Iranian EFL Teachers' Professional Identity and Their Goal Orientation

Document Type : Original Article


Department of English, Torbat-e Heydarieh Branch, Islamic Azad University, Torbat-e Heydarieh, Iran


Teachers' professional identity has been defined as a developing and dynamic characteristic of teachers affecting social and personal aspects. Regarding Teacher Professional Identity (TPI), both personal and the professional dimensions of being and empowering a teacher should be investigated. Achievement goal theory concerns that individuals do their best for learning, performance-approach, and performance-avoidance goals. This study investigated the relationship between Iranian EFL teachers' professional identity and their goal orientation. To this end, TPI and goal-orientation questionnaires were distributed via the google form links being shared among 380 male and female EFL teachers in Telegram and WhatsApp groups in which EFL teachers were the members, and 371 of them returned the questionnaires. To analyze the data, Pearson correlation and multiple regression were used and the results revealed that there was a positive and significant relationship between TPI and goal orientation (GO). To investigate the subscales' predictability power, personal teaching efficacy proved to have the highest predicting power for TPI. The findings may be fruitful for EFL teachers who may not be aware of different dimensions of their PI and how they can control the influencing factors and develop PI in different domains by exploring their orientations.


Abtahi, T., & Motallebzadeh, K. (2016). Iranian EFL teachers' sense of professional identity and their computer literacy. International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature5(2), 207-214.
Alibakhshi, G. (2019). In-service training professional development needs of Iranian teachers of English as foreign language: A qualitative research study. Teaching English Language13(2), 95-115.
Alsup, J. (2006). Teacher identity discourses: Negotiating personal and professional spaces. London: Routledge
Ames, C. (1992). Classrooms: Goals, structures, and student motivation. Journal of Educational Psychology, 84(3), 261-271.
Ames, C., & Ames, R. (1984). Goal structures and motivation. The Elementary School Journal85(1), 39-52.
Ames, C., & Archer, J. (1988). Achievement goals in the classroom: Students’ learning strategies and motivation processes. Journal of Educational Psychology, 80, 260–267.
Archer, J. (1994). Achievement goals as a measure of motivation in university students. Contemporary educational psychology19(4), 430-446.
Ball, S. J. (1972). Self and identity in the context of deviance: the case of criminal abortion, in: R. Scott & J. Douglas (Eds) Theoretical perspectives on deviance (pp. 158–186). New York, NY: Basic Books.
Behin, B., Esmaeili, F., & Assadollahi, R. (2018). An English teacher's professional identity development: The effect of educational policies. Journal of Modern Research in English Language Studies5(2), 19-40.
Beijaard, D., Meijer, P. C., & Verloop, N. (2004). Reconsidering research on teachers' professional Identity. Teaching and Teacher Education, 20, 107-128.
Block, J. H., & Burns, R. B. (1976). Mastery learning. Review of research in education4, 3-49.
Bressler, C., & Rotter, C. (2017). The relevance of a migration background to the professional identity of teachers. International Journal of Higher Education, 6(1), 239-250.
Brophy, J. (2005). Goal theorists should move on from performance goals. Educational psychologist40(3), 167-176.
Bryan, H. (2004). Constructs of teacher professionalism within a changing literacy landscape. Literacy38(3), 141-148.
Butler, R. (2007). Teachers’ achievement goals and associations with teachers' help-seeking: Examination of a novel approach to teacher motivation. Journal of Educational Psychology, 99, 241–252.
Butler, R., & Shibaz, L. (2008). Achievement goals for teaching as predictors of students' perceptions of instructional practices and students’ help seeking and cheating. Learning and Instruction, 18, 453–467.
Chang-Kredl, S., & Kingsley, S. (2014). Identity expectations in early childhood teacher education: Pre-service teachers' memories of prior experiences and reasons for entry into the profession. Teaching and Teacher Education, 43, (27).
Cheung, H. Y. (2008). Measuring the professional identity of Hong Kong in‐service teachers. Journal of Inservice Education34(3), 375-390.
Colbeck, C. L. (2008). Professional identity development theory and doctoral education. New Directions for Teaching and Learning113, 9-16.
Danielewicz, J. (2001). Teaching selves: Identity, pedagogy, and teacher education. Albany, LY: State University of New York Press.
Derakhshan, A., Coombe, C., Arabmofrad, A., & Taghizadeh, M. (2020). Investigating the effects of English language teachers’ professional identity and autonomy in their success. Issues in Language Teaching9(1), 1-28.
