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Here the issue is written at the center of a piece of paper and related factors branch out from the center. Teachers at Aston reported that there is a different kind of thinking involved in the two techniques. The thinking in focusing circles is selective, you are involved in decid- ing, and you need to make choices and justify them. In mind maps, the main thinking goes into making connections, one thing leads to another. Most of these teachers felt that of the two, focusing circles was more productive in finding a focus for AR.

There was a feeling that once a decision had been made, that is, a focus found, then mind mapping could be used to trace back the connections and see the small focus within the bigger picture. Significantly, a number of these teachers report that using both during the AR process had helped them. Mann, , p. As you develop your questions it is useful to check them out from time to time to make sure that they are taking you along the right track — they need to be relevant and useful and also able to provide you with good outcomes. The question checklist in Table 2. Does the What improves motivation in my The first question is too broad question have class?

What kind of speaking activities The second question allows for will motivate my students? How can group work be extended The second question allows for in my classroom? Is the question How will using electronic The first question already biased? Does the How will observation of my Observation alone is unlikely to question allow students carrying out listening result in comprehensive for a logical tasks increase my understanding findings about how students connection of how best to develop their develop their listening skills.

What kinds of reading tasks work The second allows you to try the most effectively in my out different kinds of tasks for classroom? Plan — planning the action 33 Question type Sample questions Comment 6. Is the question How can I stop beginner low- This question assumes first that ethical? Is the question What kinds of listening tasks The first question is full of stated clearly based on contemporary theories redundant information and is and concisely?

Some of the teaching used in a seventh grade information relates to the classroom at Au Bord de la Mer context and to current widely Secondary High School in the used teaching approaches and Region of Normandy, France, can should be placed in a report of best be applied to increase the the research. What kinds of listening tasks will The second question indicates assist my EFL seventh grade specifically what kinds of tasks students to develop their listening will be investigated and what skills?

Getting permission and covering ethical issues One of the question types in Table 2.

A Guide to Effective Research Practice, 1st Edition

We look more closely at this issue in this section. The goals that stand out in AR are connected more broadly to conducting research ethically and it is important to be aware of the fundamental ethical standards. Essentially, research ethics are to do with conducting research in a moral and responsible way. Classroom voices Rob Dickey tells me he has been teaching English and assorted other courses to uni- versity learners of English in Korea since Here is his summary of what ethics is about, based on his professional involvement with ethical issues in language teaching and language teaching research.

Ethics in action research is actually pretty simple to understand. First, you treat others as you wish to be treated. Second, we are role-models for our learners in everything we do. When our learners understand what we are trying to do, how we would like them to be involved, what we expect to do with the information we gather from them, and they agree to participate, then we are satisfying these two concerns.

Of course, then we have to live up to our end of the bargain! They depend on the scope of the project and the methods to be used, the number of researchers, the participants involved, the location of the research, and how the results will be distributed. Typically, AR is small-scale and carried out by an individual, or a group of colleagues working collaboratively together. For AR projects, you should keep at least three important issues in mind: 1. Whose permission do you need for your research? Who should be told about your research when it is completed? Two kinds of permission must be considered.

First, depending on the requirements in your organisation you may need to obtain permission from the school board, district, or the individual school to undertake the research. In some countries, organisations, particularly universities or education departments, have stringent rules about applying for permission that involve completing comprehen- sive forms outlining the procedures in detail.

At my university, for example, action researchers cannot begin their research until all the aspects of the project have been described in detail and approved by a Human Ethics Committee. The website for my university listed at the end of this book will give you an example of the kind of procedures you might have to follow. Action point Find out the requirements for conducting research in your organisation.

If you are enrolled in a pre- or in-service course, discuss them with your lecturer or professor. The other type of permission is to do with: i informing people that you are conducting research; and ii gaining their consent to participate. This is usually referred to as informed consent. Informed consent goes further than just letting your participants know you are doing research. Classroom voices Lucy Valeri was one of the teachers who participated in the Australian disparate learner project mentioned earlier.

