ESL teacher identity construction in Omani higher education: an ethnographic case study

Al-Zadjali, Nihad (2016) ESL teacher identity construction in Omani higher education: an ethnographic case study. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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This is an account of qualitative ethnographic case study research investigating the identity construction of English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers. This study was conducted at a higher education (HE) college, namely, Public High College (PHC) in Oman over a period of six months. In this study, I explore teacher identities in relation to the particular spatial locations of the teachers as well as the ways that networking and social capital and institutionalised cultural capital intersected with their nationalities and linguistic backgrounds to produce complex hierarchies. The thesis provides a rich exposition of teacher identity construction in Omani HE as theorised through the lens of Bourdieu, recognising the different educational practices, such as assessment and teacher evaluation, as well as the influence of space in the field of struggle within which teacher identities were implicated.

The methodological approach and research design adopted in this study was dictated in part by the nature of the research questions and the theoretical framework adopted. Because I was interested in the embedded struggles in different educational practices between different groups and how these groups articulated and expressed these struggles, I positioned my research within a constructivist-interpretive paradigm. I adopted a case study approach and drew on ethnographic methods, such as semi-structured interviews, observation, and field notes. Over thirty-five local and non-local ESL teachers from western, Arab, African, and Asian contexts took part in this study. Furthermore, I kept a research diary to record my own experiences and decisions about my research. In addition, I analysed official documents from macro, meso, and micro levels. Both content analysis and thematic analysis were conducted to trace the tensions which were observed during my ethnography of teacher identity construction at Public High College in part produced by the emergence of new assessment procedures, and quality assurance agendas, and the Global North’s influence on the Omani HE system.

In the analysis chapters (Chapters Five to Seven), I problematise how educational practices were implicated in the production of hierarchical, spatial, and at times, male-female positioning of teachers. In the first analysis chapter, I conduct a documentary analysis of the national standards for the General Foundation Programmes to trace back potential tensions that were embedded in the new assessment processes and teacher appraisal procedures and the potential importance of these for teacher identity production. In Chapter Six, I examine the significance of space in producing hierarchical relations between local and non-local teachers and other hierarchies that cut across these groupings. My analysis shows that research respondents gained social capital from networking and highlights the complexity of this networking.

In my final analysis chapter, I examine both assessment and teacher evaluation as the key processes through which teacher hierarchies at Public High College were produced. My analysis shows that assessment was one of the fields where struggle for positioning and legitimacy took place so that teacher identity production was bound up with assessment practices at Public High College. In addition, my analysis focuses on teacher evaluation processes in this chapter as another field where struggles for teacher positioning and legitimacy took place. My analysis interrogates both implicit and explicit teacher evaluation processes and the implications of such processes for the production of teacher identities. Through its ethnographic approach, the thesis shows the tensions, nuances, and power relations that pervade this HE institution, and examines how these were central in the production of teacher identities. It also shows the importance of taking teacher identity construction into account in the expansion and reform of Omani HE.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Education and Social Work > Education
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1025 Teaching (Principles and practice)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher education > LB2361 Curriculum
L Education > LG Individual institutions (Asia. Africa. Oceania) > LG021 Asia > LG395 Other
P Language and Literature > PE English > PE1001 Modern English
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 30 Nov 2016 15:46
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2016 15:46

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