Derakhshan, A., Coombe, C., Zhaleh, K., & Tabatabaeian, M. (2020). Examining the roles of continuing professional development needs and views of research in English language teachers’ success. The Electronic Journal for English as a Second Language (TESL-EJ), 24(3).
Dowson, M., & McInerney, D. M. (2004). The development and validation of the goal orientation and learning strategies survey (GOALS-S). Educational and psychological measurement64(2), 290-310.
Duda, J. L. (2005). Motivation in sport: The relevance of competence and achievement goals. In A. J. Elliot, & C. S. Dweck (Eds.), Handbook of competence and motivation (pp. 318:335). New York: Guilford Press.
Duda, J. L., & Nicholls, J. G. (1992). Dimensions of achievement motivation in schoolwork and sport. Journal of educational psychology84(3), 290.
Dupeyrat, C., & Mariné, C. (2005). Implicit theories of intelligence, goal orientation, cognitive engagement, and achievement: A test of Dweck's model with returning to school adults. Contemporary educational psychology30(1), 43-59.
Dweck, C. S. (1986). Motivational processes affecting learning. American Psychologist, 41(10), 1040-1048.
Dweck, C. S., & Leggett, E. L. (1988). A social-cognitive approach to motivation and personality. Psychological Review, 95, 256–273.
Elliot, A. J. (1999). Approach and avoidance motivation and achievement goals. Educational psychologist34(3), 169-189.
Elliot, E. S., & Dweck, C. S. (1988). Goals: An approach to motivation and achievement. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 5–12.
Elliot, A. J., & McGregor, H. A. (2001). A 2×2 achievement goal framework. Journal of personality and social psychology80(3), 501-513.
Elliot, A. J., Shell, M. M., Henry, K. B., & Maier, M. A. (2005). Achievement goals, performance contingencies, and performance attainment: An experimental test. Journal of educational psychology97(4), 630.
Eslami, Z. R., & Fatahi, A. (2008). Teachers' sense of self-efficacy, English proficiency, and instructional strategies: A study of nonnative EFL teachers in Iran. Tesl-Ej11(4).
Fogle, L. W., & Moser, K. (2017). Language teacher identities in the Southern United States: Transforming rural schools. Journal of Language, Identity & Education16(2), 65-79.
Ghanizadeh, A., & Ostad, S. A. (2016). The dynamism of teachers’ identity: The case of Iranian EFL teachers. Sino-US English Teaching13(11), 831-841.
Gilligan, C. (2003). The birth of pleasure: A new map of love. New York: Random House.
Hesamoddini, N. (2013). The study of the professional identity of Iranian EFL teachers and its relationship with their self-efficacy. (unpublished MA dissertation). Kharazmi University, Shiraz.
Hom, H. L., Duda, J. L., & Miller, A. (1993). Correlates of goal orientations among young athletes. Pediatric Exercise Science5(2), 168-176.
Huang, J. P., & Benson, P. (2013). Autonomy agency and identity in foreign and second language education. Chinese Journal of Applied Linguistics, 36(1), 7-28.
Kao, Y., & Lin, S. (2015). Constructing a structural model of teachers' professional identity. Asian Journal of Management Sciences & Education, 4(1), 69-81.
Kaplan, A., & Maehr, M. (2007). The contributions and prospects of goal orientation theory. Educational Psychology Review, 19, 141e184. doi:10.1007/s10648-006-9012-5.
Khazaie, S., & Jalilifar, A. (2015). Exploring the role of mobile games in a blended module of L2 vocabulary learning. Teaching English Language9(1), 61-91.
Krejcie, R. V., & Morgan, D. W. (1970). Determining sample size for research activities. Educational and psychological measurement30(3), 607-610.
Kucsera, J. V., Roberts, R., Walls, S., Walker, J., & Svinicki, M. (2011). Goal orientation towards teaching (GOTT) scale. Teachers and Teaching17(5), 597-610.
Kunst, E. M., van Woerkom, M., & Poell, R. F. (2018). Teachers’ goal orientation profiles and participation in professional development activities. Vocations and Learning11(1), 91-111.
Labbaf, A., Moinzadeh, A., & Dabaghi, A. (2019). Professional identity and teaching quality: The case of Iranian EFL teachers. Journal of English Language Teaching and Learning, 11(24), 201-225.
Levy, I., Kaplan, A., & Patrick, H. (2004). Early adolescents' achievement goals, social status, and attitudes towards cooperation with peers. Social Psychology of Education, 7(2), 127-159.
Loughran, J. (2007). Enacting a pedagogy of teacher education. In T. Russell, & J. Loughran, Enacting a pedagogy of teacher education (pp. 11-25). London: Routledge.
