Teaching Styles of Iranian EFL Teachers: Do Gender, Age, and Experience Make a Difference?

By Rahimi, Mehrak; Asadollahi, Fatemeh | International Journal of English Linguistics, April 2012 | Go to article overview

Teaching Styles of Iranian EFL Teachers: Do Gender, Age, and Experience Make a Difference?


Rahimi, Mehrak, Asadollahi, Fatemeh, International Journal of English Linguistics


Abstract

The aim of this study was investigating Iranian EFL teachers' teaching styles and the activities they use most frequently in their classes. Additionally, the difference between male and female teachers' teaching styles and the relationship between teaching styles and teachers' experience and age were explored. Three hundred EFL teachers were selected by stratified random sampling from six districts of the capital city, Tehran. They filled in a personal information questionnaire and Teaching Activities Preference (TAP) questionnaire. The results of the study showed that the participants used a variety of teaching activities in English classes; however, they constituted a special group due to the high percentage of using sensing type activities. Further, it was found that male and female teachers were different in extroverting, sensing, and feeling styles of teaching while female teachers used activities related to these styles more than their male counterparts did. Besides, the obtained results revealed that EFL teachers' age and experience had a negative relationship with sensing style and a positive relationship with thinking style of teaching.

Keywords: Teaching styles, EFL, Teachers, Age, Experience

1. Introduction

Teaching style is one of the most important factors affecting the development of teachers' professional expertise (Akbari, Mirhassani, & Bahri, 2005) that is always consistent with teachers' personality type and varies among individuals (Cooper, 2001). According to one definition from late seventies teaching style is "a pervasive way of approaching the learners that might be consistent with several methods of teacher" (Fischer & Fischer, 1979, p. 246). This definition emphasizes the importance of teaching methods and the ability of the teacher to select the right approach for the class. Consequently, teaching styles tended to be equated with teaching approaches, as that was the mainstay of language teacher training at the time.

To Kaplan and Kies (1995), however, teaching style "consists of a teachers' personal behavior and the media used to transmit data to or receive it from the learner" (p. 2). This definition stresses the importance of teachers' behavior and media that significantly affect the delivery of the instruction. Terms such as 'initiating and responsive behavior' (Flanders, 1970) and 'progressivism and traditionalism' (Bennett et al., 1976) have also been used to refer to teaching styles. Therefore, teaching style refers to all of teaching techniques and activities and approaches that a teacher employs in teaching a certain subject in the classroom or "the sum total of instructional activities, techniques, and approaches that a teacher feels most comfortable using when he or she is in front of a class" (Cooper,2001, p. 301).

It is evident that teaching style is a very influential factor in students' learning experiences (Knowles, 1980) since teachers provide the "vital human connection between the content and the environment and the learners" (Heimlich & Norland, 1994, p. 109) and because it stems from an educational philosophy that lends direction and purpose to a teacher's teaching (Galbraith, 1999). This claim about the effectiveness of teaching style is supported by a comprehensive body of research, especially in mainstream education, which links teaching style to student achievement outcomes (Conti, 1985; Miglietti & Strange, 1998; Welborn, 1996). The existence of this rich body of research about teaching style is based on the premise that teachers do not all teach alike and that classroom teaching styles are not all equally effective (Baily, 1984).

However, most of the literature on teaching style does not refer to teaching a particular subject and therefore there is a dearth of information describing what teachers of particular subjects, e.g. EFL teachers, actually do in their classes. As teaching style "includes the implementation of philosophy; it contains evidence of beliefs about, values related to, and attitudes toward all the elements of the teaching-learning exchange" (Jarvis, 2004, p. …

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