students’ needs and overcome problems in classrooms (Richards & Farrel, 2005: Negi, 2016). Teachers might use a number of professional development methods and procedures both at the individual and group-based level. Among the professional development activities, action research is considered to be the process of lifelong learning and the most popular method of professional development (Johnson & Golombek, 2002).

Educators and researchers highly recommend engaging teachers in action research because it enables them to update their knowledge through reading articles and academic writings. Action research enables teachers to keep their abilities up with new curriculum and also shift their focus from long hours and product to effective hours and process (Rukya, 2007). In other words, action research can help teachers to increase knowledge production and change of practice, which is a process, not an event (Jebessa, 2017). Thus, it can be stated that teachers through implementing action research can make their classes more active not passive. Therefore, action research improves classroom practices and students ’learning since the students are the most important players of the action research process. As Rukya (2007) stated that “Teachers’ action research is justified both for the teachers’ professional development and students’ learning sake” (p. 2) since action research can lead to better teaching and learning.

Therefore, teachers are expected to be engaged in action research in order to develop their professional knowledge and improve foreign language instructions in the context of their own classrooms, but many teachers are unwilling to conduct any research in their classrooms. This is related to many factors such as the lack of research knowledge and skills, lack of time, lack of research background, and lack of support from schools and administrators. Bennett (1993) indicated that most teachers fail to undertake teacher-research due to many factors like lack of administrative support, lack of community support, lack of access to journals, budget cuts, and absence of conferences and seminars.

This article will highlight the following objectives:

  • 1.

    Give a brief preview of the basic concept of action research and its process

  • 2.

    Investigate the perceptions of teachers towards the implementation of action research into classroom practices and the problems that face them.

  • 3.

    Discuss the results of the study for examining teachers' beliefs towards the effectiveness of action research and its barriers

  • 4.

    Provide recommendations for the integration of action research for further research.

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Literature Review

  • 1.

    Definition of Action Research

Action research (AR) is a combination of action and research as indicated by many scholars. It is a systematic approach carried out by the teacher to collect information, find out process that can be used to resolve issues, improve the quality of classroom instructions, develop reflective practice and the quality of the immediate learning environment (Altrichte, Posch, & Somekh, 1993; Avalos, 2010; Burns, 1999; Finch, 2005; Hensen 1996; Johnson, 2002; McCarthy and Riner, 1996; Penlington, 2008; Richards and Farrell, 2005; Snell, 1999;).

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