2018, Cilt 8, Sayı 3, Sayfa(lar) 593-604
Designing and Evaluating a Faculty Development Program on English Language Needs: A Mixed Methods Approach
Ali DİNCER, Hatice Kübra KOÇ
Erzincan Binali Yıldırım University, Faculty of Education, Department of English Language Teaching, Erzincan, Turkey
Keywords: Faculty member, Faculty development, Needs analysis, Willingness to communicate, Perceived self-efficacy
Faculty development in higher education is a promising area of research, which requires further study in terms of present-day academics
needs. Considering the necessity of English in academia, this study aimed to determine the academics language needs and to test the
effectiveness of an academic development training designed based on the identified needs. Then, a multiphase mixed methods design was
adopted to answer the aims. Accordingly, a needs analysis survey regarding the English language requirements of university faculties was
conducted across 105 faculty members in Erzincan Binali Yıldırım University, a Turkish state university. In addition, 35 out of the members
completed an intensive three-week English conversation and academic writing program designed in accordance with the language needs of
the academics. The changes between the pre-test and post-test scores for the academics were investigated, with a focus on the willingness
to communicate in English, and perceived self-efficacies in English speaking and writing. Further, the academics opinions on the training
program were collected with open-ended interview questions at the conclusion of the course. The needs analysis survey results indicated
that the majority of academics believe their English is either at a beginner or elementary level, and that they require English to fulfil several
academic purposes. The findings relating to the effectiveness of the training program showed significant differences in the academics pretest
and post-test scores, in favor of the post-test scores, regarding willingness to communicate, and perceived self-efficacies in speaking
and writing. The findings from the open-ended questions about the program confirmed the effectiveness of the course and highlighted the
necessity to improve foreign language proficiency levels in university faculties through similar language training programs. In light of the
findings, implications for the internalization of the higher education institutions are discussed at the end of the paper.
In the globalization era, remaining up-to-date is a significant
concern for many who aim to be professionals in their respective
vocations, and work in academia and higher education
institutions. Regarding the importance of educating academics,
faculty development has been a topic of interest in North
America for some time but requires further research in other
parts of the world (Phuong, Cole, & Zarestky, 2018). Though
the amount of literature focusing on the development and
in-service training of teachers and school administrators working
in the Turkish National Ministry of Education (Turkish acronym,
MEB) continues to increase (e.g., Altan, 2016; Küçüksüleymanoğlu,
2006), faculty development is a new concept in
Turkey and limited research has been completed regarding
the training of academics, whether they are veteran or novice
faculty members (Odabaşı, 2003; 2005).
Recent developments in academia undermined the traditionalist
viewpoint of the ivory tower structure of universities and
academics, and indicated that traditionalists are evolving to
become entrepreneurial scientists (Etzkowitz et al., 2015; Lam,
2010). To sustain the universitys entrepreneurial ability, the
faculty, as the main human source within a higher education
institution, should be equipped to address the changing norms
and practices of modern academic life. Faculty development
can be accepted as a panacea to increase the effectiveness
of institutional teaching and the quality of faculty research
(Heppner & Johnson, 1994; Moeini, 2003; Odabaşı, 2003). It
is known that, in MEB, the concept of educators is not limited
to teachers or administrators, in higher education institutions,
the term also encompasses faculty. Unfortunately,
little attention has been given to the support of the needs of
academic staff at universities, and few training opportunities
have been provided (Odabaşı, 2003, 2005). Therefore, faculty
development should be supported as an antidote to stagnation
(Murray, 2002) for the internalization of universities. This issue remains an important concept awaiting further exploration in
the context of Turkish education (Çetinsaya, 2014; Kabakçı &
In order to create a well-designed and executed faculty development
training program for an institution, the needs of the
professional environment should be pre-determined, and a
balance between meeting the participants and organizations
requirements should be supported (Wallin & Smith, 2005). As
the initial step of the training, the needs analysis should be
completed to ensure the required skills and that necessary
knowledge are addressed. Research regarding the needs of
Turkish academics identified several issues and showed that
faculty development is required in several areas, such as effective
teaching skills, effective use of technological resources,
statistical data analysis training for research, writing and publishing
papers, and English use as an academic lingua franca
(Karakaş, 2012). One of the most important needs for an academic
is foreign language proficiency as a component of global
competencies that an academic should have (Koç et al., 2015).
