Teacher professional development in Thai universities: EFL teachers' perceptions

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Proceeding of the 9 th Annual South East Asian Association for Institutional Research (SEAAIR) Conference. Penang, Malaysia, October 13-15 2009: 303-314
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This research looks into the perceptions of forty-five Thai EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teachers serving in both private and public universities in Thailand regarding the need for and the provision and quality of teacher professional development in their universities. According to the teacher development programs offered, all universities served by the participants provide prospects for teachers to have in-service education. However, findings indicate that the process of application and the criteria set for qualified teachers vary, subject to the administrative policy of each institute. In relation to professional development, nearly all participants pointed out the strong need for obtaining a higher degree specifically at master and doctoral levels as career advancement in their cognate field and interestingly as a tool for salary increment. Teacher collaboration and student learning also emerged as possible factors motivating teachers to strive for self-improvement. Although undertaking research is referred to as an important and for some a required element for English teaching jobs, the time-consuming nature and the sophisticated process discourages its instigation right from the outset. Regarding views about quality of university teacher development, more than half reported being satisfied with the overall universities' strong emphasis on improving English teaching and learning by accentuating teachers as a key. However, teachers' lacking motivation to progress professionally due to the high demand of teaching workload and the internal politics embedded in some universities could be reason that prevents teachers from securing educational growth. In-depth interviews were employed as the method for gathering data, allowing the participants to provide profound insights vis-a-vis the issues under investigation. Implications from the study have shed light on the significance of an uplift of the quality of university teachers through furnishing sufficient opportunities of professional development and what Thai EFL university teachers aspire to accomplish most to develop themselves resourcefully. The study ramification is also implied towards decision makers in the university setting to be impartial in allocating teacher development support grants.
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