She used a great deal of group work but had never thoroughly investigated what her students thought about the way she grouped them. All were informed about the project and happy to participate. I also discussed the kind of data I would be collecting. Valeri, , p. In primary school situations in particular, participants may be too young to understand the implications of giving permission. Preferably, you should ask partici- pants, or their parents, to sign a consent form a copy of which they keep that sets out the terms of their agreement to be involved.

A written agreement has advantages over verbal agreement, as McKay , p. Second, most institutions involved in research projects require it. Written consent also helps to ensure that your participants are clear about the procedures you will undertake and can easily refer back to them. Who will be affected by your research? This is the second key ethical area you need to consider. Research should not involve any risk, harm or disadvantage to the students by being involved in the actions you take.

Neither should it invade their privacy by touching on personal, sensitive areas. Often these students have escaped oppres- sive regimes or war-torn countries where being questioned, watched or asked to sign something carried high risks. In AR involving such students it is particularly important to ensure that participating will not cause them psychological distress. Explaining carefully why you are asking people to participate, what methods you are using and how the research will be used for positive purposes is essential. You should always ask permission if you think you might eventually be showing the recordings in presentations to colleagues.

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Inevitably, you are in a position of authority. Be sensitive to the fact that students might not want to refuse to partici- pate if they feel that it will displease you or that there are consequences for them. Another way is to reassure them that participation is completely voluntary and that they can change their minds at any time.

Usually, it is best to store the data in a secure location where you know the information will be available only to you and to others directly involved in the research. Here, there is a need to explain who will be informed about the research and how it will be publicised. Participants have a right to know whether they will be given information about the outcomes and in what form, as well as who else is likely to be told about the research.

It is good practice to provide some kind of feedback to the participants. One way of ensuring the validity, or trustworthiness of your analysis, which we will discuss in much more detail in Chapter 4, is to provide a summary of it to your participants. Also, it is a courtesy to provide information at the end of the research about what came out of it, in a form that your participants will understand.

This could mean holding a discussion with students about what you found out, giving participants a shortened version of a longer written report or article, or providing a class poster which displays your data visually. Some teachers I know have sometimes involved their participants in presenting the research at teacher workshops or conferences so that they can give their perspectives.

Clearly, it can be embarrassing to be easily singled out and possibly compared unfavourably with others. If you are presenting to colleagues in the same school or district this is quite likely. In all aspects of doing AR, ethical issues present teacher researchers with decisions, challenges and choices.

The main thing is to use ethical concepts to put yourself in the position of your participants and be open to thinking carefully about the type of data you really need to collect. Finally, it is highly likely that the ethical requirements I have outlined have raised a number of issues in your mind as you think about your own project. Below are the most common questions I get asked by action researchers concerned about ethical issues. When collecting your data and reporting the research you can show you are aware of this possible limitation on your research.

Students are in your class to learn, so learning is likely to be more important to them than the fact you are doing research. In any case, you should also explain or have someone else explain to the students in terms they can understand what your research involves. If you are video- or audio- recording your classroom you should avoid recording those students.

Preparing your resources and materials As you begin your research you need to consider what resources, materials and support you should access. I will touch on three areas I have found action researchers to be most interested in. Consulting the literature 2. Involving others 3. Identifying and using equipment.

Writing the Results Section for Research Papers

Consulting the literature It is not absolutely essential to do a literature search before you begin your AR. In fact, some action researchers take the view that going to the literature takes them away from seeing things as they really are. They argue that local knowledge and practice is more relevant for AR than generalised research conclusions that recommend applying a certain approach uncritically.

Nevertheless, many teacher action researchers have found consulting the litera- ture very helpful and I strongly recommend that you do this at some point for several reasons. First, reading the literature can help give you ideas for your focus area and questions. Next, it helps you connect what you are doing with a larger body of work in language teaching and learning. Also, you can get ideas about how to design your research and collect data, as well as suggestions and examples for analysing your data.

