University of Oulu

Vyara V. Dimitrova, Susan McKenney & Paul A. Kirschner (2021) Second and foreign language teachers’ problem-solving schemata development through informal problem-solving: the relationship between experience and expertise, Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching, DOI: 10.1080/17501229.2021.2011894

Second and foreign language teachers’ problem-solving schemata development through informal problem-solving : the relationship between experience and expertise

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Author: Dimitrova, Vyara V.1; McKenney, Susan2; Kirschner, Paul A.1,3
Organizations: 1Welten Institute, Open University, Heerlen, the Netherlands
2Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences/ELAN Teacher Development, University of Twente, Twente, the Netherlands
3Learning and Educational Technology Research Unit, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.5 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Informa, 2021
Publish Date: 2022-03-07


Purpose: Second and foreign language (SL/FL) teachers’ informal problem-solving has received little explicit research attention while it is widely acknowledged that problem-solving is crucial to expertise development in any complex knowledge domain. To develop a clearer understanding of the role of informal problem-solving in SL/FL teachers’ expertise development, this study investigated how experience (i.e. time on the job) affects the level of problem-solving schemata development.

Design/methodology/approach: This situational analysis of teaching practices was conducted with 15 SL/FL teachers divided into three experience groups. Through qualitative coding of verbal reflections on teachers’ own lessons, the structural components of problem-solving schemata development were explored at two levels. The first or basic level represents the broader knowledge base which problem-solving utilizes in understanding and recognizing classroom situations. The second is the expert-level problem-solving knowledge level. Qualitative codes were quantified to enable descriptive statistics and t-tests for the analysis regarding the basic level. A descriptive analysis was performed to uncover expert-level knowledge.

Findings and Originality/value: The results show that experience affects problem-solving schemata development in qualitatively different ways at different levels. At the first or basic level, most teachers develop extensive and numerous domain-specific problem-solving schemata with experience. Few experienced teachers develop expert-level schemata. At this level, experience mostly affects the type of domain-specific knowledge and quality of feedback on effective strategies incorporated in these schemata. The findings suggest that future studies need to adopt a multi-level analysis of problem-solving schemata development.

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Series: Innovation in language learning and teaching
ISSN: 1750-1229
ISSN-E: 1750-1237
ISSN-L: 1750-1229
Issue: Online first
Pages: 1 - 15
DOI: 10.1080/17501229.2021.2011894
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 516 Educational sciences
Copyright information: © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.