|تعداد مشاهده مقاله||25,816,828|
|تعداد دریافت فایل اصل مقاله||10,659,910|
Classroom Supervision and Professionalism: Matches and Mismatches in the Perceptions of Novice and Experienced Teachers
|Applied Research on English Language|
|مقاله 2، دوره 11، شماره 3، مهر 2022، صفحه 1-36 اصل مقاله (2.04 M)|
|نوع مقاله: Research Article|
|شناسه دیجیتال (DOI): 10.22108/are.2022.131707.1817|
|Masoomeh Estaji* 1؛ Farhad Ghiasvand2|
|1Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics, Department of English Language and Literature, Faculty of Persian Literature and Foreign Languages, Allameh Tabataba'i University, Tehran, Iran|
|2PhD Candidate, Department of English Language and Literature, Faculty of Persian Literature and Foreign Languages, Allameh Tabataba'i University, Tehran, Iran|
|As an inseparable part of teachers’ education career, practicum supervision can function as a double-edged sword that can generate pedagogical improvement or even make the worse worst in the class depending on the time and manner of its implementation. Given its significance and crucial role in EFL contexts, supervision has captured the attention of some scholars in this line of research. However, few studies (if any) have focused on EFL teachers’ beliefs about instructional supervision and its role in pedagogical development considering their experience level. To fill this lacuna, the current study examined the perceptions of 100 Iranian EFL teachers with different experience levels toward various supervisory practices and their contribution to teacher pedagogical growth using an Instructional Supervision Questionnaire (Kayaoglu, 2012). Furthermore, a semi-structured interview was carried out with 10 EFL teachers taken from the same sample. The results of analyses indicated that both novice and experienced teachers had a negative view concerning the existing supervision system in Iran. Additionally, no significant difference was found between the novice and experienced EFL teachers’ beliefs about classroom supervision (p > .05). The qualitative findings also revealed that both novice and experienced EFL teachers considered supervision as bureaucracy, fault-seeking, confidence-minimizing, and with little to no instructional worth. They also had similar beliefs as per the characteristics of an effective supervisory act. Moreover, supervision was perceived useful only when teachers were novice instructors, but ineffective as they became experienced.|
|Experienced Teachers؛ Novice Teachers؛ Professional Growth؛ Supervision؛ Teacher Perception|
For a long time, instructional supervision has been present in different academic contexts. It is a part of teachers’ career life regardless of being welcomed or hated (Chen & Cheng, 2013; Rahmany, Hasani, & Parhoodeh, 2014). It is believed that, optimistically, supervisory acts can offer a constructive critical framework for practice evaluation, skill development, and strength expansion (Kholid & Rohmatika, 2019). Pessimistically, they can increase stress and ruin one’s self-confidence (Leaman, 2008). Supervision comes into play when novice teachers know little about new techniques and approaches to teaching and learning (Moradi, Sepehrifar, & Khadiv, 2014). It can operate as a supportive approach for instructors through organized sequences of planning, observation, and rigorous analysis of genuine instructional performance (Weller, 1971). Being considered as a vital element of teacher education (Aldaihani, 2017; Farr, 2011), practicum supervision refers to a durable process of teacher education wherein the supervisor monitors what is occurring in a teacher’s class with the intention of improving his/her teaching (Hoque et al., 2020). Any supervisory and subsequent feedback on teachers’ practicum can either be a turn for the better or a turn for the worse (Leaman, 2008). It can provide administrators with an awareness of how teachers are conducting instruction; the manners that curriculum, materials, and particular projects are fulfilled in and across levels; problems that learners may face; benefits and pitfalls of employing technology; and presenting teaching practices that can be shared with other instructors (Kayaoglu, 2012; Moradi et al., 2014). At the same time, it can twist the existing rapport between teachers and supervisors and even create friction or cold war (Blumberg, 1980) as supervision in some aspects denotes irritating duties such as giving negative feedback, making sure that instructors follow program policies, and even dismissing workforces if necessary (Bailey, 2006).
Given the significance and impact of instructional supervision on teachers’ pedagogy and practice, various studies have been conducted on this strand of research in the past couple of decades signifying that it is by no means an unexplored territory (e.g., Agbayahoun, 2017; Chen, 2018; Hoque et al., 2020; Kayaoglu, 2012; Kutsyuruba, 2003; Percara, 2014). Not being an exception, in the educational context of Iran, there have been some investigations focusing on EFL teachers’ awareness of observation criteria (Motallebzadeh & Samir, 2016), the process of supervision in in-service programs (Rashidi & Forutan, 2015), and supervisory feedback efficiency (Mehrpour & Agheshteh, 2017). Nevertheless, what seems relatively left open for further investigation is exploring the perceptions and beliefs of EFL teachers with various experiences concerning instructional supervisory practices and their effectiveness and contribution to teachers’ pedagogical and professional growth (Chen, 2018). In response to this gap, this study was an effort to explore Iranian novice and experienced teachers’ beliefs regarding teacher supervision, and whether or not it can lead to teacher professionalism in EFL classrooms.
