Reflecting on Change at an EFL Institution: Teachers’ Negotiations of a Systemic Change Initiative

İpek, Ömer Faruk
Karaman, Abdullah Cendel
In language education settings across the globe, issues ranging from sociocultural challenges to pedagogical innovations (e.g. the need for innovation in preparing teachers) continue to be key areas of consideration in educational research (Bense, 2016). In this paper, we explore how teachers of English as a foreign language (EFL) at a higher education setting in Western Turkey negotiate a systemic change initiative. Grounded in the systemic change concept and taking ‘resistance’ to change as a common phenomenon in educational contexts (including EFL programs), we underscore the criticality of a complex conceptualization of change in education. In this regard, because teachers are often expected to become both initiators and the agents of systemic change, it is important to develop a deep understanding of how teachers negotiate these initiatives in specific contexts (Noriko, 2010). Current literature on systemic change in education indicates that initiators of educational change need to possess specific skills to handle systemic change (Fullan, 2016; Jenlink, 2009; Naicker & Mestry, 2016). However, teachers often know little about organizational leadership and change (Reigeluth & Garfinkle, 1994). While the emergence of professional learning communities and the rich variety of teacher research traditions have made possible a substantive body of literature on various professional development settings, there is limited research on how in-service foreign language teachers negotiate organizational change. In this paper, we relied on a qualitative case study design. Data were collected over a two-year period. The case of an EFL school and its systemic change with relevance to the curriculum, organization, assessment, and communication constructed the focal inquiry. Data were collected via relevant artifacts (e.g. institutional documents), observations of organizational meetings, and semi-structured individual and focus group interviews with eleven instructors. Data were transcribed verbatim. The interpretive analysis stages included coding, generating categories, and identifying prevalent themes. Our analysis revealed that teachers’ negotiations of the systemic change were related to the following: (1) investment in contributing to change, (2), reconstruction of administrative and academic organization (3) whole school involvement and negotiation, (4) specification of benchmarks and standards, and (5) attributes of the leader. Furthermore, these five themes were interpreted with regard to the professional development of in-service EFL teachers in this context.
Citation Formats
Ö. F. İpek and A. C. Karaman, “Reflecting on Change at an EFL Institution: Teachers’ Negotiations of a Systemic Change Initiative,” presented at the Association for Teacher Education in Europe (ATEE) Annual Conference, (20 - 22 Ağustos 2018), Gavle, İsveç, 2018, Accessed: 00, 2021. [Online]. Available: