Inquiry and Research Skills for Language Teachers [1st ed. 2019] 978-3-030-21136-3, 978-3-030-21137-0

This book equips pre-service language teachers with research and inquiry skills which they can use in the course of thei

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Inquiry and Research Skills for Language Teachers [1st ed. 2019]
 978-3-030-21136-3, 978-3-030-21137-0

Table of contents :
Front Matter ....Pages I-XVII
Introduction to Research (Kenan Dikilitaş, Ali Bostancıoğlu)....Pages 1-28
Exploring and Developing Puzzles (Kenan Dikilitaş, Ali Bostancıoğlu)....Pages 29-46
Designing Pedagogically Exploitable Pedagogic-Research Activities (PEPRAs) (Kenan Dikilitaş, Ali Bostancıoğlu)....Pages 47-62
Generating the Pieces of the Puzzle (Kenan Dikilitaş, Ali Bostancıoğlu)....Pages 63-77
Putting the Pieces Together (Kenan Dikilitaş, Ali Bostancıoğlu)....Pages 79-105
Understanding the Puzzle and the Emerging Picture (Kenan Dikilitaş, Ali Bostancıoğlu)....Pages 107-123
Developing Critical Reflection Practices via Reflective Writing for Pre-service Language Teachers (Kenan Dikilitaş, Ali Bostancıoğlu)....Pages 125-135
Educational Research Course Designs Across the World (Kenan Dikilitaş, Ali Bostancıoğlu)....Pages 137-170
Back Matter ....Pages 171-180

Citation preview


Inquiry and Research Skills for Language Teachers

Kenan Dikilitaş Ali Bostancıoğlu

Inquiry and Research Skills for Language Teachers

Kenan Dikilitaş Faculty of Arts and Education University of Stavanger Stavanger, Norway

Ali Bostancıoğlu School of Foreign Languages Iskenderun Technical University Hatay, Turkey

ISBN 978-3-030-21136-3    ISBN 978-3-030-21137-0 (eBook) © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2019 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are solely and exclusively licensed by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specifically the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on microfilms or in any other physical way, and transmission or information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. The publisher, the authors, and the editors are safe to assume that the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication. Neither the publisher nor the authors or the editors give a warranty, express or implied, with respect to the material contained herein or for any errors or omissions that may have been made. The publisher remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations. Cover illustration: © crazymedia/Alamy Stock Photo This Palgrave Macmillan imprint is published by the registered company Springer Nature Switzerland AG. The registered company address is: Gewerbestrasse 11, 6330 Cham, Switzerland


Introduction It has always been very useful for the readers of such books to find out the backstory of initiating the idea of planning and deciding on writing a joint monograph on a particular topic. Ours is also worth knowing about before we present the book. I was introduced to Ali by Dr. Erdem Akbaş, whom I came to know from the ELT community in Turkey and who is also Ali’s Ph.D. mate from University of York, UK. Ali phoned me to ask for my opinion and feedback on one of his undergraduate courses (Educational Research Methods). So we began to communicate with Ali regarding the planning and construction of the syllabus, the course content and the process of implementation. This prolonged discussion and debate also led to the emergence of the idea of writing a book that particularly focuses on developing pre-service teachers’ research and inquiry skills. Since then we have had a number of conversations over Skype, telephone (face time or audio), and meeting for short periods to discuss face-­ to-­face. It was in the form of co-mentoring and dialoguing over the topic of the book and his implementation of the syllabus which we initially constructed. The ideas we have reflected on evolved and developed into drafting and submitting a book proposal for this monograph. This book has been a product of a deeper collaboration which has been empowered by the long-reflective engagement. We have had the chance to observe and critically evaluate our practices in developing research skills in different contexts for a number of years. The prolonged interaction also led to careful peer reviewing of what we have written over time. We felt the need to write this book, considering our previous experiences with the teaching and learning of research methods. We also justify this need with our personal retrospective comments on our undergraduate research courses below.

Kenan Dikilitaş I took a research course as an undergraduate student in 1994, including components such as writing reference for citations using MLA or APA styles, a technical issue which did not require a process of thinking and inquiring. I have always wondered why we received that course, how such research course content would help me to become a teacher, and how the course could have been delivered more effectively and meaningfully. When I became a teacher trainer/educator around 2010, I had the opportunity to support teachers in using research methods to investigate their own classroom practices. Since then, I have adopted an approach to research for developing teaching practices, particularly in a teacher education context. I contacted four former BA classmates, now my colleagues, and asked them what they thought about that first course. I was curious because I wanted to justify my own opinions. None reported any permanent impression of the course. This brief



evaluation could also justify the writing up of this book. The current analysis of research courses also provides good reasons for writing the book, as most of the courses even today prioritize teaching technical issues and learning of research methods over developing inquiry skills. The approach to developing inquiry skills improves teachers’ practices and deepens their understanding and insights into teaching. Since then, I have heard from students that little has changed, research courses focus on data collection through questionnaires, and data analysis through quantitative measures, as well as learning how to write references in APA style! This book is a personal reaction by both authors, and an effort to create an alternative research methods program that prioritizes pre-service teachers’ essential inquiry skills.

Ali Bostancıoğlu My initial encounter with research methods was in my third and fourth years of my undergraduate teacher training degree. Back then, I did not have any intention of becoming an academic and I kept asking myself why I would need such a course if I am going to become a teacher. Clearly, I did not see or have not been shown the link between research and teaching. Then, when I started teaching, I was shocked because the theoretical information I was taught to teach English did not really align with the realities of the classrooms I taught in. After a few years of teaching English as a foreign language (EFL), I finally decided to seek a postgraduate degree and wanted to focus my research on teacher development. During and after my postgraduate studies, I realized that teacher research can help teachers cope with the realities of their classrooms and approach the challenges of their classrooms in a more structured and systematic way which allows them to reach better understandings of those issues. A better understanding, in return, would contribute to creation of better teaching environments. With this in my mind, I started teaching research methods to pre-service language teachers and I hope, with the publication of this book, we will be able to help other researchers, pre-­ service and in-service teachers realize the important link between research and classroom teaching. The fundamental argument of this book is that research should be an integral part of learning to become a teacher in pre-service teacher education programs and to prepare pre-service teachers for the actual profession in the future. Although we recognize that developing research knowledge and skills can be intimidating at first for those who take a research course for the first time, we also believe that the benefits pre-service teachers can reap from a research course could be invaluable and relevant. We assume that teachers can also develop reflective skills including learning to think and investigate potential and personalized pedagogical issues through habituated and acquired perspectives. This book does not solely offer pre-service teachers a guide to understanding and developing reflective skills, but also to planning how to integrate them into

VII Introduction

their teaching practices when they become a teacher. From this scope, it aims to help teachers shape and construct their practices or practical knowledge rather than fully changing them. The book could then be a relevant contribution to the continuously developing pre-service teachers’ knowledge of teaching and help them develop a growth mindset that prioritizes and values thinking and understanding before taking an action or making a practical and pedagogical change.