Instructional supervision, which is regarded as a central part of teachers’ profession, has had different definitions throughout the literature (Chen, 2018; Tesfaw, & Hofman, 2012). Nevertheless, providing a solid and agreed-upon definition for the concept has long been a daunting task (Kayaoglu, 2012). Generally, it refers to the dynamic process of monitoring the capability of people in an organization with the aim of enhancing quality (Daresh, 2001). In the realm of language teaching, supervision refers to the constant process of teacher training wherein the supervisor witnesses what is happening in the teacher’s class with an eye on improving his/her instruction (Gebhard, 1990; Hoque et al., 2020).
Chen (2018) considers practicum supervision as an organizational responsibility related to the assessment and improvement of existing practices. In the same manner, Allan (1960) describes supervision as an array of responsibilities targeting to aid teachers in developing themselves for professional fulfilments. For Kilminster and Jolly (2000), supervision denotes giving teachers feedback and guidance on personal, professional, and educational development issues. Additionally, in their study, Rahmany et al. (2014) regarded supervisory acts as tools customarily used in education to buttress understanding and improvement. They comprise observing and examining instructional practices and collecting useful data based on the standards regulated by the manager in order to offer meaningful feedback and guidance to the teachers for developing their instruction and ultimately the learning process. Similarly, Glanz (2006) referred to supervision as a process that involves trainers in instructional discussions with the intention of enlightening teaching and learning and enhancing student attainment. As can be seen, the commonality of all these definitions is the belief that supervisory acts should culminate in teachers’ improved pedagogical action (Chen, 2018; Nolan & Hoover, 2011; Rahmany et al., 2014).
To demystify the components, scholars have proposed fundamental models and approaches to practicum supervision. As a case in point, focusing on the purpose, Young (2009) made a distinction between developmental and evaluative supervision. Developmental observation takes a reflective and collaborative role, while the evaluative approach is prescriptive in essence. In the same vein, Wallace (1991) differentiated general supervision and clinical supervision. While the former is concerned with administrative issues, the latter focuses on the formative or training matters in the class.
Regarding the role of the supervisor, Freeman (1982) introduced three approaches to instructional supervision including 1) the supervisor as “authority”, 2) the supervisor as “a provider of alternative perspectives”, and 3) the supervisor as a “non-directive figure”. Trying to support Freeman, Gebhard (1984) proposed five models for supervision as follows; 1) directive, 2) alternative, 3) collaborative, 4) non-directive, and 5) creative. Each model is linked to a specific role taken by the supervisor in the course of supervision. In the “directive” supervision model, the decision-making authority is entrusted to the supervisor whose duty is to direct, enlighten, present the instructional methods, and assess the instructor’s performance (Glickman, Gordon, & Ross-Gordon, 1998). Regarding the “alternative” model, the supervisor offers an alternative teaching method with the purpose of improving the teacher’s performance (Freeman, 1982). In the “non-directive” model in which the power is bestowed to the teacher, the supervisor listens to the teacher’s justifications for his/her teaching methodology without judging (Glickman et al., 1998; Kutsyuruba, 2003; Moradi et al., 2014). In this approach, the goal of observation is not to evaluate, but to encourage self-exploration (Fanselow, 1988). As for the “collaborative” model, the central purpose of the supervisor is to establish a reciprocal understanding and rapport with the teacher. Lastly, the “creative” model is a mixture of diverse models of supervision that the supervisor utilizes to develop his/her performance (Gebhard, 1984).
Teachers’ Perceptions and Supervision
The primary aim of teacher supervision is to assist teachers in promoting their instructional practices which terminate in students’ learning (Chen, 2018; Rahmany et al., 2014). Attaining such a purpose hinges upon the existing human relations in the supervision and the teachers’ attitudes toward it (Agbayahoun, 2017). For instructional supervision to be effective, there is a pressing need to know how teachers see the supervision which they are experiencing as it is essential in the final results of the supervision. (Izham et al., 2013). As stated by Al-Saud (2007), instructional supervision is an interactive process that is contingent on its sources (i.e., the supervisor and the teacher). Consequently, knowing their beliefs and preferences is vital to execute successful supervision (Lindström, Löfström, & Londén, 2022; Sharma et al., 2011).
