EFL Teachers’ Perceptions in Saudi Arabia of the role of Self- Directed Learning in their Professional Development
Date: 4 May 2021
University of Exeter
Doctor of Education in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
The central aim of this study is to explore how Saudi English as a foreign language (EFL) teachers perceive self-directed learning (SDL) in the context of their professional development (PD) to view the potential of teachers to take the initiative in pursuing their own professional development and whether this is possible in the context ...
The central aim of this study is to explore how Saudi English as a foreign language (EFL) teachers perceive self-directed learning (SDL) in the context of their professional development (PD) to view the potential of teachers to take the initiative in pursuing their own professional development and whether this is possible in the context of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). SDL has been proposed as a means of achieving the aims of teachers’ PD, but it can be difficult to reach an agreed definition of the concept. However, the literature review suggests a paucity of research on the topic of SDL as a means of teachers’ PD, and research on teachers’ PD tends to focus on central PD provided by teachers’ institutions. Therefore, this study seeks to address the gap in knowledge regarding the potential of SDL for professional development through a review of current research on the concept and an exploration of the perspectives of EFL teachers in the KSA. The study utilised semi-structured interviews to collect data from twenty Saudi EFL teachers, and the data were thematically analysed. Whilst the majority of the participants in this study recognised the benefit of SDL for PD, arguing that it can be a cornerstone of PD, they did not consider it to be encouraged institutionally or societally in a broader sense. In addition, the data revealed that the participants usually linked responsibility for the provision for PD with the MoE that they considered responsible for this aspect. Also, the data revealed that teachers perceived that they required the help of the MoE in supporting their learning through the provision of effective PD. Despite the participants’ belief in the benefits of SDL, the data analysis showed that some teachers do not self-direct their learning for their PD and those that do, tend to discontinue to engage in SDL activities due to several demotivating factors. Furthermore, certain teachers explained that they started to engage in SDL later, after several years of teaching while others expressed the view that they do self-direct their learning, but in an intermittent manner. The common denominator or characteristic of teachers’ SDL is that it is unplanned and difficult to sustain. As far as the factors impacting positively or negatively on the participants’ SDL are concerned, the data suggest that a number of factors encourage teachers to learn while other factors tend to discourage them. Most of these encouraging and discouraging factors are external factors which relate to the MoE policy or the workplace environment, and a few relate to teachers’ personal factors. With regard to the SDL sources, the data showed multiple sources teachers learn from, and it was indicated that most of these sources are outside teachers’ workplaces. Finally, the study concluded with a number of implications and recommendations.
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