Why This Book and Why Focus on Exploratory Practice? Research has always been an intriguing endeavour for those who are fond of discovering knowledge, finding out causes or consequences of actions or decisions, satisfying their curiosity to unpack or unearth things they may not be able to see without looking into some collectively-generated and classroom-­ oriented data that they collect from the relevant people/settings around. Learning to reflect is a critical process that pre-service teachers need to learn since it functions as the driving force for thinking deeper, further and more critically. In language teacher education, while reflection can be learnt through engagement in dialogic interactions with the tutor, mentor or educator, it can also be learnt through individual initiatives of the teachers with a relatively autonomous pattern. One such strategy includes engaging in research to develop research perspective and strengthen critical eye and thinking. And, learning to reflect needs to be developed early in career, particularly for pre-­ service teachers (Mann & Walsh, 2017, p. 28). This book is a response to this call which employs and introduces exploratory practice principles as a means to developing pedagogical reflectivity in pre-service teachers: 55 Principle 1: Put “quality of life” first 55 Principle 2: Work primarily to understand language classroom life 55 Principle 3: Involve everybody 55 Principle 4: Work to bring people together 55 Principle 5: Work also for mutual development 55 Principle 6: Integrate the work for understanding into classroom practice 55 Principle 7: Make the work a continuous enterprise (Allwright, 2005). Research entails thinking also termed in teacher education as reflection, which implies focused thinking on issues that require deeper look and promotes teachers’ understanding of what they do. Perhaps research is one of the most engaging educational tools or means that involves reflection more than any other activity. While doing research, teachers “pose questions, hypothesising, looking for evidence, synthesising all these, seeking for ways of innovating with existing beliefs, knowledge and practice” (Wyatt, Burns, & Hanks, 2016, p. 7). These cognitive processes imply several pedagogical benefits since these mental activities might be developing teachers’ understanding. The nature of the relationship between research and reflection has always been so embedded that



they may not be separated from each other. Another dimension of this relationship is development, which is the resulting benefit for those who simultaneously engage in research and reflection. Some argue research promotes reflection, while others say reflection boosts the research process. There is, however, the scarcity of research methods books that suit the needs of undergraduate level students who are going to become practitioners, not academics. In this book, in an attempt to address this educational need in teacher education, we introduce research as driven by the principles of Exploratory Practice, which not only optimizes reflective opportunities for teachers and awakens curiosity but also supports exploration of the situation or context involving school, teachers, students and others. Another reason for the selection of Exploratory Practice as a guide is that its characteristics resemble those of the other forms of practitioner research (i.e. Action Research, Reflective Practice). For example, both Exploratory Practice and Action Research aim to improve a teacher’s teaching practice by undertaking an investigation in a specific context. We argue that following Exploratory Practice and equipping pre-­service teachers with initial research skills will create the foundational knowledge that pre-service teachers will need to deal with the issues they will encounter in their future profession. After developing basic understanding of how to do research at the end of this process, preservice teachers can be directed to learn about the availability of other forms of practitioner research which, at the end of this book, they should find relatively easy to adapt to. On a different note, developing research perspective and investigative stance (see Hanks, 2017), particularly in pre-service teacher education, is considered to be a prerequisite to learning about the teaching profession in general, characteristics of teaching contexts (usually local rather than national or even broader), and people in the context including students, other teachers, administrators, and parents. Starting to get to know the teaching profession from the closest context, perhaps the context in which one already is, seems to be the best option. Pre-service teachers usually have limited access to real classroom environments until they graduate from school and are promoted to a permanent teaching position. The nearest relevant context for them would either be the teacher educators and peers, who are also pre-service teachers, or real students and in-service teachers whom they meet as school mentors during the practicum. We argue that pre-service teachers need to start co-researching with the participants with whom they could engage in co-exploration of issues which they want to unpack. This book also exemplifies a group of pre-service teachers who experienced exploration of puzzles as a collaborative group who worked together to investigate their joint puzzles. So, the book advances knowledge about how pre-service teachers can be encouraged and systematically guided to undertake research in the form of Exploratory Practice, which prioritizes exploration before action in the classroom context, a characteristic that enables pre-service teachers to engage in research. This book aims to pro-

IX Introduction

vide a step by step course content to model a reflective learning process of such skills. Reflection is a process and an act of thinking while being engaged in teaching and research. We argue that pre-service teachers can and should develop this skill and cultivate their growth mindset for learning how to reflect and develop critical thinking abilities which they might need in the face of pedagogical challenges in their future classrooms. Such endeavour could also provide ­professional motivation for and on entering the teaching profession. The book has two types of aims: (1) professional and (2) pedagogical. Professional aims are related to teachers’ learning through exploratory research which include: 55 developing pre-service teachers’ conception of research in a positive way without overwhelming them 55 introducing research from an Exploratory Practice perspective that prioritizes quality of life in the language classroom and sustainability in teacher learning 55 cultivating pre-service teachers’ research perspective and awareness into the professional benefits of research 55 making exploratory research an integral part of the teaching and thinking process of teachers Pedagogical aims are related to learning through critical reflection on puzzles which: 55 imply research to be entwined with reflective teaching 55 integrate Exploratory Practice principles into research processes that ultimately aims to use teaching materials as research tools, thereby, minimizing the burden research creates on teachers 55 promote and empower teaching through deeper exploration and critical reflection The book also offers tutors a specific way of designing and delivering a research course for pre-service teachers. It also helps them mentor students who might like to develop a plan, conduct research, and write a reflective account by 55 providing the tutors with a set of step-by-step procedures and general guidelines to follow 55 providing actual examples of pre-service teachers’ accounts of research to exemplify The general current tendency to prepare a course pack for such courses is informed by academic research methods, but often does not consider the learners’ lack of background knowledge, assuming that they will take up whatever is provided in the course. Input in undergraduate research courses is often composed of ways of asking research questions, setting hypotheses, collecting and analysing data, and discussing the results. We call this approach a mechanic or technical view, which might not necessarily require a critical look or involve personal interests. It is usually the case that the issues are too general, not personally relevant, and thus unable to generate practical knowledge.



This book is about developing pre-service research and inquiry skills and helping research methodology lecturers design and conduct courses. As such, it aims not only to integrate learning about research methods, but also to encourage engagement in small-scale research, focused on issues of interest, either individually or collaboratively. The book offers a structured course design for those new to the concept of research but aim to engage in research to develop an investigative stance.