Research shows that teachers’ beliefs about practicum supervision are diverse. While some teachers have had a positive view on instructional supervision (e.g., James & Massiah, 2019; Kutsyuruba, 2003), others hold a negative belief about it (e.g., Borich, 2008; Kayaoglu, 2012). Many scholars maintain that when teachers have a positive view about supervision and regard it as a fundamental factor in their professional growth, the teaching and learning process experiences quality improvement. Supervision can meet its objectives if the existing relationship between the supervisors and teachers is a friendly and reciprocal one wherein the teachers can discuss with their supervisors the different aspects of the instruction in a post-observation session with a secure and cultivating climate (e.g., Abera, 2017; Rahmany et al., 2014).
Teacher Supervision and Professional Growth
As a fundamental ingredient of the overall teaching service in many instructional systems, professional growth and development is widely perceived to be a central component of ongoing teacher education (Kutsyuruba, 2003). Such a growth deals with promoting teachers’ teaching methods, their capacity to adjust instruction to fulfill learners’ needs, and their classroom management skills (Chen, 2018; Wanzare & Da Costa, 2000). As pinpointed by Nolan and Hoover (2011), to ensure that teachers are fulfilling the objectives of the learning process and the curriculum, practicum supervision should be done with the purpose of assisting the teachers to grow professionally. Supervision, which focuses on partnership and professional growth, is a significant instrument to devise a successful teaching program (Kutsyuruba, 2003).
According to Aldaihani (2017), the main goal of supervision is for teachers and supervisors to get involved in focused group studies, teacher cooperative activities, and other durable professional cooperation to vigorously create knowledge and enhance their grasp of the teaching-learning process. Supervisors and other educational leaders are expected to ease professional growth, form teams of teachers, and empower teachers to make choices concerning their instructional performance (Baffour-Awuah, 2011).
To fructify the attempts made in an academic institute, there must be developed a sense of trust in the supervisory relationships (Chen, 2018; Lindström et al., 2022). Moreover, the replacement of the conventional “top-down” view with a “collaborative” “two-way growth” view is imperative for a supervision program to culminate in professional development (Al-Saud, 2007; Kutsyuruba, 2003; Lindström et al., 2022). Focusing on the practical side of such a claimed connection between supervision and professional growth, Wanzare and Da Costa (2000) proposed four fundamental strategies. First, there must be established administrative support for a systemic and ongoing workforce development process, buttressed by collaborative approaches to problem-solving. Second, teachers should be engaged both individually and collectively in the tangible teaching tasks, observation, assessment, experimentation, and reflection. Third, as multiple supervisory approaches exist in the literature, supervisors should fine-tune supervisory methods to teachers’ personal features and developmental needs. As put by Hvidston et al. (2019), the penultimate goal of supervisors should be enabling the teachers to be autonomous and independent in decision making. Fourth, administrative leaders should try to form a culture that respects professional and mutual interactions. In so doing, they improve the growth of ideas and joint learning. As Hoque et al. (2010) maintained, supervision and professional growth are two inextricably interrelated processes. Being more specific with regard to the “how” of their connection, McQuarrie and Wood (1991) pinpointed that both supervision and professional growth 1) capitalize on teacher efficacy in the classroom; 2) are non-judgmental processes that expand teachers’ instructional performance in a cooperative environment; 3) can be afforded by teachers, supervisors, and administrators; and 4) reinforce in individuals a feeling of ownership, obligation, and certitude toward instructional advancement (Kutsyuruba, 2003).
The supervisors as the facilitators of professional growth should be cognizant of the teacher’s professional level and afford a suitable framework and accountability for their development (Hoque et al., 2020). Like other aspects, the professional development prerequisites of novice and experienced teachers are different and specific programs should be settled to meet such needs (Azizpour & Gholami, 2012). Novice teachers require rigorous support of supervision in a flexible and collaborative style (Glatthorn, 1990). Likewise, experienced teachers have particular professional growth needs and inclinations. Only some of them require intensive supervision which emphasizes the crucial skills of teaching and a great majority of them prefer cooperative and self-directed models that can facilitate their ongoing professional growth (Rashidi & Forutan, 2015). Because of its prominence, the mechanism of teachers’ instructional supervision has been the focus of numerous studies over the past decades in different fields and contexts leading to dissimilar results (Chen, 2018; Rashidi & Forutan, 2015). Some have pointed to its effectiveness and its facilitative role, while others saw it as a dictatorship (Kayaoglu, 2012; Kutsyuruba, 2003). For instance, in the context of high school, Kutsyuruba (2003) conducted a comparative mixed-methods study on Canadian and Ukrainian teachers’ perceptions about practicum supervision. His sample included 22 teachers from Canada and 26 teachers from Ukraine. The results indicated that in both countries the teachers preferred recurrent supervision that fulfills their professional needs. They also supported supervision that is closely connected to their professional growth in order to deliver high-quality education. Furthermore, Abera (2017) went a step ahead and investigated teachers’ and supervisors’ perceptions of supervision in public secondary schools in East Shoa Zone, Oromia Region. Taking a descriptive survey research approach, the author selected 256 participants for the study. In the end, the findings revealed that teachers and supervisors varied significantly in their perceptions of diverse dimensions of supervisory practices. Similarly, Hoque et al. (2020) inspected the relationship between supervision and teacher performance and attitude in Malaysia and found them non-correlated.
