University of Sussex
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Understanding teacher development: case study of knowledge and beliefs in English language teaching in Mexico

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posted on 2023-06-08, 17:14 authored by Maria Esther Lemus Hidalgo
This thesis reports on a case study that discusses the interconnection between the knowledge, beliefs and practices of teachers of English as a foreign language in a state university in Mexico. Previous research suggests that there is a knowledge base for teaching that is significant for teachers irrespective of the subject they teach. Research also indicates that teaching practices are shaped by teachers’ beliefs about the nature of language, the nature of the learning process and the nature of the teaching act. Nevertheless, it appears that the development of language teachers tends to be focused on increasing the knowledge required for the teaching of English without recognising that teaching practices are also informed by the beliefs that teachers hold. The purpose of this case study was therefore to increase our understanding of how the knowledge and beliefs of the case study teachers intersected to inform their teaching practices, and to draw some conclusions that could be used to further English language teacher development. The case study involved four teachers of English in a state university in Mexico. It was conducted from an interpretivist approach and drew on the perspectives of the participant teachers. The methods used were: observations and video recordings of classes; focus groups, interviews and conversations with the case study teachers; teachers’ journals. The words and actions of the teachers were the units of the within-in case and cross-case analysis undertaken. The findings of the study illustrate three main aspects: Firstly, teacher’s knowledge plays a supporting role in their teaching practices and appears to be composed of different knowledge categories that are not independent but interwoven. In addition, any category presupposes other knowledge categories since any of them implies knowledge covered by other categories. Secondly, teaching practices are not only informed by teachers’ knowledge but also by their beliefs. Moreover, the study suggests that teachers’ beliefs have a predominant role in their teaching since teachers claim to use only the knowledge in which they believe. Finally, the case study suggests that the learning and teaching experiences of the teachers are a major source of their knowledge and beliefs, and beliefs that are experientially engrained appear to be more influential than theoretically embraced beliefs. The case study concludes that teachers’ knowledge, beliefs and teaching practices interact and inform each other persistently in a dynamic process that could usefully be represented as a gear model of the relationships between the three elements. This model would illustrate the dynamic process more accurately since it represents them within a constant interaction process. It is also argued that the relations between the three elements are pertinent irrespective of the context of the study as this offers a frame of reference for other researchers and teacher educators interested in understanding the interconnection between teachers’ practices and their knowledge and beliefs.


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  • English Theses

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  • doctoral

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  • phd


  • eng


University of Sussex

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