Who Is This Book Intended For? The audience that this book can address includes pre-service teachers and their research lecturers as well as teacher educators and teacher trainers working with in-service teachers. 55 Pre-service teachers who have or do not have access to a class can use the book as a guide to do research for development of their understanding and their teaching. 55 Teacher educators who are working with pre-service teachers who wish to guide their students through the process of exploratory research with a course 55 Teacher trainers who offer short courses or a series of workshops particularly on inquiry-based professional development can suggest or use the book

Design of the Book The book consists of two parts. The first part consists of 6 chapters intended to introduce the concept of research for pre-service teachers (7 Chap. 1), puzzles which are the starting points of pre-service teachers’ inquiry (7 Chap. 2), pedagogically exploitable pedagogic-research activities (PEPRAs) which serve the purposes of teaching/learning and research simultaneously (7 Chap. 3), processes for generating data to solve puzzles (7 Chap. 4), analysis of the pieces to complete the puzzles (7 Chap. 5), and the emerging picture after unpacking puzzles (7 Chap. 6). The second part includes two chapters one of which focuses on doing reflection which is one of the key skills for research and teaching (7 Chap. 7), and the other chapter introduces international examples of different deliveries of research methods courses across the world (7 Chap. 8).  

Research Tasks Chapter-specific research tasks are included in throughout 7 Chaps. 2 to 6. Those tasks are aimed to increase pre-service teachers’ engagement in learning to do research and develop relevant research skills. Answers or suggested answers to these tasks can be found at the end of the book.  

XI Introduction

Self-Reflection Checklist The self-reflection checklists are included at the end of chapters from 7 Chaps. 2 to 6. The checklists include several can-do statements that offer an opportunity for teachers to self-assess their knowledge and abilities regarding the content in the related chapter. We thought that teachers can reconsider what they have learnt and prepare themselves for the upcoming chapter.  

Documenting Own Research Process “Documenting own research process” tasks are included at the end of chapters from 7 Chaps. 2 to 6. These tasks aim to help pre-service teachers write their research step by step by the end of each chapter. This way, the work load of preparing reports, for example, is broken into smaller and more manageable chunks. This, we think, ensures teachers’ process of completing a piece of research once they arrive at the final chapter.  

Suggested Answers to the Tasks This section includes our suggested answer to the tasks we offer. The aim is not to prescribe to teachers but offer alternative views while they are elaborating on how they can complete the given task.

References Allwright, D. (2005). Developing principles for practitioner research: The case of exploratory practice. Modern Language Journal, 89(353–366). Hanks, J. (2017). Exploratory practice in language teaching: Puzzling about principles and practices. Switzerland: Springer. Mann, S., & Walsh, S. (2017). Reflective practice in English language teaching: Research-based principles and practices. New York: Routledge. Wyatt, M., Burns, A., & Hanks, J. (2016). Teacher/practitioner research: Reflections on an online discussion. TESL-EJ: The Electronic Journal for English as a Second Language, 20(1). Retrieved from 7 http://eprints.­whiterose.­ac.­uk/103790/  


Contents 1

Introduction to Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

1.1 1.2

Background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Contextualizing Knowledge: What Pre-service Teachers Can Discover . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Research as Development Opportunities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . What Does Research Mean to Pre-service Teachers? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Teacher Inquiry, Reflection, and Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

1.3 1.4 1.5

3   7 11 15 20 26


Exploring and Developing Puzzles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29


 “Puzzles” vs. “Research Problems”: Different Concepts with the Same Functions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sources of Puzzles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Interaction Patterns to Initiate the Research Process: Developmental Collaboration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Defining and Revising Learners’ Puzzles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sample Puzzles by Pre-service Language Teachers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pre-service Teacher’ Comments on the Puzzlement and Puzzle Development . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6

 31 34  36 38 40  44 46


Designing Pedagogically Exploitable Pedagogic-­Research Activities ­(PEPRAs) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47


 Designing Pedagogically Exploitable Pedagogic-Research Activities (PEPRAs) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Questionnaires . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Observations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Interviews . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Other Tools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5

 48 49 52 58 60 62


Generating the Pieces of the Puzzle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63

4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4

 Understanding Principles of Data Generation Through PEPRAs . . . . . . . . . Generating Data Through PEPRAs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Exemplifying Data Generation Processes Through PEPRAs . . . . . . . . . . . . . Using Multiple Sources While Generating Data . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Putting the Pieces Together . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79

5.1 5.2

Qualitative Data Analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80 Quantitative Data Analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105

64 69 71 75 77




Understanding the Puzzle and the Emerging ­Picture . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107

6.1 6.2 6.3

 What the Results Mean . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . How to Disseminate Puzzle Understandings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . How Pre-service Teachers Develop After the Exploration of Their Puzzles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

108 111  119 123


Developing Critical Reflection Practices via Reflective Writing for Pre-service Language ­Teachers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 125

7.1 7.2 7.3

Reflective Writing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Role of Reflective Writing in the Learning Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ways to Integrate Reflective Writing Practices into Pre-­service Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Why Reflective Writing Is Important for Pre-service Teachers . . . . . . . . . . . How Collaborative Writing Supports and Fosters Reflection or Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Educational Research Course Designs Across the World . . . . . . . . . . 137


 Teaching Research in IELTE: An Experience from Argentina (by Darío Luis Banegas) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Teaching Research Skills in the Context of the Argentinian Patagonia (by Eva Laura Acosta) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Two Complementary Approaches to Research Methodology Teaching: Exploring Questions, Designs, and Identities (by Ma. Isabel Azevedo Cunha, Sabine Mendes Moura, Inés K. Miller and Clarissa X. Ewald) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Teaching Practitioner Research to Pre-service Teachers in Japan (by Richard Pinner) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A Course for Teaching Basic Practical Research Skills to Pre-­service Teachers of English (by M. Sercan Uztosun & İsmail Hakkı Erten) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Research Skills Development of Pre-service Language Teachers in Pakistan (by Bushra Khurram) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

7.4 7.5

8.2 8.3

8.4 8.5


126 126  129 131  132 135

 141  147

 152  156

 159   164 169

Supplementary Information Answers to Research Tasks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 172 Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 179


List of Figures Figure 3.1 Figure 5.1 Figure 5.2 Figure 5.3 Figure 5.4 Figure 5.5 Figure 5.6 Figure 5.7 Figure 5.8 Figure 5.9 Figure 5.10 Figure 5.11 Figure 5.12 Figure 5.13 Figure 8.1 Figure 8.2 Figure 8.3 Figure 8.4