In the field of agricultural education, Thobega and Miller (2008) explored student teachers’ attitudes toward the type of supervision that they underwent while communicating with university supervisors and cooperating teachers. They found that student teachers considered both their cooperating teachers and university supervisors to get involved in contextual and clinical supervision. Most of the participants maintained that supervisory acts from all supervision models were essential, with contextual and clinical supervision being the most significant ones (Thobega & Miller, 2008).
Narrowing their attention to ELT, many researchers have carried out different studies on teachers’ beliefs about instructional supervision. As a case in point, Kayaoglu (2012) examined the supervision from the viewpoint of 135 supervised English language teachers coming from different cities in Turkey. Using a questionnaire and diaries, the author identified that supervision has failed to meet EFL teachers’ expectations. The majority of the instructors argued that the existing supervision system was of no pedagogical or professional value. In a similar manner, taking advantage of a small-scale case study, Hişmanoğlu and Hişmanoğlu (2010) investigated 50 native and non-native teachers’ opinions about educational supervision in light of their professional development in Turkey and the results demonstrated that a majority of the participants believed that educational supervision can generate promising outcomes in the global teaching and learning community if it is collaborative.
Similarly, in the EFL context of Iran, Moradi et al. (2014) ran a mixed-methods study to scrutinize the perceptions of 34 Iranian EFL teachers about supervisors’ classroom observations. Utilizing a questionnaire along with a semi-structured interview, they identified that the teachers try to satisfy their supervisors and ensure them that they follow the program policy as they worry about being fired. They also argued that they are inadequately challenged and that the given feedback is superficial and fault-seeking which damages their confidence. In the same vein, Rahmany et al. (2014) investigated the attitudes of 74 Iranian EFL teachers toward supervision and its impact on their classroom decision-making. Using classroom observations and a questionnaire, they found that novice teachers’ decision-making process was more affected by supervision. Furthermore, in their study, Mohammadzadeh et al. (2013) explored the impact of different supervisory techniques on the level of self-efficacy of Iranian English teachers. They distributed a 30-item questionnaire among 50 EFL teachers out of which 30 teachers were observed. The results indicated that Iranian EFL teachers’ sense of self-efficacy was significantly affected by the supervisor’s feedback-giving strategies.
As revealed in the literature, limited attempts (if any) have been made to investigate Iranian EFL teachers’ perceptions and beliefs about practicum supervision and its effect and contribution to teachers’ pedagogical growth in light of their teaching experience. To bridge such a gap, this study aimed to unpack the beliefs of Iranian novice and experienced EFL teachers concerning classroom supervision, and if supervisory practices can lead to their professional growth. More specifically, it sought to answer the following research questions:
The participants of this study were 100 Iranian EFL teachers with diverse academic qualifications, teaching experiences, and the experience of being supervised during their instruction. Their age ranged from 20 to 54 (x̄=30.41, SD=5.75) and they were both males and females with TEFL and non-TEFL majors being selected based on convenience sampling and their willingness to play a part in the research (Table 1). The participants were not homogenized and the researcher informed them of the purpose of the study and ensured that their identities and responses would remain confidential.
Table 1. Participants’ Demographic Information
Additionally, in the qualitative phase, 10 EFL teachers were selected via convenience sampling from the same participants who agreed, in the questionnaire, to partake in the semi-structured interview phase.
Instructional Supervision Questionnaire
To explore Iranian EFL teachers’ beliefs about instructional supervisory acts in the Iranian EFL context, a modified version of Kayaoglu’s (2012) questionnaire was distributed among the participants. The questionnaire had two main sections, the first section was used to collect demographic information of the respondents such as their age, gender, academic degree, and teaching experience. The second section of the questionnaire was originally comprised of 8 factor structures considering supervision, including “general view”, “view on objectivity”, “perceptions of the mode”, “views about contributions”, “views about the process prior to supervision”, “views about the process during supervision”, and “views about the process after supervision”, and “teachers’ views about supervisors”, which were represented in 35 items on a five-point Likert-scale. However, in this study, items representing “view on objectivity”, and “teachers’ views about supervisors” were excluded in line with the purpose of the study. The final version of the questionnaire that included 35 items examined the participants’ beliefs about the existing supervision systems in their institutes and what happens before, during, and after the supervision is done. It is essential to note that the researcher added and modified some items of the questionnaire in order to gauge the construct better. Consequently, the reliability and construct validity indices were calculated anew. As for the reliability index, the modified questionnaire was piloted on a representative sample of 30 EFL teachers with various experiences to check the clarity, relevance, and quality of the items. In the end, the results of Cronbach’s Alpha indicated that the participants’ responses to the questionnaire were highly consistent in all the items; therefore, the reliability of the instrument was ensured (Table 2).
