Applying models of change: an investigation into teachers’ perceptions of recent changes to teaching and learning English as a foreign language

in the United Arab Emirates schools

Mona Al Hammadi September 2010

This dissertation is submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree of MA Education Leadership and Management, Roehampton University

Abstract

Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) has established the Public-Private Partnership project (PPP) in the public schools since the year 2005. This project aims to work with teachers and principals in the public schools to improve the quality of teaching and learning and to increase students’ outcomes through inviting four international education contractors to manage the public schools. The contractors, referred to as “companies”, introduced several changes in the schools and the teaching subjects. The purpose of this study was to explore teachers’ perceptions of the recent changes to the English as a foreign language (EFL) teaching and learning. The study investigated the effectiveness of the change process adopted by the companies, from teachers’ perspectives. Appropriate qualitative methods exploiting semi-structured interviews and focus groups were the primary data collection tools for this study. The critical analysis of the data suggests that teachers encountered several problems with the recent changes to the EFL teaching and learning such as lack of rationale for change and lack of training and resources, which were factors that affected teachers’ implementation of the changes as well as the success of the changes to improve EFL teaching and learning. The results from the data analysis also demonstrated teachers’ understanding to the change process and to what should be done to improve the quality of the change process adopted by ADEC and the companies. Recommendations of this study included the need to encourage and support teachers’ innovations as well as the need to monitor and assess the implementation stage to evaluate the effectiveness of the new innovations in achieving the desired goals.

Key words: Educational change, organizational change, change models, EFL, Public-Private Partnership, teachers’ perceptions, qualitative methods.

2

Acknowledgements

My sincere thanks and utmost gratitude go to my supervisor Agnieszka Bates for providing me with assistance and guidance throughout the journey of preparing and writing the dissertation. I would also like to gratefully thank my lovely husband, Mohamed Asaad Taher, for the invaluable encouragement, help and support during my studies in London. Last, but never least, all gratitude and acknowledgments should go to my parents, brothers and sisters, and friends who supported and helped me while pursuing my MA degree.

3

..40 3...................................1 Positivism...............................................................................41 3................4 Recording data...............................1 Introduction........................23 2..................4 Change models................3................................................................................................................3 The challenges of redesigning and rethinking....34 3......5 Ethical considerations........................................................................4...29 3...... 40 3.............................................................24 2.................................................................................................................3...........................................................................2 Bolman and Deal’s (2003) reframing organizations........................................42 4 ................................................................................. 12 2.................................................2 The challenges of sustaining and transformation................................................................................................................................................................3..3....................................................................29 3......3 The importance of change..................22 2.1 Introduction.........................................................................9 2...................16 2.........2 Open-ended questions......3 Senge’s (1999) dance of change.............................................Table of Contents Chapter 1: Introduction...................32 3.......3..............2 The meaning of change............................4............................4 Research sample...................................... 36 3.............................................3............4........................................................................................................... 26 Chapter 3: Research Methodology..................................1 The challenges of initiating..................................3 Interviews...............................................................................5 The implications of change models for improving EFL teaching and learning in the UAE............... 11 2..4..... 21 2..................... 36 3...................................3 Focus groups...........................................9 2.............2 Interpretivism.................................30 3.......................................................5 Chapter 2: Literature Review...1 Lewin’s (1947) three-step model.......................................................29 3..............................................2................................. 13 2..........................................................................................................................6 Procedure.............1 Semi-structured interviews........9 2...............2 Social science................................................................................................3..................................4.34 3...............................................................................................4......................2...................................................................................................................................................................................

................72 Appendix A: Permission Letter (Principal)..............................................2...............................................76 Appendix C: Interview Guiding Questions.....................................................................46 4.................69 5......................1 Introduction............................................................................................................................75 Appendix B: Permission Letter (Teacher)...........................................................................................................................................................5 Routes for future research.45 4.......................................................................4 Lack of resources.......................8 Impact on students’ outcomes...................2 Unclear role.............................................78 Appendix E: Second Interview Transcripts............. 54 4.....50 4.................................................................... 43 Chapter 4: Data Presentation and Analysis.....................................................................................................45 4..64 Chapter 5: Conclusion.....................................2..................2...............3 Teachers’ tacit models of effective change to TEFL..................67 5.......92 5 .......................................................................................................................................52 4...............................2...........................................................................................1 Introduction......................1 Lack of rationale for change and its effects on the teachers implementing change.................................................66 5................................... 43 3..................................................................................................................60 4..............................................................................58 4..........................................8 Data analysis..........2..........................................................................6 Cultural boundaries.............................4 Recommendations..............66 5......... 56 4.................................................. 46 4........2.....................7 Lack of monitoring and assessment..48 4.....................................................5 Lack of training .........................................................................2................2...................77 Appendix D: First Interview Transcripts..............................................66 5..........4 Conclusion..........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................7 Data transcription..................................................................................................3...................................................................3 Poorly planned and designed curriculum...............................................70 Bibliography..................................3 Summary of the main findings............ 62 4.....................2 The problems with the most recent changes to TEFL in the UAE as perceived by EFL teachers..........................................2 Critical evaluation of the work undertaken............

From my experience with grade nine. ‘The National’ Ridge (2009) claims that “despite these 6 . Many teachers in EFL classrooms use behaviorist approaches to teaching. After twelve years of English learning. many students graduate from high schools with poor English language skills. In the reputable local news paper. Drilling. fundamental changes have been introduced to the educational sector of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. I realized that change was necessary in the English as a foreign language (EFL) classroom. reports indicate that the education in the UAE remains the same as modest development was noticed even after the implementation of the PPP project. some of the students have difficulties in communicating in English and some of them can barely understand simple conversations. memorization. 2009). Since the establishment of Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC). One of its major projects is the Public Private Partnership (PPP) schools.Chapter 1: Introduction During my work as an English teacher in one of the girls’ public schools in Abu Dhabi. the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). 2010). In spite of ADEC’s efforts to reform education. grammar and translation are the central features of some English classrooms in the UAE. where it invited four international education contractors (companies) to manage 30 public schools and to “work with teachers and principals to improve the quality of instruction and to increase student achievement in government schools” (Abu Dhabi Education Council. ADEC has introduced several changes in the public schools. accuracy. Its mission is “to produce world-class learners who embody a strong sense of culture and heritage and are prepared to meet global challenges” (Abu Dhabi Education Council. This could be due to the teaching methods previously used in English language learning.

What can we learn from change models in order to better promote and implement change in the TEFL context in the future? In order to answer these research questions I have designed my research based on the interpretivist research paradigm using qualitative research methods to collect the data. This study aims to answer the following questions: 1. I was interested in investigating teachers’ perceptions of the recent changes introduced to teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) simply because teachers are the implementers of these changes.extensive investments. The lack of educational research in the Gulf region motivated me to conduct a research about the educational reforms in the UAE. What are the main change models in management and leadership literature and how can they be evaluated? 3. What were the problems with the most recent changes to TEFL in the UAE? 4. Semi7 . 2009). More specifically. The findings of this study will provide ADEC with valuable assistance to promote changes more effectively in the future. Therefore. Why is change needed: the rational for change 2. there was an essential need to investigate the effectiveness of ADEC’s PPP project in the public schools of Abu Dhabi. education quality and achievement remain stagnant in the UAE. She also points out that there is a lack of educational research in the Gulf region which makes “the education sector in the Gulf one of the most understudied sectors in the world” (Ridge. This study is aimed at identifying the problems associated with the process of change initiated by the companies. Qatar and throughout the Gulf”.

the qualitative methods. The data gathered produced 8 . Then. focus group interviews allowed me to generate rich data that would answer my research questions. These tools encouraged teachers’ participation and enabled them to express their perceptions and share their experiences more openly and in a comfortable environment. Two major themes emerged after transcribing the data collected from the interviews. which were deemed most appropriate for this research. Chapter three discusses the methodological approach used in this study with a particular emphasis on the interpretivist paradigm and. This chapter also discusses the most important change models namely: Lewin’s (1947) three-step model. and discusses their advantages and limitations. In addition. Bolman and Deal’s (2003) reframing organizations and Senge’s (1999) dance of change. links between these change models and their ability to improve EFL teaching and learning in the UAE public schools are established. therefore. Chapter four is concerned with the presentation and analysis of the data obtained. the research sample and ethical issues are discussed. The first theme presents the problems that teachers had with the recent changes to TEFL and the second theme reflects on teachers’ understanding of the change models. The procedure for conducting the interviews and the methods used in the data transcription and analysis are outlined at the end of this chapter. Then. It also provides justifications for the use of semistructured interviews using focus groups as the primary data collection tools.structured interviews using focus groups were the primary data collection tools in this study. Chapter two presents a review of literature on the concept of change including its definition in different contexts and its importance in developing the educational systems that support the development of societies. This dissertation is structured as follows.

The results are then analyzed and linked to the literature review discussed in chapter two. It also summarizes the main findings and draws recommendations to ADEC on how to successfully promote change to classrooms in the future.predicted results such as the lack of training required to prepare the teachers for the implementation of change. The data also indicated surprising results such as the manipulation of students’ grades by one of the companies in order to demonstrate positive change and present it to ADEC. other recommendations are presented as areas of potential further research. Finally. The conclusion and recommendations chapter evaluates the work undertaken in terms of the effectiveness of the research methodology and the data collection tools in answering the research questions. Chapter 2: Literature Review 9 .

while Senge’s (1999) model aspires to more profound change that entails a shift in thinking. or ‘bottom-up’. p. where simultaneous top-down bottom-up initiatives merge. and struggle" (Marris. 10 . 25).2. where the employees have the opportunity to create and implement innovations that could help them achieve their goals. this chapter articulates the meaning of change and its importance. p. Analyzing these models enabled me to develop understanding of different change processes and their challenges from different perspectives. both Lewin’s (1947) and Bolman and Deal’s(2003) change models focus on changing behavior. viii). whether imposed or sought for. first.1 Introduction This study aims to explore teachers’ perceptions of the recent changes to EFL teaching and learning as well as to provide ADEC with suggestions on how to promote changes more effectively in the future. anxiety. where collegiality and individualism co-exist in productive tension (cited in Fullan. 2.2 The meaning of change Change. Second it discusses the main three change models: Lewin’s (1947) three-step model. Change could be ‘top-down’. is associated with the feelings of "loss. 1993. where seeking assistance is a sign of strength. which denotes change introduced by agents who are in top hierarchical positions in an organization. For instance. and Senge’s (1999) dance of change. Bolman and Deal’s (2003) reframing organizations. In order to understand change and its processes. Fullan and Hargreaves (1991) describe change as: A journey of unknown destination. in Fullan. 1982. 1975. in the general context. where problems are our friends.

1982). technology or social and political environment) or internal (strategies. and the concern is about the relationship between external and internal changes. 2001. Fullan (2007) suggests that it does not matter where change comes from as both directions could fail. What matters the most is the quality of the change process and what happens within it. Senge (1999) suggests that change has several meanings and sometimes those meanings are contradictory. transforming inputs into outputs as a means of creating the conditions necessary for 11 . reorganizing and many other ‘re’s (Senge. think or sound different than it used to be. Van de Ven and Poole (1995) define change as “the observation of difference over time in one or more dimensions of entity” (cited in Kezar. Morgan (1998) views the organization as “an open system in constant interaction with its environment. For example. while employees might view change as a source of threat and problems.12). This could mean that when we change something we make it look. the Oxford Dictionary defines the verb “to change” as “to make or become different” (Oxford Dictionaries. practices or views). p. 12). or it can lead to negative feelings such as anxiety and loss (Fullan. educational change can be viewed as an achievement. Similarly. Burnes (1996) emphasizes that “organizational change refers to understanding alterations within organizations at the broadest level among individuals. groups. and at the collective level across the entire organization” (cited in Kezar. depending on the outcomes.However. On the other hand. 1999). In regard to organizational change. success and professional growth. act. Senge (1999) claims that change could be external (customers. 2010). Change could carry different meanings for different people due to its subjective nature. 2001. leaders might view change as the ability to create new approaches to increase their organizations’ productivity. Change could also mean top-down programs such as reforming. p.

