A Phenomenological Case Study of Professional Development Experiences of ELT Faculty at Tertiary Level in the United Arab Emirates

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Type of Academic Paper – Dissertation Proposal

Academic Subject – Education

Word Count – 1339 words


Aims and Objectives

The proposed study’s primary aim is to examine how ICT deployments in educational institutions can be made sustainable to aid ELT instructors in English language instruction in the UAE. To achieve this aim the proposed study has developed the following primary research question;
How can ICT efforts in tertiary level education be made sustainable for English language training?
The primary research question is accompanied by the following secondary research questions answered in the proposed study.

  1. What is the extent of integration of educational technology in English language teaching at the Tertiary level in the UAE, and what factors contributed to the adoption of educational technologies to facilitate ELT practices?
  2. Has the use of technology improved the overall English language learning experiences of the students?
  3. What is the impact of using educational technology on teachers; what are their experiences and how has this changed their perceptions, attitudes and beliefs about the teaching and learning process?
  4. What is the future of educational technology as a strategy for enhancing English learning processes in the UAE?

The research question and aim will be achieved through the following objectives;

  1. Use primary and secondary research to collect data and information on the proposed topic of study.
  2. Examine how ICT can be made sustainable in terms of cost, policy, resources, and re-purpose.
  3. Analyse the instructor experience of using ICT in English language training.
  4. Examine factors that facilitated the adoption of educational technologies to promote ELT practice in the tertiary level English language learning institutions in the UAE


The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is placed in a strategic location for trade, allowing multiple languages to thrive in its vicinity. English medium instruction is one of the core concepts upheld in federally funded tertiary education institutes (Rogier, 2012). To extend and provide improved English instruction, it is essential to incorporate ICT and other technologies for teaching and learning the English language. Sustainability is often described as an education ecosystem’s ability to maintain scholastic processes, functions, diversity, and productivity into the future. To look at it in a practical level, ELT faculty needs to introduce information and communication technologies in existing educational ecosystems so that they may absorb it and own the change (Howard et al., 2016). As per the current understanding, no literature examines sustainable technology integration in English language training in the UAE (Howard et al., 2016). By conducting the proposed study, the current status of technology/ICT can be examined at the tertiary level to recommend strategies that further its beneficial use. It is also important to examine how ELT faculty in the UAE can use ICT for training pupils in the English language.


Research Design

The proposed research looks to adopt a qualitative phenomenological case study approach. The phenomenological approach is being used to understand the topic of interest from the everyday knowledge and perceptions of specific respondent groups (Vinke et al., 1998). By using this approach, researchers have an initial knowledge about the topic. They are interested in the development of an in-depth comprehension or clarification of potentially conflicting or equivocal information from previous data (Stake, 1995). Denscombe (2004) argues that it is not primarily concerned with explaining the causes of things; instead, it describes how things are experienced first-hand by the typical world by those that are involved. Yin (2003) argues that the case study is a particular style of educational research appropriate for investigating the concept of professional development instructors and teachers. Stake (1995) asserts the benefit of using a qualitative case study methodology which arises from its emphasis on the uniqueness of each case and the educator’s subjective experience of the case.

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Data Collection

The proposed research intends to explore the different perspectives of professionals in teaching at the tertiary level in the UAE in terms of their experiences as ELT faculty and how technology and ICT use in education can enhance English language learning. The focus group interview will be used in the current study to collect data from a diverse group of people. Freebody (2004) asserts that the use of focus groups in education research gives opportunities to compare and contrast interpretations, develop unforeseen findings, and aids in exploring findings that would either be considered anomalous or disconfirming of original impressions. Lindlof and Taylor (2002) argue that group discussions produce data and insight that would be less accessible without interaction found in group settings because listening to others verbalised experiences stimulates memories, ideas, and experiences in those participating.


The proposed study looks to use purposive sampling when choosing the school and the focus group participants, a strategy used by Punch (2005). The tertiary school selected for the proposed research will be chosen based on the staff experience in working as ELT faculty and having experience with using technology for education. Recommendations for choosing the school will also be taken by several tertiary level teachers working at institutions in the UAE.

The study proposes to have ten focus group interviews that will last one hour. Based on the availability of participants, the total number of people interviewed will be determined. However, it is proposed to use fifty (50) participants to take part in the groups. Participants will be included in the focus group if they are ELT faculty at the education institution and have had experience using technology/ICT for English language instruction.

Data Analysis

The proposed study will use thematic analysis to evaluate the data obtained. Thematic analysis is a method used to identify, analyse, and report patterns or themes within data (Braun and Clarke, 2006). The analysis technique minimally organises and describe the data set in rich detail. It further interprets various aspects of the research topic (Braun and Clarke, 2006).


Denscombe, M. (2004) The Good Research Guide For Small Scale Social Research Projects. (2nd Edn) Berkshire: Open University Press.

Freebody, P. (2004) Qualitative Research in Education-Interaction and Practice. London: Sage Publishers.

Howard, A., Basurto-Santos, N. M., Gimenez, T., Moncada, A. M. G., McMurray, M., and Traish, A. (2016). A comparative study of English language teacher recruitment, in-service education and retention in Latin American and the Middle East. British Council. ELT Research Papers 16.02, 3-72.

Lindlof, T. R., & Taylor, B. C. (2002). Qualitative Communication Research Methods, 2nd Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Punch, K. (2005) Introduction to Social Research: Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches.

London: Sage Publishers.

Rogier, D. (2012). The effects of English-Medium instruction on the language proficiency of students enrolled in higher education in the UAE. Exeter University, student dissertation.

Stake, R.E. (1995). The Art Of Case Study Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Vinke, A.A., Snippe, J., & Jochems, W. (1998). English-medium content courses in non-English higher education: A study of lecturer experiences and teaching behaviours. Teaching in Higher Education, 3(3), 383-394.

Yin, R.K. (2003). Case Study Research: Design and Methods. Thousand Oaks, CA; London: Sage Publications

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Frequently Asked Questions

The format of a case study typically includes:

  1. Introduction with background information.
  2. Description of the case and its context.
  3. Analysis of the problem or issue.
  4. Presentation of findings and evidence.
  5. Discussion of solutions or recommendations.
  6. Conclusion and key takeaways.