Classroom research


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This summarises classroom research chapter in Mackey & Gass's book on research in second language

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Classroom research

  1. 1. Define classroom researchClassroom research contextsConducting classroomobservations
  2. 2. What is Classroom Research?The formal study of teaching and learning. Itattempts to answer two fundamental questions:• how well are students learning ?• how effectively are teachers teaching?Through close observation, the collection offeedback on student learning and the careful designof experiments, classroom teachers can learn moreabout:• how students learn• how students respond to particular teaching approaches.
  3. 3. Classroom Laboratory based research V.S. research Allows the researcher to:No control • tightly control the experimental variables. • Randomly assign subjects to treatment groups. • Employ control groups.
  4. 4. Combined approaches to classroom research Studies must be carried out in different contexts and a range of different approachesmust be used to gain a deeper understandingof the complexity of second language learning.
  5. 5. • Observational data are common in second language research.• Useful for gathering in-depth information about some phenomena occurring in L2/FL classrooms.  Types of language  Activities  Interactions  Instructions  Events
  6. 6. • Can allow the study of a behavior at close range with many important contextual variables present. Contextual variables are environmental factors e.g. Location of the school Size of school/ classroom
  7. 7. 1. Obtrusive observer.2. The Hawthorne effect.3. Objectivity and subjectivity4. Obtaining permission & requesting the instructor’s help.5. Debriefing the instructor.
  8. 8. The presence ofobtrusive observer maybe felt in the classroomto the extent that theevents observed cannotbe said to fully representthe class in its typicalbehavior. The observation data will be of limited validity.
  9. 9. Young learners getdistracted by observers. Prevent instructors from delivering the lesson to the best of their ability. + Prevent students from learning to the best of theirs.Compromise thequality of the lesson.
  10. 10. Between 1924 and 1932, the HawthorneWorks Company near Chicago commissionedElton Mayo to determine if the level of lightwithin their building affected theproductivity of the workers.Mayo found that the level of light made nodifference in the productivity, as theworkers increased output whenever theamount of light was switched from a low levelto a high level, or vice versa.They increased productivity, simplybecause they were happy to receiveattention from researchers.
  11. 11. Accordingly,• In observational research it may be difficult to be sure that the observed classes are the same without observation.• In controlled research it may be difficult to separate the Hawthorne effects from experimental variables.
  12. 12. Use ofMellow,1996 time- series designs students and teachers begin to feel more comfortable May reduce and natural the about being Hawthorne observed effect
  13. 13. • Instructors often observe each others classes for professional development / may carry out observations of their own classes.• The level of objectivity and subjectivity may be questionable.• Therefore it is necessary for researchers to strive for objectivity and be aware of the subjective elements in that effort.
  14. 14. It is important to obtain the permission of theinstructor in advance of the scheduled observation(s) Professional courtesy Help the instructor lessen any impact of observation on lesson planning and implementation Introduce Arrival time Previsits researcher Seating Feedback arrangement
  15. 15. • Debrief the instructor about the research findings or the content of the observation notes of scheme. Establish a more trusting and cooperative relationship with instructors.
  16. 16. • Clearly express appreciation to the instructor, students and administration. By: • Thanks • Acknowledgements • Sending copies For fostering good relationship between instructors and future researchers.
  17. 17.  Consider the goals of the research and the observation Prevent duplication of effort by adapting existing codes or schemes Existing schemes vary in complexity and organization In most observation schemes, the observer marks the frequency of an observed behavior or event at regular time interval. E.g.
  18. 18. Classroom Observation Tally Sheet From Nunan (1989)
  19. 19. Low inference categoriesObservers reach high levels ofagreement and reliability in real-time coding situation.High inference categoriesrequire judgement, such as thefunction or meaning of theobserved event.
  20. 20. Part 2 Part 1 High inference rating scaleReal time, low inference to be completed after thechecklist for describing: observation• Live classroom A 5-point scale for categories activities such as:• Linguistic content • Enthusiasm• Skill focus • Humor• Teaching behaviors • Negative/Positive• Student actions reinforcement
  21. 21. • Developed in the 1980s to describe differences in communicative language teaching. • Focuses on pedagogical and verbal behavior. Part A For real-time coding. More than 40 categories Part B are provided for: • Participant For post-observational organization analysis of tape-recordings • Activities • Topic type • Content • Control
  22. 22. Common elements in observation codingschemes:Many schemes include categories for:• Participants identity and groupings• Content or topic of the lesson• Types of activities and material used.• Language employed• The targeted skill
  23. 23.  Relative ease of use. Comparability with other studies Simplified analysis of complicated and rich classroom data. Possibility of measuring change over different time periods. More reliable focus on facets related to the research problem. Different classroom contexts can be compared
  24. 24. CAVEATS TO USING OR MODIFYING EXISTINGOBSERVATION SCHEMES Determine if the scheme is appropriate for the research goals.  To be valid the finding must be the result of appropriate and applicable schemes Consider the type of findings that are likely to emerge from an observation scheme. With most coding schemes only one rater observes the data. The use of predetermined categories limit and restrict the observer’s perceptions, important patterns could be missed.
  25. 25. THANK YOU
  26. 26. Definition Data elicitation techniques that encourage learners to communicate their internal processing and perspectives about language learning experience which cannot be detected by observation approaches. Methods 1. Uptake Sheets 2. Stimulated Recalls 3. Diary Research
  27. 27. • Allow researchers to investigate learners’ perceptions about what they Uptake: are learning. Whatever is that the learners get• Often distributed at the beginning of from all the the lesson. language learning• Learners are asked to mark or note opportunities things on which the researcher or provided by teacher is focusing. language lessons.• Helps creating a more detailed picture of classroom events in the process.
  28. 28. Who said it? (check as Was this new to many as you want) you?What are you Teach Class- Me Book Yes, No, No,noticing about….. er mate new heard knew of it itPronunciation....Vocabulary....Grammar....
  29. 29. • The observer makes an audio or video recording and plays it to the participant, stopping to ask what they think in a particular point.• Provide researcher with access to the learners’ interpretations of the events that were observed.• A valuable source of information for researchers interested in viewing a finely detailed picture of the classroom.
  30. 30. Definition • A first person account of a language learning or a teaching experience. • Documented through regular candid entries in a personal journal and then analyzed for recurrent patterns and salient events. (Bailey, 1990)