2. education can also be expected to change” (p. and since societies throughout the world are constantly changing and developing. it is important to create productive schools that could prepare Emirati students to play a significant role in the society. associated with the implementation of new educational policy or program. is a multidimensional process involving at least three dimensions or elements. development strategies that build the capacities of individuals and institutions are ever more necessary” (pp. and believes that “changes in the environment are viewed as presenting challenges to which the organization must respond” (p. 12 . Hargreaves (2005) asserts that educational change is needed to prepare students for the rapid social. 363). the change in teaching strategies by adopting new teaching approaches and activities. political. Therefore. economical and technological growth. namely: the change in materials through the use of revised or sometime new materials. assumptions and theories (Fullan. 2005. p.3 The importance of change There are several reasons why educational change is crucial. and the change of beliefs. Educational change in practice. Moreover. 36). Sikes (1992) suggests that “a fundamental purpose of education is to prepare young people for life in society. In addition. in rapidly growing developing countries such as the UAE. 362-363). Glaser (1990) claims that the 21st century requires schools to shift from a ‘selective mode’ where learning conditions and approaches for success are limited. He adds: “societies increasingly require the full range of human abilities potentially available to it. 1982). 215).survival”. to an “adaptive mode in which the educational environment can provide for a range of opportunities for success” (in Hargreaves.

and in some cases. 2. Senge (1999) argues that creating new strategies and practices are important.1 Lewin’s (1947) three-step model Social scientist Kurt Lewin (1947) introduced the three-step change model which is referred to as Lewin’s key contribution to organizational change (Burnes. 11). In addition. p. to a large degree on the processes of change. However. the purpose of educational change is presumably to help schools accomplish their goals more effectively by replacing some programs or practices with better ones” (Fullan. 2. The three models of change are discussed below. Each of these models attempts to describe the process of the organizational change. The models of change discussed in this section are Lewin’s (1947) three-step model.4. Ridge (2009) reported that “the UAE and Qatar both have been particularly active in investing in programs to improve the quality of public education”.Educational change is taking place in the UAE and new programs have been developed to replace the old ones. Both Lewin’s (1947) and Bolman and Deal’s (2003) models focus on change behavior. which are discussed in the next section. “In theory. it is important to note that not all new programs are successful as emphasized by Fullan (2007). 1982. Whether or not change initiatives are deemed to be successful depends. who argues that the introduction of new programs and practices does not always make a difference or help schools accomplish their goals.4 Change models There are numerous theoretical models of change. it can make things even worse. In her article in the reputable local newspaper ‘The National’. However. Bolman and Deal’s (2003) reframing organizations. 2004). but what is more important is to change thinking. He views change as a process 13 . and Senge’s (1999) dance of change. while Senge’s (1999) model views organizational change as profound change.

Lewin (1951) “conceived of change as modification of those forces keeping a system’s behaviour stable” (Cummings and Worley. current behaviours are maintained in what Lewin termed a state of ‘quasi-stationary equilibrium’ ” (Cummings and Worley. “each of which has to be present to some degree for readiness and motivation to change to be generated” (Schein. There are two groups of forces that affect behavioural change. Thus. 2009. Therefore. This step involves unfreezing the current situation by “reducing those forces which maintain behaviour in its present form” (Mullins. 1996.com. If the restraining forces are more or equal to the driving forces. p. and he argues that a successful change process contains three steps namely: unfreezing. 2009. 2004). 2010). These are ‘restraining forces’ resisting change and seeking to maintain the status of quo and ‘driving forces’ promoting and enforcing change. they will not achieve their goals and desires (Schein. 23). and creation of psychological safety. It introduces information that shows the differences between the current behavior of the organization members and the behavior desired by the reformers. induction of guilt and survival anxiety. it is important to either increase the driving forces or decrease the restraining forces for change to happen (Change-Management-Coach. 1999. 823). Some individuals might deny and ignore the disconfirming information. teachers need to understand and should agree 14 . In order for change to take place. 23). Schein (1996) identifies three processes to achieve the unfreezing step successfully: disconfirmation. “When both sets of forces are about equal. The disconfirmation process is one of the main driving forces. p. the equilibrium or the status of quo should be destabilized. For instance. p. 1996). p.60).rather than an event. The unfreezing step is crucial for understanding and recognizing the importance of change. change will not happen and resistance will occur. movement and refreezing (Burnes. it is important stimulate the feeling of guilt and survival anxiety in order for individuals to start thinking that if they did not accept change.

learning anxiety is viewed as a fundamental restraining force that leads individuals to feel insecure and accordingly. groups or individuals start turning away from their old ineffective practices and behaviors to new effective ones. 2009. and therefore. Therefore. Schein (1996) argues that in order for people to accept change and new information. This stage is often the hardest step as people involved would feel unsure and afraid to change even when they agree and understand that change is important. Schein (1996) suggests that there is a type of anxiety that prevents individuals from accepting change. and attitudes through changes in organizational structure and processes” (Cummings and Worley. In sum. 60). people in the organization are ready for the next step identified by Lewin (1947). p. 2010). Learning anxiety is experienced when individuals feel that if they accept change. support is essential in this stage. In addition. no survival anxiety will be felt. values.com. In the course of the moving stage. and consequently. they should change. Schein (1996) argues that “unless sufficient psychological safety is created. as the moving step. they will prove to themselves and to others that they were wrong and incompetent. 15 . It increases people’s confidence and encouragement to change (Change-Management-Coach. 61). dealing with the learning anxiety is an important element to push change forward (Schein. the disconfirming information will be denied or in other ways defended against. 1996). Therefore. Thus. Once this state of acceptance has been secured. no change will take place” (p.that the changes introduced are the only solution to improve EFL teaching and improve students’ outcomes. 24). resist change. which is called “learning anxiety” (p. This step “involves intervening in the system to develop new behaviours. it is important that they feel safe and secure and less threatened by change.

organizations must change their culture. practices and rewards system. 2004. Besides. but it has also faced several criticisms (Burnes. In this stage. many have argued that for such changing organizations the refreezing step cannot be achieved (Burnes. 2004). However. Over the years. 2004). 2004). 1996. but are fluid entities with many ‘personalities’” (cited in Burnes. “new behaviours must be. Kanter et al (1992) claim that “organizations are never frozen. In other words. 63). 2005). Kanter et al. Burnes (2004) argues that “when Lewin wrote ‘refreezing’. much less refrozen. Refreezing is a necessary step to ensure that the new adopted behaviors are stabilized (Burnes. 2004). he referred to preventing individuals and groups from regressing to their old behaviours” (p.. and for the fact that his model is only relevant to incremental and isolated change projects (Dawson. Lewin’s three-step model of change has greatly contributed to organizational and social development. One of the criticisms is that his planned approach to change was viewed to be too simplistic and mechanistic for organizations that are rapidly and consistently changing (Burnes. Refreezing is the last step of Lewin’s three-step change model. transformational change. in order to accomplish refreezing.Lewin (1947) suggests that reinforcement and motivation are the key elements to ensure the consistency of change (cited in Burnes. Others have criticized Lewin’s model for not being able to incorporate radical. Defending Lewin’s model. Furthermore.. 2004). 2004. 1992). Dickens and Wathins (1999) explain that 16 . 993). if people involved in change did not integrate the new behaviors and practices in their work routine. they are more likely to retrieve their old behavior. 1994 cited in Burnes. Change is more likely to be short-lived if this step is not accomplished (Kritsonis. Cummings and Worley (2009) suggest that. p. p. congruent with the rest of the behaviour and personality of the learner or it will simply set off new rounds of disconfirmation” (Schein. structure. 989).

When some 17 . In this context a territory here means whatever individuals are interested in such as a particular sport. pp. Each frame enables a different view of the organization. which is discussed next. political science and anthropology. Through studying major organizational thoughts. Successful managers are those who “reframe until they understand the situation at hand. Bolman and Deal (2003) identify four perspectives which are labeled as ‘frames’. They do this by using more than one frame.4. linear process of change consisting of unfreezing. They also suggest that “change rationally conceived usually fails” (p.2 Bolman and Deal’s (2003) reframing organizations The simple. 2003. psychology. namely: structural. 369). external. or perspectives. 370). The limiting focus of Lewin’s model on behavior. The four frames. 2004. rather than thinking. groups’ or organizations’ behavior. 2. have been surpassed in the model of reframing organizations.Lewin’s model was concerned with changing individuals’. which firmly grounds the model in the observable. moving and refreezing becomes much more complex as presented by Bolman and Deal (2003). political and symbolic. a frame is like a mental map. 993-994). which is defined as “a set of ideas or assumptions you carry in your head [that] helps you to understand and negotiate a particular territory” (p. physical reality. rather than promoting transformational change that is only appropriate in “situations that require major structural change” (cited in Burnes. have their origins in thinking presented in a range of social sciences. p. art or subject. human resource. and the freezing metaphor. The four frames are aimed to help leaders and managers understand their organizations. especially from sociology. Bolman and Deal (2003) contend that “organizational change is a multiframe undertaking” (p. 12). For Bolman and Deal (2003). to develop both a diagnosis of what they are up against and strategies for moving forward” (Bolman and Deal. 15).

Those individuals have the ability to learn and to stand for their old practices and beliefs. 375-376). It views the organization as an “extended family” formulated by individuals with feelings. they fail to change anything. how to relate to others. 2003. pp. Organizations assign roles and responsibilities to their employees and they would create rules. prejudices. For instance. the main challenge for the organization is to adopt and direct those individuals so that they could accomplish their jobs while feeling good and satisfied. assigning roles and defining relationships. According to Bolman and Deal (2003). When individuals understand their positions and responsibilities as well as others’. it destabilizes the current arrangements causing ambiguity and confusion as people might not understand their new responsibilities as well as others’. they will understand who is in charge. When change is made to the organizational structure. Bolman and Deal (2003) assert that “structure confers clarity. Therefore. when and over what. Therefore. “Changes in routine practice and procedure undermine existing knowledge and skills.managers focus on changing one or two frames while ignoring the other frames. and security” (p. People tend to resist change because it is sometimes difficult and threatening. Bolman and Deal (2003) suggest that in order to overcome such a difficulty. and might “become unsure about their duties. 374). therefore. it is important to consider the four frames while planning for change. managers who promote changes to the formal structure of the organization might find out that people are not ready to play their new roles and take their new responsibilities. policies and hierarchies to manage different activities into a unified strategy. predictability. reassign roles and relationships. change efforts must expect and predict structural issues and. The ‘structural frame’ is concerned about goals. Some change initiatives stumble because they ignore developing individuals who are involved in change. The ‘human resource’ frame deals with the human aspect of the organization. and 18 . and who has authority to decide what” (Bolman and Deal. and weaknesses. skills.