Sample unstructured interview notes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 Sample template for qualitative data analysis in Word . . 84 Sample template for qualitative data analysis in Excel. . . 84 Figure which belongs to Task 5.2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85 Initial thematic map of the analysis of the community rules theme. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87 Developed thematic map of the analysis of the community rules theme . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88 Sample questionnaire items- Demographics 1. . . . . . . . . . 91 Sample questionnaire items- Demographics 2. . . . . . . . . . 93 Sample questionnaire items- Liker scale. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93 Sample for calculating the mean in Excel. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99 Sample for calculating the mode in Excel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100 Sample for calculating the median in Excel. . . . . . . . . . . . . 100 Sample for calculating the range in English . . . . . . . . . . . . 101 Sample for calculating the frequency in Excel . . . . . . . . . . 101 Video-based activity. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 144 Sample assignment. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145 Extract from a student-teacher’s research proposal. . . . . 146 Feedback sample. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 148

List of Tables Table 1.1 Table 1.2 Table 1.3 Table 2.1 Table 2.2 Table 2.3 Table 2.4 Table 2.5 Table 3.1 Table 3.2 Table 3.3 Table 3.4 Table 3.5 Table 3.6 Table 3.7 Table 3.8 Table 3.9 Table 4.1 Table 4.2 Table 4.3 Table 4.4 Table 4.5 Table 5.1 Table 5.2

Differences between academic research and pre-service teacher research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Key characteristics of qualitative and quantitative research paradigms. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Data collection tools relevant to qualitative and quantitative research paradigms. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Puzzles vs. research questions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Examples of puzzles about the self . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Examples of puzzles about others . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Sample questions regarding the exploration of the exploratory process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Outline for mentoring groups in the process of developing puzzles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 Sample alignment of conventional data generation tools with normal pedagogic activities. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 Sample Likert scale questionnaire with numbering anchors. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 Sample Likert scale questionnaire with adjective anchors. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 Sample questionnaire with Likert scale items and open-ended questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 Potential issues that can be observed in language classrooms. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54 Ways of observing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 Sample observation schedule for learners’ degree of interactivity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58 Types of interviews. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 Interview strategies. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 Principles for generating data. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64 Template to ensure rigor in research. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68 Orientation of a puzzle to PEPRAs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 PEPRAs for learner-engaged and non-learner-engaged puzzles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 Summary of Group 4’s results . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73 Steps of conducting Thematic Analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82 Data set for the sample questionnaire items in . Fig. 5.6. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92 Data set for sample questionnaire items in . Figs. 5.6, 5.7, and 5.8. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94 Sample title of a report . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111 Sample abstract section of a report. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112 Sample part of a methodology section of a report. . . . . . . 114  

Table 5.3

Table 6.1 Table 6.2 Table 6.3

XVII List of Tables

Table 6.4 Table 7.1 Table 8.1 Table 8.2 Table 8.3 Table 8.4 Table 8.5 Table 8.6

Useful language for presentations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 118 Examples of pre-determined puzzles in exploratory reflective writing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 130 RELT Syllabus. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 142 Topics covered in theoretical sessions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 160 Tasks given to students . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 162 Criteria for scoring research reports. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 163 Student responses to course evaluation questionnaire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 164 Sample rubric. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 168


Introduction to Research 1.1

Background – 3


 ifferences Between Academic and Pre-service D Teacher Research – 3 Understanding Research Paradigms – 6



 ontextualizing Knowledge: What Pre-service C Teachers Can Discover – 7



 re-service Teachers’ Learning and Teaching P Practicum – 7 The Kind of Knowledge Pre-service Teachers Can Discover – 8 Everyday, Academic, and True Concepts – 10


Research as Development Opportunities – 11

1.3.1 1.3.2

From Everyday Concepts to Academic Concepts – 13 From Unanalysed Teaching Experiences to Informed Understandings – 13 From Fixed Mindset to Growth Mindset – 13 From Theoretical Towards Practical Lens – 14 Developing a Sense of Inductive Thinking – 14


1.3.3 1.3.4 1.3.5


 hat Does Research Mean to Pre-service W Teachers? – 15

1.4.1 1.4.2

Who Are Researchers? – 16 Research as a Course in Language Teacher Education – 18 Why Do They Need Research Skills? – 18


© The Author(s) 2019 K. Dikilitaş, A. Bostancıoğlu, Inquiry and Research Skills for Language Teachers,



Teacher Inquiry, Reflection, and Research – 20


 ow Can Pre-service Teachers Develop a Sense H of Inquiry at Initial Stages? – 20 The 5E Inquiry Process – 21 What Does It Mean to Be Reflective? – 22 Developing Reflectivity – 23 The Role of Interaction in Developing Reflectivity During Research Engagement – 24 Reflection and Research – 24 Reflective and Reflexive Engagement – 25

1.5.2 1.5.3 1.5.4 1.5.5 1.5.6 1.5.7

References – 26

3 1.1 · Background


In this chapter, we define what research and pre-service research is and provide background for the upcoming chapters. We also position our understanding of research here regarding how research for pre-service language teachers could be designed and offered as a course. The specific foci are as follows: 55 Background 55 Contextualizing knowledge: What pre-service teachers can discover 55 Research as development opportunities 55 What does research mean to pre-service teachers? 55 Teacher inquiry, reflection, and research 1.1


One of the courses that pre-service teachers preparing to become language teachers generally take is a research course. Such a course is usually the first time in their life that those students encounter research since the earlier schooling experiences do not generally include research courses. We consider this initial meeting quite critical in developing research perspective throughout their lives. Unlike existing books on research, we take into account why pre-service teachers usually report fear, anxiety, and reluctance when they take a research course. In fact, the information provided to pre-service teachers in such courses generally aim to equip them with skills and knowledge at a level that an academic would need. Most students, however, will become in-service teachers not academics. Nevertheless, such knowledge would be a foundation for those planning a career for becoming a professional researcher. In addition, we acknowledge that in-­service teachers, more often than not, are overwhelmed by the amount of teaching and preparation they are expected to do as part of their contracts (see for example Borg, 2013). As such, it is stated that teachers abstain from participating in and/or conducting research (Allwright, 2003; Hanks, 2015). However, to strengthen the link between research and practice, it is important to encourage teacher/practitioner research and we believe that can be achieved by equipping future teachers with skills that will allow them to undertake practitioner research. Therefore, taking these aspects into account, we aimed to produce a book that could address pre-service teachers’ negative attitudes and help them develop positive attitudes towards research through an enjoyable process of learning to do research. We consider that developing research skills is not only needed for academic development at pre-­service level, but also for in-service level. There is an increasing interest in developing teachers’ inquiry skills, which can be promoted by research knowledge. Teachers who can investigate their own practices and beliefs can develop an insightful stance towards teaching and learning. This book, therefore, aims to promote such a stance early in their career and help teachers attain such a mind-set and skills while developing into their teacher role and identity. 1.1.1  Differences Between Academic and Pre-service

