The construction and negotiation of identity and face in post observation feedback

  • Helen Donaghue

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Identity influences the practice of English language teachers and supervisors, their professional development and their ability to incorporate innovation and change. Talk during post observation feedback meetings provides participants with opportunities to articulate, construct, verify, contest and negotiate identities, processes which often engender issues of face. This study examines the construction and negotiation of identity and face in post observation feedback meetings between in-service English language teachers and supervisors at a tertiary institution in the United Arab Emirates.
    Within a linguistic ethnography framework, this study combined linguistic microanalysis of audio recorded feedback meetings with ethnographic data gathered from participant researcher knowledge, pre-analysis interviews and post-analysis participant interpretation interviews.
    Through a detailed, empirical description of situated ‘real life’ institutional talk, this study shows that supervisors construct identities involving authority, power, expertise, knowledge and experience while teachers index identities involving experience, knowledge and reflection. As well as these positive valued identities, other negative, disvalued identities are constructed. Identities are shown to be discursively claimed, verified, contested and negotiated through linguistic actions. This study also shows a link between identity and face. Analysis demonstrates that identity claims verified by an interactional partner can lead to face maintenance or support. However, a contested identity claim can lead to face threat which is usually managed by facework. Face, like identity, is found to be interactionally achieved and endogenous to situated discourse. Teachers and supervisors frequently risk face threat to protect their own identities, to contest their interactional partner’s identities or to achieve the feedback meeting goal i.e. improved teaching.
    Both identity and face are found to be consequential to feedback talk and therefore influence teacher development, teacher/supervisor relationships and the acceptance of feedback. Analysis highlights the evaluative and conforming nature of feedback in this context which may be hindering opportunities for teacher development.
    Date of AwardDec 2015
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorSue Garton (Supervisor)


    • institutional interaction
    • English language teaching
    • teacher development
    • teacher evaluation
    • linguistic ethnography
    • conversation analysis

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