According to Bolman and Deal (2003) “Training. The winner in this conflict is the coalition that posses power and resources (Bolman and Deal. If people were forced to implement change. 2003. where settlements and agreements can be hammered out”. Bolman and Deal (2003) suggest that in politics. 378). When people lack the knowledge and skills needed to implement changes successfully. Thus. 377). they tend to feel lost and anxious. Bolman and Deal (2003) assume that “often.they undercut people’s ability to perform with confidence and success” (p. the outcomes could be disappointing. and that “it is managed through processes of negotiation and bargaining. If conflicts are ignored. knowledge and skills is essential to increase their confidence and ability to implement change effectively. psychological support. the status quo prevails and change agents lose” (p. they could lead to disasters and change failures. Change itself could also cause conflicts as it “always creates division and conflict among competing interest groups” (Bolman and Deal. and participation. They fight in a battle where there are winners and losers. conflict is viewed as a natural feature of the organizations. Change reformers need to develop and prepare individuals involved in change if they want it to be implemented successfully. In order for change to be successful. The ‘political frame’ views the organization as a jungle. 373). Developing people’s understanding. As change emerges. all increase the likelihood that people will understand and feel comfortable with the new methods” (p. 2003). they resist change and prefer their old practices. 19 . However. rules and referees to create opportunities for the diverse conflict groups to negotiate and reach shared agreements. Individuals within the organization have different goals and interests and they tend to compete for possessing power and resources. opponents and those who are in between form. coalitions of supporters. Bolman and Deal (2003) suggest that it is important to create areas with roles. p. 373). The fact that the members of any organization have various goals and interests might lead to conflicts.

which individuals may construct differently (Bolman and Deal. metaphors and heroes of all which serve to promote a sense of clarity and direction (Bolman and Deal.. For this reason. to achieve a successful change. 2003). The first is to keep things as they were . and they view their organizations from that frame. The organization is seen as a culture driven by myths.The ‘symbolic frame’ considers organizations as tribes or theatres. 2003). and when people are separated from these attachments. 2003). It views individuals as actors who “play their roles in the organizational drama while audiences from impressions form what is seen onstage” (Bolman and Deal. p. they face the difficulty of leaving their past and moving forward (Bolman and Deal. using the concept of ‘frames’ as a way to view 20 . Thus. leaders tend to choose the frame that is most important to them. While their model of the change process highlights the complex nature of change as it is played out at four different levels of organizational activities. deal with the present and move to the future. It is important to note that change creates loss of meaning and purpose. Leaders need to rely on their organizations’ culture and traditions in order to build a shared culture and values that creates meaning for people (Bolman and Deal. 2003). This enables people to gradually let go of their past. [and] the second is to ignore the loss and rush busily into the future” (p. Bolman and Deal (2003) suggest that creating transitional rituals is a very important factor for successful change. 15).. 380). However. Bolman and Deal (1999) advocate that leaders need to consider other frames that allow multiple ways of viewing the organization. leaders need to view their organizations from multiple dimensions. People are attached to symbols or symbolic activities regardless if they were positive or negative. stories. 2003. According to Bolman and Deal (2003) “any significant change in an organization triggers two conflicting responses. As mentioned above. activities and events carry meaning.

human resources. aspirations. p. p. Organizations are results of the way people think within them and changing the organization requires allowing people to change the way they think (Senge.4. Therefore. An alternative model that is concerned about shifting not only individuals’ behavior but also their thinking is the ‘dance of change’. 21 . p. strategies. frames could limit what individuals can see. Besides. 1999. political and symbolic) tend to focus on the internal factors that leaders need to consider while planning for change. The four-frame model (structural. Profound change provides opportunities for learning because the organization does not change by itself. 10). but it also requires “fundamental shift in thinking” (Senge. 15). 15). practices and systems. we normally focus on the picture inside and ignore everything else outside the frame. and behaviors with outer shifts in processes. “it builds its capacity for doing things in a new way—indeed. 1999. it builds capacity for ongoing change” (Senge. For instance. practices and systems. This type of change is called ‘profound change’. 1999. which is similar to Lewin’s model.the organizations could ground this model into the observable and visible activities. but it should also aim to change teachers’ thinking and develop their capacity to learn in order to achieve sustainable effective change. 2.3 Senge’s (1999) dance of change The dance of change considers a particular type of organizational change in which combines inner shifts in “people’s values. there are some external factors such as the economy. However. practices and systems” (Senge. Change does not only requires creating new strategies. when we look at a frame. However. 1999). educational reform in the UAE should not only aim to create new policies. society and government plans and demands that could have a huge impact on change.

and develop strategies that help them to deal with these challenges (Senge.” the inevitable interplay between growth processes and limiting processes” (p. The challenges reflect individuals’ assumptions and practices.Shifting people’s values and opinions does not happen through explicit training or authority. Thus. design. Senge (1999) identifies several challenges that hinder and limit any profound change process. The challenges are classified under three categories namely: challenges of initiating. However. 22 . To follow is a discussion of some of the challenges that leaders need to consider through the process of profound change. Through experimenting small projects people could gain new experiences and learn from their success and failure through discussing and sharing their experiences with others. It is important that leaders understand the growth processes and the forces that support these processes. challenges of sustaining momentum. 1999). it requires developing a learning organization that allows people to participant and get involved in different change activities (Senge. Senge (1999) asserts that “we need to appreciate “the dance of change. they also need to understand the challenges and the obstacles that hinder their organization’s growth. At any stages of profound change there are external and internal challenges. 1999). Senge (1999) argues that change driven by learning tends to be more sustained and effective than change driven by authority. initiate and implement small projects. Meanwhile. 1999). and challenges of redesigning and rethinking. 26). 10). so it is important to address them and deal with them in order to achieve sustainable profound change (Senge. Those challenges are predictable and they occur “as natural counter pressures to generating change” (p. it is important to provide the people with the opportunity to plan. This could build a learning organization with committed people who share similar values and aspirations.

Senge (1999) suggest that leaders need to develop individuals’ capacity to meet change demands and provide them with “quality coaching.3. 1999). 1999). and convincing them to take part in the change initiative would be challenging (Senge.3. People need to be convinced of the importance of the initiatives. One of these challenges occurs when people start struggling with the new practices and knowledge.2. 2.4. Those challenges prevent change from happening as they develop in the early process of change (Senge.4. the reformers encounter the challenges of initiating. They will not put any time or effort in something that they think is not relevant or important. they will be more motivated and committed to achieve the organization’s goals. One way to overcome this challenge is to understand the type of help individuals need and find reliable and capable consults and coaches who could provide the right help at the right time (Senge.1 The challenges of initiating As soon as change is introduced. guidance. Once they understand how changes could bring improvement and development to their organization. Senge (1999) proposes that creating clear and convincing reasons for change initiatives could help increase people’s commitment to change. One of the challenges that prevent organizations from achieving sustainable profound change is the measurement problems (Senge. 1999). 1999).103). It is essential that people understand their organization and its needs.2 The challenges of sustaining and transformation Achieving sustainable change that could last for long periods of time could be problematic for some organizations. and support” that are essential to overcome this challenge (p. These problems occur when the new innovations do not meet the organization’s expectations or when the traditional measurement tools 23 . In today’s business people are so overloaded that they are hesitant to engage in anything new.

don’t calibrate the reformers efforts. Therefore. 287). Senge (1999) argues that if the leaders try to defend their new innovations by proving that the traditional measurements are incompetent. assessing and measuring new innovations tend to be complex and ambiguous (Senge. 289). 1999). Senge suggests that leaders need to plan for “a realistic time horizon for realizing the benefits of that practice” (p. Senge (1999) assets that “learning to assess the consequences of significant change initiatives is a complex new territory. 1999). Therefore. they also need to understand that the aim of assessments is not only to evaluate the new innovations but also to learn from their experiences as Senge argues that “the key shift is to bring measurement and 24 . However. some practices takes longer time than expected to be properly implemented. 1999). However. Assessing the progress of the new innovations in practice is very important. as it increases individuals’ motivation and commitment to the change initiatives. and if they try to meet those traditional measurements they may undermine the new innovations. This means that the change reformers need to carefully plan for change and allow for some positive results to emerge at the early stage of the change process. they may lose accountability and credibility. leaders need to learn how to effectively assess the progress of the new innovations in practice. often neglected by leaders of those initiatives” (p. which could sometimes negatively affect the emergence of the expected outcomes (Senge. Achieving expected results could sometimes be difficult and challenging. Therefore. Senge (1999) claims that people who are involved in change struggle between adapting the new practices and achieving concrete results. The lack of concrete results may lead some people to think that the new innovation is not working (Senge.

assessment into the service of the learners. Senge (1999) suggests that involving people throughout the organization “does not mean that top management abdicates” (p. However. courageous executive leadership” (p. 498). rather than have it feared as a tool for outside “evaluators” (p. 25 . I believe that giving individuals the opportunity to participate in rethinking the strategy and the purpose of the new initiatives could increase their commitment and motivation and could also improve their performance. Involving people from different organizational levels is important as it allows for the emergence of new and unexpected ideas that the top management might not think about alone. but do so by remaining open to ideas from throughout the enterprise” (p. However. 498). They occur in different ways for different leaders. In addition. Rethinking the strategies often lies on the top management leaving other employees with no space to question or rethink the organization’s strategy and purpose. Senge (1999) asserts that these challenges tend to be frustrating and enervating as leaders or internal networks cannot deal with them alone because they need “imaginative.4. 360). One of these challenges is the challenges of rethinking and redesigning the strategy and purpose of the change initiatives. they could “maintain responsibility for strategic direction.3.3 The challenges of redesigning and rethinking After dealing with the challenges of sustaining momentum change reformers will face another set of problems and challenges. 289). 2. Senge (1999) argues that allowing people to deeply question the purpose and the strategies is loaded with challenges because “it opens the door to a traditionally closed inner sanctum of top management” (p. 488).

in order to achieve sustained profound change is important that teachers change the way they think because deep. The unfreezing step in Lewin’s three-step model is a very crucial step in any change effort. sustained change does not only require adopting new behaviors and practices. In addition. and redesigning. We could learn from her contribution that change emerges when EFL teachers start building the feeling of guilt and survival anxiety. Senge (1999) claims that different change initiatives may face different challenges and that there are other unanticipated challenges that reformers may encounter in the process of profound change. EFL teachers need to feel safe. Any profound change could encounter many challenges. and less threatened by the new initiatives. Training and guiding EFL teachers might not be enough to achieve suitable and effective change. 2. Schein (1996) made great contribution in developing this step. but it also requires a shift in thinking. Successful leaders are those how identify these challenges and deal with them. sustaining. we learn that in order to bring change to EFL teaching and learning in the UAE it is important to build teachers’ capacities to implement the changes successfully.5 The implications of change models for improving EFL teaching and learning in the UAE From Senge’s (1999) model. Teachers need to learn how to play an effective role in bring change to their classrooms as well as the school. Recognizing and understanding these challenges help building strong leadership capacity that could achieve suitable profound change. secure. It is when the EFL teachers start to believe that change could help them achieve their goals and improve their 26 .Creating profound change lies on dealing with different challenges of initiating.

It is where EFL teachers start feeling safe and secure and understand the importance of change. we learn that in order to bring successful change to EFL subject. For instance. From the reframing model. Thus. which encompass practices. but we need to consider all of these aspects. Similarly. we need to consider not only changing materials. 61) that would counterbalance the learning anxiety. On a practical level. Fullan argues. Ignoring or missing one of the dimensions could cause change failure. but it is multidirectional. provision of sufficient resources. it is important to address these feelings and deal with them at the very beginning of the change process. This could encompass training. in order to achieve successful change. when the reformers introduce change to the EFL curriculum they need to consider several issues. what Schein (1996) refers to as “sufficient psychological safety” (p. Fullan (2007) argues that change should not be viewed as a single entity. For instance. materials and pedagogy. it is important to articulate the three dimensions. Viewing the organization from one angle could limit what leaders can see. First. they need to train the teachers on how to effectively use the new curriculum (human resource frame). fear and anxiety are fundamental restraining forces to change. I would argue that leaders need to think about providing support which could help to build. Furthermore.students’ outcomes. Bolman and Deal’s (2003) reframing organization model addresses the importance of considering multiple frames in organizational change. a culture of dialogue and openness. if EFL teachers are required to adopt new teaching methods. above all. 27 . The unfreezing is the first step to move change successfully forward. they will need to change the type of strategies and activities they are using and adopt new materials that could facilitate their new practices. practices or the curriculum. Second. He also suggests that change in classrooms is associated with three dimensions. regular communication with teachers and. they need to understand that adopting the new curriculum would be a difficult task for some teachers who were attached to the old curriculum (symbolic frame).

Each change model might be effective in some particular change satiations but not all. inasmuch as they represent real life. whether or not the models are helpful in the everyday practice of leaders introducing and implementing change. The circumstances of these people. Fullan (2007) asserts that it does not matter what the change is or where is it coming from. as Fullan (2007) points out. In other words. 28 . will depend on the particular circumstances of particular teachers. there is no one ‘right’ change model. UAE teachers of English as a Foreign Language. Finally. However. the success of change depends on what happens in the process of change. Successful leaders are those who understand change processes and know when to adopt the right change model at the right time. of utmost importance is for leaders to remember that change models are just models. are presented in the Data Analysis Chapter of this dissertation. who. what matters is the process of change.Consequently. are at the grass roots of change.