Next, the literature can help you to crystallise your ideas about the terms you are using and what they mean. We will look again at this issue in Chapter 3. To start off they looked for literature on literacy research in Latin America in contexts that related to theirs.

They discovered that these studies showed that all the students seemed to read texts at literal sight and sound levels. Critical, inferential, and meaning-based reading comprehen- sion were lacking, both in how teachers taught and in how students read. They linked these insights to international literature by Devine , who highlighted the challenges for EFL and ESL students of developing reading and writing comprehension. Here is a very brief overview of where to start. They might even be able to lend you personal copies or advise on where and how to borrow them, especially if they are not held in your library.

The reference lists in collections such as these will be helpful in pointing you to key authors in your area of interest. You should look for the most recent collections to get up-to-date overviews. Not all journals specialise in classroom, teacher or action research or are focused on how research is applied in the classroom.

You should look for ones that actively encourage teacher research submissions or pub- lish articles which stress links between theory and practice, for example ELT Journal in the UK or Prospect in Australia. Some journals, such as Language Teaching, provide state-of-the-art papers and short abstracts of recently published articles which give useful leads. Also, as Angela, Lourdes and Bayibe did, look for journals in your country or region that show examples of how others have dealt locally with the topics that concern you.

To use ERIC, or any other database, you need to be aware of the idea of keywords. These are the main content words or concepts in your research question.

Why reference?

Another concept to be aware of is Boolean searching, which allows you to narrow or widen your search. Boolean searching involves three options: AND which narrows the search by linking key- words, OR which expands the search by alternating the keywords, NOT which narrows the search by excluding a keyword. The keywords are electronic dictionaries and writing. Enter www. Type in electronic dictionaries; this gave me 79 results. To narrow the search to include writing, go to Back to Search.

Click on Advanced Search. You now have a number of options for narrowing the search. When I limited my search to articles I got 41 results. To bring in your other keyword, go back to Advanced Search. There you will see boxes where you can enter more keywords. This is where the Boolean search comes in, which you can access by changing the boxes on the left-hand side of the screen.

As you can see, how you use the Boolean options considerably changes the results. When I clicked on Any Publication Type for electronic dictionaries and writing, my results increased from 7 to I could then scroll through the abstracts displayed to see which were likely to be relevant. One thing to be aware of is that ERIC results are listed chronologically from the most recent.

Internet The Internet is a wonderful resource for researchers. To search the Internet you need to use a Search Engine such as Google, www. Frances worked for many years with language teacher researchers all over the world. She offers the following suggestions for good searching. Develop your search strategy by creating a list of key research terms first. Ask yourself these kinds of questions: What type of information is required?

Do I need scholarly information or practical information? Should it be current or do I need a historical perspective? What time frames should I choose? What extent of coverage do I need? What formats am I looking for full journal articles, helpful hints? The next thing is to be as specific as possible in your search, by used the Advanced Search options, and the Help link. Also, think about using more than one search engine. Personal communication, 17 September Some criteria for evaluating literature resources Whether you are using print-based sources or sources from the Internet, it is important to evaluate the quality and reliability of the information you have found.

Schwalbach suggests that there are four criteria to consider when weighing up the literature and they apply equally well to Internet sources. They are listed below with some key questions to ask yourself: Quality: How good is the literature you are reading? Does the author provide evidence for the asser- tions? Does the author provide an accurate reference list? Is there an adequate depth as well as breadth of information? Objectivity: How balanced is what you are reading? Does the author argue for a particular approach after he or she shows that others have also been considered?

Timeliness: How recent is it? Does the author use up-to-date information and references? If you or the author are using older literature, is this because they are the leading works in the area? Quantity: How much should I read? Key questions: Have you read enough to become more familiar with the area? Are you beginning to recognise key ideas and author names? Are you getting a sense of the current main trends in teaching or researching the area? Is the reading providing you with clearer ideas about your research topic? Adapted from Schwalbach, , pp. Perusing several sources of information on the same topic will enable you to become familiar with the key writers and the research already conducted.

