Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
John Ray, Norma Mertz
This study investigated foreign language (FL) teacher educators in the Southeast With regard to their approach to educational innovations, particularly with regard to an innovation known as the ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of ForeignLanguages) Proficiency Guidelines. A model was constructed based on diffusion of innovations research in order to guide the construction of a questionnaire. This Diffusion Of Educational Innovations Model (DEIM) outlines key diffusion variables from antecedents to consequences of adoption. The survey targeted the following population:all southeastern FL teacher educators who instruct future elementary and or secondary foreign language (FL) teachers in the teaching of FLs. The population was assessed and censused through three directories, the World Wide Web, and phone / e-mail verification.Out of a total of 83 possible responses, 60 valid returns were received (72.3%).Results of data analysis produced several findings. With regard to antecedent variables, about half of the respondents who reported having obtained a doctorate were prepared in an education-related area; the other half had obtained their doctorate in a FL and or literature. Most reported working in a language department as opposed to a college of education. In terms of their socio-organizational behavior, most prefer consulting work colleagues (whom they rate as the most innovative and open to change among those in their socio-organizational context), professional contacts outside their area, the professional literature, and professional conferences about educational innovations. Preferred professional organizations for these respondents include the stateFLTA (foreign language teaching association) and ACTFL.IVOf all the innovations ACTFL has sponsored, respondents were most familiar with the Guidelines, the majority having implemented and or promoted them. Initial Trials of this innovation often involved integration with curriculum and assessment in FL education or FL teacher education. Most report having integrated the Guidelines into the methods course and the assessment of FL majors and or teacher education candidates.Overall, respondents report that the Guidelines have had an impact on the profession in their local area. However, they appear skeptical of the Guidelines' impact on the K-12 FL teaching sphere due to constraints on these teachers' ability to implement theGuidelines, as well as the cost and complexity of implementing them. With regard to the DEIM, professional and contextual variables, including population base, support of innovation and openness to change within the socio-organizational context, and whether respondents work in a language department or college of education, failed to show meaningful differences. Also, it appears that respondents' views on proficiency-oriented instruction do not appear to be idiosyncratic as the model predicts for principles-based innovations. However, with regard to comparisons calculated on Florida—the only state on record as mandating the Guidelines as a curriculum framework—vs. other southeastern states with regard to the Guidelines' impact, Florida's ratings were found to be significantly lower than other states' with regard to in-service FL teachers and districtFL supervisors. This contradicts the direction predicted in the model. The model was found to be correct in predicting that knowledge of an innovation is positively associated with adoption and implementation. Finally, professional variables, as predicted by the model, appear to be related to adoption and implementation as FL teacher educators whitmore overall professional experience were less likely to test candidates for proficiency.Based on the findings, the researcher has advanced several conclusions: theGuidelines have made an empirically significant impact on FL teacher education and education, in general, within the social system under study, though this impact appears to be somewhat less in the K-12 sphere; and also, that the typical FL teacher educator played an active role in facilitating the diffusion, adoption, and implementation of theGuidelines. Several implications of the study and recommendations for further research are also advanced.
Warford, Mark Kellison, "Foreign language teacher educators and the diffusion of educational innovations. " PhD diss., University of Tennessee, 2000.