The physical science studies the nature of the world while the social science studies the social life of people who live in this world. Finally. Next. It is as important as any other types of sciences such as the physical and natural sciences. Then it analyzed the advantages and limitations of conducting semi-structured interviews using focus groups.2 Social science As human characteristics are unique and complex. which were the primary data collection tools in this study. there was a need for special science to study and explore the social aspects of human lives. Both require scientific methods to obtain knowledge. qualitative research allows the researcher to collect in-depth data which served the aim of this study. their advantages and limitations. understanding 29 . This chapter articulates and justifies research methodology followed in this study. This chapter discusses the theory underpinning social research and both the positivism and Interprevitism research paradigms. 2006). This study adopted the Interprevitism paradigm using qualitative data collection tools.1 Introduction The primary purpose of this study is to explore EFL teachers’ perceptions regarding the changes introduced to the EFL teaching and learning in Abu Dhabi public schools.Chapter 3: Research Methodology 3. Unlike the positivism quantitative research methods. Social science was developed to study the interaction between individuals and groups in societies as well as their opinions and attitudes (Neuman. research sample and ethical issues are discussed. the procedure of conducting the interviews and the methods used for the data transcriptions and analysis are outlined. 3.

2006. 2002). measurements or surveys and they analyze these data to test their hypotheses (Neuman. p. 1954. 80). 2002). He defined paradigm as “A general organizing framework for theory and research that includes basic assumptions. Positivism in science including social science is concerned about objective reality that we could observe and experience (Gray. 2006. 2009). p. 81). There are two common and major approaches to social research: positivism and interpretivism. It suggests that through linking events and observations to general laws. 30 . p. 2006). 3. key issues. p. we could provide explanations to these events (Robson. However “human beings are qualitatively different from the objects of study in the natural sciences” such as stars. “Each approach is associated with different traditions in social theory and diverse research techniques” (Neuman. In this approach. Neuman (2006) suggests that research paradigms are different approaches to research that enable the researchers to view the world from different angles.1 Positivism Positivism is a very old research approach that has been widely used in social science since the nineteenth century (Neuman. models of quality research and methods for seeking answers” (Neuman. 2001). p. 164). planets and rocks (Neuman. Social researchers have identified several research paradigms. For this reason Hayek (1952) believed that social science is subjective because “its subject matter is human opinions and attitudes” which could only be identified through introspection (cited in Rudner. 81).and results (Trigg.2. 2006. both the social and natural scientists use the same research approach. 2006. this approach views knowledge as objects or facts that could be observed or experienced and it rejects any invisible or theoretical entities (Robson. Therefore. They prefer quantitative data that could be obtained from experiments. 81).

opinions and experiences regarding the changes introduced to the EFL subject. Although positivism has been widely used in natural sciences. p. They also believe that “people respond to external forces that are as real as physical forces on objects” which is called “mechanical model of man” and through observing these forces. social science is viewed as a subjective rather than an objective science (Cohen et al. we could provide explanations of human behaviors (Nueman. the majority of experts in the educational field have criticized its use in educational and social research. 23). This research is concerned about providing deep understanding of teachers’ perceptions. 83). Positivists believe that social pressure and situations are external forces that affect and shape all human behaviors and actions. beliefs and values. 2006. Manion and Morrison (2000) argue that one of the limitations of positivism is that it views human behavior as “passive. Similarly. Srantakos (1998) argues that people are not only natural elements. the positivist 31 . beliefs and values. acting individuals with their own wishes. this approach is used to identify and document “universal casual laws of human behavior” (p. individualism and freedom” (p. we also need to understand the internal forces such as individuals’ opinions. Therefore. they are also “social personas. It is concerned about human behavior rather that human perceptions. In order to explain and understand particular behaviors we should not only study and observe the external forces. Therefore. human behaviors are driven by both external and internal forces. Moreover. 2006. p. The researcher then should look inside those people rather than observing them from distance.In social science. anti-positivists argue that in order to explain human behaviors we need to understand their own interpretations of the world around them. 82). however. ignoring intentions. 19). thereby. Cohen. 2000). perceptions and interests” (cited in Robson. essentially determined and controlled. In other words.

p. suggests that we need to study and understand individuals’ inner motives and needs that led them to do certain actions or behave in a particular way (cited in Neuman. On the other hand. which is interpretivism.2 Interpretivism Interpretivism. 24). validity and generalization (Kelliher. 2005). The main objective for the interpretive researchers is to develop a deep understanding of their participants’ lives and to find out how people construct meaning in their natural context (Neuman. an alternative research paradigm for positivism will be used in this study. reality is what people think and believe (Robson. 2002. are conscious. Weber (1981). 2002. Layder (1994) argues that one of the 32 . Therefore. “Reality is represented thought the eyes of participants”. the results obtained in this approach are criticized in terms of their reliability. 2006). Similarly. Robson (2002) argues that “People. Carr and Kemmis (1986) contend that the interpretive approach failed “to produce wide-ranging generalizations. knowledge is not only based on observable phenomena. p. a German sociologist. or to provide ‘objective’ standards for verifying or refuting theoretical accounts” (p. 94). 3. unlike the objects of the natural world. suggests that human behaviors are driven by their own interests and motives as well as their understanding of their own environment. Thus. 2000). Although interpretive approach provides deep understanding of people’s perceptions in their social context. purposive actors who have ideas about their world and attach meaning to what is going on around them” (Robson. but also on invisible entities such as values and beliefs (Cohen et al.approach would not be appropriate for this study. While criticizing this approach. in contrast to positivism. 2006).2. In terms of generalization. 25).

2002). Although observations are very useful research methods that could help the researcher observe participants in their natural settings. p. 2003). interpretive approach was thought to be the most appropriate research paradigm for this study. This research is a small-scale study designed to explore and understand EFL teachers’ perceptions and experiences regarding the changes introduced to the EFL teaching and learning in Abu Dhabi. He adds that. In qualitative research. Generalizing results was not sought for in this research. 181). so the interpretive approach is criticized for neglecting external forces (cited in Cohen et al. Interpretive researchers use qualitative research methods such as participant observations and deep interviews which allow the researcher to obtain multiple perspectives (Robson. just as the positivistic approach is criticized for neglecting internal forces. 1990. 2000). Thus. 2003. Miller and Glassner (2004) suggest that “Those of us who aim to understand and document others’ understandings choose qualitative interviewing because it provides us with a means for exploring the points of view of our research subjects” (p. “qualitative research takes place in natural settings” which allows the researcher to be closer to the field he/she is researching (Creswell. interviews can be the primary or the only method in a study (Robson. This could deepen the researcher’s understanding about the participants’ experiences and their relations with the setting (Creswell. 2002). interviews were the primary data collection tool in this study. p. 127). Qualitative methods enable the researcher to investigate particular issues in “depth and detail” (Patton.limitations of the interpretive approach is that it ignores the power of the external forces that could affect individuals’ behaviors. 13). they could be very limited in providing understanding of what is going on in 33 . Thus. In addition.

participants’ minds. Interviews, on the other hand, could be the gate to participants’ minds. They allow the researcher to speak directly to the participants and ask them particular questions regarding their feelings, thoughts, values and experiences. 3.3 Interviews Interviews are a “natural means of extracting information” where information results from the interaction between the interviewer and the participants (Holstein & Gubrium, 2004, p. 140). Through this interaction “both participants [interviewer and interviewee] create and construct narrative versions of the social world” (Miller and Glassner, 2004, p. 125). The data generated from interviews give the researcher “an authentic insight into people’s experiences” (Silverman, 2001, cited in Miller and Glassner, 2004, p. 126). 3.3.1 Semi-structured interviews There are several types of interviews such as structured, semi-structured and unstructured interviews. Choosing the appropriate type depends on the research aims and questions (Gray, 2004). Semi-structured interviews using open-ended questions were used in this study as a primary data collection tool. This type of interviews offers great flexibility for both the researcher and the respondents (Robson, 2002). Predetermined questions can be used in both semi-structured and structured interviews. However, in semi-structure interviews the interviewer has the flexibility to change the question wording, omit inappropriate questions with any particular interviewee as well as to add additional questions while interviewing (Robson, 2002). There are several advantages of using semi-structured interviews. One of the advantages is that they allow the participants to expand their answers and elaborate on their thoughts and opinions. In addition, they give the interviewer more flexibility and autonomy while interviewing the
34

participants (Gray, 2004). For instance, in semi-structured interviews, the interviewer could ask participants further and unplanned questions for clarification, or change the path of the interview if the participants provided unexpected ideas that the interviewer would like to know more about (Gray, 2004). Another advantage is that semi-structured interviews create friendly and comfortable environment for both the interviewer and the participants, unlike the structured interviews where the interviewer should only ask planned questions, and interaction with participants should be kept to minimum (Gray, 2004). Although semi-structured interviews have several advantages, there are limitations that the researcher should consider while adopting this method. One of the limitations of interviews in general is the bias they introduce to participants and consequently, to the data (Hughes, 1989, in Cohen et al, 2000). For instance, while interacting in the interview, the interviewer could ask the participants ‘leading questions’ that could lead them to say what the interviewer would like to hear, and as Cohen et al (2000) suggested, using leading questions is like ‘putting words in to participant’s mouth’. The flexibility characterized in the semi-structured interviews could be another source of bias as the interviewer is not restricted to asking specific questions such as in structured interview. Thus, caution was taken in this study while conducting the interviews by avoiding leading questions and thereby reducing bias. Another limitation of semi-structured interviews is that they could be unreliable. Semi-structured interviews are non-standardized (Gray, 2004), and “the lack of standardization ... inevitably raises concerns about reliability” (Robson, 2002, p. 273). Reliability in interviews means asking the same questions, using the same order of the words and questions for each interviewee (Cohen, et al, 2000). It is easier to ensure reliability in structured interviews; however it is more difficult to ensure reliability in semi-structured interviews as it is hard to ensure asking the same questions in
35

the same sequence to different participants (Cohen, et al, 2000). Therefore, in order to achieve reliability, I prepared and used guiding questions for all my participants and myself to ensure that similar topics where covered in each interview (see Appendix C). This does not mean that questions were exactly the same in each interview; however guiding questions helped reduce bias as well as increase the level of reliability. 3.3.2 Open-ended questions Hatch (2002) suggests that “Qualitative research seeks to capture participants perspectives, so formal interview questions need to be open-ended” (p. 102). The aim of this study is to explore EFL teachers’ perceptions regarding the changes introduced to EFL teaching and learning which were obtained through the usage of open-ended questions. Kerllinger (1970) defined open-ended questions as “those that supply a frame of reference for respondents’ answers, but put a minimum of restraint on the answers and their expressions (cited in Cohen et al, 2000, p. 275). One of the advantages of using open-ended questions is that they allow the researcher to gather rich and detailed data as they enable the participants to expand their answers and clarify any misunderstood views (Robson, 2002). Moreover, because open-ended questions provide no restrictions on participants’ answers, they are more likely to produce interesting and unanticipated answers (Robson, 2002) which allow the emergence of unexpected themes. On the other hand, the downside of using open-ended questions is that they could be difficult to analyze (Robson, 2002). Gathering variety of answers maybe difficult to categorize, compare or contrast. 3.3.3 Focus groups Semi-structured interviews could be conducted with individuals as well as groups. In this study I used focus group interviews. According to Morgan (1997) “focus groups are basically group
36

Another reason is the advantages obtained from conducting focus group interviews. For instance. 1997. Schumm and Sinagub (1996) define focus group as “an informal discussion among selected individuals about specific topics relevant to the situation at hand” (p. 17). Both definitions highlight the importance of interaction among participants in focus group interviews. One of the main reasons is that focus group interviews generate data that could answer my research questions. An additional advantage is that. opinions and experiences while observing their interaction (Morgan. if questionnaires were used in this investigation. 2). The interviewer could directly indentify the similarities and differences regarding participants’ beliefs.interviews” and “the reliance is on interaction within the group. based on topics that are supplied by the researcher who typically takes the role of a moderator” (p. He adds that the natural setting of focus groups encourage participants’ openness and honesty and reduce tension and pressure. Krueger (1994) highlights that “focus groups place people in a natural. hesitant or shy participants were encouraged and motivated to actively participate in the interview due to the natural and comfortable group setting. real-life situations as opposed to the controlled experimental situations typical of quantitative studies” (p. ‘reluctant’ participants might answer the questions randomly and thereby negatively affect the data. in focus group interviews the participants were able explain their answers and provide examples from their experiences. Another advantage is that focus group provides “accurate information about what participants actually think than do other research methods” (Vaughn et al. 10). 1997). 1996. Wilkinson (2004) proposes that focus 37 . through focus group interviews. which provided accurate information about their views. Vaughn. p. One of the advantages of using focus group interviews is “the ability to observe interaction on a topic” (Morgan. 34). Furthermore. There are several reasons for selecting focus group interviews for this study. however. p. 4).