More specifically, the use of English in academic settings can be
accepted as one of the foremost important goals for academics
to keep pace with the constantly changing needs of the scientific
world (Flowerdew, 2001, 2007; Salager-Meyer, 2008; Tardy,
2004). As an academic skill, English is a key concept allowing all
academics to present their research to the academic world and
to publish their studies internationally (Belcher, 2007; Crystal,
1997; Flowerdew, 2001). While the importance of using the
English language in the international academic community has
been accepted by academics, the English language competency
of Turkish academics is not at an adequate level, and there
are negative perceptions regarding English language proficiency
tests (Yeşilyurt, 2016). The nation-wide study TEPAV (2015),
which was conducted at 38 universities in Turkey, showed that
academics English language knowledge was not sufficient for
academic studies, and that their knowledge in this field should be improved using different methods. Though the problem has
been diagnosed in literature, and the necessity for Turkish academics
to use English for communication purposes was stated
in many studies (e.g., Atila, Özken, & Sözbilir, 2015; Erişen et
al., 2009; Güven & Brewster, 2013; Koç et al., 2015; Tuzgöl Dost
& Cenkseven, 2007; Yavuzer & Göver, 2012; Yeşilyurt, 2016),
there seems to be very little effort to address the English needs
of academics in Turkish higher education institutions. Even
the Faculty Development Program (Turkish acronym, ÖYP) for
beginning researchers, in place to increase the numbers of
academics in certain universities and managed by the Council
of Turkish Higher Education (Turkish acronym, YÖK), fails to
support the real needs of the academics (Gündeğer, Soysal,
& Yağcı, 2012; Yalçınkaya, Koşar, & Altunay, 2014). As found
by Gündeğer and colleagues (2012), the majority of research
assistants who completed English language education, whether
in country or abroad, expressed that English education programs
were insignificant contributors to their English conversation
skills, and that the programs need urgent reformation
in accordance with the needs of the researchers, addressing
areas such as English speaking, writing articles and delivering
A high percentage of the universities (71%) in the top 100
of the World University Rankings are from English-speaking
nations, especially the United States (Marginson & van der
Wende, 2007). In this race for global prestige, English, as a
lingua franca and the dominant language in scientific publishing,
is a necessity for academics to share scientific knowledge
(Crystal, 1997; Hamel, 2007; ONeil, 2018). Research published
in a language other than English is cited less (Marginson & van
der Wende, 2007), and non-native English-speaking academics
sometimes fall behind native English counterparts, as they
experience more problems regarding the publication of their
work (Belcher, 2007; Flowerdew, 2001, 2007; Salager-Meyer,
2008; Tardy, 2004). Accordingly, to target higher places in
global university rankings, higher education institutions should
place importance on solving problems within the faculty. Universities
should organize professional preparation programs
or identify English courses suitable for the faculty, in order to become acquainted with the nature of the academic publication
process and the requisite written communication skills
(Salager-Meyer, 2014; Uzuner, 2008). Further, they should
consider how to increase faculties international academic
cooperation and opportunities to publish international papers
within the scope of their strategic planning (Koç et al., 2015;
Considering the necessity of English in academia, this study
aimed to investigate Turkish academics English language
needs in academia and test the effectiveness of academic
development training designed based on the identified needs
through a participant-driven approach. The following research
questions guided the study:
1. What are the needs of Turkish academics regarding the use
of English in academia?
2. To what extent is academic development training on English
in academia perceived to be useful for Turkish academics?
|Multiphase Mixed Methods Design
In this study, a multiphase design that is a type of the mixed
methods with needs analysis and training intervention steps
(see Creswell & Plano Clark, 2011) was used to answer the
research questions. The research design and its phases are
outlined in Figure 1.
As shown in Figure 1, the first phase focused on designing a
needs analysis survey to determine academics needs regarding
English use in academia and the results of the survey data.
