Appraisal systems in teacher training: focus on critical incidents (CI)
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The paper introduces the concept of a critical incident (CI) in the context of foreign language teaching and discusses its importance for teachers` professional development as a factor leading to a teacher´s awareness of his/her classroom. The ability to diagnose critical incidents is seen as an inseparable part of a teacher´s ability to control the teaching context and thus create critical events (CE). This paper also introduces the concept of an appraisal system (Smith and Lazarus 1993 ), understood as one´s evaluation of the relationship between one´s success and failure in respect of past experience and the ability to adapt to an immediate context. In my analysis I will follow Scherer´s (1984) taxonomy of components of appraisal systems such as novelty, the pleasantness of a task and coping potential, among others. This appraisal system is seen as emotionally-driven but it also emphasizes the cognitive dimension and the interaction between affective and cognitive processing. In the empirical part of the paper, the study on CI in teaching EFL is reported on. The main objective of the study was to make in-service teachers of EFL reflect upon their most memorable critical incident (CI) and evaluate it from the affective point of view. The study was also to make the subjects more aware of themselves and their classroom presence. The research instrument used in the project was the Geneva Appraisal Questionnaire -GAQ (Scherer 2001), based on Scherer´s taxonomy.
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