Table 2. Reliability Coefficient of the Questionnaire
With regard to the construct validity of the questionnaire, Principle Component Analysis (PCA) was performed at item level with an eigenvalue above one. Before running factor analysis, however, the adequacy of the sample was checked using the Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin measure of sampling adequacy (Table 3).
Table 3. KMO Test of Sampling Adequacy
As illustrated in Table 3, the sample was adequate enough (KMO = .799 > .6, p = .000) to run factor analysis. Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA) was used to explore the underlying factors and reduce the dimensions and extract the relevant factors. The results of EFA with PCA revealed ten components with eigenvalues more than one which could explain 70.782% of the cumulative variances. Exploring the component matrix showed that while other factors did not show a clear pattern, factor one had a good association with a large proportion of items, except for a few items. As put by Tabachnick and Fidell (2007), if the association of an item with a factor is larger than 0.4 that factor is essential in the construct. Based on this definition, the items which did not have any factor association more than 0.4 (items 4, 12, and 25) were eliminated from the questionnaire. This left nine loading factors explaining 70.48 percent of the cumulative variance. These factors showed the teachers’ general perceptions about supervision, its contribution to teacher growth, perceptions of supervision mode, processes before supervision, processes during supervision, and processes after supervision.
In order to have a deeper understanding of the beliefs of Iranian EFL teachers regarding instructional supervision, characteristics of good supervisory feedback, and the possible contribution of practicum supervision to teachers’ pedagogical growth, a semi-structured interview was carried out with 10 EFL teachers on the basis of their teaching experience, willingness to cooperate further, and informed consent. It is worth noting that, initially, the interview questions were examined by 3 experts holding a PhD degree in TEFL for the purpose of checking the content validity and language appropriateness of the items.
Data Collection Procedure
To fulfill the requirements of the study, initially, the researchers modified a pre-existing questionnaire (Kayaoglu, 2012) regarding classroom supervision which was then piloted on a small sample representative of the target population. After ensuring the reliability and validity of the modified instrument, both online and printed versions of the questionnaire were given to 100 Iranian novice and experienced EFL teachers to be filled out within a one-week time interval. The participants were teaching in different universities and language institutes in Iran and delivered their responses either in-person or online through a link shared with them via the Telegram application. Having the quantitative phase completed, the researchers, who took a non-participating stance in data collection, divided the participants into two groups of novice and experienced and conducted a semi-structured interview with 10 of them (4 novices, 6 experienced) according to their availability and willingness.
After the administration of the interviews, the researchers transcribed the data verbatim and categorized the emerging themes on the basis of their frequency. Furthermore, member checking was carried out by giving 30% of the data to a second coder who was a PhD candidate of TEFL to see if his interpretation and coding fit with those of the researchers. Then, the researchers held a brief meeting with him discussing the themes extracted from the interview data, and interestingly they had a high level of agreement (95%), which signifies that the proposed themes and categories have been reliable. Likewise, to add confirmability to the study, the data analysis phase was totally audit trialed by another L2 researcher who was provided the data, transcriptions, codes, and extracted themes (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). Naturally, there were agreements and disagreements concerning the interpretations and themes, yet they were subsequently resolved through discussions and personal meetings. Finally, the responses of the two phases were triangulated to reach a vivid picture of Iranian EFL teachers’ beliefs concerning practicum supervision and its impact on their pedagogical growth.
The obtained data, in this study, which were gleaned through a questionnaire and semi-structured interviews with EFL teachers of varying experiences were subject to descriptive, thematic, and inferential statistical analyses such as Cronbach’s alpha as an internal consistency reliability coefficient, factor analysis, the Kolmogorov-Smirnov test, Mann-Whitney U test, and Chi-square test. Regarding the qualitative data, thematic analysis was conducted to extract, code, and classify the most frequently raised themes by the respondents.
Novice and Experienced EFL Teachers’ Perceptions of Classroom Instructional Supervision
To answer this research question, which concentrated on Iranian novice and experienced EFL teachers’ beliefs regarding classroom instructional supervision, both groups’ answers to each questionnaire item were analyzed through descriptive statistics (Table 4).