In the second phase, an intervention regarding the needs of the
academics was conducted, and the academics pre- and posttest
scores were quantitatively gathered. As the final phase,
the academics opinions about the program were qualitatively
collected for the program evaluation.
The study encompassed two phases, with the number of participants
changing in each. In the first phase, 105 academics (Male = 65, Female = 40) from Erzincan Binali Yıldırım University,
a state university in Turkey participated in the needs
analysis, in accordance with the convenience sampling strategy.
The participants English language proficiency scores in
national English exams (e.g., KPDS, UDS, YDS) ranged from 20
to 91.25 out of 100, where the average exam score was 65.01
(SD = 12.29). In the second phase, 60 of the 105 participants
who agreed to participate in academic development training
at the end of the academic year 2015-2016 were invited to the
training program. However, only 35 (Male = 17, Female = 18)
participants completed the program. The data collected from
those participants were used for the analyses. Details regarding
the participants in each group are shown in Table 1.
As shown in the table, participants held various titles and were
from three main disciplines. In the needs analysis step, participants
who responded to the survey were mostly Assistant
Professors and Research Assistants (n = 78; 74.3%), and a high
majority worked in science-related disciplines (n = 44; 41.9%).
Various tools were used as the instruments of the study. In
the first phase, a needs analysis survey regarding academics
English needs was applied to determine English requirements
in academia. In the second phase, one-factor five-point Likert
scales (ranging from 1 = Very Low to 5 = Very High) were
applied to test the efficacy of the program. The scales focused
on academics willingness to communicate in English, and
self-efficacies in English speaking and academic research.
Lastly, open-ended interview questions regarding the training
activity of the participant were asked. Further details of the
instruments are presented in Figure 2.
In addition to the details outlined in Figure 2, the reliability
of the one-factor scales was calculated before and after the
training activity. Cronbachs alpha reliabilities of the scales (α
≥ 0.70) were considered acceptable, in accordance with the
criterion indices of instrument reliability (Kline, 2000). The
pre- and post-test reliabilities were as follows: Willingness to
Communicate Scale = 0.89 and 0.92; English Speaking Self-Efficacy
Scale = 0.79 and 0.74; Academic Research Self-Efficacy
Scale = 0.86 and 0.93.
In the training phase, three foreign language instructors from
an American University, whose expertise was closely related
to English-speaking skills and academic English writing, were
contacted and informed about the needs of the academics.
While designing the training program, the researchers and
the foreign instructors worked together. The training activities
and materials were developed as referring to the constructivist
approach in general education domain, specifically
task-based and content-based language instruction models
in the language education field. In these offshoot communicative
models, students actively engage in language learning
processes with a number of tasks, meaningful activities, and
master both language and content by using authentic language
(Larsen-Freeman & Anderson, 2015). Later, sample training
curricula for conversational English and academic writing were
prepared in collaboration, and the instructors were invited
for a three-week summer training program in Turkey. For the
training activity, English proficiency groups for both speaking
and academic writing were prepared. Proficiency groups
(beginner and elementary) were formed regarding the previously
provided English proficiency test scores and self-reports.
Morning and afternoon sessions were designed for conversational
English and academic writing, allotting two hours per
weekday for each course (total of 60 hours of face-to-face
training). The content of the training activity was quite similar
in the proficiency groups and only the activities were modified
in accordance with the proficiency levels. Details regarding the
conversational English groups as follow:
In week one, the participants explored their motivation
for studying English conversation first and engaged in
structured improvisational speaking exercises to help them
become more comfortable with communicating at their
level. The week culminated with small student presentations
during the first seminar.
In week two, they utilized role-playing activities to stimulate
situations that they might experience while travelling,
studying, or working abroad. They also examined various
media and discussed the information that covered. The
week culminated with the learners developing personal presentations
about what they discovered about themselves
for the second seminar.
In week three, they concentrated on group dynamics in the
classroom and the workforce, conducted debate exercises.
As the culminating activity was designed and the groups of
learners were assigned to either argue for or against
assigned topics. The learners researched and presented
their topics in a debate-style for the final seminar.
In line with the aimed goals for each week, the participants
gave a short presentation each week and engaged in a number
of language learning games and exercise such as Who am I?,
Chinese Whispers? Word Challenge, Simon Says, Drama, Role
Play and so forth.
