Teachers and research : a case study of attitudes and behaviors in an EFL context
Aydınlı, Julie Mathews
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This study focuses on attitudes towards research at the Department of Basic English (DBE) at Middle East Technical University (METU). The study is based on the understanding that using research as a tool, teachers can construct knowledge through interaction and collaboration with teacher educators, and colleagues. Achieving a research mindset is an important step towards an accurate evaluation of matters related to the immediate school context as well as to the social context at large. In this study, teachers’ involvement in and with research activities and their cognitive, affective and behavioral attitudes were explored. Teacher educators’ and administrators’ attitudes were also investigated to reveal whether teachers’ needs and expectations are met by the current support mechanisms and whether their views on teachers’ research activities are congruent with each other. The participants of the study were 134 teachers, four administrators and four teacher educators working at the DBE. I collected quantitative and qualitative data with questionnaires, interviews and institutional documents, which were later analyzed and interpreted. Evidence suggests that teachers at the DBE, though positive in their feelings and ideas about research, are not inclined to be actively involved in research projects. The major reasons cited for this were a perceived lack of relevance of research in teaching and lack of time. The administrators consider research as a necessary tool to improve curricular activities; however, the support provided does not correspond to the needs. Likewise, teacher educators, who value research as a tool for professional development, are bound by the school policies and a tight timeframe to offer more. I offer research as a tool in a constructivist manner: a tool for constructing new meanings and improvement in all matters related to teaching and learning. To achieve this, special interest groups could be set up to investigate common academic issues, teachers experienced in research activities could collaborate with other teachers who are willing to take part in such activities and school policies could be planned to provide encouragement and motivation for teachers to get involved in and with research.