EFL Teachers’ Pedagogical Beliefs and Practices With Regard to Using Technology

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Published: 
2019

Source: Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 35:1, 20-39

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

Research purpose and questions
This exploratory qualitative research examined EFL teachers’ content-specific pedagogical beliefs and technology integration practices.
By examining EFL teachers’ beliefs and practices, the authors hoped to discover patterns about the relationships between their content-specific pedagogical beliefs and their technology integration practices.
The study extended previous technology integration research on general pedagogical beliefs to a more content-specific approach.
Specifically, this research was designed by the researchers to answer the following research questions:
1. What are EFL teachers’ self-reported content-specific pedagogical beliefs?
2. What are EFL teachers’ self-reported technology integration practices?
3. How do EFL teachers’ content-specific pedagogical beliefs and technology integration practices align?

Research method
Participants - This exploratory qualitative case study used purposeful snowball sampling to recruit secondary EFL teachers.
Potential participants were contacted and asked to fill out Johnson’s (1992) Teacher Belief Inventory, participate in a one-on-one interview, and share a set of teaching artifacts that represented their typical technology integration practices.
The 12 EFL teachers selected to participate in this study taught English in public secondary schools in different parts of Taiwan.

Data collection - Data for each case study were collected from three sources:
(a) a set of teaching artifacts demonstrating the teacher’s typical technology integration practices,
(b) an individual teacher interview, and
(c) a teaching belief inventory.
Before the interviews, the authors asked teachers to read and fill out the Chinese version of the Teacher Belief Inventory adopted from Johnson (1992).
The belief inventory consisted of 15 statements; five statements that represented each of the three EFL teaching belief orientations (skill-based, rule-based, and function-based).

Data analysis - Data analysis of this study consisted of two phases: within-case analysis (phase 1) and cross-case analysis (phase 2) (Stake, 2006).
The within-case analysis (phase 1) focused on developing in-depth and comprehensive understanding of individual cases’ beliefs and technology integration practices, while the cross-case analysis (phase 2) focused on identifying the similarities and dissimilarities among the 12 cases.

Within-case analysis - During the within-case analysis, the researchers coded each individual teacher’s interview and teaching artifacts using the coding scheme they developed based on the teacher beliefs and second language teaching literature.
The coding scheme provided detailed descriptions of the three pedagogical orientations (skill-based, rule-based, and function-based) regarding language learning goals, the role of home language versus target language, teacher instruction, student activity, use of technology, and error correction.
To analyze teachers’ technology integration practices, the authors used teaching artifacts and interviews as their data sources.

Cross-case analysis - After within-case analyses were completed, the case profiles were analyzed using cross-case analysis (phase 2).
The researchers compared the 12 case profiles to identify the similarities and dissimilarities about their use of technology tools and content-specific pedagogical beliefs (Stake, 2006).
During this phase, the relationships between technology practices and pedagogical beliefs were closely examined to see whether EFL teachers’ technology integration practices aligned or misaligned with their content-specific pedagogical beliefs.

Results
EFL teachers’ content-specific pedagogical beliefs
In this study, the authors found that 10 of the 12 teachers held mixed belief orientations. Six teachers identified skill-based as their primary belief orientation.
One teacher identified rule-based as her primary belief orientation.
Five teachers identified function-based as their primary belief orientations.

EFL teachers’ use of technology
Skill-based practices with technology - Skill-based practices with technology implemented by teachers in this study typically entailed the use of technology to support the repeating drill of native language patterns and the emphasis of proper pronunciation.
Rule-based practices with technology - Rule-based practices with technology implemented by teachers in this study typically entailed the use of technology to support the grammar explanation and practice.
Function-based practices with technology - Function-based practices with technology implemented by teachers in this study typically entailed the use of technology to support context-rich language activities that engage students in interactions and communications.
Alignment and misalignment among beliefs and practices - The authors’ third research question sought to examine the alignment between EFL teachers’ content-specific beliefs and their technology integration practices.
Alignment among beliefs and practices - The authors reported that In general, the results showed that 10 of the 12 teachers showed alignment between their content-specific pedagogical beliefs and their technology integration practices.
Shifts among primary and secondary belief orientation - On the other hand, five of the 10 teachers who showed alignment between beliefs and practices shifted primary to secondary orientations in their technology integration practices.
Misalignment among beliefs and practices - Of the 12 teachers, two showed misalignment between their content-specific beliefs and technology practices.
In both cases, they showed a strong, single belief orientation toward function-based pedagogical beliefs.
However, through the teaching artifacts, along with the other technology integration practices described during their interviews, the authors found that these teachers’ technology integration practices were dominantly skill-based.
The authors suggest that a likely interpretation of the misalignments in this study could be that these teachers felt politically pressured to report more popular pedagogical beliefs.
It is possible that the two teachers’ belief statements were dictated by the political discourse and did not truly reflect what they believed.

Implications
Based on the results of this study, the authors call for more attention to teachers’ content-specific pedagogical beliefs both in technology PD programs and in the technology integration research.
They suggest that in technology PD programs, teachers should be asked to critically examine their own content-specific pedagogical beliefs and become more aware of how their beliefs may influence their technology integration practices.

References
Johnson, K. E. (1992). The relationship between teachers’ beliefs and practices during literacy instruction for nonnative speakers of English. Journal of Literacy Research, 24(1), 83–108
Stake, R. E. (2006). Multiple case study analysis. New York, NY: The Guilford Press. 

Updated: Jan. 01, 2020
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