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Constraints on Language Teacher Autonomy in a University Setting in Saudi Arabia

Constraints on Language Teacher Autonomy in a University Setting in Saudi Arabia
Constraints on Language Teacher Autonomy in a University Setting in Saudi Arabia
Compared to ‘teacher autonomy’, the concept of ‘learner autonomy’ has been researched extensively. Even the literature relating to teacher autonomy, often considers it in relation to learner autonomy (Little, 1995; Smith, 2003; Huang and Benson, 2007, 2013; Trebbi, 2008; Cakir, 2012). Although the two concepts are no doubt related, the attention in this study is on teacher autonomy. In addition, the need for understanding teacher autonomy has highlighted another important aspect of this study, which is to recognise and be acquainted with the constraints that teachers face (Anderson, 1987; Lamb, 2008; Han, 2017), including the different types or forms they may take, their effects on autonomy, and ways in which teachers can deal with them. Therefore, this phenomenon was investigated in the context of the higher education sector in Saudi Arabia by conducting a case study at a selected institution where English language teachers face constraints on their teaching that limit their scope for autonomy. The method involved interviewing teachers of English as a foreign language, and the data were complemented by observations and document analysis. The research identified a number of constraints, examined how the teachers dealt with them to create spaces for autonomy, and ascertained what drives those teachers to deal with the constraints. A sharp distinction was found for institutionally imposed constraints, such as administration, exams and textbooks, which teachers were either compelled to comply with or for which they were only able to exercise little autonomy. This situation is in contrast with classroom-related constraints for which teachers demonstrated their autonomy, which also shows evidence of capacity and willingness to deal with the constraints. The investigation revealed an empirical evidence of a potential relationship between teacher autonomy and Identity. It indicated that the spaces that the teachers created were related to their identities that were shaped largely by their own learning, previous teaching experiences, and beliefs. It influenced teachers’ willingness and capacity to create spaces within the constraints. This implies a crucial role of teacher identity in understanding more the phenomena of teacher autonomy and constraints. Implications are also drawn in light of the findings of this study for educational policies, Saudi higher education institutions, teacher education programmes, and English language teachers.
University of Southampton
Alali, Meshari, Naif S
1bd63077-3d5a-413b-a623-d97f90415b1b
Alali, Meshari, Naif S
1bd63077-3d5a-413b-a623-d97f90415b1b
Wright, Vicky
5a4085ca-99b1-43d4-92e0-8b36edbcf93a

Alali, Meshari, Naif S (2020) Constraints on Language Teacher Autonomy in a University Setting in Saudi Arabia. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 253pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

Compared to ‘teacher autonomy’, the concept of ‘learner autonomy’ has been researched extensively. Even the literature relating to teacher autonomy, often considers it in relation to learner autonomy (Little, 1995; Smith, 2003; Huang and Benson, 2007, 2013; Trebbi, 2008; Cakir, 2012). Although the two concepts are no doubt related, the attention in this study is on teacher autonomy. In addition, the need for understanding teacher autonomy has highlighted another important aspect of this study, which is to recognise and be acquainted with the constraints that teachers face (Anderson, 1987; Lamb, 2008; Han, 2017), including the different types or forms they may take, their effects on autonomy, and ways in which teachers can deal with them. Therefore, this phenomenon was investigated in the context of the higher education sector in Saudi Arabia by conducting a case study at a selected institution where English language teachers face constraints on their teaching that limit their scope for autonomy. The method involved interviewing teachers of English as a foreign language, and the data were complemented by observations and document analysis. The research identified a number of constraints, examined how the teachers dealt with them to create spaces for autonomy, and ascertained what drives those teachers to deal with the constraints. A sharp distinction was found for institutionally imposed constraints, such as administration, exams and textbooks, which teachers were either compelled to comply with or for which they were only able to exercise little autonomy. This situation is in contrast with classroom-related constraints for which teachers demonstrated their autonomy, which also shows evidence of capacity and willingness to deal with the constraints. The investigation revealed an empirical evidence of a potential relationship between teacher autonomy and Identity. It indicated that the spaces that the teachers created were related to their identities that were shaped largely by their own learning, previous teaching experiences, and beliefs. It influenced teachers’ willingness and capacity to create spaces within the constraints. This implies a crucial role of teacher identity in understanding more the phenomena of teacher autonomy and constraints. Implications are also drawn in light of the findings of this study for educational policies, Saudi higher education institutions, teacher education programmes, and English language teachers.

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More information

Published date: December 2020

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 451734
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/451734
PURE UUID: edfd2966-f214-40b4-9858-0cfec45f5f17

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Date deposited: 22 Oct 2021 16:31
Last modified: 12 Dec 2021 15:51

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Contributors

Author: Meshari, Naif S Alali
Thesis advisor: Vicky Wright

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