Language teacher cognition, classroom practices and institutional context: a qualitative case study on three EFL teachers

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2015
Öztürk, Gökhan
This study examined the main sources of the participant EFL teachers’ cognitions, their classroom practices and the impact of institutional context on these practices. The participants included three EFL instructors working at English preparatory programs of different state universities. The data were collected through three semistructured interviews, four classroom observations for each participant with followup stimulated recall interviews, field notes taken during the observations, reflective journals that were written by the participants on their classroom practices and document analysis including their lesson plans and classroom materials. As for the data analysis, grounded theory design was used as a systematic data analysis process. Based on the narrations of the participants, the results showed that prior language learning experiences, the pre-service education, the years spent as a novice teacher, institutional atmosphere and experienced colleagues in the past and all teaching experiences were the main sources of the teachers’ cognition on language teaching and their cognition was also the origin of their classroom practices. The other factors that shaped EFL teachers’ practices were found to be the learner profile, institutional factors including the organizational atmosphere, testing and curriculum policies, teachers’ improvisational teaching acts, and the course book. It was found out that teachers experienced a decision-making process in which they had to take all these factors into account to decide on their classroom implementations. Based on these findings, the study puts forward a language teacher cognition model, Clusters of Language Teacher Cognition, which not only presented a figurative conceptualization of the elements which EFL teachers had cognition about but also provided a research agenda for both national and international scholars interested in this field.