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Chapter 28 - Second Language Classroom Research

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 February 2023

Anne Burns
Affiliation:
Macquarie University, Sydney
Jack C. Richards
Affiliation:
Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) Regional Language Centre (RELC), Singapore
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Summary

INTRODUCTION

Classroom research is all about gathering evidence to answer questions that concern educators, whether they be about teaching methodology, learners’ strategies, teachers’ beliefs, or classroom materials. For teachers, a primary reason for doing research as part of teacher education is to become more effective teachers. As Johnson (1992: 5) puts it:

The importance of research is not so much that it supplies definitive answers to questions such as “What is the best way to learn a language?” or “Which is the most effective method of L2 teaching?” It does not. Rather, research can help us gain a richer understanding of the many interrelated factors involved in learning. It can help us see how the ways we organise learning environments can promote or inhibit growth.

Becoming involved in classroom research can also help teachers evaluate existing research. Once teachers become aware of the challenges that exist in doing classroom research – from formulating focused research questions to gathering and analysing relevant data – they will become more critical readers of existing research. In light of these benefits of classroom research, it is essential that novice teachers be introduced to the basics of classroom research methods and assumptions.

This chapter explores the following questions:

  • • What is classroom research, and how does it differ from reflective teaching?

  • • What are someways in which teacher educators can introduce novice teachers to the important distinction between qualitative and quantitative research?

  • • What topics are investigated, what methods are typically employed in L2 classroom research, and how can novice teachers be introduced to these methods?

  • • What challenges do L2 language educators face in promoting classroom research?

SCOPE AND DEFINITIONS

To begin, it is necessary to clarify how classroom research will be defined in this chapter. Allwright and Bailey (1991: 2) maintain that classroom research is a cover term for “a whole range of research studies on classroom language learning and teaching. The obvious unifying factor is that the emphasis is solidly on trying to understand what goes on in the classroom setting.” This definition highlights the great diversity of studies that can be included in classroom research.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2009

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