In addition to conversational exercise, the academic writing
class groups also practiced their writing skills for three weeks.
During the training, the participants were worked together.
They edited and revised their writing during the class, and they
also responded to online queries and gave feedback to each
others online posts on google groups. Further details regarding
the academic writing groups are as follow:
In week one, the participants explored their individual
motivation for engaging in academic writing through a
focus on writing introductions and clear thesis statements
or research questions. The week culminated in a model
article written by the participants that captured their
reflections on their development of their writing processes. Participants may simultaneously work on their own
academic articles in progress.
In week two, they examined the guidelines for writing and
publishing in international journals and develop skills needed
to write an integrated literature review. They also added
the literature review to the group article and began to analyze
data collected through surveys and questionnaires in
the first week.
In week three, they practiced synthesizing data/arguments
and writing conclusions to refine the narrative aspects of
their academic writing. They formulated an abstract of
the group article, or of their own work, and shared with
colleagues. They also engaged in writing process strategies
throughout the class to develop skills that apply to future
In addition to these training activities, the participants were
free to spend time with the trainers after classes and join extracurricular
trips on weekends. According to the participation
sheets in the first week of July 2016, the courses started with
45 academics. Though 60 academics agreed to participate in
the program at first, only 35 attended regularly, had a limited
absence rate (one to five hours) and successfully finished the
Data Collection and Analysis Procedures
In the initial data collection process, first, the university approvpresentations al was secured. Later, an online flyer, including a needs analysis
survey and an invitation to the academic development program,
was sent to academics official university emails (around
800 people) in Erzincan Binali Yildirim University, Turkey. After
two weeks of the online data collection process, 105 responses
were received, where 60 agreed to join the planned program.
The survey data was descriptively evaluated, and an academic
development training program regarding the oral communication
skills and academic writing needs, the main needs of the
participants in the needs analysis, was designed.
To test the effectiveness of the program, the scales were
administered to the academics both before and after the
training activity. In addition, the academics written opinions
on the activity were obtained at the conclusion of the program.
Though a higher number of academics participated in the program,
only 35 scales were paired and analyzed. Data from the
scales were first tested for reliability, normality, and homogeneity
of variance. Later, statistically reliable and normally distributed
data were analyzed for the effectiveness of the course
via the SPSS 21.00 packet program, in terms of paired sample
t-test analysis. In order to lessen the increased Type I error rate
because of the multiple comparisons in the study, Bonferroni
corrections (i.e., dividing the original alpha by the number of
the tests, were adjusted to test the differences between preand
post-test scores. Then the alpha level for the paired sample
t-test (i.e., αaltered = .05/3) was accepted as α ~ .017.
The qualitative data from the written responses were categorized
and descriptively analyzed by both researchers. The
findings from quantitative and qualitative data are presented
in bar graphs and tables. Further, sample excerpts from the
qualitative results are provided to support the findings and to
present additional detail.
In this section, the findings related to two research questions are presented. First, 105 academics English language needs
were determined, and later the effectiveness of the in-service
training regarding the needs was tested with the data from 25
Turkish Academics English Needs in Academia
To answer the first research question, the needs of Turkish
academics related to English were determined. Firstly, 105
academics rated their own perceived levels in each language
skill. The findings are shown in Figure 3.
Click Here to Zoom
|Figure 3: Perceived level of macro
Note: Numbers indicate
As evident in Figure 3, most of the academics rated themselves
as either beginner or elementary in terms of the four macro
language skills. Analyzing the highest percentages of each skill,
the academics perceived their level of speaking to be at the
beginner level and their level of writing, reading and listening
skills to be average. Furthermore, the discrepancy between
the perceived levels of reading is lower compared to other
In addition, the academics rated their general needs regarding
English use in academia. The findings are shown in Figure 4.
Click Here to Zoom
|Figure 4: English needs in
Note: Numbers indicate
According to the figure, academics need English mainly for
writing research papers, reading articles, collaborating with
foreign partners and participating in international conferences.
They also require English for other purposes, such as following
field updates and for translation purposes. Studying abroad,
gaining academic reputation and surfing on the internet were
the least common English language needs.
