Source: Journal of Education for Teaching, Vol. 42, No. 1, 106–109, 2016
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This case study examined the changes in teachers’ beliefs after a professional development project for teaching writing through a case study of two writing teachers in a Chinese university.
The participants were two female writing teachers, who enrolled to a teacher professional development project for teaching writing conducted in a university in Northeast China.
One participant holds a Masters Degree in English Literature and has been a university teacher for 15 years. The other participant holds a Masters Degree in Applied Linguistics, has been teaching English for 5 years.
The author conducted semi-structured interviews in Chinese with the participants prior to and at the end of the programme.
She asked the participants to describe their regular teaching practices, the challenges or constraints they encountered in the writing classroom, their attitudes towards the training programme and any changes they made during the process.
The author found that the project broadened the teachers’ understanding of different writing theories. It provided a clear model of how to integrate these new approaches into regular writing courses, changed their instructional focus and shifted their perception of teachers’ roles in teaching practice.
The author emphasizes that this programme enriched the teachers’ writing knowledge and developed a more inclusive view of different writing strategies, which helped them understand the nature of writing more clearly.
Furthermore, the findings reveal that the professional development project also helped the teachers to shift their teaching focus from product to process through instructing different writing strategies to enhance students' understanding of the writing process.
The author also found that the change in teaching focus was also accompanied by the teachers’ strong willingness to transfer their role from a dominant position to that of a facilitator. She indicates that the programme helped the teachers develop an awareness of giving more autonomy to students, which might contribute to redesigning their writing courses with consideration of students’ needs in the future.
The author concludes that this study provides useful suggestions for promoting teachers’ professional development and contributes to language teacher education research in general.