Teacher Research

Pre-service teachers’ research engagement should differ than general academic research not in quality but in process and purpose. The concept of quality in research is demanded in any research conducted depending on its process and purpose. While academic



Chapter 1 · Introduction to Research

research serves a wider purpose in a way that can generate new knowledge in an addressed gap in the layers of knowledge system, pre-service research should serve the purpose of cultivating research and inquiry skills regarding the emerging and constructed pedagogic knowledge. . Table  1.1 shows detailed differences between academic and pre-service teacher research, from our perspective. . Table 1.1 marks the differences between academic research and pre-service teacher research, though some dichotomies might be overlapping at some points. Topics and issues for academic research often involve issues that could be linked to what the field needs, whereas for pre-service teacher research issues and topics could be more personal and contextual issues about teaching and learning. We acknowledge that academic research might also study such practical issues but usually with a wider lens and for a wider readership. Both academic and pre-service teacher research share similar goals of promoting practical knowledge, but the former could also be dealing with theoretical issues by generating a theoretical perspective to the issue under investigation. The latter, however, does not necessarily adopt a theoretical stance towards the research issues. This is because academic research attempts to contribute to the field involving people from multiple international contexts, whereas pre-service teacher research helps teacher researchers construct their practical knowledge and understand the teaching and learning process from their own perspectives. This constitutes different purposes of research for both. In both types of research, research questions might serve for the same purpose (i.e. telling the reader what questions the research is going to answer). However, they might differ in terms of focus. While academic research questions focus on asking about issues  

..      Table 1.1  Differences between academic research and pre-service teacher research Research dimensions

Academic research

Pre-service teacher research


Field relevant issues

Personal and contextual teaching/learning issues


Generic and generalizable knowledge and understanding pedagogical issues

Personal, contextual understandings of pedagogical issues


Theoretical and practical knowledge

Practical knowledge


To add to knowledge/theory

To improve practice


Research questions that involve a range of audience

Puzzles (what, how, and why questions)


Identified through random or purposeful sampling

Individuals in teachers’ immediate surrounding

Data collection tools

Tools developed for solely data collection purpose

Tools developed for both data generation and teaching and learning

Data analysis

Formal analysis tools

Reflection and interpretation

5 1.1 · Background


that highlight a broad perspective, pre-service teacher research questions could concern personal issues so using “I” or “we” or “my students” could indicate the scope of the research. A puzzle such as “Why do I use pair work more than group work?” or “Why do my students prefer pair work more than group work?” indicates the ownership of the puzzle and implies the answers found or insights reached could be confined to the researcher’s classroom or context. In line with research questions, participants of research could vary too. While academic research would rely on participants from a wider range of contexts (not necessarily though), pre-service teacher research would need to work with those who are the object of the puzzle in the immediate context rather than those in other contexts who might not provide context-related responses and inform the teacher researcher reliably. The data collection tools also vary in terms of their function. For example, while academic research aims to collect data through non-pedagogical tools, pre-service teacher research creates data collection tools that do not exclude the learning opportunity. The latter benefits learners too, while they are contributing to the investigation led by the teacher (or sometimes both teachers and learners co-research issues). The analysis of the data collected is processed though formal approaches in academic research including statistics and in-depth systematic qualitative approaches, whereas in pre-­ service teacher research this process involves reflection and interpretation of the students’ scoring and verbal comments. Pre-service teacher research is, therefore, characterized by its simplicity and relevance to the researcher’s professional life and context of work. Academic researchers may sometimes deal with issues that do not specifically address their own needs and interests, but with issues that are underexplored. Teaching academic conventions and procedures of research to pre-service teachers especially in the initial research courses may not be appropriate, since such knowledge may be irrelevant while they are learning to become a teacher. Accordingly, a research course should serve them with the process of learning to become a teacher rather than a researcher. In line with this, research should be viewed and embedded into their course structures as a strategy to advance their understanding of language teaching and learning. Such a course should promote deep thinking discovery and sense making in regard to retrospective reflections and observed practices. Factors that need to be considered are as follows. Pre-service teachers; 55 are focused on formal learning of language teaching methods, language acquisition and so on, 55 lack teaching experience but full of language learning stories, 55 have fairly limited knowledge about/of research, 55 have almost no experience of doing research but may have experience of participating in research of others, 55 might deem research methods courses to be extraneous to becoming a teacher, 55 have not yet established a sense of professional development particularly by doing research in their classrooms, 55 could be looking for practical ideas prescribed by others rather than discover and design them themselves, and 55 might need to be offered some initial training for reflection before learning to do research.



Chapter 1 · Introduction to Research

Research could be promoting reflectivity after gaining input and data to elaborate on, which leads to further questions. The process of learning to be reflective could then be supported through research activities that pre-service teachers could relate to. 1.1.2  Understanding Research Paradigms

There are two basic ways of generating answers to the questions which include numbers and verbal or/and written responses. The former is called quantitative research, while the latter qualitative research. The differences between the two are presented in . Table 1.2.

Qualitative Research Paradigm

Qualitative research provides researchers with opportunities to make in-depth examinations and reach clear understandings of what others think, know, and do which enables researchers to develop unexplored insights. To gain these tripartite insights; 55 participants’ thoughts 55 can be revealed and analysed through interviews and reflective writing, 55 participants behaviours and practices 55 can be first hand revealed through observations 55 participants knowledge about teaching 55 can be examined through testing and assessment

..      Table 1.2  Key characteristics of qualitative and quantitative research paradigms Qualitative research

Quantitative research

Is primarily concerned with ‘why’ and ‘how’

Is primarily concerned with ‘to what extent’

Understands and develops perspectives

Measures or counts success or level of perceptions

Relies on human voices

Relies on populations’ collective voices

Relies on verbal and visual data

Relies on experiments, test scores and/or numbers

Reveals processes and factors behind numbers

Reveals success level, rate of learning, relations between variables

Uses detailed accounts of individuals

Uses individuals’ rating, numerical evaluation and scoring

Studies behaviours, experiences or feelings

Studies numerical evaluations of individuals

Begins with broader perspectives and open questions to develop

Follows objective and pre-set guidelines with certain questions

Generates hypotheses or further questions

Validates or tests already existing hypotheses or further questions

7 1.2 · Contextualizing Knowledge: What Pre-service Teachers…


..      Table 1.3  Data collection tools relevant to qualitative and quantitative research paradigms Quantitative research

Tests scores, averages, percentages, frequencies,

Qualitative research

Written responses, verbal records, comments, observational notes, documents, students’ work, visuals (pictures and videos)