In addition to the perceived levels of English and their English
needs across academic platforms, the academics top two
choices regarding the needs for each language skill were determined.
Figure 5 shows the top choices for each skill.
Click Here to Zoom
|Figure 5: Most-chosen
needs for each language
Note: Numbers indicate
The high frequencies relating the needs in each language skill
showed that academics use all four language skills. In addition to the most-chosen needs outlined in Figure 5, the academics
rated other requirements, such as speaking in daily life, listening
to mass media, preparing presentations, reading daily
press, and so forth. From the total frequencies in each skill,
academics have a significant need for productive language
skills as relevant to academia. Regarding speaking and writing,
academics mainly need English to deliver presentations and
write research papers.
The Effectiveness of Academic Development Training in
English in Academia
To test the effectiveness of the training, the quantitative
findings from the academics pre- and post-test scores were
collected first. As a second step, paired-sample t-test analyses
were conducted. Next, the qualitative findings from the academics
written responses were discussed.
Quantitative findings of the intervention
The findings related to the academics willingness to communicate,
perceived speaking self-efficacy and academic research
self-efficacy levels in English are presented with the tables of
descriptive and t-test results for each variable.
Willingness to communicate in English
Descriptives of the willingness to communicate scale, regarding
pre- and post-test scores, are presented in Table 2.
Overall, academics perceived willingness to communicate
scores differentiate each item in a positive way and their gain
scores increased by different amounts. The pre- and post-test
scores changed significantly, especially regarding preferences
for having a small group conversation with acquaintances, and
they were least willing to talk to a stranger.
As shown in Table 3, there was a high statistical difference
between the participants pre- and post-test scores (t = -0.54, p
< .017). The academics willingness to communicate in English
differentiated positively after the training program.
Click Here to Zoom
|Table 3: Results of Paired Sample T-Test Concerning Willingness to Communicate in English
Self-efficacy in English speaking
The addressed self-efficacy items included can do statements.
The descriptive findings related to these items are
presented in Table 4.
The table indicates that the pre-test scores of each speaking
English self-efficacy item increased in the post-test application.
The highest gain was found for the introduction of self and
family members, while the lowest increase was for the item I
can speak English with an excellent accent.
As illustrated in Table 5, there was a statistically meaningful
difference between the pre- and post-test scores of the academics
in speaking self-efficacy (t = -4.80, p < .017). After the
training program, the academics English self-efficacy differentiated
Click Here to Zoom
|Table 5: Results of Paired Sample T-Test Concerning Self-Efficacy in Speaking English
Self-efficacy in academic writing in English
The writing self-efficacy items included can do statements
and descriptive findings related to the scale, as presented in
Table 6 shows that the gain score of each item increased, in different
amounts, after the post-test application. Compared to
the other two scales, the gain scores here were lower, changing
between 0.69 and 0.29. The highest gain was the writing
an abstract item, and the lowest gains were for the items:
explaining research problems and discussing findings.
Table 7 shows that there was not a meaningful difference
between the participants pre- and post-test scores regarding
writing self-efficacy (t = -2.46, p < .017). Though the academics
English writing self-efficacy increased after the training activity,
this growth was not statistically significant and was not much
compared to the variables: willingness to communicate and
Click Here to Zoom
|Table 7: Results of Paired Sample T-Test Concerning Self-Efficacy in Academic Writing
Qualitative findings of the intervention
All academics (35) were asked to rate their enjoyment of the
program using a scale ranging from 0 (I am not satisfied all)
to 4 (I am highly satisfied with the program). All participants said they were satisfied with the program and would like to
participate in a similar activity in the future. Twenty-five of the
participants also responded to the three open-ended questions
concerning the evaluation of the program.
