This paper reports a study that examined the pedagogical knowledge (knowledge and beliefs related to the act of teaching) of two more successful and two less successful adult ESL instructors during planning teaching and post teaching reflection. The verbal reports of their teaching were compared to previous studies (Gatbonton, 2000, 2008; Mullock, 2006) that used stimulated recall to categorize adult ESL instructors' pedagogical thoughts during their instruction. The comparison showed that the previous categories were inadequate to cover the data. Additional codes were added in order to codify all the data after which patterns and themes emerged that overarched the previous categories. The five pattern themes among the four participants included academic focus, comprehension, engagement, language management, and student centered. The two more successful teachers each had one specific pattern theme whose fundamental focus was on student learning. These themes dominated the more successful teachers' pedagogical foci while the other four themes were subservient to that dominant theme. Like the more successful teachers all five pattern themes were present in the planning and reflection of the less successful teachers. However, the protocols of the less successful Adult ESL teachers did not exhibit a central theme or pedagogical focus that orchestrated and directed the movement of their pedagogical thoughts among the remaining pattern themes. This lack of a dominant theme meant that the pedagogical foci of these teachers moved from one theme to another without a consistent orientation toward a central goal. The conflicted or divided nature of the pedagogical thinking of these less successful teachers may contribute to the reduction in the learning of students in their classes.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Teacher Education



Date Submitted


Document Type





academic focus, adult education, comprehension, ELL, engagement, ESL, language management, less successful teachers, novice, pedagogy, planning, reflection, stimulated recall, student centered instruction, successful teachers