Date of Award

2021

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

First Advisor

Dr Bill Allen

Second Advisor

Dr Donna Barwood

Abstract

Teacher identity has become a topic of considerable research interest for at least two decades. Realising that teachers are more than technicians instructing through evidence based methodologies, researchers have investigated the importance of identity as a critical factor in the making and performance of a teacher. The term ‘teacher’ in this research has covered a range of professionals from early-childhood practitioners to university lecturers. Among these, attention has also been paid to teachers’ subject specialisms and their educational and geographical contexts.

The research reported in this thesis focuses on a distinctive cohort: Vietnamese nationals who are teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL) in that country’s rapidly developing universities. The burgeoning research literature examining the professional identity of higher education (HE) language teachers more generally acknowledges that teacher professional identity is a fundamental aspect in understanding how HE teachers adjust to a variety of simultaneously occurring challenges and changes, and the decisions that they make with regard to their professional career. As yet, there is a relative absence of studies examining the identity of HE teachers in Vietnam, and specifically, EFL teachers. This thesis reports on a study that examined how Vietnamese teachers of EFL constructed their professional identities in the rapidly changing HE context, situated within a highly globalised Vietnam. In response to global impacts on their economy, National Government policies have made English the most important foreign language, and virtually mandatory in university study, to the extent that it is now regarded as a passport to professional employment. At the same time, government policies have also determined that Vietnamese universities compete in the global higher education system. Both sets of forces have led to considerable changes to the professional lives and identities of Vietnamese HE teachers of EFL.

This project employed grounded theory (Strauss & Corbin, 1990) to investigate how Vietnamese HE Teachers of EFL constructed their identities in this current environment. A purposive, theoretical sample of 16 EFL lecturers were interviewed across four iterative cycles; specifically, participants were interviewed once in a group of four teachers. After each cycle of interviews, data were transcribed, and grounded theory coding processes conducted. Data analysis also involved constant comparison and constant interrogation. From open coding, thirteen categories emerged; these were refined into four main categories which were then classified into two major categories: (i) Vietnamese otherwise referred to as local and (ii) global. The core outcome of the current research was a grounded theory: that these teachers see themselves as conflicted, glocalised, Vietnamese higher education teachers of English as a Foreign Language.

The theory and related findings shed light on how Vietnamese HE teachers of EFL have constructed their identities in the current climate. As well as significance for lecturers in Vietnam, the outcomes have significance for lecturers in non-native English-speaking countries as they go about their role expectations and respond to demands within increasingly globalised university systems. There are implications for university leadership, and for educational policymakers in HE contexts as well, especially in developing countries seeking to integrate English as the language of their globalised economies and educational systems.

Access Note

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Available for download on Tuesday, January 09, 2024

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