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Teaching grammar: Australian secondary English teachers’ beliefs and practices

Nicholson, Rebecca (2019) Teaching grammar: Australian secondary English teachers’ beliefs and practices. Masters by Research thesis, Murdoch University.

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This thesis presents an investigation into English teachers’ beliefs and declared practices in teaching grammar in Western Australian secondary schools. In doing so, this study has produced an up-to-date account of secondary school teachers’ conceptualisation of grammar, the factors they perceive influence their teaching of grammar, and their preparedness and confidence in teaching grammar. This qualitative study will extend knowledge into the beliefs of Australian secondary English teachers towards teaching grammar. Drawing on the literature review, a theoretical framework about English teachers’ beliefs and practices was created which informed data collection and analysis. Data collection was derived from semi-structured in-depth interviews with six secondary English teachers, all female, with experience in teaching Years 7 to 10 in Western Australian schools. A theory-based interview guide elicited participant’s beliefs and practices in teaching grammar. The interview transcripts were coded inductively and deductively according to the theoretical framework and the data itself to generate main themes. The findings suggest that there exists a dichotomy between the secondary teachers’ conceptualisation of grammar as “functional literacy” and their prescriptive approach to teaching grammar. Teachers felt traditional grammar teaching is “boring” and “complex” and valued grammar teaching for its association with Standard Australian English and a student’s future success. Frequent concern was expressed for their student’s limited knowledge of and disinterest in learning grammar and emphasised the importance of grammar teaching in primary school. These findings support previous research that secondary English teachers have not learnt grammar at school and lack training in teaching grammar. These findings may provide policy makers, teacher educators and practitioners with a greater understanding of the current trends in beliefs and practices towards grammar teaching in the secondary English context.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Research)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Education
United Nations SDGs: Goal 4: Quality Education
Supervisor(s): Malpique, Anabela and Perry, Laura
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