Off-campus UNL users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your NU ID and password. When you are done browsing please remember to return to this page and log out.

Non-UNL users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Between Beliefs and Practice: A Qualitative Study of Adult ESL Teachers

Phuong Thi Ngoc Pham, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The central research question of this qualitative case study is: What is the nature of the correspondence between adult ESL instructors’ beliefs and their practice? Specifically, the focus is on the relationship between beliefs and practices of the adult ESL instructor and the factors that interact to mediate that relationship.The rationale for asking this research question is two-fold. While there is a huge body of research on teachers’ beliefs in general and language teachers’ beliefs in particular (Buehl & Beck, 2015), research on beliefs and practices of adult ESL instructors is seriously lacking. Very little is known about what they think, know, and do (Borg, 2006). Also, in their introductory article to TESOL Quarterly special issue MIGRATION AND ADULT LANGUAGE LEARNING (Vol 44, No3), Burns and Roberts (2010) lamented that the body of literature on English language programs for adult immigrants and refugees is ‘fragmented and underreported’, and ‘more practice oriented than research driven’ (p. 410). Research in this area focuses mostly on effective teaching practices and the learners (their characteristics and lives outside the classroom). While this is an important body of scholarship, there is a gap regarding classroom practice as seen from the perspectives of the teachers, what they think, know, and believe (Borg, 2006).Findings indicate that the teachers differ in their ability to articulate their beliefs. Convergence rather than divergence describes the relationship between beliefs and practices of the teachers. There is an array of factors, both internal and external, that interact with each other to complicate the teachers’ enactment of their beliefs. Internal factors include teachers’ other beliefs, their knowledge, and their level of awareness and self-reflection. External factors include students’ level and characteristics, examination pressures, and institutional collective beliefs. The study confirms and support findings of reviewed studies. It concludes with important implications for teacher educators and future researchers.

Subject Area

English as a Second Language

Recommended Citation

Pham, Phuong Thi Ngoc, "Between Beliefs and Practice: A Qualitative Study of Adult ESL Teachers" (2019). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI27667637.