Table 4. Descriptive Statistics for the Questionnaire Items
The results in Table 4 indicate that the highest mean scores were for Q2 and Q11. The frequency and percentage of responses for each questionnaire scale in these two questions are presented below.
Table 5. Frequency of Answers for Each Questionnaire Scale in Question No. 2
Table 6. Frequency of Answers for Each Questionnaire Scale in Question No. 11
Question 2 asks if it is necessary for novice teachers to have supervisory acts in their classrooms. The results showed that 81% of the teachers considered it necessary. Likewise, question 11 asks if supervisory acts focus mostly on what the teacher does in the classroom, and based on the results 72% of the teachers perceived so. Furthermore, the two questions which received the lowest means were Q7 and Q22. The frequencies of answers to each scale for these two questions are presented hereunder.
Table 7. Frequency of Answers for Each Questionnaire Scale in Question No. 07
Table 8. Frequency of Answers for Each Questionnaire Scale in Question No. 22
Question 7 and Question 22 investigated if teachers think supervision is done for control rather than teaching improvement. The results showed that 66% of the teachers do not think so. Likewise, Question 22 asked if the supervisor should check teachers’ lesson plans and allow him/her to discuss them. The results showed that 65% of the teachers considered it unnecessary.
Furthermore, to get a more comprehensive picture of EFL teachers’ perceptions about the supervisory acts, the frequencies and percentage of responses for each questionnaire scale in each group were inspected (Appendix, Table 1). As the table indicates, the general belief of EFL teachers about the existing supervision appears to be negative as about 72% of the EFL teachers considered the present supervision to be just paperwork formalities and regulations. In spite of their apparent negative perceptions, 92% still believe in the necessity of supervision for professional growth. This implies that EFL teachers do not counter the idea of supervision but the way it is done. As for the modes of supervision, the results provided some justifications for the teachers’ negative perceptions about supervision. They argued that the current practicum supervision was inspection and evaluation rather than being based on mutual understanding and involvement. Likewise, 90% of them felt being controlled all the time. The majority of the teachers (82%) found supervision a stressful process with no excitement for the teachers (51%). These claims signify that the relationship between the teachers and the supervisors in Iran is hierarchical and this is the supervisor who governs the whole process.
Concerning the teachers’ beliefs about the possible contribution of supervision to their professional growth, it was identified that the existing supervision not only failed to contribute to the teachers’ pedagogical growth (73%) and provide them with educational materials (62%), but also, to a great surprise, has decreased teachers’ motivation (66%) and damaged their confidence and effectiveness in the classroom (63%). As for the teachers’ perceptions about the process prior to the supervision, most of the participants argued that the atmosphere in their institutes was not friendly as there was no discussion between teachers and supervisors on the lesson plans, lessons, and the class. Moreover, 64% of the teachers maintained that they have had no meeting with the supervisor to express their feelings and problems with the supervisor which indicated that there was no collaboration to make the supervision be of pedagogical value.
Moreover, the results indicated that during supervision, most of the participants have tried to please the supervisor and assure him/her that they adhere to the program policy (74% and 90%, respectively). They also had a negative perception about the process after the supervision was done as they did not take the supervision seriously. More specifically, the teachers argued that they did not read the evaluation report (84%), did not use the supervisor’s feedback to improve their teaching (92%), did not change their teaching method according to the supervisor’s feedback (66%), and followed their own teaching style and ignored the supervisor’s ideas (72%). Unlike its planned purpose, supervision was said to damage the teachers’ confidence (84%).
Difference between Iranian Novice and Experienced EFL Teachers’ Perceptions of Instructional Supervision
In responding to this question, which investigated if there was any statistically significant difference between Iranian novice and experienced EFL teachers’ beliefs about instructional supervision, every single item of the questionnaire was compared. Before running the test, however, the normality of the distribution of the scores was examined by the Shapiro-Wilk test of normality. Table 2 in the Appendix presents the skewness ratio for each item of the questionnaires. As it is evident from Table 2 (Appendix), all the distributions were skewed. Therefore, in order to compare novice and experienced teachers’ perceptions, a series of Mann-Whitney U tests were run (Table 9).
Table 9. Mann-Whitney U Tests: Comparing Novice and Experienced Teachers’ Beliefs
The results of Mann-Whitney U Tests showed that there was no significant difference between novice and experienced teachers’ perceptions of supervisory acts in the alpha level of .05. However, as there were 3 items that showed significant differences, these items were further explored using the chi-square test (Table 10).
Table 10. Chi-Square Tests: Further Comparisons of Suspected Items
The further inspection of these suspicious items also showed that the responses of novice and experienced teachers to these items were not significantly different.