In this study. but teaching different levels. 2000). When participants agree on each others’ views they tend to elaborate or give examples which allow me as a moderator to collect more detailed data. focus groups were homogeneous. Each interview involved EFL teachers from the same school. 180). they try to convince and persuade each other of their views which could also produce elaborated accounts (Wilkinson. Focus group interviews could be homogeneous where participants share similar backgrounds. 2002). 2002). Focus group interviews. 2004. through the focus group interviews the participants showed agreements and disagreements on several points. EFL teachers knew each other before the interview which allowed them to express their perceptions more freely. Similarly. 38 . when participants disagree. shared similar backgrounds and experiences. positions and experiences or heterogeneous where participants come for different backgrounds and positions and have different experiences (Robson. unlike individual interviews. There were also able to facilitate each other through elaborating on each other’s comments as well as reminding each other of the incidents they had. 2004). can generate great amount of data from several participants at the same time with less cost (Cohen et al. p. Moreover. arguing and joking. Conducting interviews with homogeneous groups facilitates and enhances group communication (Robson.groups are naturalistic because they involve a range of communicative processes such as storytelling. participants were able express agreements or disagreements on each others’ views more safely and with acceptance from both parts (Robson. “This often leads to the production of more elaborated accounts than are generated in individual interviews (Wilkinson. through heterogeneous groups. 2002). In this study. They allow participants to comment or elaborate on responses made by other group members.

1997). Although focus group interviews are effective data collection tools that could provide in-depth qualitative data. but. This helped me understand my role and how to use this data collection tool effectively. As mentioned above. This allows the participants to talk more freely about the topic which could lead the researcher to identify unexpected themes (Wilkinson. they also could be inefficient if misused. 1996). a set of guiding 39 . The moderator in focus group interviews does not ask questions directly to each participant. Bers (1989) believes that “focus group research is both an art and a science” (cited in Vaughn et al. In order to ensure that the focus group interviews were conducted effectively. However. the moderator’s roles are to keep the participants focused on the topic discussed as well as to ensure discussion flow. on the other hand. not every researcher can conduct this type of interviews as it requires skilful and trained moderator who understands the dynamics of group interaction to conduct the interviews (Vaughn et al. I carried out intensive reading about focus groups and observed several videos of real focus group interviews before conducting any.My role in focus group interviews is to moderate and facilitate rather than to lead the interview. p. the moderator has less control on what the participants are saying and accordingly on the data produced (Gibbs. Because the moderator has less control on the discussion participants could be easily diverted. 149). In order to keep the participants focused on the topic. Therefore. unobtrusive control over the group” (101). Krueger (1994) suggest that in focus groups “The moderator exercises a mild. 2004). 1996. 2004). Kruger (1994) explains that through group discussions irrelevant topics may occur and the moderator should carefully guide the participants back to the main focus of the interview without affecting their enthusiasm for the topic. he or she facilitates the group interaction and encourages participants to actively interact with each other (Wilkinson. in preparation to my role as a moderator.

Two Abu Dhabi girls’ schools that are part of ADEC’s project were selected for this study. 3. Convenience sampling was followed due to the difficulty of obtaining permissions as well as time constrain. both the tape-recorder and written notes were used to record the interviews. However.4 Research sample Depending on the purpose of this study which is to explore EFL teachers’ perceptions regarding the changes introduced to EFL teaching and learning in Abu Dhabi.4 Recording data Focus group interviews could be recorded in two ways. Focus group interviews were conducted to understand EFL teacher’s perceptions and experiences with change. the sampling strategies were determined. 1994). Thus.87). One of the major limitations of focus group interviews is the generalizability of results. 3. generalization is not aimed for in this study.3. In this study. On the other hand. The guiding questions helped me prevent diversions as well as bias. not to make statements about the population but to provide insights about how people perceive a situation” (p. Krueger (1996) claims that “the intent of focus groups is not to infer but to understand. 2002). Those schools were chosen because permissions to conduct the interviews 40 . Using the tape-recorder allowed me to focus on recording the nonverbal side of the interview such as participants’ body language and facial expressions. The results of focus groups cannot be generalized as they do not represent the wider population (Robson. either using a tape-recorder or by writing notes (Krueger.questions were prepared to the participants (see Appendix C). brief comments of what the participants were saying were also taken for the need of caution if the recording failed or was not clear. not to generalize but to determine the range.

Teachers were asked to voluntarily participate in the interviews. Similarly. The permission letter signed by the principals contained a description of the study and its aims. as public schools in the UAE are separated by gender including faculty. This study aims to explore teachers’ true perceptions and experiences regarding changes introduced to EFL teaching and learning in their schools. I designed two permission letters. Therefore. Some teachers may not feel comfortable or confident to share their views and perceptions in front of others. four EFL teachers out of eight volunteered to participate.5 Ethical considerations Permission letters for conducting the interviews were signed by the principals and the EFL teachers. so it was very important that teachers felt secure and confident to share their views and perceptions openly. one for the principals and the other for the teachers. the permission letter signed by the teachers was similar to the principals’ 41 . only girls’ schools were chosen to be part of this study. 3. Both schools have been under ADEC’s project for three years but working with different companies. girls’ schools rather than boys’ schools were chosen due to the cultural barriers. In both schools. Furthermore. Reasons for this may include fear of repercussions or shyness. Therefore. the number of teachers needed to be interviewed. The first school was a middle school and the second was a primary school.were obtained easily and teachers were willing to take part of this study. assurance of confidentiality and the anonymity as well as their permission to interview the EFL teachers (see Appendix A). however in the second school one of the teachers decided to withdraw before starting the interview because she had an urgent meeting with one of her students’ parents. Both the male teaches and I might not feel comfortable to conduct the interviews which could negatively affect the data. the length of the interview. teaches were freely able to choose to participate in the interviews or not.

2006).. By using the permission letters I was assured that the participants understood their rights and what they were getting involved in (Neuman. explain the aim of this study and obtain formal permissions from the principals as well as the EFL teachers to conduct the interviews. however it contained permission for tape-recording and explained teachers’ rights (see Appendix B).. T2. I explained and assured to the participants that their identity will be anonymous and the data produced from the interviews would not be used outside the context of this study. I also explained to the teachers that participating in the interview was voluntary to ensure that teachers were not forced to participant in the interviews and that they understood their right to agree or disagree to be involved in this study and the ability to withdraw anytime before or during the interview. Neuman (2006) suggests that assuring confidentiality and anonymity encourages the participants to provide more open and honest responses even if they were asked about highly sensitive topics. Once permissions were obtained. For instance. in order to ensure that all participants were free from any classes or duties during the interviews I informed the principals of the interview timing and length. T2 = teacher 2 . Furthermore. T3 and T4 (T1 = teacher 1.etc) and the name of the schools as S1 (school 1) and S2 (school 2). Furthermore. 42 . Then. while transcribing the interviews I referred to the teachers participated in this study as T1. I arranged an appropriate time with the teachers to conduct the interviews during the school day. during the course of this study the identity of the schools and the interviewed teachers were kept anonymous. I visited the schools to have a friendly chat with the EFL teachers. Furthermore.6 Procedure I phoned the schools’ principals to obtain preliminary approval to conduct the interviews with the EFL teachers in their schools. 3.letter.

Coding helped me compare response within each group and between different groups and to identify similarities and 43 . translated the responses from Arabic to English. I was able to capture the assumptions and the meaning of the terms used by the participants accurately. However. 2010). According to Birbili (2000) “It is recommended that in cases where two languages do not have direct verbal equivalence. 3. All responses were transcribed as Vaughn et al (1996) suggest that all responses should be transcribed whether they are relevant to the topic or not in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the focus group interviews and to avoid bias. After transcribing the data. values.8 Data analysis The data produced from the focus group interviews were qualitatively analyzed. the researcher attempt to gain comparability of meanings rather than concern about lexical comparability” (cited in Liamputtong. as a bilingual speaker. Krueger and Casey (2000) explain the process of analyzing focus group data which was adopted for this study. 2010. because I am considered as a native Arabic speaker. 214). while translating. One of the limitations of translating the data from one language to another is as discussed by Birbili (2000) that “most languages bear some feelings. Therefore. may not be aware of” (cited in Liamputtong. p. 214). I.7 Data transcription Focus group interviews were transcribed directly after each interview. 2010. Another translation was made to the same data by a second bilingual speaker and compared with the first translation to ensure the accuracy of the data.3. After transcribing the data. 2000. p. I interpreted few responses as some terms may lose their meaning if literally translated and consequently may affect the reliability of the data (Birbili. all responses were categorized by colour coding. cited in Liamputtong. particularly as an outsider. and assumptions that the researchers.

opinions and experiences. Emerging themes were listed and all related responses were listed under them. 44 . each theme was summarized and interpreted.differences in participants’ beliefs. Finally. Notes of the nonverbal communication from the two focus group interviews were also considered while analyzing the data.

In each interview.Chapter 4: Data Presentation and Analysis 4. the problems with change implementation in the specific context of EFL in the UAE. and most of them argued that their old practices and the curriculum they followed prior to the changes were more effective and appropriate for teaching and learning EFL in the UAE than those recently introduced. The teachers answered the guiding questions through discussing them with each other. teachers were provided with guiding questions to maintain the focus of the interview and to ensure that several aspects related to the topic were covered. This chapter presents a summary of the main findings which emerged from this study. In order to find answers to these questions. The findings indicate that teachers from both schools faced several problems with the recent changes to EFL teaching and learning. two focus group interviews were conducted with seven EFL teachers from two primary girls’ schools in Abu Dhabi. The key questions of this study focus on the rationale for change and change models. While observing the teachers in the 45 . and to provide ADEC with suggestions that could help them promote changes more effectively in the future. and the lessons that could be learned from the problems encountered in this particular context for future change efforts. The interviews were tape-recorded accompanied with written notes. Most of the teachers showed lack of understanding regarding the changes and their aims. followed by a discussion of these findings from the point of view of literature.1 Introduction This study aims to explore the teachers’ perceptions of the recent changes introduced to EFL teaching and learning in the public schools of Abu Dhabi.

negative feelings such as frustration.interviews. This affected the amount of data as teachers in S2 were a bit conservative and shy in the interview. This could be due to the fact that the number of teachers participating in the interview from S1 was more than that of S2 as one teacher from S2 withdrew before starting the interview and another teacher left fifteen minutes before the end of the interview. mission and roles to the teachers. unclear roles. teachers were implementing the new changes 46 . cultural boundaries. The companies started working with both schools without clearly presenting their goals. It was interesting to observe that teachers in school 1 (S1) expressed their problems with more openness and depth than teachers in school 2 (S2). I was still able to tackle their problems with the recent changes introduced to their classrooms. At the end of this chapter.2 The problems with the most recent changes to TEFL in the UAE as perceived by EFL teachers Teachers in both schools identified several problems associated with the recent changes to TEFL such as lack of rationale for change and its effects on the teachers implementing change. 4.1 Lack of rationale for change and its effects on the teachers implementing change The lack of rationale for the recent changes was one of the major problems that teachers from both schools shared. lack of resources. Furthermore. lack of training. 4. lack of monitoring and assessment and the impact on students’ outcomes and. Two primary themes emerged after transcribing teachers’ responses. poorly planned and designed curriculum. which are discussed below: the problems with the most recent changes to TEFL as perceived by EFL teachers and teachers’ tacit models of effective change to TEFL.2. anxiety and disappointment were noticed in their responses. However. I will provide recommendations for better changes to TEFL in the future.

