CLASSROOM RESEARCHCLASSROOM OBSERVATION STEFAN RATHERT
OVERVIEW1. What is classroom observation?2. Why do we carry out classroom observation?3. How can we carry out classroom observation?
1. WHAT IS CLASSROOM OBSERVATION? documenting life inside the classroom procedures in data collection during actual lessons by watching listening recording
WHAT IS CLASSROOM OBSERVATION? manual data participant collection – open-ended observation – electronic data observation – nonparticipant collection focused observation observation
2. WHY DO WE CARRY OUT CLASSROOM OBSERVATION? SLA research does not only focus on results focus is on result and process classroom interaction is essential
3. HOW CAN WE CARRY OUT CLASSROOM OBSERVATION? basic approaches ethnographic narratives transcriptions observation systems to code data quality control
ETHNOGRAPHIC NARRATIVES not only record of utterances but also description of classroom dynamics/atmosphere time-consuming to produce requires high-quality recording equipment and/or note taking skills
TRANSCRIPTIONS provides detailed evidence on specific aspects of classroom interaction can be analyzed through coding (category systems) time-consuming
OBSERVATION SYSTEMS TO CODE DATA use of categories students’ and/or teacher’s behaviours are documented focuses the attention on research questions very abstract, does not indicate sequences or length of interaction
OBSERVATION SYSTEMS TO CODE DATA: SELECTING AN OBSERVATION SCHEME check of a behaviour every time or at regular intervals? high- or low-inference categories? possible to assign an utterance to more than one category? designed for use in real time or with audio- /videotape recordings? designed for research or teacher education? focus of the instrument
EXAMPLE OF AN OBSERVATION SYSTEM: COLT Communicative Orientation to Language Teaching influenced by communicative approaches in FL learning designed to meet the needs for research on relationship between teaching and learning designed to develop psycholinguistically valid categories for classroom observation has two parts: Classroom Activities and Classroom Language
EXAMPLE OF AN OBSERVATION SYSTEM: COLT obtained data reliable but: categories given are ideologically loaded categories mirror assumption that communicative teaching facilitates effective learning best
OBSERVATION SCHEMES: GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS no totally objective classroom observation scheme observation schemes show tallies (frequency) not the interaction itself, i.e. the language used in interaction particularly elaborate schemes require trained observers complementary to transcriptions/ethnographic narratives
OBSERVATION SYSTEMS FOR CAPTURING SOCIAL ASPECTS not part of traditional SLA research but of value Seating Chart Observation Records (SCORE) analysis of interpersonal relationships in the classroom, e.g.: Who speaks to whom? Who initiates verbal turns? Who responds? provide no information about language, length of turns, accuracy or fluency
QUALITY CONTROL – THREATS TO OBSERVATION QUALITY validity observer technical effect issues adequate capture of reliability events
QUALITY CONTROL – THINGS TO CONSIDER check location beforehand check technical equipment acclimate participants to observation, build up trust reach an agreement with other observers match the categories for the observation to the research questions do a pilot study provide methods triangulation (e.g. observation scheme + field notes + stimulated recall)
REFERENCES Fraenkel, J.R & Wallen, N.M. (2006) How to Design and Evaluate Research in Education. Boston: McGraw-Hill Hopkins, D. (2002) A Teacher’s Guide to Classroom Research. Berkshire: Open University Press McKay, S. L. (2006). Researching second language classrooms. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Nunan D. & Bailey K. M. (2009) Exploring Second Language Classroom Research - A Comprehensive Guide. Boston: Heinle Cengage Learning Taggart, G.L. & Wilson A.P. (2005). Promoting Reflective Thinking in Teachers. 50 Action Strategies. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin Press
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