Second and foreign language teachers’ problem-solving schemata development through informal problem-solving: the relationship between experience and expertise

Vyara V. Dimitrova*, Susan McKenney, Paul A. Kirschner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

Purpose: Second and foreign language (SL/FL) teachers’ informal problem-solving has received little explicit research attention while it is widely acknowledged that problem-solving is crucial to expertise development in any complex knowledge domain. To develop a clearer understanding of the role of informal problem-solving in SL/FL teachers’ expertise development, this study investigated how experience (i.e. time on the job) affects the level of problem-solving schemata development. Design/methodology/approach: This situational analysis of teaching practices was conducted with 15 SL/FL teachers divided into three experience groups. Through qualitative coding of verbal reflections on teachers’ own lessons, the structural components of problem-solving schemata development were explored at two levels. The first or basic level represents the broader knowledge base which problem-solving utilizes in understanding and recognizing classroom situations. The second is the expert-level problem-solving knowledge level. Qualitative codes were quantified to enable descriptive statistics and t-tests for the analysis regarding the basic level. A descriptive analysis was performed to uncover expert-level knowledge. Findings and Originality/value: The results show that experience affects problem-solving schemata development in qualitatively different ways at different levels. At the first or basic level, most teachers develop extensive and numerous domain-specific problem-solving schemata with experience. Few experienced teachers develop expert-level schemata. At this level, experience mostly affects the type of domain-specific knowledge and quality of feedback on effective strategies incorporated in these schemata. The findings suggest that future studies need to adopt a multi-level analysis of problem-solving schemata development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)202-216
Number of pages15
JournalInnovation in Language Learning and Teaching
Volume17
Issue number2
Early online date7 Dec 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2023

Keywords

  • informal learning
  • Problem-solving
  • problem-solving schemata
  • teaching experience

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