Scaffolding your reading of the literature You may or may not end up writing about the literature when you report your AR see Chapter 5. U What in the article are you Unhappy about? For example: any weaknesses in the article? E Are there any Excellent points that got you Excited? For example: any points you agree with? S What are the Strengths of the article? For example: is it well written?

T What are the important Themes in the article? For example: what is the main message in the article? Adapted from Barkhuizen, , p. To do this you should follow guidelines provided by your lecturer or professor. Involving others Another aspect of the resources you need for your research is identifying the people you will involve. One essential group is the research participants themselves. These are usually you as the teacher, of course, and the students in your classroom, but others such as co-teachers, team-teachers, bilingual support teachers, cooperating practice teachers, classroom aides, parents, school librarians, school principals, administrators, university-based mentors, or volunteers assisting your students might also be included.

Of course, you will need to ask permission if they are to be directly involved in your data collection. Apart from these direct participants, you may wish to encourage other teachers to be co-researchers who work collaboratively with you. Plan — planning the action 45 Classroom voices Joko Priyana is a teacher who conducted AR in a primary school in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

As the curriculum documents in Indonesia had just changed to an approach using task- based teaching, Joko wanted to try out different tasks in the classroom to evaluate their effectiveness for students in Grade 4. At the end of the lesson, Joko and the observer got together to compare their observations of how a particular task had worked.

This is how Joko described it: The observation had three parts. The first part was the description of the task. In this part [I described] the task being evaluated. The second part was a task evaluation rating scale. The observer was asked to rate his extent of agreement by circling 1 strongly disagree , 2 disagree , 3 neutral , 4 agree , or 5 strongly agree.

The third part was open questions about the changes that could be made to the original task for some reason. This part also allowed the observer to write general comments on the task completion. Adapted from Priyana, , p. However, for me and for many teachers I have worked with, collaboration is a much preferred way to do AR. This is because it gives action researchers great support and increases your ability to deepen your insights through dialogue with others. If you have opportunities to get together with like- minded colleagues I would certainly encourage you to do AR collaboratively.

On the other hand, we cannot just assume that collaboration is the best way to do AR. Interestingly, Steve Mann , whose classroom voice you read earlier in this chapter, and who I know is very supportive of collaborative research, also provides some good counter-arguments to collaboration. He notes that working in groups can be a mixed blessing as members may not always get on.

Clearly, in the end the choice of how you proceed with AR is up to your personal preferences and depends on the circumstances you are in. These resources are in the public domain and can be invaluable ways of getting moral and practical support. Preparing equipment and materials In addition, you need to plan for the equipment or materials for your research and have them ready for use.

We will consider this issue from two perspectives: software and hardware. In Chapter 3, we will explore in more detail how some of these software and hardware materials can be used during data collection. Software Obviously, the software materials you use depend on the types of data you decide to collect and your own preferences for documenting information. When you are actually in the classroom it might be easier, for example, to capture some of your data through hand-written notes. Hardware Modern technology means that hardware equipment is developing at a rapid rate.

This is a great bonus for action researchers as there are now numerous ways to capture what your participants say and do which were not available in previous decades. Recordings of classroom interactions and behaviours can be made using video-recorders, audio-cassettes, MP3 players, mini-disc, digital cameras, and mobile phones. Before we leave this section a word or two should be said about recording your data.

The following points may seem rather obvious, but checking them could save you quite a few headaches and heartaches when it comes to replaying your recordings. These guidelines were developed during an action research project I was involved in several years ago that focused on teaching speaking.

MP3 players can be suspended around the neck; lapel microphones can be used if available. As I mentioned in Chapter 1, AR is not a lock-step process; it is dynamic and recursive and new decisions and plans will constantly arise as you develop your research. Following Fischer , pp. The second is for those studying in university programmes who might be asked to submit a more formal proposal.

Remember this is just your first pass at the plan. Summary point The focus of this chapter has been on planning your research. You can also begin identifying who you will involve in the research and how you will collect your data. These decisions raise ethical considerations.

