My research interests consist of two main strands: (a) describing aspects of language education, which I often approach through a complexity perspective; and (b) working with language teachers, with a particular emphasis on aspects of their psychology. In the paragraphs that follow, I describe these strands and exemplify them with sample publications. Following that, there is also a section outlining other, more tangential interests.
Understanding language education
I take a relatively big-picture, or holistic, approach to language education, which aims to understand how language policies and practices, local and global pedagogical traditions and ideologies about language and education all come together to produce language teaching and learning practices. To understand how such phenomena emerge, I often employ qualitative and mixed-method approaches, and use Complex Systems Theory as a theoretical lens. This work is best exemplified in my doctoral research, and in my monograph A Language School as a Complex System (2018, Peter Lang).
Within this broad area of research, one particular aspect in which I am particularly interested involves intentionality. Intentionality is, roughly, a personal or collective motivations to do something. These motivations can be explicitly stated, but they are often also implicit and have to be deduced from the activity of learners, classes or schools. Much of this work is co-authored with Juup Stelma, and examples include:
- Stelma, J. and Kostoulas, A. (in preparation). The Intentional Dynamics of TESOL. Amsterdam: DeGruyter Mouton.
- Kostoulas, A. and Stelma, J. (2017). Understanding curriculum change in an ELT school in Greece. ELT Journal 71(3), 354-363. doi: 10.1093/elt/ccw087
- Stelma, J., Onat-Stelma, Z., Lee, W. and Kostoulas, A. (2015). Intentional Dynamics in TESOL: An Ecological Perspective. Teachers College, Columbia University Working Papers in TESOL and Applied Linguistics 15(1), 14-32.
Working with language educators
During my appointment at the University of Graz, I was required to work on a number of projects that focused on the psychological experiences of language teachers. The diversity and vibrancy of the field is well attested in Language Teacher Psychology (2018, Multilingual Matters), a collection that I co-edited with Sarah Mercer.
My own niche in language teacher psychology involved the study of language teacher resilience. Language teacher resilience is the postulated ability of language teachers to cope with the stressors that they encounter in their professional contexts and remain professionally effective. While a lot of research in language teacher psychology takes a positive psychology perspective, which tends to de-emphasise the role of context, my work foregrounded the influence of social and professional factors. Two publications in this area included:
- Kostoulas, A. and Lämmerer, A. (2020). Pre-service teachers developing resilience. In Gkonou, C., Dewaele, J.-M., & King, J. (eds), The Emotional Rollercoaster of Language Teaching (pp. 89-110). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
- Kostoulas, A. and Lämmerer, A. (2018). Making the transition into teacher education: Resilience as a process of growth. In Mercer S. and Kostoulas, A. (eds) Language Teacher Psychology (pp. 247-263). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
Other work in language teacher psychology that I did while I was at the Universtity of Graz included the preparation of funding bids submitted by the ELT Research and Methodology team. The most important of these was the FWF-funded project Das psychologische Kapital von FremdsprachenlehrerInnen (The psychological capital of foreign language teachers), for which we were granted € 389,684.34.
Other research interests
In addition to the above, I have also been involved in a number of other research projects and collaborations. Some of these are listed below:
- Research into teachers’ perceptions of research, undertaken with a group of doctoral students at the university of Graz.
- An international collaboration with the University of Newcastle, the Fryske Academy and Action UK that aimed to develop learning materials for the integration of highly experienced refugees.
- The development of an action research cell at the University of Ioannina Model / Experimental Primary School.
I have deliberately kept this list of research interests concise. You can find a fuller listing of my interests and published work by reading this blog. The list of publications is a useful starting point.
I am always open to additional research opportunities, so if you have an idea you would like us to discuss, do feel free to contact me!