Investigating Reflective Practices and their Impact on English Language Teachers’ Professional Development: An Explanatory Case Study in the UAE Education Sector

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The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
This PhD thesis examines the reflective practices of English Language Teaching (ELT) teachers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It explores their understanding of reflective practice, its significance in professional development, the prevalent strategies within various dimensions of reflection, and factors influencing their engagement. The research further delves into the impact of demographic factors on ELT teachers' perceptions and the support they receive for continuous reflective practice. It also investigates how reflective practice is represented in official institutional documents within the UAE education sector. Adopting a mixed-methods approach, the study uses both quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis techniques to comprehensively address the research objectives. The findings reveal a broad recognition among UAE's ELT teachers of reflective practice's importance for their professional development and its potential to enhance their teaching effectiveness. However, the extent of their engagement in various reflective practices differs, ranging from regular to sporadic or limited involvement. This variability is influenced by factors such as institutional support, time constraints, access to professional development resources, and individual teaching and learning beliefs. This study identifies the reflective practices and strategies most commonly used by ELT teachers in the UAE and explores their application across different teaching contexts and levels of experience. The research also examines whether demographic variables, such as age, gender, teaching experience, and native language, influence ELT teachers' perceptions of reflective practice. Moreover, it investigates teachers' perceptions of the support they receive for ongoing reflective practice and professional development, identifying the forms of support they believe would best facilitate their growth. Finally, the study analyses the extent to which official documents, policies, and guidelines in the UAE education sector promote and support reflective practice and the strategies outlined for its implementation among educators, including ELT teachers. This research contributes to the understanding of reflective practice within the context of ELT in the UAE. It provides valuable insights for educators, policymakers, and teacher trainers seeking to enhance reflective practices, professional development of ELT teachers, and thereby improve the quality of English language teaching in the region. Keywords: reflective practice, reflective teaching and learning, professional development, ELT/TESOL education