Maehr M, & Midgley C. (1991). Enhancing student motivation: A school-wide approach. Educational Psychology, 26, 399–427.
Maehr, M. L., & Zusho, A. (2009). Achievement goal theory: The past, present, and future. In K. R. Wentzel & A. Wigfield (Eds.), Handbook of motivation at school (pp. 77–104). New York: Taylor Francis
Meece, J. L., Blumenfeld, P. C., & Hoyle, R. H. (1988). Students' goal orientations and cognitive engagement in classroom activities. Journal of educational psychology80(4), 514.
Midgley, C., Maehr, M. L., Hruda, L. Z., Anderman, E., Anderman, L., Freeman, K. E., Urdan, T. (2000). Manual for the Patterns of Adaptive Learning Scales (PALS). Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan.
Mirzaee, A., & Aliakbari, M. (2017). The role of sociocultural mediational tools in EFL teachers’ development: insights from a life history approach. International Journal of Lifelong Education36(6), 644-661.
Motallebzadeh, K., & Kazemi, B. (2018). The relationship between EFL teachers’ professional identity and their self-esteem. Cogent Education5(1), 1443374.
Nicholls, J. G. (1984). Achievement motivation: Conceptionsof ability, subjective experience, task choice, and performance. Psychological Review, 91, 328–346.
Nicholls, J. G., Patashnick, M., & Nolen, S. B. (1985). Adolescents' theories of education. Journal of Educational Psychology77(6), 683.
Paulick, I., Retelsdorf, J., & Möller, J. (2013). Motivation for choosing teacher education: Associations with teachers’ achievement goals and instructional practices. International Journal of Educational Research, 61,60–70.
Peeler, E., & Jane, B. (2003). Mentoring: Bridging the identity crisis for beginning teachers. In NZARE/AARE conference, Auckland. Retrieved from
Payne, S. C., Youngcourt, S. S., & Beaubien, J. M. (2007). A meta-analytic examination of the goal orientation nomological net. Journal of applied psychology, 92(1), 128.
Rahimi, M., Yousofi, N., & Moradkhani, S. (2019). Exploring the professional identity construction of ELT researchers in higher education. Teaching English Language13(1), 85-117.
Saqipi, B., Asunta, T., & Korpinen, E. (2014). Understanding the context of teacher professionalism in education systems undergoing transition–Kosovo case. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences112, 635-646.
Schunk, D. H., Pintrich, P. R., & Meece, J. L. (2008). Motivation in education. Theory, research, and applications. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Merrill Prentice Hall.
Sheybani, M. & Miri, F. (2019) The relationship between EFL teachers' professional identity and their critical thinking: A structural equation modelling approach, Cogent Psychology, 6(1), 1592796
Soodak, L. C. & Podell, D. M. (1997). Efficacy and experience: Perceptions of efficacy among pre-service and practicing teachers. Journal of Research and Development in Education, 30, 214-221.
Tsakissiris, J. (2015). The role of professional identity and self-interest in career choices in the emerging ICT workforce (A Submitted thesis in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Busine). Queensland University of Technology.
VandeWalle, D. (1997). Development and validation of a work domain goal orientation instrument. Educational and psychological measurement, 57(6), 995-1015.
Tschannen-Moran, M., Woolfolk Hoy, A., & Hoy, W. K. (2001). Teacher efficacy: Its meaning and measure, Review of Educational Research, 68, 202-248.
van Daal T., Donche, V., & De Maeyer, S. (2014). The impact of personality, goal orientation and self-efficacy on participation of high school teachers in learning activities in the workplace. Vocations and Learning, 7, 21–40.
Varghese, M., Morgan, B., Johnston, B. and Johnson, K. (2005) Theorizing language teacher identity: Three perspectives and beyond. Journal of Language, Identity, and Education, 4, 21–44.
Wang, H., Hall, N. C., Goetz, T., & Frenzel, A. C. (2017). Teachers' goal orientations: Effects on classroom goal structures and emotions. British Journal of Educational Psychology87(1), 90-107.
Webb, R., Vulliamy, G., Hämäläinen, S., Sarja, A., Kimonen, E., & Nevalainen, R. (2004). A comparative analysis of primary teacher professionalism in England and Finland. Comparative education40(1), 83-107.
Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wolters, C. A. (2003). Understanding procrastination from a self-regulated learning perspective. Journal of educational psychology95(1), 179.
Yıldızlı, H. (2021). A case study on goal orientations for teaching. Journal on Efficiency and Responsibility in Education and Science14(1), 9-27.