I do not know why they are here”. 47 . As suggested by Fullan (2007) “Lack of clarity—diffuse goals and unspecified means of implementation—represents a major problem at the implementation stage” (p. Furthermore. which made them think that the new initiatives were useless and did not help improve TEFL or students’ outcomes. Senge (1999) suggests that people will not spend any time or effort in something that they think is not relevant or important. This is applicable to teachers as they would not be motivated or committed to a change initiative unless they were convinced of its importance. T3 stated that the company was treating them “like robots” and that they had to “follow instructions without understanding the reason behind what we are doing”. She added ironically that “the government forced them on us”.without understanding what they were doing and for what reason. T1 in S2 commented that she did not know “what are [the company’s] goals and expected outcomes at the end of their plan” and said. Therefore. people need to be convinced of the importance of the new innovations in order to implement them. which affected teachers’ enthusiasm to work with the companies in order to implement the new innovations in their classrooms. This had a huge impact on the implementation of the new initiatives as teachers did not understand what they were doing which could indicate that teachers did not implement the new innovations successfully in their classrooms. In S1. In addition. Teachers in S1 and S2 showed lack of understanding of the companies’ mission and goals as they were either badly presented or poorly designed. “to be honest. There are several factors that affect the success of change implementation and one of these factors is clarity. 89). Lack of clarification of the companies’ goals and aims caused confusion and misunderstanding of what should be achieved.

This made the two teachers question the supervisor’s role in their school. T3 in S2 stated ADEC “said that this is a partnership. but it was also found in defining the roles of the schools. companies and EFL supervisors in the change process. Another teacher added that “whenever we 48 . Two teachers in S2 thought that the EFL supervisor assigned from the company was like an “assistant” who could help them prepare and type their lesson plans and exams. but the reality is something different”. Teachers in S1 stated that ADEC told them that the PPP project was a “school improvement partnership”. T2 commented that the supervisor “did not attend our classes and did not see our activities or our lesson plans. Teachers were also unsure about the companies’ roles in their schools.4. On the other hand. teachers in S1 stated that their supervisor did not provide them with any type of support. no elements of partnership were found. In addition.2 Unclear roles The lack of clarity was not only associated with the rationale of change. but teachers thought that the company “just came to stay” in their schools and “not to improve”. where they failed to find an answer. She added: “partnership means us working collaboratively with [the company] to improve TEFL. For example. Teachers in S2 stated that “whenever we raise an issue to [the company members] they would just say that the company or even sometimes ADEC asked us to do this and that”. Teachers in S1 and S2 indicated that although there was a partnership between the companies and the schools. She did not do anything”. unclear roles made it difficult for teachers to know who was responsible for what. but it does not seem so”. However. the other teacher thought that planning and preparing the lessons were the teachers’ job and that the supervisor should not help them do that. Similarly.2.

the schools. However. This means that ADEC should clearly define the companies’ role in the schools as well as the schools’ role in the change process in order to avoid misunderstanding of responsibilities. ADEC suggests that the purpose of its PPP project is to “work with teachers and principals to improve the quality of the instruction and to increase student achievement in government schools” (Abu Dhabi Education Council. This caused severe miscommunication problems between the parties involved in the change project (i. teachers in S1 pointed out that they were lost between the company’s and the school’s demands and that they did not know who they were accountable to. while another teacher added: “we were lost in between”.e. teachers and the companies). which negatively affected the schools and teachers’ relationship with the companies.disagree on something they just ask us to talk to ADEC” and one of the teachers replied in the interview saying “yes. 2010). We did not know what to do or who to listen to”. It was obvious that the company members were using ADEC or their company as a tool to threat teachers because they knew that the teachers would not have the courage to talk to ADEC or the company about their problems as some teachers may fear loosing their jobs. it was found that ADEC did not clarify the companies’ role in the schools prior to or throughout the course of the PPP project. Furthermore. 49 . suggest that change efforts must expect and predict structural issues as well as reassigning roles and relationships. Bolman and Deal (2003). In this regards. teachers in both schools felt that there were no equal partnerships between the companies and schools as companies had greater authority than the schools. in their structural frame. Bolman and Deal (2003) assert that unclear roles may cause ambiguity and confusion. Through its project. One of the teachers explained that “the school asked us to do things and the company asked us to do the opposite. because they know that we will not”.

why are you changing the curriculum every year?” When I asked the teachers whether or not the company assessed the old curriculum 50 .4. In the following year company provided the students with one course book and two stories for each semester. For instance. the curriculum and the examination system were not related as T2 claimed that “what we teach [the students] in the classroom is something and what is in the real exam paper is something else”.3 Poorly planned and designed curriculum Teachers in both schools indicated that the new curriculums provided by the companies were poorly planned and designed. However. the company asked the teachers to stop using their old books and to teach the students through stories only. teachers in S2 suffered from the constant changes in the curriculum. T1 stated that most of the reading materials and websites provided to the teachers “were related to the American culture”.2. while another teacher said that “parents were complaining and asking us “what is this. One of the teachers stated that they “were in a complete mess”. which made the teachers and the students “feel bored”. Furthermore. teachers in S1 argued that these activities were not appropriate to the UAE culture. On the other hand. T2 stated that “[the company] gave us some papers and told us that this would be our new curriculum” and T3 added that the new curriculum was “a file with some papers that contained some activities that we should use with our students”. For example. Teachers in S1 reported that the company asked them to stop using their old books without providing them with alternative books to use and that their old curriculum was replaced with an inappropriate one. however. she added that “it seemed that all what we have been doing in the classroom with the children was useless”. in the first year. Teachers also indicated that the new curriculum was less interesting and entertaining compared to the old one as it covered two themes only in a semester. they asked the teachers to use their old curriculum and books as they used to do prior to implementing the changes. In the third year.

the company realized that the old curriculum was appropriate and that it could help them achieve their desired goals. Another teacher said: “we tried to discuss this issue with our supervisor. Fullan (2007) claims that “the major initial stance should involve critical assessment. the company in S1 asked the teachers to stop using the old curriculum and books without providing them with appropriate alternatives. they would be highly motivated to implement these changes. The reformers should critically assess their initiatives before moving to the implementation stage. In addition. 51 . Lack of assessment on the previous curriculum and practise made the new innovations useless and worthless. 2007). If the teachers were convinced that the new curriculum was better than the old curriculum and that changes in the curriculum could improve TEFL and students’ outcomes. Meanwhile. determining whether the change is desirable in relation to certain goals and whether it is “implementable” (p. After three years of constant changes to the curriculum in S2. that is. 119). This could indicate that the company did not assess the old curriculum or even looked at it before they plan for change. money and effort while brining constant non-deliberate changes to the curriculum. The companies wasted time. but she did not have anything to say”. and whether the resources that could support the new innovations are available (Fullan.and books before introducing any change they replied: “they would not ask us to eliminate the books and use them again if they have looked at them”. bring development. Senge (1999) suggests that creating clear and convincing reasons for change initiatives could help increase peoples’ commitment to change. and are implementable. They should check whether their new innovations are important. lead to the desired goals.

The school made it so hard for us to copy and print worksheets and told us that it was affecting the school’s budget”. the schools. The teachers in S1 reported that the company promised them on several occasions to provide them with highly-equipped classrooms and laptops for each teacher. One of the teachers said that “we were in a complete mess. the company started 52 . T2 reported that “the school told us that since the company did not supply us with books.2. and claimed that even the school did not support and help them to overcome this problem. printing and copying machines. However. teachers and students suffered from the lack of resources throughout the change period. the teachers said that none of these promises came true and that after three years of delays. Parents were also complaining about the textbooks as one of the teachers stated that “until now my students do not have books and the parents are complaining regarding this matter. They complained that the teachers “were not teaching their children anything” and that they “did not give them enough worksheets for homework”.4 Lack of resources In addition to the poorly planned and designed curriculum. They said that they do not know how to help their children at home when they have no idea about what their children are learning”. they should provide us with printers and sheets to copy and print our classroom worksheets. The lack of resources made it so hard for us to do anything”. Lack of essential resources such as textbooks for the teachers and students. Parents had also suffered from the lack of textbooks and worksheets. Teachers in S1 claimed that they had “bad experiences with planning” their lessons as they did not have a textbook to use and were not able to easily print or copy the activities they prepared. and computers made it so difficult for teachers in S1 to implement the changes in their classrooms.4.

teachers in S2 did not have any problems with the resources. Before that. One way of supporting teachers is to provide them with the essential resources such as printers and computers. Teachers stated that “the school was very supportive from the beginning” and that “before the company started working in our school. However. teachers struggled to teach the new curriculum and applied the new practices without the required materials. The third teacher said: “we never believe what they say unless we see things with our own eyes”. The teachers seemed frustrated regarding this matter as one of them complained that “they always tell us that at the end of the semester we will be provided with everything we need. photo-copiers and computers. Another teacher added: “we had enough promises and they would never be real”. 53 . On the other hand.providing them with some essential materials such as a printer and one laptop for the whole department. we had all of these resources”. The company in S1 needs to understand that broken promises never brings comfort to teachers. the lack of resources could be one of the major resistance forces. In my opinion. Students in S1 did not have a textbook which means that they were mainly depending on the resources provided by their teachers such as worksheets. Fullan (2006) suggests that one of the reasons for the lack of implementation is the “inadequate resources to support implementation” (p. due to the lack of resources and support from the company and the school. Lewin (1947) asserts that support is essential in the movement stage. but we did not see anything”. but on the contrary. they only result in loss of the company’s credibility and trust in the school. Moreover. Their school provided them with the essential resources such as laminating machine. it was difficult for the teachers to prepare their lessons or implement any changes. the company provided the teachers with illustrating materials such as data shows. in this stage. 124). teachers start adopting new practices and behaviors.

when the company started to provide the teachers with some illustrating materials such as data shows and the PowerPoint. and without teaching them how to write such reports.4. T1 said that the company taught them “how to use [the illustrating materials] but not how to integrate them in our classrooms”. in the third year.2. The teachers were asked to follow the new grading system even if they did not like it. In addition. the teachers needed different type of training and workshops as they argued that they “need more practical workshops”. We need them to train us how to teach using new and modern teaching methods by giving us live examples for the classroom”. which created several problems with the students and parents. For instance. When I asked the teachers whether the company trained them on how to use the new grading system they replied: “no. However. the company in S1 introduced a new grading system based on written reports rather than grade certificates with numbers. Teachers were forced to stay beyond school hours to attend workshops which they thought were “useless and repetitive” and the suggested that they already studied what the company was presenting in their universities. T3 added: “they gave us a presentation on how to use these materials”. Teacher reported that the companies introduced several innovations and asked them to implement these innovations without giving them any training on how to implement such innovations effectively in their classrooms. Teachers in S1 claimed that the company did not give them useful workshops and that “most of the workshops were useless”. they forced us to use these reports even though we did not like them” and “they gave us a week to write reports for the entire 54 . teachers stated that the company only explained to them how these tools worked. and they added: “that is what we are missing and what we do need.5 Lack of training The lack of training and development was one of the major problems that teachers from both schools discussed in the focus group interviews.

school”. However. Besides. which caused a lot of problems and stress to the teachers as well as parents. However. Another teacher explained that “[the company] was giving the students more advanced materials and without any training or proper introduction” and added “it is difficult to suddenly introduce something new to the students”. Forcing teachers to implement new innovations are not a feasible solution for this problem. the number of workshops decreased significantly in the second year. they tend to feel lost and anxious. We need more training”. In summary. Bolman and Deal (2003) suggest that developing 55 . When teachers lack the skills and knowledge needed to implement changes. On the contrary. Teachers implemented the changes lacking the important skills and knowledge required for each innovation. and T1 added: “I think that the training was not enough. and for this reason many teachers prefer their old practices. they told me that the company asked them to use more illustrating materials in the classrooms such as data shows and PowerPoint. teachers in both schools reported that they did not have appropriate and enough training before moving to the implementation stage. T3 stated “I think that at the beginning [the company] was more active and it cared more than it does now”. teachers mentioned that “the parents did not understand this kind of reports and did not like it” and that they had several problems with angry parents who did not understand the content of the report. teachers in S2 indicated that their company gave them some workshops at the first year of working with the school. Bolman and Deal (2003) argue that some change initiatives stumble because they ignore developing individuals who are involved in change and that people tend to resist change because it is sometimes difficult. the teachers had some difficulties in using these materials in their classrooms as one of the teachers stated that “our students tend to destroy these illustrating materials” and suggested that “it was difficult to use them in the classroom”. When I asked the teacher about the resources. However.