Quantitative Research Paradigm

Quantitative research, on the other hand, offers opportunities to produce numerical results regarding level of knowledge, thoughts and practices. For instance, you can calculate how much students have learnt, how often they do particular actions, and to what extent they think a teaching strategy is useful or effective. There are more such questions that once can think. . Table 1.3 shows the ways of doing research in each paradigm, which is also going to be discussed in 7 Chap. 5. In their attempt to understand the issues that puzzle their minds, pre-service teachers can benefit from both qualitative and quantitative research strategies.  


 ontextualizing Knowledge: What Pre-service Teachers C Can Discover

‘Discovering knowledge’ (Kumaravadivelu, 2001) does not necessarily refer to knowledge that is generalizable and directly relevant for public use. The knowledge explored by teachers is usually contextualized, which makes it personally meaningful and locally relevant. Though possibly useful for others, the main issue is to discover the knowledge needed for own development and learning in a particular context (Kumaravadivelu, 2001). That is to say, teachers need to develop contextually appropriate pedagogies (Sanchez, Kuchah, Rodrigues, & Pietri, 2018). And a teacher can make discoveries that might in turn lead to contextually appropriate pedagogies through becoming aware of his learners and their needs and repeated observations of what works or does not work in specific contexts (ibid.). 1.2.1  Pre-service Teachers’ Learning and Teaching Practicum

Pre-service teachers are usually required to attend a teaching practicum in the real school as part of the process of learning to teach. This period constitutes the first and most important time for their development as a teacher, including issues such as how to manage the classroom and how to communicate. Throughout this practicum experience, pre-service teachers may generate knowledge at surface level without much reflection, focused on the students and teachers’ visible acts, such as the procedural tasks teachers do (i.e. taking attendance and checking homework and so on). Although these observations and experiences are important, there are relatively more critical issues in such classrooms. These require being mentally active, and socially open to sharing, which might lead to actively created knowledge at deeper levels. These initial attempts to construct knowledge to shape practices need to be supported through



Chapter 1 · Introduction to Research

­ articipant-­sensitive mentoring (Dikilitaş & Wyatt, 2018) because they might lead to p the confidence to generate knowledge at various levels. Discovering contextual knowledge through observing and co-reflection require noticing and problematisation skills for further understanding and sense making. 1.2.2  The Kind of Knowledge Pre-service Teachers Can Discover

Discovering knowledge about teaching involves finding out knowledge that is already present in the context, rather than creating it themselves. This requires generating an original piece of knowledge not likely to be deducible from the context through mere observation or conversation. Pre-service teachers could discover various types of knowledge to promote their process of learning to teach. Much of learning how to teach comes from the attempts to explore through the classroom teaching practices that they observe. However, unless they systematically reflect upon these with others, including peers and mentors, they may not discover the knowledge they need. Mere observation and immediate superficial thinking may not lead to the discovery of desired pedagogical knowledge but to self-deception in evaluating one’s own practices and understandings. Weakness in critical understanding of own context, current knowledge about future teaching, and existing puzzling issues may potentially prevent pre-service teachers from promoting theoretical and practical knowledge construction. Pre-service teachers then could explore and discover:

Local Knowledge

This is composed of knowledge that is likely to help pre-service teachers understand the context of teaching to further teach in contextually appropriate ways in similar contexts. Specifically, teachers notice unique knowledge pertaining to specific schools, such as; 55 how students perceive learning foreign languages, 55 what motivation students have in learning another language, 55 what their attitudes toward learning another language are, 55 what socio-economic status they possess, 55 how parents approach learning another language and what support they provide, and 55 what cultural, psychological and social issues play a part in learning another language. Teachers might be encouraged to delve into these questions when they first visit practicum classrooms, giving them the sense of considering wider local context. Knowing about these factors might inform their practices, but also the ways in which they communicate pedagogical issues to students and parents.

Contextual Knowledge

Such knowledge requires discovering the factors and elements that play a role in the learning process in a specific context, which may not be obvious to an outsider. Pre-­ service teachers can access this knowledge by spending time in the school and in the classroom. They will then discover knowledge regarding;

9 1.2 · Contextualizing Knowledge: What Pre-service Teachers…


55 what expectations schools have 55 what kind of curriculum is implemented 55 what facilities are provided in the school (i.e. labs, technology, and so on), and 55 what characteristics students and teachers have. Discovering the context provides a sense of comfort and confidence for professional survival in the school and classroom environment. This growing understanding may also lead to making context-relevant pedagogical decisions.

Personal Knowledge

This refers to knowledge that is discovered by comparing and contrasting with own existing teaching knowledge. They discover; 55 what roles teachers have in the classroom, 55 how teachers are seen by their students, 55 what classroom activities students prefer, 55 what existing beliefs about teaching are challenged, 55 what doubts and questions teachers notice in themselves.

Professional Knowledge

This constitutes knowledge that teachers need to possess regarding their teaching profession. Pre-service teachers might need to invest more efforts to access such professional knowledge. Observing is important, of course, but understanding why these activities and strategies are implemented requires much more interaction with teachers, and critical questions for further thinking. This constitutes the initial stage of research engagement by pre-service teachers and requires asking the following issues; 55 which techniques and methods teachers employ, 55 what kind of materials they utilize, and 55 what kind of interaction they adopt with students More specifically requires the questioning of; 55 how teachers correct verbal errors (i.e. correction, tolerance, or ignorance), 55 what interaction patters they employ (i.e. individual, pair-work, or group work), 55 how much time teachers spend on particular stages of the lesson (i.e. warm-up, input presentation, activities/tasks, and classroom assessment), and, 55 how they design certain activities (i.e. speaking, listening, writing, grammar, reading, and video watching). Once the answers are noted in detail, then pre-service teachers begin to reflect with the school teachers and listen and note what they say and how they justify these activities. Such reflective, critical and insightful questioning driven by personal curiosity and desire to learn can constitute discovery-based learning. Discovery does not happen with noticing alone, but rather with an engaging follow-up, co-reflection with the school teachers or mentors. Looking for justifications for what teachers do in the classroom is an essential step to developing a research perspective (Allwright & Hanks, 2009; Hanks, 2017). Developing professional knowledge through discovery of meanings of the activities employed by the teachers is critical. For example, in a Turkish English as a foreign



Chapter 1 · Introduction to Research

language (EFL) classroom, one mentor teacher that a pre-service teacher was observing first had students repeat the vocabulary she was trying to teach without writing it on the board. The pre-service teacher later asked why. The teacher said: “I did not want the students to see the spelling since they might then read it in the way it is spelt rather than pronounced”. The idea behind the teacher’s practice here is that in Turkish each letter stands for a sound, so it is read in the way it is written, unlike English. The pre-service teacher here discovered a very simple strategy through curiosity to learn, courage to question, and ability to notice. Such discoveries are strengthened by the conversation – whether formal or informal – when a democratic rapport and positive relationship (Mercer, 2014, p. 66) is established between the supervisors, mentor and pre-service teachers. As pre-service teachers feel that they discover meaningful, relevant knowledge, they gain confidence in learning in this way, particularly during their practicum. They also develop a sense of self-efficacy about noticing and discovering knowledge, which could turn into a personal learning style. Pre-service teachers are also likely to show relatively higher levels of ownership of discovered knowledge compared to that of imposed knowledge (Carr & Kemmis, 2003). In sum, the practicum experience can provide the essential basis or context that would support pre-service teachers’ transformation of knowledge through discovering and reflecting on issues that constitute a personal priority. 1.2.3  Everyday, Academic, and True Concepts

The role of practicum is critical in that it establishes the first teaching experiences and first professional context before the school. Therefore, this process and period needs to be handled with utmost attention. Pre-service teachers, once language learners themselves, might have a number of conceptions, which they can explain in three ways. These include three key concepts as argued by Johnson & Golombek (2016).

