Lahore School of Economics

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The Role of Practitioner Inquiry in Professional Development of Teachers Working with English Language Learners

Dr. Aliya Zafar, Dean, Department of Humanities, COMSATS, Institution of Information Technology, Islamabad

There is an increase in the population of linguistically diverse students in United States schools. Research shows teachers feel they were insufficiently prepared to teach diverse learners. There is a need to prepare English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teachers to meet the academic needs of English Language Learners (ELLs) effectively and address their underachievement. Existing literature on professional development (PD) of teachers points to insufficient research that links PD to student learning. Scholars suggest a shift in PD from imparting knowledge for teachers and "training" them to enhancing authentic professional learning. Furthermore, there is limited literature on the effects of practitioner inquiry on the PD of ESOL teachers, and little is known about teachers' inquiry studies with ELLs. Therefore, this qualitative study explores how practitioner inquiry influences teachers’ perspectives and practices related to ELLs.

The study used a constructivist theoretical perspective and recruited teachers from Maple County School District, who had completed practitioner inquiry with ELLs. Interviews served as the primary data source, while documents, electronic mail, and researchers' notes were used as secondary data. Structural narrative analysis and thematic analysis were used to analyze the data. The results of this study added to the limited research and supported practitioner inquiry as an effective PD tool for ESOL teachers that provided continuous learning opportunities and insights into the academic needs of ELLs. It highlighted teachers' perceptions of inquiry as a valuable tool to explore practice, transform it, increase student learning, gain a better understanding of students, and become aware of the relationship between instruction and student outcomes. Most teachers generated knowledge-in-practice specific to teaching ELLs successfully. Additionally, implications for researchers and practitioners were also presented.

About the presenter:

Dr. Zafar received her PhD and master’s degree in education from the University of Florida, USA. She has 25 years of teaching experience. She is currently heading the Department of Humanities at COMSATS Institute of Information Technology (CIIT), Islamabad. Her interests include qualitative research, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), teacher education, critical pedagogy, and media literacy. Dr. Zafar has presented her research at several conferences in the United States, including the American Educational Research Association (AERA), National Association of Bilingual Education (NABE), Association of Teacher Educators (ATE), and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). Her interest in practitioner inquiry began when she was pursuing her PhD in the US. Her research focuses on teacher learning through practitioner inquiry.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 4/03/2014 03:20:00 PM,

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