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Volume 19 Number 3, Autumn 2022, Pages 740-1140   


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Self-Directed Learning: Exploring the Continuous Professional Development of Native English-Speaking Teachers in South Korea

    Christopher Binnie & Joshua Wedlock


It has been argued that self-directed professional development is a necessary component of continuous, lifelong teacher learning. Research has predominantly focused on top-down, institution-mandated professional development, however, a paucity of data exists concerning self-directed teacher professional development. Therefore, the aim of this project was to explore the self-directed professional development that native English-speaking teachers (NESTs) in South Korea engaged in, as well as assess if these behaviors matched their stated beliefs about self-directed professional development. Employing a mixed-methods approach, data was collected from 56 teachers who completed online questionnaires, and 11 teachers who participated in follow-up interviews. Analysis revealed that in the 12 months prior to the study, only 35 teachers engaged in self-directed professional development. Findings indicated that the teachers who held education degrees and were interested in an EFL/ESL career were the most likely to engage in self-directed professional development. Of the participants that did not engage in self-directed professional development, the preeminent factors hindering involvement were a lack of ambition and/or ambivalence, lack of necessity, a shortage of career advancement prospects, and the COVID-19 pandemic. It could be concluded that most NESTs in the study did not engage in enough professional development to increase student learning outcomes.

Keywords: South Korea, EFL, NESTs, teacher professional development, continuous professional development