Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Education and Arts


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Professor M. Breen


This is a qualitative, descriptive study of group processes in classes of adult language learners, viewed from the perspective of practising teachers. The study has an internal narrative which takes the reader through the process of the research, from the initial question raised by a casual classroom conversation to the discussion chapter which questions a number of assumptions underlying current English language teaching practices within western educational contexts. The study falls into two distinct phases. The first phase uses the constant comparative method of data collection and analysis to integrate the perceptions of 28 experienced language teachers into the following theory: teachers judge the quality of their classes in terms of the degree to which they function as cohesive groups. The second phase uses the social-psychological framework of class cohesion to explore the perceptions of eight language teachers concerning a range of everyday behaviours and events occurring within their classes. The data were gathered through classroom observations and extended weekly teacher interviews and were supplemented by information from student interviews.