A teacher study group as an alternative method of professional development : analysis of initial procedures in group formation, group dynamics, and teacher perceptions of and attitudes to the TSG
Klinghammer, Sarah J.
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In this study, initial procedures for setting up a Teacher Study Group (TSG) as an alternative form of teacher training in the Foreign Languages Department at Osmangazi University and teachers’ perception about this process were investigated. This TSG was set up in order to meet teachers’ need to explore their teaching and to find solutions to the instructional problems occurring in the department. Due to time limitations, only the initial stages of group formation and teachers’ perceptions were covered in the study. The study was conducted in the Foreign Languages Department (FLD) at Osmangazi University (OGU). Thirteen EFL teachers in this institution participated in this study. Data were collected through a pre-questionnaire, meeting recordings, participant reflective journals, researcher’s field notes, and interviews. The prequestionnaire was designed to provide information about participants’ expectations from the TSG. The rest of the instruments used in the study provided data about the initial procedures of setting up a TSG at OGU, FLD and perceptions and attitudes of EFL instructors towards participating in the study group. Qualitative data analysis techniques were used to analyze the data. The data collected by means of data collection instruments were reported through framework tables and charts and then analyzed. The results of the data analysis revealed that the participants set up a productive TSG as a means of professional development, utilizing a tiered group structure. In the group, there were three tiers, which were determined by participants’ experience in teaching and present status in the FLD at OGU. Participants formed their group and organized the group to benefit from the opportunity to develop themselves professionally by designing their own professional development activity. In general, participants felt that TSG contributed to their professional and personal development in varying degrees. In terms of professional development, TSG provided participants a platform from which to share experiences, to share ideas and knowledge, and improve collegiality. In terms of personal development, some participants stated that the TSG made them feel more responsible about their profession. The participants decided to maintain the TSG and open it to volunteer participants as a means of unit professional development. The TSG proved to be an effective method for professional development in the study. Therefore, it may be a useful means of professional development when there are no other professional development opportunities available or when such opportunities are limited due to institutional and personal constraints.