Regarding the strengths of the program, 16 academics said
they found the course highly productive for the development
of their English proficiency in a general sense. On this issue, one
of the academics said: With this course, I practiced my English
skills constantly and gained self-confidence. Similarly, another
participant stated: The course increased my English-speaking
skills, especially speaking confidence with foreigners. Another
item within the course evaluation focused on the program
activities. Nine of the participants said the courses were very
enjoyable; that teacher made the course more attractive to the
participants. As the teachers created a stress-free atmosphere
in the class, the academics felt relaxed and voluntarily engaged
in the activities. Regarding this viewpoint, one academic said:
I developed my speaking and writing skills enjoyably with this
course in a non-pressured atmosphere. Another participant
noted: The activities in this course were very enjoyable. I
enjoyed a lot during lessons. Five participants emphasized
that the teachers were experts in the field and, therefore, knew
how to motivate and encourage the learners. On this issue, one
academic stated: The selection of the teachers for the course
was great. Teachers being an expert in the field and use of body
language motivated me to be a part of the group easily. In
parallel, another participant said: Project members were very
professional in their job; they are also good-humored and good
at communicating with people.
In addition to the positive aspects of the program, the academics
listed the weakest points. The majority of the academics (16
out of 25) complained about the short duration of the course,
agreeing that the three week-period was very limited and that
they require further training. Five academics focused on their
colleagues, saying that individual differences, such as proficiency
levels of the academics and some academics desire to
show off were the weakest points. Regarding this fact, one
academic stated: There is not any problems except some colleagues
in the writing class. They always show off and try to be
on the stage. This made me really annoyed sometimes. Lastly,
four academics addressed problems regarding the content of
the academic writing subject, saying that the writing course
did not meet their expectations. Sample excerpts described
this issue as follows: Writing course content can be changed
in a way more suitable for publishing, and: Proficiency differences
in the writing course was a problem for me.
For the development of other such programs, academics (21
out of 25) said similar programs with a long duration, between
three to 12 months or year-round, would be more effective.
On this issue, one participant said: We [academics] need such
kind of activities much but at that period of the course [sic]
should be longer. Another participant added that programs
could be much more effective if the problems regarding the
proficiency level difference are solved. Addressing another
weaker points of the program, four academics said the content
of the academic writing course requires some improvement.
On this issue, one participant said: The issues about how to
review a paper and discuss the ideas with literature should be
This study investigated the needs of Turkish academics regarding
English use in academia and tested the effectiveness of
a training activity designed according to the pre-determined
needs. The data collected through several resources were
descriptively analyzed, and findings regarding the English language
needs of academics and necessity of the faculty development
activities for universities were presented.
The needs analysis survey showed that the participating academics
had limited ability in English, and perceived themselves
as either medium or beginner level English languages users
regarding different macro skills. While the participants mostly
perceived themselves as beginners regarding English-speaking
skills, they had a moderate level in others. As Güven and Brewster
(2013) found in their research on faculty development
programs regarding the English language, the participants
perceived lowest proficiency skill was speaking. A possible
reason for this issue could be the English language tests in
Turkey, which are administered by the Assessment Selection
and Placement Center (Turkish acronym, ÖSYM). Proficiency
in English is an important milestone and a necessity for academics
in Turkey to gain a higher title, as preset by the Turkish
Interuniversity Council (Turkish acronym, UAK). Academics
mostly prefer to take the ÖSYM-based national language
exams, which disregard oral communication skills but assess
the participants reading level and knowledge of grammar (see Akpınar & Çakıldere, 2013). In the needs analysis step in this
current study, none of 105 academics reported that they had
obtained an international exam score, such as TOEFL or IELTS.
Although Turkish academics are aware of the necessity for
English conversation skills (e.g., Erişen et al., 2009; Koç et al.,
2015), they choose the easiest way of overcoming barriers for
promotion in their field. As found by Karakaş (2012), taking the
preset scores from the internationally recognized exams such
as IELTS, TOEFL for the academics is more difficult than the
national exams such as YDS, UDS, and work-related reasons
play a significant role in the desire to learn English. When it
comes to the specific needs of academics, this study showed
that English is needed mainly when delivering presentations at
international conferences, listening to international counterparts
speeches, collaborating with foreign colleagues, preparing
manuscripts, and reading field literature. Translation from
Turkish to English is an additional need. These results are consistent
with some studies (e.g., Erişen et al., 2009; Gündeğer et
al., 2012; Karakaş, 2012; Koç et al., 2015; TEPAV, 2015; Yavuzer
& Göver, 2012). The findings of this research update the available
knowledge regarding current English language needs of
Turkish academics, and highlight the necessity for improving
language proficiency levels in order for Turkish academics to
remain competitive with their international counterparts.