At these initial stages, you also begin scanning your plans over the longer term to make decisions about what resources you will need — whether you will consult the literature and if so how, who you are likely to involve, who can provide support, and what software and hardware you are going to require. You may even have been modi- fying them as you read this chapter. Go back to them now and spend some time thinking over your ideas. Plan — planning the action 49 Appendix 2.

If you agree to participate in this study, you will be asked to complete a written survey and be part of a focus group interview with other students to discuss how you respond to group work. The focus groups will be audio-recorded. These recordings and the notes I take during the interview will be used as information for the project. Your participation in this research is voluntary and you can withdraw at any time. You do not have to give a reason for withdrawing from the research and there will be no negative consequences if you decide to withdraw.

No reference to personal names will be used. I am the only person who will have access to the data collected for the project. Any data I use in reports or publications will be for illustration only. Participant consent The participant has been given a signed copy of this form to keep. I agree to participate in this research. What issues within this overall context does your research hope to address? Rationale Summarise why you are doing this research.

Evaluation of outcomes List the ways you will know whether the research has been successful. What indica- tors will tell you that the research has produced results e. What data will you use to support your evaluation e. Action plan Describe the steps you anticipate taking. What will you do now? What do you anticipate doing in future? What data will you collect? How will you analyse it? How will you present your research to others? How long will you continue the plan?

Resources needed Itemise the support you need to put the plan into action. What kind of literature would be useful? Who could assist, collaborate or advise you? What equipment and materials do you need? Adapted from Fischer, , p. Focus Describe the context of the research and your research problem.

What are the main issues embedded in your research problem? Questions Outline the main research questions. How are the questions logically related to your focus area? Remember that your questions are likely to change as you proceed, but should be clear enough to provide a good starting point. Rationale Describe your reasons for undertaking this project. What is its relevance to your context, your students, your own professional development?

What outcomes do you expect from the research? Review of literature Provide a brief summary of the key works on your topic and questions. Who are the main authors and what are their key ideas? How much research seems to have been conducted on this topic? Research methods Outline the main methods you will use. What actions and strategies will you use in the classroom? What involvement will your students have? What types of methods will be appropriate e. Data collection Describe how you will document what happens. What data collection tools will you use e. Data analysis Summarise how you will analyse the data.

How will you identify themes and categor- ies in open-ended comments? What tools lend themselves to quantitative analysis? How will you display the information? Timeline Set out the timelines for the research. How long will you continue the research? What additional phases or steps do you anticipate might be needed? Resources needed Identify the resources, equipment and materials you need. To what extent are they readily available?

What limitations to doing your research can you foresee? References List the references mentioned in your proposal. Use recognised conventions for refer- encing, advised by your tutor or ones such as the American Psychological Association or Harvard systems. Present an additional bibliography of other references you intend consulting. Understanding practices: Bridging the gap between what teachers do and what students know. McGarrell Ed. Barkhuizen, G. The quest for an approach to guided critical reading and writing.

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Prospect, 17 3 , 19— Barletta, N. Barranguilla, Colombia: Ediciones UniNorte. Borg, S. Teacher cognition and language education: Research and practice. London: Continuum. Applied Linguistics, 29, — Collaborative action research for English Language Teachers. Action research: Some questions from Thailand. I see what you mean: Using spoken discourse in the classroom. A handbook for teachers. Buzan, T. London: Plume. Carter, R. The Cambridge guide to teaching English to speakers of other languages.

Cummins, J. The international handbook of English language teaching. Norwell, MA: Springer. Devine, J. The role of metacognition in second language reading and writing. Leki Eds. Cooperative development. Harlow: Longman. Flick, U. An introduction to qualitative research. London: Sage. Fischer, J. Action research, rationale and planning: Developing a framework for teacher inquiry. Burnaford, J. Hobson Eds. Hinkel, E. Handbook of research in second language teaching and learning. New York: Routledge. Lems, K. The motive, means, method and magic of using the arts in a grammar-based adult ESL program.

