Higher Education’s Marketization Impact on EFL Instructor Moral Stress, Identity, and Agency

  •  Timothy Scott    


Higher educational institutions (HEIs) have experienced a dramatic reconceptualization as academia strives to align its organizational design and civic mission with the societal notion that education is obliged to prioritize quantifiable results. The traditionalistic ethos that knowledge is acquired through reason and the pursuit of critical inquiry has been supplanted by a marketized ideology that education is a transactional process. The latter notion fails to foster the development of students’ core competencies. The resulting commodification of education has repurposed HEIs from serving a public good to serving a private good and has impacted institutional policies, program offerings, curriculum design, pedagogy, and instructor and student assessment. English foreign language (EFL) programs face immense pressure to conform to external idealized beliefs concerning appropriate course design and implementation. Such pressure limits instructors’ ability to perform their tasks efficiently. The burden of cultural and institutional constraints and unmanageable expectations has led to myriads of professional and moral stresses that negatively affect EFL instructors’ identity and agency in their occupation. This article explores the marketization of universities and its subsequent impact on EFL instructors. Demands from various stakeholders create moral stress for instructors; influence instructor identity through shaping the perceived, actual, and external ought self; and produce damaging consequences related to diminished instructor agency in the classroom.

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