The research culture in an English as a foreign language Thailand university context: a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Education at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
This study investigates the research culture of lecturers teaching English as a Foreign
Language (EFL) in Thai higher education. In particular it explores how EFL lecturers
get involved in the research process within their institutions. This investigation involved
19 lecturers from two different university settings in Thailand.
This study employed a qualitative case study approach and was conducted in four
phases. In the first phase, semi-structured interviews were carried out with 13 EFL
lecturers from one university. In the second phase, four case studies were selected from
the original sample of 13 EFL lecturers. This focused on each lecturer’s research
knowledge, details of research experience, and factors influencing their research
involvement. In the third phase, a focus group was held with six EFL lecturers from a
second university. This looked at factors influencing their research involvement in that
context. In addition, document analysis was employed in phases two and three to
provide a profile of each university setting. The final phase utilised document analysis
to broaden insights into the university research contexts of EFL lecturers.
The findings from this study revealed that the EFL lecturers’ research involvement was
influenced by a dynamic interaction between internal and external factors. The EFL
lecturers each valued research differently. Time constraints, limited research funding
and support were major factors affecting their research involvement. The study
identified that the EFL research culture was not well developed and the EFL lecturers
produced low research outcomes in terms of quantity and quality. The study also
revealed that the status of the Thai EFL research culture was negatively impacted by
priorities in the wider global research context.
The study suggests that the EFL lecturers need more encouragement and support to
conduct research as a means of improving their teaching practice in order to enhance
students’ English proficiency. Enhancing the research culture may also increase EFL
lecturers’ professional status as well as maintaining and increasing the international
reputation of the university. In addition, EFL lecturers, universities, the government,
and policy makers need to take more responsibility in developing an effective research
culture in this area due to its significance in the global economy.