Mann, S. Focusing circles and mind mapping. The Language Teacher, 23 12 , 11— Marshall, C. Designing qualitative research. Qualitative researching. Plan — planning the action 53 Naidu, B. Researching hetero- geneity: An account of teacher-initiated research into large classes. ELT Journal, 46 3 , — Perkins, A.

Here it is, rough though it may be: Basic computer for ESL. Priyana, J. Developing EFL task-based language instruction in an Indonesian primary school context. Schwalbach, E. Seda-Santana, I. Literacy research in Latin America: Context, Characteristics, and applications. Reading Teacher, 56, — Valeri, L. What do students think of group work? Chapter 3 Act — putting the plan into action Pre-reading questions Before you read this chapter, think about these questions. Talk about them with colleagues who are also interested in doing AR.

We will explore these questions in this chapter, so you might want to make notes on your thoughts and ideas as we go along. You might say that all good teachers are interested in information about their classrooms and students but, remember, in AR it is import- ant to collect data in a systematic way. Also, collecting data in AR is always mixed in with the strategies or actions you put in place to change or improve the situation you have decided to focus on.

And since these strategies change as you test them out in practice, so too could the ways you collect the data. However, teaching lends itself naturally to data collection. For example, surveys conducted by your students about their views on various aspects of language learning can provide you with good sources of information. Asking students to note in a journal what they feel or think during a new kind of activity is another rich data source.

Table 3. Act — putting the plan into action 55 Table 3. Discuss them with a colleague. Brainstorm some ways you could turn them into data collection activities. Classroom voices Here is an example of how one action researcher used class activities focused on his AR issues to begin collecting information. Salah Troudi taught EFL to female undergraduates preparing for entry into an English for Specific Purposes course as part of their studies in a university in the United Arab Emir- ates. Salah says: I must admit that when I found out that my Level 2 [low intermediate] class was a mixture of repeaters and multiple repeaters I was not thrilled, to say the least.

The year before I had taught a similar class, and it was an experience in frustration and even exasperation at times. It was hard to work with students who simply refused to study. To begin the process: I. They were mainly in the form of grammatical or functional errors. With 15 minutes left at the end of the fourth class session, I asked the students about their problems in English and why they were multiple repeaters.

There was some hesitation. I had to allocate turns. What the students said in this session convinced me that I needed to allocate more than just a minute chat. I then asked their permission to interview them [individually] for 15 minutes after class. This classroom information led to other methods that Salah decided to use to take his action research further — observation, interviews, and questionnaires. Troudi, , pp.

Before we do, though, it is import- ant to be aware of a few things about data collection in AR. You need to ask them! Similarly, asking someone what they said when they did a speaking activity will not give you reliable information, as people usually cannot recall their exact words. You would need to record them as they actually do the activity. In AR, the one should not outweigh the other — so choose manageable and doable techniques that you are comfortable with and do not take excessive amounts of time.

Doing AR does not mean following a recipe-like approach. You can adjust the cycles, processes and methods to meet your needs creatively in your teaching context. Knowing more about our actions helps to develop them and developing them leads to greater knowledge. Two major questions underlying data collection are: To answer my questions: What do I need to see?

In Table 3. Act — putting the plan into action 57 Table 3. Non-observation: What do I need to know? Observing and describing have a key role to play in AR. What role s am I taking up in my class? What role s are my students taking? What happens if I change the set-up of the classroom in some way? What happens if I use my materials in a new way?

What will my students do if I give them more choices about class activities? It works even better if you can do it with a colleague and talk about your impressions afterwards. Take five or ten minutes to observe it very closely. Make as many notes as you can about this context — either during or immediately after observing it. Were there any other things you noticed? What was the physical set-up like? What was the most memorable or striking thing about this context? Classroom voices Anparo and Marco, two teachers from Venezuela, decide to use collaborative observation.