The faculty development program designed for this research
resulted in a significant positive increase in the academics
willingness to communicate in English, as well as improvement
in the level of English speaking. Though there was an increase
in the writing self-efficacy, this increase was not significant.
The participants were satisfied with the program and eager
to attend such training opportunities in the future. Their
demands regarding similar programs were related to improvements
such as longer course periods and training specifically
for writing for publications. The effectiveness of the program
addressed a need stated in the literature with some success,
but the academics require longer training programs regarding
the academic publication process, as reported by other
researchers (Koç et al., 2015; Örücü & Şimşek, 2011; Öztürk
& Özdemir, 2017; Uzuner, 2008). It should also be noted that
YÖK, MEB and The Scientific and Technical Research Council
of Turkey (Turkish acronym, TUBİTAK) have supported Turkish
academics with international research fellowship programs
for a significant period of time. However, the limited language
proficiency of the fellows may hinder the effectiveness and
aims of these programs. Research on these programs showed
that many academics see these fellowships as an opportunity
to practice English abroad, sometimes using the entire duration
primarily to develop their English conversation skills (Atila
et al., 2015; Gümüş & Gökbel, 2012). As stated by Atila and
colleagues (2015), it is crucial for academics to develop their
English-speaking and listening skills before travelling abroad.
Considering this, some universities, which have a long history
and large budgets, support opportunities for the academic
staff and organize structured training opportunities with their
international partner universities. For instance, Atatürk University
and Gazi University organize similar training programs
within research centers for international affairs, as well as
public education centers of the universities. In addition, some research is targeted at improving and revising the content and
goals of such activities (e.g., Öztürk & Özdemir, 2017). However,
sending academic staff abroad on a scholarship from the
university itself is beyond reach for some institutions, especially
those founded in Turkey after 2006. As stated by Doğan
(2017), it is unrealistic to expect great performances from
these universities when compared with those that have 50
years of history; these newer institutions need at least 25 to 50
years to compete with the worlds standard universities. In this
case, the newer universities should use their limited financial
resources carefully and consider the needs of academic staff in
their strategic planning.
In sum, this research is significant considering its two-fold
approach, combining theory and practice in the same study,
showing that academics are open to the idea of faculty
development and that faculty development programs are a
necessity in universities. In order to reach the goals of Turkey,
it is suggested that higher education institutions assume significant
responsibility in supporting opportunities for academics
individual development, and update academics according to
the needs of the changing world with similar training activities.
It should be noted that the study possesses some weaknesses,
which lower the impact and generalizability of the findings.
First, the study is country-specific, particularly limited by its
focus on academics from a non-English university founded in
Turkey after 2006. The needs of academics working in English
universities and universities with a longer-duration background
could be different from the group of academics who participated
in this study. Another weakness is regarding the design
of the intervention in the study, which included a one-group
pre-test and post-test. This design has minimal internal validity,
as there is no control group, and maturation may affect the
changes between pre- and post-tests (Duckart, 1998; Shadish,
Cook, & Campbell, 2002). To increase the internal validity in this
design, keeping the interval between the tests short in order
to lessen the maturation effect and adding more design elements
regarding the intervention are advised in the literature
(Shadish et al., 2002). As the creation of control and treatment
groups was beyond the scope of this research, duration of the
program was limited to three weeks, and a qualitative aspect
of the training activity was added in the study. Further studies
regarding the needs and faculty development of academics
in English-language universities, which have finished their
institutionalization, should be considered for future research.
To obtain more precise causal relationships, well-constructed
experimental designs, including control and treatment groups
with more academics participating, could be applied.
Erzincan Binali Yıldırım University Scientific Project Office supported
this study with the project grant number SBG-2016-378.
An earlier version of the study was presented orally at the First
International Black Sea Conference on Language and Language
Education. The authors thank the academics and teachers who
took part in the program and appreciate anonymous reviewers
for their comments on the improvement of the manuscript.
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