the problem is not related to students. but it is rather related to teachers lacking the skills to use these illustrating materials. 107) and he suggests that leaders need to articulate individuals’ attitudes and feelings that prevent them from asking for help and develop selfawareness in both the individual and the group level. In other words. However. and they thought that it 56 . the teachers did not know how to introduce these materials effectively to their classrooms. teachers need to learn how to seek help when it is needed and not to allow their pride to negatively affect them.2. knowledge and skills are essential to increase their confidence and ability to implement change effectively. 4. Some of them previously worked in UAE private schools and others came directly from their home countries. even when they needed it. This could be the reason why teachers in S2 did not ask their supervisor for help.6 Cultural boundaries The companies members working in the schools were not from the UAE or the Arab region. teachers found it difficult to admit that they needed to learn how to use these materials which made them say that the problem was with the students and not themselves. Teachers in S2 thought that the new illustrating materials were difficult to use in their classrooms because their students were not familiar with this type of materials. In my view. Teachers in S1 and S2 talked about their problems with the companies members asserting that the cultural boundaries had a significant effect on teachers’ relationship with the companies. Senge (1999) claims that “people find it very difficult to ask for help” (p. Teachers in S1 stated that “[the company’s] problem is that [it is] still having lack of information and knowledge about the nature of our country and society”. Teachers in S2 and S1 thought that they were better than the company members who were working in their schools in regards to teaching skills and knowledge.people’s understanding.

was very important for the company members to know and understand the UAE culture and religion before working in the school. T2 told the other teachers about a conversation she had with their supervisor saying that the supervisor told her that “she read in the website that [UAE people] live in tents and use camels and that she always thought about us in this way”. T4 stated. with frustration. they think that we are very good”. teachers in S1 felt that their culture and religion were not respected when the company 57 . Teachers in S1 reported that none of the company members observed their classrooms and lessons before planning the change and that they thought that the company did not know anything about them or their capacity. Teachers in S2 said that the company members were amazed when they saw their abilities and the resources they had. For example. The teachers laughed while T2 continued: “she was amazed when she saw who we are”. Teachers in both schools also mentioned that their companies had a lack understanding and knowledge about the school culture and EFL teaching in their schools. Similarly. and that “the company did not know how to help us. This created an enormous gap between the teachers and the company members. “why did ADEC bring companies which know nothing about our educational history and our culture and religion?” Providing the teachers with inappropriate resources strongly suggests that the company members did not understand the UAE culture and the Islamic religion as one of the teachers explained “that is why they are spending lots of money on books and resources that are not appropriate to our culture”. teachers in S2 agreed that their company did not understand much about the UAE culture. Both companies worked in the UAE schools without understanding the country’s culture and religion.

Unfortunately. cultural conflict may occur between what the company thinks and what the teachers believes is the appropriate way to improve TEFL. they need to study others cultures in order to introduce new values and new ways of doing things. Senge (1999) argues that people cannot create a new culture. teachers in S2 indicated that their supervisor never attended their classrooms unless there was an inspection by ADEC or the company’s inspectors.2.7 Lack of monitoring and assessment After implementing change. However. Similarly. In addition. 58 . EFL teachers’ experiences.provided the teachers with inappropriate materials that were related to other countries’ cultures. strengths and weaknesses were not effectively employed in the process of planning for change. prior observations and evaluations to EFL classrooms are important to understand the challenges they are dealing with. I certainly believe that the companies should know the teachers who they work with by learning their culture and religion if needed. the companies in S1 and S2 underestimated the significance of conducting a prior evaluation of the school culture especially with regards to TEFL. their values and assumptions. Without understanding where the teachers and students come from. Teachers in S1 reported that their supervisor did not check their lesson plans or observe their classrooms to evaluate the appropriateness of their lessons and to make sure whether they were implementing the changes as required. the two companies did not monitor or evaluate the teachers’ implementation of the changes introduced to TEFL. 4. This will help them create a better vision on how to plan for successful change and how to improve their relationship with the teachers. This made the teachers believe that their experiences were neglected and that the companies did not know anything about EFL teaching and learning in their schools.

compare the new results with the results of the past and identify problems. No one has assessed what is going on in the classrooms after the company took over to evaluate the effectiveness of the company and their plans”. Classroom observations are essential because they reflect the teachers’ understanding of the new innovations. T3 in S2 stated “we never got the chance to talk to [the inspectors] and they never ask us anything”. ADEC’s inspectors did not conduct regular inspection to evaluate the companies’ efforts and achievements in developing the schools. while T2 argued that “they just visit some classrooms for a short time and take pictures”. 59 . Assessments are great tools to evaluate the effectiveness of the change initiatives. The companies need to assess teachers’ performance and implementation of the new innovations through conducting explicit classroom observations and assessing students’ progress. T3 in S1 said that the inspectors never talked to the teachers and that they usually visit their classrooms for 10 minutes and leave.More importantly. Teachers also claimed that the inspectors did not try to talk to the teachers to get acquainted with their problems and needs. Through the feedback. Teachers need feedback on their performance on regular basis to know where they stand how to move forward. Senge (1999) suggests that assessments help in gathering information regarding the implementation results. Such feedback is required to judge the effectiveness of the change program. Using the collected information. the change reformers could discuss the results to find solutions to problems and to improve their future plans. Similarly. Teachers in S1 stated that “no one is monitoring [the company]. allow immediate assessment of the effectiveness of these innovations in improving the teachers and students’ outcomes and provide the teachers with feedback regarding their performance. the inspectors could evaluate the effectiveness of the new innovations and accordingly provide the change reformers with feedback.

p. 2007. they are important tools for learning as they “help people clarify goals and where they are in relations to achieving them. Teachers argued that students’ “marks were even better” before the change initiation and that if any improvement was noticed. Teachers in S2 believed that the company did not bring improvement to TEFL in their schools and that after introducing the changes. means for understanding and improving performance” (p. Assessments should not be a sign for lack of trust or too tight control.2. “it does not mean that the company should take the credit for doing a great job”. teachers in S2 stated that the company “did not do anything to say that they had an impact on our students’ grades neither in a good way nor in a bad way”. They lead to celebrating the success or developing future plans.Fullan (2007) emphasizes the importance of the external and internal accountability and suggests that they are “useful. I believe that lack of accountability might be one of the reasons why change initiatives in TEFL seemed to be ineffective and useless as teachers in S1 and S2 described them. and it gives them a tool for improvement because it links performance data with changes in instruction needed to increase achievement” (Fullan. 60 . even vital. 4. Appropriate assessments and evaluations are important in any stage of the change development. 60). teachers were asked to return to their old practices using their old curriculum. “nothing noticeable happened” regarding the improvement of students’ outcomes. 60). Teachers claimed that they worked very hard to improve students’ results and helped their students when they were struggling with the changes. On the other hand.8 Impact on students’ outcomes Teachers in S1 indicated that since changes were introduced to TEFL.

Teachers felt that the school had no authority over what was going on and that the principal could not do anything about this issue. students noticed that their marks at the end of each year did not represent their real performance and abilities. which I thought was very surprising point. In S2. The company in S1. through their irresponsible action. which was a surprising finding and unexpected to hear in this interview. teachers indicated that no change took place in TEFL in their school that could affect students’ outcomes. T2 added: “some students told us that they did not answer half of the questions in the exam but still could pass with high results”. we implement what is convenience to us and what we think is right” and added: “now they tell us what 61 .Teachers in S1 thought it was important to point out that the company was manipulating students’ results to show ADEC that students’ performance had improved since the company worked with the school. teachers lost faith on their abilities as change reformers. When I asked the teachers whether they tried to talk to anyone regarding this problem. seemed to acknowledge its failure to bring effective change to TEFL through manipulating students’ results instead of identifying problems that decreased students’ outcomes. This company lost their credibility and trust in the school. but they don’t want to show that”. This could indicate that the company was not doing their job in initiating positive change to TEFL. Teachers stated: “now. Teachers explained that this “means that students’ grades have decreased since the company worked in our school. they said that “we have no one to talk to” and that “the principal and the entire school know about this and they are suffering from this problem as well”. Unfortunately. This problem had a negative impact on students attitudes as T3 stated that “the girls are now telling us that they do not need to study hard because at the end they know that they are going to pass and that the company would help them”. Teachers reported that “at the end of every year the company manipulates students’ grades” and that it did “change the results so that students’ grades would be higher”. however.

using our own methods”. Similarly. semester by semester”. This indicates that teachers understood that change is a process rather than an event. Teachers in S1 believed that the company “changed everything at the same time without breaking these changes into steps” and added that the company “could do these changes in stages. and they undercut people’s ability to perform with confidence and success” (p. Bolman and Deal (2003) in their ‘human resource frame’ assert that “changes in routine practice and procedure undermine existing knowledge and skills. 373). Fullan (2007) argues that successful change initiations in education tend to fail because they forget to develop and prepare teachers who could implement changes effectively. and participation” are important factors to increase people’s confidence in implementing change (p. They suggest that “training. 373). Teachers in S1 also talked about the importance of providing the teachers with practical training by giving them “live examples from the classroom”. 4. Similarly. teachers need to be trained on how to implement these changes successfully in their classrooms. Teachers in S2 talked about the importance of training and workshops in developing teachers’ capacity and improving their classroom practices. Teachers in S1 thought that prior to introduction of any changes. This means that teaching EFL is still the same as minor changes were noticed in both schools. which Lewin (1947) and Senge (1999) point out in their models of change. teachers in S1 and S2 showed their understanding of the key elements of the effective change. Senge (1999) agrees that training programs need to take place inside the organization where people could 62 . psychological support. Teachers in S1 and S2 talked about the importance of training and preparation.3 Teachers’ tacit models of effective change to TEFL During the interview.they want us to do and we do it in our own way.

He asserts that “Innovators need to be open to the realities of others: sometimes because the ideas of others will lead to alterations for the better in the direction of change. Similarly. Throughout the interviews. they will be more willing to commit time and effort and to take risks” (p. teachers’ training programs should start from their own schools inside their classrooms. In my opinion. 197). T1 added: “I’m sure that if they explained to us their plan properly things would be better”. goals and aims could help them increase their credibility and trust. Similarly. Senge (1999) asserts that effective change relies on the clarity and credibility of the change reformers’ aims and values and that “if people feel that their leaders can be trusted to support new values and actions. teachers will be motivated and committed to change.directly link their experiences with what they learn. and sometimes because the 63 . Teachers in S2 argued that “things would be easier [if the company] gives us a clear idea about their goals”. teachers in S2 commented “they should listen to us. Teachers in S1 suggested that the company needed to involve them in the planning stage by asking them about their ideas and opinions. we are the ones who teach in the classrooms and we have better insight about what is going on in the classrooms” and that “we only receive instructions” and “have not been involved in anything”. teachers in S1 talked about the importance of providing them with clear plans and objectives as T3 claimed that “nothing would work without a clear plan no matter how hard [the company] worked”. Teachers in S1 and S2 agreed that clarity is crucial for the success of any change process. teacher in both schools talked explicitly about the importance of teacher involvement in the change initiatives. Fullan (2007) highlights the importance of involving teachers in change activities and listening to their needs. and if this is achieved. he companies in S1 and S2 need to understand that having clear plans. Therefore.

However. teachers in S2 seemed to have fewer problems with the company than S1 as no changes were introduced in their teaching routine. Teachers would be more motivated and committed to change if they were given the opportunity to participate in the planning. unexpected issues related to the recent change initiatives emerged during the interviews. findings indicate that that 64 . For this reason. implementation and evaluation processes. I anticipated some problems such as the lack of resources and training. One of the unexpected findings was that the company in S2 did not introduce any changes to EFL classrooms after failing to change the curriculum. Bolman and Deal (2003) claim that allowing employees to participate and engage in decision making related to their work and working conditions improves their performance. Before the interviews. Lack of resources and training. test. ADEC stated that their project “is being used to diagnose.others’ realties will expose the problems of implementation that must be addressed and at the very least will indicate where one should start” (p.5 Conclusion In summary. and lack of regular monitoring and assessment were some of restraining forces that have prevented any effective change to take place in EFL classrooms in the UAE. lack of teacher involvement. it is important to encourage teachers’ participation and involvement in the change process because they are the actual implementers of change in their classrooms. Another shocking finding was that the company in S1 manipulated students’ outcomes to hide their failure and to show ADEC that they were doing a good job in the school. motivation and productivity. 4. and assess the benefits of utilizing private sector expertise to improve public education and to achieve defined goals” (Abu Dhabi Education Council. teachers have encountered many problems with ADEC’s change initiatives to improve TEFL. 109) Thus. 2010). In addition.

the change initiatives planned by the companies could improve TEFL. I strongly believe that.there was a lack of monitoring and assessments in both schools which could be the main reason for the change failure. The findings discussed above indicate that the companies lacked the awareness and understanding of the change processes which was ultimately reflected on the problems that the teachers had with change initiatives. Thus. but also requires a thorough understanding of the change process. 65 . 108). successful change does not only require creating effective programs and innovations. but the lack of awareness about the change process and its models made these initiatives ineffective in practice. Fullan (2007) argues that “Promoters of change need to be committed and skilled in the change process as well as in the change itself” (p.