Everyday Concepts

Everyday concepts refer to “a kind of unconscious, empirical knowledge  – likely to be incorrect or misinformed” (Johnson & Golombek, 2016, p. 5). Such knowledge originates from “common, concrete activities and immediate social interactions” (p. 6). These concepts are a necessary basis on which to build a systematic understanding of teaching.

Academic Concepts

Academic concepts refer to a more systematic and generalized knowledge that not only enables teachers to think in ways that transcend everyday concepts, but also helps them to overcome their everyday notions  – “possible misconceptions” and academic concepts assist teachers in overcoming “empty verbalism” (Johnson & Golombek, 2016, pp. 5–6), which might have value at a personal level, but be essentially meaningless in content.

11 1.3 · Research as Development Opportunities


True Concepts

True concepts refer to transforming tacit knowledge and beliefs by using formally-learnt academic concepts and creating concepts to understand their context. This can also be seen as a transformation from thinking in everyday language to thinking in concepts. This new insight and language use in reflection helps teachers 55 view classroom life together with teaching and learning through new theoretical lenses, 55 justify and develop effective and appropriate instructions, and 55 articulate theoretically sound reasons for their decisions and practices. Practicum experience, therefore, provides a timely opportunity to transform everyday and academic concepts into true concepts through careful integration of concepts learnt, and experiences lived and enacted. This approach engendered by socio-­ constructivist theory, is not a stage-by-stage process, but rather one that reciprocally interacts in a cycle, supported by continuous dialogues activated by curiosity enacted through observation of others’ practices on personally relevant issues. 1.3

Research as Development Opportunities

One of the core requirements in designing research, regardless of context, is relevance to the researcher’s needs and issues of interest. A person does research in order to address own interests, curiosity, questions, or challenges. Another prerequisite is whether, how and to what extent it informs relevant personal understandings and teaching practices. Therefore, there is need for a hands-on series of activities to allow teachers to develop meaningful research that aims to generate knowledge that is unique, local, and contextual. Pre-service and in-service teachers, alike, need to refine knowledge of research and reconsider research issues and procedures involved. However, learning to do research is a challenging process, particularly for beginners such as pre-service teachers. Pre-service teachers may have read research or participated in research as object and subject of research (Hanks, 2017) before but almost never engaged in one as researchers. This creates a lack of know-how and -what. We assume that for most pre-service teachers a research course they take at their undergraduate faculties is the first research engagement. However, we introduce such a research course as a learning opportunity as long as it is introduced as a course based not on academic research conventions but on exploratory practice which aims at developing research and inquiry skills. It is often the case that the academic language and methodological complexity may lead to negative attitudes about research. In fact, university students often fail to see the relevance of research methods courses (Earley, 2014). In addition, they have misconceptions about research which causes demotivation and anxiety among students about the course (ibid.).



Chapter 1 · Introduction to Research

Pre-service language teacher research could allow language teachers to develop professionally through research and inquiry skills with which they can be equipped. Teacher research is often criticized to remain largely as a minority activity in the field of language teaching (Borg, 2010; Tavakoli, 2015), so providing an accessible and supportive approach to research for pre-service teachers’ better preparation for their future careers can build confidence, and boost teacher empowerment (Tavakoli, 2015). Research for pre-service language teachers could offer opportunities for reflecting and finding out knowledge relevant to their professional development: 55 individual or collaborative as a group work as this could strengthen their commitment to learning about and with research, 55 self- and/or group initiated, as some issues could also be shared and raised by other pre-service teachers too, 55 oriented to understanding issues rather than to solutions, 55 developmentally designed, 55 awareness-raising into issues related to research and teaching practices, and 55 attitude changing as they might have negative stance towards research as a terms and research courses. Developing inquiry skills at pre-service level might need to evoke potential research motivation for pre-service teachers by; 55 developing research knowledge through a small-scale, reflection-oriented study, 55 developing a habit of inquiry that leads to self-awareness and critical thinking, 55 constructing perspectives and developing alternative ways of handling issues when faced with pedagogical challenges in the classroom in the future, and 55 providing opportunities to elaborate on issues of interest with a research plan through reflection with evidence. In supporting pre-service teachers to develop the abovementioned inquiry skills, the course tutors are expected to consider the following issues when facilitating pre-service teachers’ engagement in research; 55 encouraging them to talk or write about their own experiences and issues of continued concern, 55 giving them freedom to explore their ideas as well as those of others, 55 making sure that pre-service teachers are setting out not to find solutions to problems but to deepen their understandings of them, 55 minimizing mentor intervention to foster teacher creativity and maximize it to overcome challenges and gain methodological knowledge, 55 becoming aware that cognitive change is relatively easier if the process is evidence– based, whether verbal or written, 55 highlighting that pre-service teachers who arrive at knowledge that is context specific and person-oriented are less likely to overgeneralize, and 55 emphasizing that knowledge is socially constructed through exploration and evidence-driven reflection. Different from methodology or language acquisition courses, a research course requires using, integrating, and developing a process of inquiry, a key component involving

13 1.3 · Research as Development Opportunities


research engagement. Inquiry begins with developing a topic and identifying issues, questions, or puzzles through in-depth, critical exploration. In this sense, a pre-­service research course includes the following perspectives: 1.3.1  From Everyday Concepts to Academic Concepts

Everyday concepts include teachers’ informal, unsystematised conversations about issues they face in teaching and learning by using non-formal language devoid of relevant concepts. Teacher learning is described by Johnson and Golombek (2016) as the process of being able to use academic concepts to discuss everyday classroom issues or pedagogical challenges. Research is one of the ways of engaging teachers in this process, during which they integrate their everyday experiences formed by puzzles into relevant academic concepts to gain understanding of their practices and beliefs. 1.3.2  From Unanalysed Teaching Experiences to Informed


