Dissertation Defense: Julia Goetze
Candidate Name: Julia Goetze
Advisor: Marianna Ryshina-Pankova, Ph.D.
Title: Linking Cognition and Emotion: An Appraisal Study of Foreign Language Teacher Anxiety
Anxiety is one of the most researched affective variables in the instructed language learning process in the field of second language acquisition (SLA). Yet, existing studies almost exclusively target the student population, although research established that foreign language (FL) teachers are equally affected by anxiety in the classroom (e.g., Horwitz, 1996), leaving the emotional life of teachers severely understudied (e.g., Mercer & Kostoulas, 2018). Additionally, learner-centered anxiety research is characterized by plethora of construct definitions that originated in psychology and have often been conveniently borrowed without providing a critical examination of the underlying assumptions, thereby often leaving scientific findings incomparable across studies. In the case of (FL) teacher anxiety, a clear and theoretically grounded definition of the construct is entirely absent.
Accordingly, this study introduces a definition that is rooted in cognitive psychology, defining (FL) teacher anxiety as a distinct feeling state that results from a cognitive appraisal sequence. To explore the relationship between appraisals and anxiety, the study uses a mixed- methods approach, including an online questionnaire, classroom observations, and semi-structured interviews. On the survey, 272 FL teachers in the US, Europe, and Asia rated two anxiety-provoking teaching scenarios, reporting their appraisals along six distinct dimensions, as well as the emotion(s) that characterized their feeling states. Additionally, three teachers of German as a foreign language were observed and interviewed about their experiences of anxiety in the classroom over a period of two weeks.
Quantitative findings revealed that the appraisal dimensions that form anxiety’s appraisal structure varied greatly in the strength of their relationship to anxiety in each scenario, albeit the direction of the relationship was consistent. Furthermore, anxiety’s appraisal structure was found to explain up to 50% of the variance in anxiety ratings in the survey scenarios. Qualitative findings suggest that teachers’ beliefs influence their appraisals, which leads to nuances in verbal construal of their emotional experiences. Lastly, some appraisal dimensions were traceable in the data, showing the same linguistic realizations in English and German.
Tuesday, May 15 at 11:00am to 1:00pm
Edward B. Bunn, S.J. Intercultural Center, 462
37th and O St., N.W., Washington