5. Another factor that could affect the generalization of the results is the fact that only girls’ schools participated in this study. This study set out to explore teachers’ perceptions to the recent changes to EFL teaching and learning. it summarizes the main findings of this study followed by recommendations to ADEC on how to improve educational reform in the future.Chapter Five: Conclusion 5. 66 . Therefore. Future Research are highlighted at the end of this chapter.2 Critical evaluation of the work undertaken The methodological approach used in this study proved its effectiveness and success in generating the data that served the aim of this study. Then. It would have been more interesting to interview male teachers from boy’s schools and compare their experiences and perceptions with female teachers from the girls’ schools. Due to the time constraint two schools were only investigated in this study which could affect the generality of the results.1 Introduction This chapter evaluates the work undertaken in this study in terms of the effectiveness of the methodological approach and the data collection tools. focus group interviews significantly succeeded to encourage teachers to openly and honestly talk about their experiences and perceptions. qualitative research methods such as semi-structured interviews were the most appropriate data collection tools for this small-scale study as they were more flexible than the other types of interviews. In addition.

The company in S1 did not assess the appropriateness of their new curriculum to the UAE culture and the Islamic religion. the findings of this study indicate that the teachers faced several problems with the PPP project and that the project failed to improve the quality of instruction or increase student achievement in both S1 and S2. However. It was found that teachers in S1 and S2 faced some similar problems related to the recent changes to TEFL. the company and the school itself in the change process were not clearly defined in both schools. the findings indicate that both companies did not plan for such changes appropriately. On the other hand. what exactly they needed to accomplish and the methods they need to follow in order to achieve the aims of the tasks. The project aims to “work with teachers and principals to improve the quality of instruction and increase student achievement in government schools” (Abu Dhabi Education Council. 2010).5. In addition. However. the roles of the supervisor. Teachers were asked to accomplish tasks without explaining to them the aims of these tasks. the lack of assessment of the old curriculum before planning for a new one cost 67 .3 Summary of the main findings It has been three years since ADEC’s PPP project implementation in S1 and S2. Two major themes emerged from analyzing the interviews. Both companies tried to introduce changes to the EFL’s curriculum. which are managed by two different companies. The first theme discusses the problems that teachers encountered with the recent changes to EFL teaching and learning. One of these problems was that the companies did not clearly present their mission and aims to the teachers. The second theme articulates teachers understanding and knowledge of the change models that were associated with their responses. which had an enormous impact on the implementation of the new innovations.

Similarly. it was found that students’ performance did not improve since the two companies have started working in the schools. The companies did not monitor the teachers in the implementation process and did not assess teachers’ implementation of the new innovations. Most of the workshops arranged by the companies were repetitive and did not address the teachers’ needs. the company in S1 manipulated students’ results by 68 . The findings suggest that one of the reasons that affected the effectiveness of the new innovations was the lack of training and preparation for the teachers. Lack of resources was one of the major problems that teachers in S1 had. Teachers in both schools suffered from the lack of appropriate and effective workshops that could help them implement changes successfully and improve their capacity. lack of accountability was one of the factors that affected the success of the change initiatives in the EFL classrooms. teachers in S2 did not have any problems with the resources as their school and company provided them with all the resources they needed. However. Due to the lack of accountability. This indicates that the four companies working in the PPP project does not have similar identical school development plans. As stated earlier. ADEC did not appropriately assess the companies’ efforts in improving and developing the EFL classrooms. who are the implementers of these innovations.the company in S2 time and effort where they realized after two years of constant changes that there was nothing wrong with the old curriculum and that it served their aims. one of the projects’ aims was to increase students’ outcomes. The company did not provide the teachers in S1 with the essential resources they needed to implement the changes successfully. Another important finding was the lack of internal and external assessments and monitoring throughout the change process. Therefore. On the contrary.

Before planning for any change. teachers deemed that any successful change should have clear plan. 69 . teachers argued that they needed to be involved as active participants throughout the change process.increasing the actual results at the end of the year’s exams. vision and aims. it was found that teachers from both schools understood some elements of change process which were evident in their responses. I think that it is not wrong to learn from the educational experiences of other countries. I agree with Ridge (2009) that “sustainable solutions to the education challenges of the region require policy decisions based on local realities rather than on international opinions”. while the company in S2 did not introduce any changes to the EFL classrooms. For instance. teachers from both schools talked explicitly about the importance of training and preparation for successful implementation. which indicate that it did not improve the students’ outcomes in any ways. and based on these problems they should plan for change by creating new innovations that could help improve and develop TEFL. In addition. They believed that teachers need to be trained on how to implement the new innovations in their classrooms. In addition. ADEC needs to identify the real problems that hinder EFL teaching and learning. and that the company needed to implement their changes in stages. Finally. Bringing companies from outside that lack the understanding of the EFL teaching and learning situation in the UAE. Furthermore. Finally.4 Recommendations Based on the findings from the current study. 5. but it is wrong to assume that what have worked in other countries could work in the UAE. recommendations have been drawn to ADEC on how to successfully reform TEFL in the future. teachers in S1 understood that change is a process and not an event. They also believed that training should be practical and should start from the classrooms.

ADEC should assess and monitor the companies throughout the life time of the project in order to create a sense of accountability in the companies. This will create a dynamic learning environment where teachers learn from their actions and from each other. where one can learn from the mistakes and find ways to move forward. 5. I believe that ADEC should encourage teachers to design and create ‘local solutions’ that could help improve TEFL and increase students’ outcomes. this study could be extended so that it involves a larger number of schools covering both girls’ and boys’ schools. Yet. the process of change does not stop at the implementation stage. Thus.5 Routes for future research This is a small-scale study aimed to explore teachers’ perceptions of the recent changes to EFL teaching and learning in Abu Dhabi’s public schools. I believe that the change process is a cycle where one plans for change. one should go through that cycle again and again until the desired goals are achieved. Senge (1999) suggests that initiatives driven by learning are more sustainable than those driven by authority. Moreover. this study is only considered to 70 .the UAE culture and religion and students and teachers needs would not help in developing the situation and results may sometimes be disappointing. evaluates its effectiveness and identifies its problems. In addition. but it should continue to include the monitoring and evaluation stage. Once problems are identified. in order to provide a better evaluation of the recent changes to TEFL. The lack of monitoring could affect the sustainability of change as teachers could easily go back to their old practices if they were not appropriately monitored. Therefore. implements it. ADEC needs to monitor and evaluate the implementation stage carefully in order to assess the effectiveness of the new innovations in the EFL classrooms and to assess the teachers’ performance during the implementation stage.

In the future. this study could be extended to evaluate the new innovations in terms of their appropriateness and effectiveness in the EFL classrooms through conducting classrooms observations and exploring students’ and parents’ perceptions. 71 .evaluate the change processes adopted by the companies.

3. London: Sage Publications Hargreaves. London: Routledge Fullan. (2004) ‘Kurt Lewin and the Planned Approach to Change: A Re-appraisal’. G. (1986) Becoming Critical: Education. A. (2005) Extending Educational Change: International Handbook for Educational Change.change-management-coach. New York: Springer Hatch. A.uk/SRU19.html (accessed 20/7/2010) Bolman. 977-1001 Carr. Internet WWW page at URL: http://sru.soc. New York: State University of New York Press Kelliher. (2009) Doing Research in the Real World (2nd Edition). & Deal.adec. no. no.html (accessed 11/06/2010) Cummings. & Kemmis. E. (1993) Change Forces: Probing the Depths of Educational Reform.com/kurt_lewin. (1982) The Meaning of Educational Change. L. Mason: South-Western Cengage Learning Fullan. Knowledge and Action Research.. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Burnes. F. (2003) Reframing Organizations: Artistry. M. 41. (2009) Organization Development and Change. B. London: Routledge Ltd Change-Management-Coach.surrey. D. Primary: Public-Private Partnership Schools’.. (2005) ‘Interpretivism and the Pursuit of Research Legitimisation: An Integrated Approach to Single Case Design’. and Worley C. (1997) ‘Focus groups’. Internet WWW page at URL: http://www.. M. T. and Leadership. 19. Journal of Business Research Methodology. Journal of Management Studies.ac. New York: Teachers College Press Gibbs.html (accessed 21/06/2010) Gray.com (2010) ‘Kurt Lewin Change Management Model’. M. T. W.ac. Internet WWW page at URL: http://www. (2002) Doing Qualitative Research in Education Settings. Choice. 6. 2.Bibliography Abu Dhabi Education Council (2008) ‘KG. London: The Falmer Press Fullan. (2007) The New Meaning of Educational Change. G. A. S.ae/en/our-projects-en/kg-primary-education. 123-132 72 ..

L. (2004) ‘The “inside” and the “outside”: Finding realities in interviews’.thenational.Kezar. 1-153 Kritsonis. 16/07/2010) Ridge. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Miller. (1997) Focus Groups as Qualitative Research (2nd Edition).. Internet WWW page at URL: http://www. & Casey. D. R. 1. no. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report. 2. J. S.ae/article/20090219/OPINION/176478472&SearchID=73345732578242 (accessed 12/08/2010) Robson. Method and Practice. (2002) Real World Research (Second Edition). California: Sage Publications Morgan..com/search? searchType=dictionary&isWritersAndEditors=true&searchUri=All&q=to+change&contentVersio n=WORLD (accessed. G. 1-7 Krueger. (1954) ‘Philosophy of Science Association’. J. M. L. in Silverman. 28. A... 164168 73 . 4. (1998) Images of Organization. J. (2010) Performing Qualitative Cross-Cultural Research. Boston: Pearson Education Oxford Dictionaries (2010). Essex: Pearson Education Limited Neuman. (1994) Focus Groups: A practical Guide for Applied Research. A. Internet WWW page at URL: http://oxforddictionaries. L. (2004) Qualitative Research: Theory. 21. London: SAGE Publications Morgan. A.. A. (2001) ‘Understanding and Facilitating Organizational Change in the 21st Century’. 8. (2009) ‘In education we must learn from our mistakes’. R. (2006) Social Research Methods: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches (Sixth Edition). & Glassner. A. Malden: Blackwell Publishing Rudner. (2007) Management and Organisational Behaviour. W. C. P. R. (2005) ‘Comparison of Change Theories’. (2000) Focus Groups: a practical guide for applied research (3rd Edition).. B. no. Philosophy of Science.. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications Krueger. N. D. California: Sage Publications Liamputtong. no.. California: SAGE Publications Mullins.. International Journal of Scholarly Academic Intellectual Diversity.

London: SAGE Publications 74 . J. London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing Sikes. P. (1996) Focus Group Interviews in Education and Psychology. J. groups.. no.. E. (2001) ‘Kurt Lewin.. 1. (2004) Qualitative Research: Theory. Schumm. H.Schein. 59-73 Senge. & Sinagub. A. (1992) ‘Imposed Change on the Experienced Teacher’ in Fullan.. 1. D. (1992) Teacher Development and Educational Change. P..infed. California: Sage Publications Wilkinson. M.org/thinkers/et-lewin. J. Method and Practice. S. K. in Silverman. Oxon: RoutledgeFalmer Smith. & Hargreaves. Reflections. experiential learning and action research’. Malden: Blackwell Publishing Vaughn S. (2001) Understanding Social Science. (2004) ‘Focus group research’. S.. (1999) The Dance of Change. R.htm (accessed 18/07/2010) Trigg. Internet WWW page at URL: http://www. (1996) ‘Kurt Lewin’s Change Theory in the Field and in the Classroom: Notes Toward a Model of Managed Learning’. M.