Understanding the Experiences of Underprepared Adult English as a Second Language Instructors: A Case Study.

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Title: Understanding the Experiences of Underprepared Adult English as a Second Language Instructors: A Case Study.
Author: Dorman, Marni Alexandra
Advisors: Dr. Susan Bracken, Committee Member
Dr. Duane Akroyd, Committee Member
Dr. Carol Kasworm, Committee Co-Chair
Dr. Leila Gonzalez Sullivan, Committee Co-Chair
Abstract: Positioned within the social constructivist view of learning that individuals make meaning from their experiences and through their social actions and interactions, this qualitative study explores the ways in which nine instructors of underprepared adult English as a Second Language students made meaning of their classroom experiences. Through semi-structured interviews and a constant comparative interpretation of data, the researcher provides insight into how these instructors, who were not adequately prepared to teach adult ESL when they began their careers, made meaning of, and coped with, their experiences in order to become confident professionals in their field. This investigation into the experiences of nine underprepared adult ESL instructors resulted in two distinct conclusions. First, the findings suggested that the adult ESL instructors appeared to move through stages of development similar to Frances Fuller’s (1969) model of teacher development. Fuller’s model indicated that teachers develop their educational behaviors in an orderly manner that forms a predictable pattern as they gain experience. This model was based on an analysis of teachers’ concerns and posits three stages of development that begin with (1) concerns about self, then (2) concerns about tasks, and, finally, (3) concerns about students and the impact of teaching. The instructors began with concerns heavily focused on themselves while they were novice, underprepared instructors. Through their experiences, their focus shifted from themselves to being concerned about the challenges and the tasks they faced. Ultimately, as their relationships with their students grew, their concerns shifted to the impact they had on their students. The instructors began in the field with beliefs and practices that they based on their own prior educational experiences to guide them. Through their experiences, the instructors learned that their initial beliefs and practices were ineffective, so they sought learning activities on their own to help themselves cope with the challenges they faced. Once they were successful in overcoming challenges and saw their students succeeding, they began to view themselves as professionals who have a positive impact in the lives of their students. The second conclusion of this study is that the adult ESL instructors developed a sense of self efficacy, and their beliefs and practices were transformed through their activities as learners. The instructors took the initiative to plan their own learning activities once they realized they were underprepared and that there was little or no support from their employers. As the instructors began to critically reflect upon their situations and engage in learning activities, they began to redefine the way they constructed their meanings about teaching, their students, and the field of Adult ESL. During this process, they also began to believe in themselves and evolved from scared, timid teachers into beliefs of themselves as confident, self-assured instructors.
Date: 2010-03-25
Degree: EdD
Discipline: Adult and Higher Education
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/6151

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