Characteristics of Good Supervisory Feedback from Iranian Novice and Experienced EFL Teachers’ Perspectives
In answering this question, which sought to examine the characteristics of a good supervisory act from the Iranian novice and experienced EFL teachers’ standpoint, the third interview question was examined. Having the interview responses being meticulously scrutinized through thematic analysis, the researcher identified different characteristics being posed by novice and experienced EFL teachers (Table 11).
Table 11. Characteristics of Good Supervision from Novice and Experienced Teachers’ Perspectives
As indicated in Table 11, despite some differences in wordings, both novice and experienced teachers posed similar features for good practicum supervision. Novice teachers were more concerned with the emotional side of the coin by posing being “gentile”, “kindly done”, and “based on teachers’ voice”. However, the experienced ones were more concerned with “how the supervision should not be”. They favored supervision that is constructive, indirect, and based on cooperation and patience.
Contributions of Instructional Supervisory Practices to Iranian Novice and Experienced EFL Teachers’ Pedagogical and Professional Growth
In order to answer this research question which explored if supervision has contributed to Iranian novice and experienced EFL teachers’ pedagogical growth, the fifth interview question was used. The results of interview data indicated that the interviewees had different viewpoints. For instance, 40% of the EFL teachers approved the influence of supervision on their development provided that it fulfills some requirements in its procedure. Moreover, 30% maintained that supervision was of help as they were inexperienced but useless as they got more experience. Others argued that teachers hated supervisors and they have had relative to no effects on the teachers’ professional growth. The following excerpts represent the mentioned themes:
I think they can make a contribution and have a better procedure if they record all the things and work on them in a workshop (Teacher 5, Novice).
I think instructional supervision results in and contributes to professional growth if it is logical and based on related knowledge and if not well it can’t (Teacher 6, Experienced).
Honestly, it helped me a lot as a novice teacher, but I found them mostly useless as an experienced teacher (Teacher 4, Novice).
Instructional supervision has contributed to your professional growth big time, especially in the early days…As I became more experienced supervision did not contribute that much to my professional growth (Teacher 1, Experienced).
I think it contributed to the outcome of my classes, to some extent (Teacher 3, Novice).
I don’t really think that this type of supervision has helped improve my professional experience and I think it never will because most of the observers are really educated…I think everybody hates the supervisor (Teacher 9, Experienced).
Although there were variations in the responses of novice and experienced teachers regarding the contributions of supervisory practices, the vast majority of the participants found it conducive for the novices rather than the experienced ones.
According to the statistical results represented through descriptive statistics of the questionnaire, a great majority of both novice and experienced EFL teachers had a negative perception regarding the existing supervision system in the institutes. They found it paperwork formality, of no pedagogical value, and censorious. Such a finding is in line with those of Izham et al. (2013), James and Massiah (2019), and Kayaoglu (2012), who examined language teachers’ beliefs about supervision and identified that supervision had been of no professional value and failed to live up to EFL instructors’ expectations. Likewise, the results are in tune with those of Mehrpour and Agheshteh (2017) who found supervision is of no good in EFL contexts. These pessimistic and negative beliefs about supervisory acts can be attributed to the teachers’ past experiences with inflexible supervisors and their institutional relationships which appear to be non-collaborative. Additionally, the majority of the supervisors lack TEFL-expertise to identify field-specific problems and realize the intricate features of teaching and learning a foreign language, so they act authoritatively. Nevertheless, it seems unfair to cast all the blame on the supervisors as they have not been given the training to become supervisors. Therefore, they stick to the traditional conceptualization of supervision which is top-down and authoritative.
Moreover, based on the results of the Mann-Whitney U tests and chi-square test, no significant difference was observed in the novice and experienced teachers’ perceptions of their current practicum supervision. This is in sharp contrast with Rahmany et al. (2014) who explored 74 novice and experienced EFL teachers’ attitudes toward supervision. Using observation and questionnaire, they found that novice and experienced teachers had dissimilar beliefs about supervision and its impacts on their professional practices with experienced ones being the most pessimistic. The unanimity in the negative beliefs of both novice and experienced teachers in this study implies that the whole mechanism of the existing supervision in Iran has been of not much help and value for EFL teachers. It has been detrimental to the extent that all the EFL teachers have lost their respect for the supervision and the supervisors. Such a dreadful threat is a wake-up call that needs to be noticed and tackled by the authorities to change the imposing and valueless supervision practices into collaborative, exciting, and respect-based experiences which are welcomed by the teachers as they can assist them to develop professionally.
