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Volume 19 Number 2, Summer 2022, Pages 398-739   


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“I am coming out of my research shell …”: Exploring Iranian University English Teachers' Research Engagement through Activity Theory

    Fatemeh Asadnia, Mahmood Reza Atai & Mohammad Nabi Karimi


Although university English teachers' professional growth hinges upon active research engagement, they could not individually follow a one-size-fits-all approach to turn into teacher researchers. In this study, through the lens of activity system, we explored how university English teachers could be empowered to mediate their research engagement by reliance on socially enhanced research tools, research community norms, and research scaffolding trends. Thirty Iranian university English teachers (twenty-seven PhD candidates and three PhD graduates) participated in this study. To collect the data, we used semi-structured interviews, reflective journals, and online discussion forums. The findings demonstrated that Iranian university English teachers' research engagement is mediated by research mindset, research interest, and research toolkit. Furthermore, research apprenticeship and academic promotion are the two research norms that university English teachers support. In the research engagement system, research networks and research teams promote the teachers' collective research literacy. The results further showed that to socially mediate the university English teachers' research engagement, research educators are expected to systematically guide the teachers' research practices, research materials developers need to curate and produce teacher-friendly research materials, and academic researchers should authorize the teachers to get socialized into teachers' research communities.

Keywords: research engagement, university English teachers, activity theory, professional development