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Professional Development Needs

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It is an undeniable fact that the world has become a global place where people from different countries have begun to come together and therefore the need for communication has arisen. Because of this need for communication, English has become the main and worldwide-accepted language in the global world. Parallel to these changes, teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL) has also gained importance. With this increasing importance of teaching EFL, English teachers’ Continuous Professional Development (CPD) has also become a major issue and an obligation in the context of EFL education (Spolsky, 2004) given the fact that teachers are those who hold the key to the outcome of reform and English Language Teaching (ELT) (Wu, 2001).

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Among many definitions of CPD, Friedman et al. (2000) describe CPD as a systematic maintenance, improvement and broadening knowledge and skill and the development of personal qualities. On the other hand, Kelchtermans (2004) define CPD from a more focused perspective as “a learning process resulting from meaningful interaction with the context (both in time and space) and eventually leading to changes in teachers’ professional practice (actions) and their thinking about that practice” (p. 220). When it comes to the functions of CPD in educational settings, Wyatt and Ager (2016) state that CPD broadens horizons, allows teachers to move constantly forward, and it is necessary since getting a degree is not the end of the world; it is just an opening on a long road.

CPD includes different forms (Kosnik et al., 2015; Villegas-Reimers. E., 2003) and models (Kennedy, 2005; Wells, 2014) such as Kennedy’s nine models of CPD and STAR model. In addition to these, it also contains plenty of practices including team teaching, coaching, audio/video recording of lessons, classroom observation, teacher focus groups, teaching portfolio, conducting action research, mentoring, getting feedback from colleagues and students and using a teaching journal (Springer and Bailey, 2006).

CPD has significance in different educational contexts in EFL education in Turkey. There are 206 universities (http://www.yok.gov.tr/web/guest/universitelerimiz) in Turkey. Whether it be state or foundation, a big number of these universities have English preparatory programs. Especially most of the foundation ones are in the context of English as Medium of Instruction (EMI). Since English has become the main language of education in such institutions, improving the quality of English education has also become a must. To this end, focusing on the PD needs of EFL instructors is highly important. Most importantly, each preparatory program has its own structure, thus such studies are usually “institution-specific” as well as being “longitudinal” not “one-shot” (see for example, Çınkır, 2017; Yazgan, 2017; Akyazı, 2016; Korkmaz, 2015; Çetin, 2013). In brief, it can be concluded that research on CPD is essential for institutions, which are in the context of EMI, and PD needs of EFL instructors should be taken into consideration.

Without a doubt, CPD is essential since institutional, societal and sectorial intended learning outcomes can be met through the continuous development of instructors. Despite the fact that CPD refers to the development of teachers, the key and ultimate rationale behind it is improving learners. In other words, learners are in the heart of the notion of CPD. Therefore, it can be concluded that, teachers’ CPD has a direct impact on students’ achievement. For example, in a study carried out by Borko and Putnam (1995), it was found out that CPD activities contribute teachers to change their teaching techniques thus, these changes play an important role in students’ learning. Another study which confirms the relationship between teachers’ CPD and the increase in students’ achievement is by Cohen and Hill (1997) in which it was found that the students of teachers who took part in CPD activities more scored more in state exams.

Numerous research studies have been conducted in the frame of CPD in Turkey and these PD studies have different focuses such as different types of PD activities in the EFL setting (Çınkır, 2017), EFL instructors’ self-efficacy of sustaining CPD activities (Bolcal, 2017), mentoring (Korkmaz, 2015), attitudes of EFL instructors towards PD (Sadıç, 2015), the use of teaching portfolios (Yümsek, 2014), EFL instructors’ perceptions of CPD (Yümsek, 2014; Muyan, 2013), needs of EFL instructors (Demir, 2015; Ekşi, 2010), in-service teacher education programs (INSET) (Sadıç, 2015; Çetin, 2013) and the relationship between CPD and learner achievement (Warwich & Reimers, 1995; Darling-Hammond, 1999). In the light of the literature on CPD, it can be concluded that research on CPD is given importance since the quality of English education is directly linked to the outcomes of such studies.

The context in which this study is to be carried out is an English preparatory program where no research regarding its teachers’ needs has ever been conducted. As aforementioned above, teacher needs are essential to refer to instructors’ needs for the sake of teachers’ productivity and performances which are closely connected to to learner achievement (see for example, Warwich & Reimers, 1995; Darling-Hammond, 1999) therefore; the need for such a case study has emerged as an immediate need for the institution.

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