Self-directed learning: exploring the continuous professional development of native English-speaking teachers in South Korea

Christopher Binnie*, Joshua Wedlock

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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It has been argued that self-directed professional development is a necessary component of continuous, lifelong teacher learning. Research has predominantly focused on top-down, institution-mandated professional development, however, a paucity of data exists concerning self-directed teacher professional development. Therefore, the aim of this project was to explore the self-directed professional development that native English-speaking teachers (NESTs) in South Korea engaged in, as well as assess if these behaviors matched their stated beliefs about self-directed professional development. Employing a mixed-methods approach, data was collected from 56 teachers who completed online questionnaires, and 11 teachers who participated in follow-up interviews. Analysis revealed that in the 12 months prior to the study, only 35 teachers engaged in self-directed professional development. Findings indicated that the teachers who held education degrees and were interested in an EFL/ESL career were the most likely to engage in self-directed professional development. Of the participants that did not engage in self-directed professional development, the preeminent factors hindering involvement were a lack of ambition and/or ambivalence, lack of necessity, a shortage of career advancement prospects, and the COVID-19 pandemic. It could be concluded that most NESTs in the study did not engage in enough professional development to increase student learning outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)871-895
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Asia TEFL
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2022

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2022. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • continuous professional development
  • EFL
  • NESTs
  • South Korea
  • teacher professional development


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