Although second language (L2) teacher cognition has been a sustained area of research in the field of L2 teacher education for the last three decades, designing an appropriate methodology to investigate teacher cognition is still a key challenge due to the unobservable nature of cognition. Teacher cognition is defined as “what teachers know, believe, and think” (Borg, 2003, p. 81). This article seeks to enable researchers who are interested in exploring L2 teacher cognition to design qualitative multiple case study research and to use constructivist grounded theory to data analysis to build theoretical models that capture L2 teachers’ cognitions. I discuss the rationale for the proposed design and outline the processes of data collection, three stages of data analysis, and the processes of constructivist grounded theory conceptualization. I provide examples and draw on my own experience of investigating and mapping out some of the intricate connections between the cognitions and the classroom practices of twelve English as a foreign language (EFL) writing teachers, on the one hand, and consider how their cognitions and pedagogical practices interplay with the ecological contexts where they teach, on the other hand. I highlight the flexibility of the proposed design to enable researchers to build models that effectively capture language teacher cognition and explain their pedagogical practices. In doing so, this article also provides a valuable contribution to the discussion of the research methods which have been used to examine L2 teacher cognition.


Language Teacher Cognition, Qualitative Methods, Multiple-Case Study, Constructivist Grounded Theory, L2 Writing Instruction

Author Bio(s)

Eman Alzaanin is an assistant professor of Applied Linguistics at the Faculty of Languages and Translation at King Khalid University. I have developed a keen interest in constructivist grounded theory methodology, language teacher cognition, and second language writing instruction. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: eman.alzaanin@outlook.com.

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