Furthermore, the qualitative results indicated that novice and experienced teachers almost had similar opinions about the characteristics of good practicum supervision. Novice teachers considered a good supervisory act as one that is “gentile”, “kindly done”, and “based on teachers’ voice”. Nevertheless, experienced teachers favored supervision that is constructive, indirect, and based on cooperation and patience. This can be attributed to the role of experience in teaching and teachers’ pedagogical perceptions, in that novice teachers who have more limited pedagogical expertise take an emotional stance and seek an emotionally-soft supervisory system. In contrast, experienced teachers whose sentimentality has declined over time look for indirect and group-oriented supervisory acts. Additionally, in this study, it was identified that most of the Iranian EFL teachers with varying experiences perceived the current supervision to have no or little contribution to the teachers’ pedagogical and professional growth. This finding echoes that of Kayaoglu (2012), who carried out his study on 135 EFL teachers in Turkey. The novice and experienced participants in his study maintained that their current supervision has not been of pedagogical or professional value. However, in their mixed-methods study, Rashidi and Forutan (2015) argued that educational supervision is closely connected to the professional development of both in-service and pre-service teachers. The results are also incompatible with those of Kutsyuruba (2003), who investigated the perceptions of Canadian and Ukrainian high school teachers about the importance and contribution of supervision for their professional growth. The teachers agreed that practicum supervision is closely linked to professional development and can promote the professional growth and effectiveness of novice teachers.
Aside from the supervisors’ lack of related expertise, a possible reason for no contribution of the existing supervision to the teachers’ professional growth in Iran might be the effect of some mediating factors like contextual, individual, financial, and time issues. The context or organizational structure in which one works definitely affects the acceptance or rejection of intervention in one’s vocational life. Likewise, the teachers’ individual beliefs and personality traits influence the receptiveness to supervisory feedback. As in other domains, time and resources are required to put the supervision goals into practice in EFL contexts which yet seems to be absent in the context of Iran. Such a claim is eloquently substantiated by Chen (2018) who contended that supervision can only end in professional growth via substantial resources, endeavor, compassion, dedication, and a strong conception of teachers as competent professionals who are skillful and enthusiastic to direct their own professional careers.
Furthermore, it was found that novice and experienced Iranian EFL teachers did not take supervision seriously which can be ascribed to the unequal power and human relations with the supervisors being more dominated and in a higher status (Bays, 2001). This authoritative and top-down view makes the teachers become defensive and unreceptive to the feedback which is supposed to help them improve pedagogically. As a result, they consider it as a paperwork formality with no use for the teachers’ professionalism as reflected in Sharma et al. (2011). In this study, it was also found that Iranian EFL teachers with different experiences regarded supervision to be of help as they were inexperienced but pointless as they became more experienced. This is in line with Zepeda (2002) who argued that novice teachers need concrete and direct supervision at the beginning of their profession, but as they gain more experience they can be self-directed or observed indirectly. A possible justification for novice teachers’ willingness for supervision might be the fact that rookie teachers initiate their career with an odyssey of mixed emotions or “reality shock” as put by Veenman (1984) which is coupled with the lack of experience and subject matter knowledge-base and creates confusion in the classroom practices.
Conclusion and Implications
In light of the obtained findings, it can be concluded that most of the Iranian EFL teachers had a negative perception regarding the current practicum supervision in their institutes. They found it a useless paperwork formality, which is of no pedagogical and professional value for the teachers. To make the supervision to be of a pedagogic value, there should be established a democratic and friendly atmosphere in the institutes, which ensures teacher-supervisor involvement in decision-making and professional working relationship. All the stakeholders need to reconsider the issue of supervision and take it more seriously by devoting sufficient time and budgets if they want to change for the better. There needs to be a group of trained supervisors for practicum supervision, who can help EFL teachers by exchanging their perspectives with them amicably.
The results of this study have insightful implications for both teacher educators and EFL teachers. They can raise teachers’ and supervisors’ awareness by familiarizing them with complementary and influential methods of giving supervisory feedback, encouraging them to use different reflective practices to make supervision tied to one’s professional growth, and urging them to establish a collaborative environment in their institutes which is receptive to instructional feedback. The results are helpful for teacher educators in that they make them realize the importance of collaboration and giving space and voice to the teachers in making supervision a useful and pedagogically-valuable act. Similar to other studies, this study suffered from some limitations. The participants were only 100 Iranian EFL teachers who had to have the experience of being supervised during their instruction. This requirement shorten the sampling group and made the results non-generalizable to other contexts. Likewise, the small size did not allow using CFA to specify a model of supervision and confirm the loadings of different items of the instrument. Future studies can include a larger sample size and use CFA or SEM to provide a more comprehensive image of the supervision model in EFL contexts. Additionally, this study did not examine the underlying components of the classroom supervision questionnaire to see if novice and experienced EFL teachers differ across such components. This can be a fresh idea for future research in this domain. A further limitation of this study was that it only used questionnaires and interviews as its research tools. Therefore, future studies can be conducted with more participants using other research instruments like course observations and diaries.
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