An Evaluation of Reflective Practice as Experienced by TESOL Teachers in a Saudi Academic Institution

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Abstract Reflective practice is a strategy which can contribute to the development of TESOL teachers’ professionalism (Azizah et al., 2018). Previous research (Constantinou, 2009; Yassaei, 2011; Farrell & Mom, 2015) has found that TESOL teachers have recognised its usefulness. The aim of this qualitative study is to explore the experience of reflective practice amongst TESOL teachers working in the English Language Centre (ELC) of the Saudi university where a reflective practice framework had not previously been used (Melibari, 2016). This research examines a 13-week reflective practice programme with 12 teacher-participants. Through a critical incident approach, they were invited to reflect on critical events by writing in reflective journals (Richards and Farrell, 2005) and through collaborative reflective practice. During the intervention of the study, semi-structured interviews, along with the reflective journals, provided the data for this study. A second set of interviews (post intervention) was conducted six months after the reflective practice programme concluded to evaluate its impact and potential sustainability. The analysis identified four superordinate themes: (1) the meaning of reflective practice; (2) factors that were influential in the experience; (3) collaborative reflective practice and (4) the impact of reflective practice. Participants exhibited self-motivation to experience reflective practice; they also expressed frustration towards barriers to integrating reflective practice into their institution. Seven teachers, nonetheless, maintained their reflective practice over time and valued the collaborative aspect encouraged by reflective group meetings. The interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) approach was utilised to analyse the data. The IPA framework enables the study to highlight the impact of reflective practice on the development of a community of practice (CoP) through which knowledge was shared and extended, teachers’ beliefs were articulated through reflection and a new understanding of professional practice was fostered. The study also contributes new data to the IPA body of research, alongside TESOL-specific examples of reflective practice data. Finally, the study identifies its limitations, offers recommendations for integrating reflective practice into teachers’ continuing professional development and presents suggestions for further research.