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Understanding Personal Practical Knowledge: A Narrative Inquiry into a College EFL Teacher

Author: HuChunMei
Tutor: WuZongJie
School: Zhejiang Normal University
Course: Foreign Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
Keywords: personal practical knowledge teacher development narrative inquiry reflective practice learning community
CLC: H319
Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2007
Downloads: 139
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Teacher knowledge research is part of a revolution in how educators think aboutclassroom practice (Clandinin et al., 1997). However, too much emphasis is laid on"should do" in the past studies, while little on "what teachers do and know in fact".Triggered by my puzzles in my own teaching and reflection on the incompetence ofcurrent teacher education programs, I took teacher’s personal practical knowledge,mainly characterized by "experiential" and "practical", as my research concern.A case study, spanning one year, was conducted to investigate an experiencedcollege EFL teacher named Hafen. The research methods adopted in the study werenarrative inquiry and case study. Data were collected in various ways includingclassroom records, interview records, conversations, students’ journals and so on.Drawing on the theories of personal practical knowledge (Clandinin & Connelly,1988), teacher identity (Palmer, 1998), and reflective practice (Schon, 1983), thethesis aims to explore: 1) what is Hafen’s personal practical knowledge? 2) What arethe major factors shaping its formation?By employing biographical inquiry into Hafen’s life and teaching experience, theresearcher educes that reflective practice and collaborative community are two majorcontributors to her knowledge and professional development. And inquiry intoHafen’s class and her image in students’ eyes enables me to probe into her knowledgemanifested in everyday teaching practice, namely, knowledge of students, knowledgeof self, knowledge of curriculum, knowledge of community and knowledge ofeducational vision. The triangulation and rich description of the data enhance thevalidity of the present analysis. This case study not only provides novice teachers anopportunity to access more experienced teachers’ knowledge, but also breeds theirreflection upon and insight into theirs, which is essential to their professionaldevelopment. Meanwhile, this case study sheds light on in-service programs withregard to fostering teachers as self-evolving agents in their own teaching.

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