Research engagement has been widely considered crucial in transforming teachers into ‘expert knowers about their students and classrooms’ (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1999, p. 16). This article reports on a mixed-method study of the research engagement of a group of primary school teachers in China’s Guangdong province, focusing particularly on their conceptions of teacher research and the contextual factors driving them to do research. The study revealed that the majority of these teachers opted for the type of research involving experimental use of particular teaching methods or approaches in their classrooms with the intention of improving their teaching and their students’ learning. While sharing research findings through publication is an integral part of academic research, these teachers did not place much emphasis on writing for publication, although they reported alternative forms of research dissemination. The study also revealed that research has been promoted through a top-down performance review process for schools and teachers, which has research activity and outcomes structured into it. This mechanism may be effective in promoting research activity among schools and teachers, but it is far less effective in actually supporting teachers’ research efforts. We conclude that further research on primary school English teachers’ research experiences is needed in order to provide relevant and useful knowledge to teacher educators and policymakers on the Chinese mainland, making research a sustainable path to professional excellence for teachers. Copyright © 2010 The Author(s).
CitationGao, X., Burkhuizen, G., & Chow, A. (2010). ‘Nowadays, teachers are relatively obedient’: Understanding primary school English teachers’ conceptions of and drives for research in China. Language Teaching Research, 15(1), 61-81.
- Teacher research
- Primary school teachers