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Constructivism and online professional development: A study of the beliefs and practices of four foreign language teachers

Ekaterina Koubek, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This multiple case study investigated four in-service teachers' instructional practices, beliefs, and reflections in an on-line Instructional Planning GOLDEN (German Online Distance Education Network) course. Data were collected through extensive, multiple sources of information, including interviews, on-line observations, teachers' narratives, course documents and artifacts, and e-mail communication between the participants and the instructors. The case covered the time period of seven months. ^ Dewey's (1933) three essential attitudes for reflective action (open-mindedness, whole-heartedness, and responsibility), Van Manen's (1977) three levels of reflective modes (technical, practical, and critical reflection), and Schön's (1983) theory of “reflection-on-action” and “reflection-in-action” were used to analyze the data. Williams and Burden's (1997) categories for beliefs (about learners, learning and teaching, and themselves as professionals) provided a framework for data interpretation in a belief section. ^ The multiple data sources were triangulated to reveal the categories such as the role of the textbook, the role of the frameworks/standards, vocabulary teaching, grammar teaching, task structuring and sequencing, lesson planning, lesson implementation, grouping, and assessment in which the in-service teachers showed improvement over the course of the semester. However, the degree of improvement was not the same and varied among the participants. The study also showed discrepancies between teachers' instructional practices and their beliefs in some cases, and variation of reflectivity among the participants. ^ The research provided in-depth understanding of four cases in unique situations. It should not represent or generalize the entire population of in-service teachers, but rather examine individual situations more closely. However, the findings can offer important information for further on-line professional development or any other distance education courses. ^

Subject Area

Education, Adult and Continuing|Education, Teacher Training|Education, Technology of|Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Koubek, Ekaterina, "Constructivism and online professional development: A study of the beliefs and practices of four foreign language teachers" (2002). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3059953.