Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
thesis_access.pdf (4 MB)

EFL Teacher Development through Teacher Research in Vietnam

Download (4 MB)
posted on 2023-08-17, 22:33 authored by An Huynh Van Pham

Teacher research has been promoted as a transformative continuing professional development (CPD) activity that allows teachers to use research to address their professional needs. However, contextual factors can make implementing teacher research challenging. In Vietnam, EFL teachers are expected to carry out teacher research through a national policy called “Sáng kiến kinh nghiệm” or “Initiatives – Experiences” (I-E). Stakeholders often voice scepticism on the value of I-E but empirical studies in response to such concerns are limited.

This study aims to provide the much-needed empirical evidence to contribute to the debates around the implementation of the I-E scheme. More generally, the study aims to contribute to the improvement of policies for the professional development of language teachers, particularly those that involve nation-wide schemes such as the I-E.

The study has three phases. Phase 1 investigated the extent to which the I-E is presented as a transformative CPD activity for teachers in 15 policy documents across three governmental levels in Vietnam (i.e., the central government, the provincial Department of Education and the local school site). The policy documents were examined using thematic analysis of documents based on a hybrid framework for CPD policy analysis by Desimone (2009) and Kennedy (2014). The findings revealed that policy documents were more focused on some aspects, while giving less attention to others.

Aspects that were focused on include measures to check accountability and ensure coherence between teachers’ development and the general educational goals and curriculum, expected compliance and awards as external motivation. Aspects such as duration of CPD and the overall purpose of CPD were less prominent in policy documents. This could potentially create tensions in the implementation of the I-E scheme. These findings contribute to an understanding of CPD policy in Vietnam and provided background for the subsequent phases of the research.

Phase 2 involved examining the collective experiences of the teachers who engaged in the I-E scheme. Data for this phase included 51 Narrative Frame responses from the teachers and 13 I-E reports. The data was analysed thematically, with Borg’s (2006) ten conditions for teacher research employed as a coding guide. Findings revealed that some conditions that were facilitative of teacher research were met. Teachers were able to exercise autonomy, even though this was only limited to their choice of I-E topics and time of engagement when conducting their projects. They also perceived the value of the I-E for their own teaching and their students’ performance. On the other hand, teachers’ experiences show that certain facilitative conditions for teacher research were not met, including not having adequate research expertise, being under pressure to engage in the I-E and lacking access to the necessary resources and support in conducting their I-E projects.   Phase 3 of the study focused on the individual experiences of six teachers with the I-E scheme. Data for each teacher included their response to a narrative frame, their I-E report and a semi-structured interview. Each teacher’s narrative was collated using Narrative Analysis. Data revealed that the teachers had varied experiences with the I-E scheme. The narratives highlighted the importance of building teachers’ research capacity. They also showed how organisation at the meso-level (e.g., school leadership) needs to play a more active role in supporting teachers in their engagement with teacher research.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Applied Linguistics

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

ANZSRC Socio-Economic Outcome code

160104 Professional development and adult education

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

3 Applied research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies


Newton, Jonathan; Macalister, John