Anparo is teaching a class of beginners who are very shy about speaking English and reluctant to interact. She wants to increase confidence and communication among her learners. She asks Marco to observe her and give her feedback on her teaching. I know I spent a lot of time. Marco: Well, I actually I thought this was a very good aspect. Is this a personality thing? Anparo: No, I was using that as a deliberate teaching strategy. You could begin by just observing quite generally as you go about your work, perhaps using the action point task above to help you focus your ideas.

Also, the questions in the list below could be useful as you start to link your observations to the issues you are trying to investigate. Which particular setting do you want to observe? Which key players do you want to observe? What kinds of learning activities should you focus on? What aspects of language learning are of interest? What kinds of events are you interested in? Which kinds of behaviours should you target? Which kinds of interactions are of interest? What techniques in your teaching do you want to change? These questions are all about what to observe. McKay , p.

Action point From the set of eight questions above, select what to observe. Try out a short observation in your classroom or the classroom of a colleague. If you have time during the week alternate the approach you select in different lessons. What did you learn from using different approaches to observation?

Discuss your ideas with a colleague, preferably a partner who has also used this action point. Planning your observation Before deciding to observe you need to think about whether observation is the most appropriate way to answer the questions you have in mind. As you can see from Table 3. Will obser- vation be the most appropriate way to collect data for your research? If so, why? Discuss your ideas with colleagues and get their views too.

Once you have decided on your focus and reviewed your questions — the why, what and how of your research, that we discussed in Chapter 2 — you are ready to observe your classroom. You need to think about who or what you will observe, how many people or events will be involved, when and how often you will observe, and where and how you will do the observation.

Some of the decisions will become clearer as your research goes on, but you need a starting point. How many? Try to focus on the range of people who will provide the data you need to answer your questions. In Q2 below, you would be interested in observing yourself and all the students in your class. You might also want a colleague to observe you and give you feedback. For example, you can learn more about what is going on for the students in Q5 by observing what they do during the activities, noting what they say and who they talk to, and focusing on how and where they locate themselves within the group and in the classroom.

Act — putting the plan into action 61 Table 3. Therefore observation Will explicit instruction on genre and text is not going to be useful.

Reliability and Validity

I want my classroom to be more learner- This question lends itself well to self- centred. How much talking do I do in the observation and student observation. You classroom compared with my students? What strategies do observable activity. So you need to find a my students use during listening way of asking what people are thinking, or comprehension activities? Using questionnaires where students indicate their thinking or asking students to say what they are thinking as they do a listening task would be more appropriate.

My team-teacher and I are concerned Observing the student and the way other that one female student in our class is students interact with her over a period of disruptive and does not join in well with time could throw some light on the others. It could this? You might need to combine observation with discussions or interviews with students. What are they actually language can be found through observation. This information would allow for some new teaching strategies to be developed. It would be better to use have helped.

How often? Decide on which parts of the lesson or event you need to focus on. It may be that you select certain activities only, or you may get more information by observing the whole lesson. You will also want to decide whether the observation should happen over a number of lessons or events, and in what sequence you observe them. For Q4 above you would need to decide whether to observe the student concerned during certain activities, a whole lesson, or a period of a week or more.

In addition to these decisions, you also need to think about where you will observe and how you will position yourself. For example, if you are involved in Q2, you will most likely take up your usual positions as the classroom teacher. For Q5 you will need to position yourself where you can best see and hear the students concerned as they do the group tasks.

In the next section, we will consider how you will record your observations. He was interested in the types of oral feedback he and six of his colleagues gave in their Grades 4—6 primary and Grades 1 and 2 secondary classrooms. A further interest was whether he and the other teachers gave feedback to individuals or groups. Each class consisted of 35—40 students. He describes how he set up his observations and recorded the data: Data. The recordings were also supplemented by notes I made during the lessons of my colleagues which I observed.

During these observations I used a simple observation sheet to record information about the type of feedback the teachers were using and how often. Al-Fahdi, , pp. In addition, he outlines the tools he used to collect his observation data: observation sheets, notes, recording and transcription. We will consider all these tools in this section. Observation sheets Observation sheets are used in what is sometimes called systematic or structured observation. This type of observation involves using a coding system or checklist prepared before the lesson begins.

The observer records the things he or she observes as categories of events, for example behaviours, or types of interaction. Observation sheets collect data which can be treated quantitatively and summarised in numerical forms see Chapter 4. However, not many of the teachers I have worked with have used them for AR, since they are quite complex and are more likely to be used in larger-scale and more extensive classroom observation research. If you are interested in these types of coding systems it is best to consult the books by the original authors that will introduce you to these systems.

More likely, you will use a simpler checklist that you develop yourself in order to focus on the particular issue you have in mind. Before we look at examples, here is some advice from a teacher researcher about using a checklist: Classroom voices For me a classroom observation checklist must not contain too many items. This is a lesson I learned from a few observations I conducted. Some time back, in order to appear very professional and show off my newly acquired knowledge I developed wonderfully detailed checklists divided and subdivided into many topics.

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The checklist looked very well done and highly useful but in practice that was not the case. I ended up with too much to look for in too little time. So now, when I design checklists I restrict myself to looking at one or two aspects of my teaching and I do not devise too many questions nor do I have too many categories. Behaviour checklist A list of behaviours is set out and events are recorded as they occur. The observer uses a particular period of time to note the behaviours and tally them. This one could be used for Q4 in Table 3.

Time: It is important to note that these observations provide only a snapshot of the activities taking place. As a result of using the checklist, he observed that: in general, the English class gave priority to listening and speaking over reading and writing. Writing was done mainly at home which supports the idea that process-oriented writing is rarely done in class.

Obviously, the checklist used by Edgar contains quite a large number of items and, as Amna suggested above, you may want to focus on fewer events. In addition, it is not easy to record a large number of event types as you are actually teaching your class. Alternatively, you might ask a col- league to use it to observe your class and to give you feedback on the events she observed. As a result, you should be able to identify patterns of classroom events or activities you would like to change.

In one of the examples above, Hamed said that he used a simple observation sheet. This helped him to analyse his feedback patterns. Classroom voices Types of feedback in my teaching Feedback type Task 1 Task 2 Total Evaluative 23 25 48 Corrective 8 6 14 Strategic 5 3 8 Hamed says: it is clear from these figures that most of my oral feedback was evaluative. Such an attitude might frustrate learners and create in them negative attitudes towards learning. Use some of the ideas above to devise a simple checklist that will categorise and count them.

Show your checklist to your colleagues and get their feedback on how well it captures what you want to observe. Act — putting the plan into action 67 If possible try out the checklist in one of your lessons, preferably asking a colleague to observe the same lesson. Discuss whether you end up with similar counts for each category. If you found your descriptions of your categories were not clear, ask your colleague how they could be improved.

Observation notes Not all observation data are counted. Some are produced using a descriptive and narrative style and are not as structured as observation checklists. These kinds of data are recorded in the form of notes made by the researcher or other participants. They are used to note descriptions and accounts of what happened in the classroom, including — depending what you are focusing on — the physical layout, verbal and non-verbal information, the structure of the groups, or the sequences of activities and tasks.

Classroom voices Duong Thi Hoang Oanh was interested in whether and how learner autonomy operated in her two speaking classes, which focused on the oral presentation activities of fourth-year university students. Observation was one of the techniques she used for her AR: I observed my two classes, which consisted of 99 students who were studying at the upper-intermediate level of English. Ten minute sessions were videotaped. I used an unstructured class observation method to observe the classes not to follow any fixed plan or structure , with a detailed record of observational notes that included reflective and analytical observations.

The videos were of great use as I reviewed specifically what the students and I had been doing in class, focusing on elements related to independent learning. They helped me make insightful reflections about my own classroom practices. Oanh, , p. She also refers to the use of recording to capture the events and behaviours of the classroom as they happen, and to complement the notes and teaching logs.

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