Research is usually seen as a formal process that excludes learning and teaching practices. However, for teachers, research is practice of teaching and learning itself (Hanks, 2017). Analysing practices constitute research engagement for teachers, which allows for preparing for constructing practice (i.e. what I do in practice, how I can develop it, and why I should modify and/or change it). These questions often encourage teachers to think about their teaching, which might be raw or unanalysed experiences, usually not elaborated on or investigated through critical refection. Understanding experiences could generate unexplored information or knowledge which could deepen teachers’ understanding as informed by the object of the research, their students who could provide the most reliable data for their teachers. They offer first-hand information that could help teachers align their instruction accordingly. So the informed understanding can only occur when teachers listen to their students or co-work with them on issues or puzzles that matter to both. 1.3.3  From Fixed Mindset to Growth Mindset

Teachers with fixed mindsets often generalize practical knowledge without considering students’ profile or background. On the other hand, teachers with growth mindset exercise choices, create alternatives, and are open or flexible in line with the context they are in. They are also open to new, unexplored methods and materials. When things do not work, they seek for ways that can work. Research is an empowering process that activates thinking in unpredictable ways. In this sense, research offers teachers a number of potential opportunities to develop a growth mindset, since it leads to rethinking, re-­ questioning, revisiting ideas and practices.



Chapter 1 · Introduction to Research

1.3.4  From Theoretical Towards Practical Lens

Most teachers perceive research as being fully theoretical (Borg, 2010) and as being mainly composed of numbers displayed with charts and tables involving statistical values. This often discourages and scares them due to lack of research knowledge. Therefore, pre-service research courses need to help them question such theoretical understanding and embrace it as an endeavour to understand and make sense of teaching and learning process and practices. A practical aspect of research could then lead to a culture of inquiry and develop practices through active and sustained investigation which can help them “theorize from practice and practice what they theorize” (Kumaravadivelu, 2006, p. 59). 1.3.5  Developing a Sense of Inductive Thinking

Inductive thinking is a mental process by which knowledge is induced from samples of language, such as transcribed interviews or reflective writing, to create patterns of meaning through representative words. A novice researcher is expected to develop a sense of inductive thinking, to become successful meaning-makers of the verbal and written. Therefore, pre-service teachers need to develop as; 55 Insightful inquirers (Medgyes, 2017), 55 Critical thinkers (Petek & Bedir, 2018), 55 Reflective practitioners (Walsh & Mann, 2016), 55 Researchers of teaching (Burns, 2009), 55 Knowledge generators (Borg, 2013), 55 Theorizers of experiences (Kumaravadivelu, 2001). Developing diverse roles to grow into pre-service teachers might need to be supported during this process and we argue that research courses at undergraduate level can contribute to this if they adopt the following principles: 55 social-cultural learning theory 55 learning and teaching as part of a social learning process through which they discuss and are informed by others’ views too 55 integrationist approach to teacher learning 55 by establishing links between real world and theory particularly by delving into the pedagogical puzzles they develop, which represent their real-world issues 55 bottom-up approach to generating knowledge 55 through pedagogically appropriate research tools to generate hypotheses from practices and personal theories 55 generative approach to development e.g. 55 developing local knowledge unique to themselves and context. To develop research and inquiry skills, pre-service teachers need to explore their own puzzles in a systematic way to;

15 1.4 · What Does Research Mean to Pre-service Teachers?


55 expose their beliefs about their own puzzles through in-depth collaborative exploration, 55 develop knowledge about how to undertake a process of inquiry in a collaborative setting (i.e. peers, mentor-like tutor), 55 revisit their attitudes towards research (often articulated as negative), and 55 develop skills of doing research in a supportive environment to understand their own puzzles. A course that connects pre-service practicum experiences with research course in the faculty could ensure that teachers see the relevance to research and practice in the classroom and appreciate and experience the inquiry through reflection. This helps pre-­ service teachers to get to know the context of teaching, in-service teachers, students learning other languages, and engage in self-evaluation through comparison. In this way, they reflect on others’ practices as an initial stage of learning to teach. Meanwhile, for their mini-research, they might have the opportunity to deliver the course themselves and to engage in some reflective practice and data collection. In contrast, in-service teachers, already in the midst of intensive teaching ­experiences, engage in research to improve their teaching practices, elaborating on their teaching, students’ learning, and interaction between both. 1.4

What Does Research Mean to Pre-service Teachers?

Research simply refers to the process of generating clear and detailed answers to self-­ posed pedagogical questions (Dörnyei, 2011, p. 15). There are different ways of finding answers, numbers or on verbal and written responses collected from students, teachers, administrators, and parents in an educational context. Research involves systematic inquiry, thinking critically about the questions and collected data, a skill that is to be learnt and developed through practice. In this way a research perspective evolves and helps the researcher to be more and more critical about the issues lived or experienced in the classroom. Another definition by Nunan (1992, p. 3) is that research is a systematic process of enquiry consisting of 3 elements: 55 a question, problem or hypothesis, 55 data, and 55 analysis and interpretation of data. Nunan (1992) offers a very practical view, focused on the process itself, encompassing stages of conventional research. On the other hand, McDonough and McDonough (2014) describe research considering these teachers’ passive or active role and arguing for the latter. In this sense, they argue that:

»» “research is not only something that is done on or to teachers but is also an undertaking

in which they can themselves be actively involved, by for example identifying interesting or problematic issues and topics, choosing suitable investigative instruments, and pursuing answers and outcomes” (p. 21).



Chapter 1 · Introduction to Research

There are many ways in which research is conceptualized; to prove a phenomenon, to test a hypothesis, to measure impact of an experience, or explore and understand some issues for which there are no predictable results. However, some issues might have predictable results; for example, when we give a questionnaire to students the result might include a number ranging from 1 to 5 or 1 to 9; we might have some percentages or averages. Such results can only confirm particular expectations of researchers. In contrast, we sometimes find ourselves in pursuit of unpredictable results such as what students think about a practice, their expectations, preferences, feelings, or personal strategies. It is possible to list more research results that are not predictable before collecting and analysing data from a particular group of people. Research for pre-service teachers we argue is not to be conceptualized as academic research but as a process of reaching insights and getting to learn how to inquire about puzzles and issues in mind. Research as a concept has probably been used by pre-service teachers as a word but its actual meaning will probably be understood properly with a course which they receive in their teacher education program. Any such course needs to focus on their understanding of research as a teacher not as an academic endeavour since they might learn to do academic research if they choose to attend and master’s degree program. Before an academic level of understanding of research, it needs to be understood as a process of developing ideas and understanding through exploration. Research in undergraduate programmes is not explored sufficiently, and research pedagogy in this level is usually informed exclusively by academic research conventions. The process of becoming a language teacher is complex and involves several components, such as building the knowledge base of what teaching is and how they can teach. This process includes courses such as language teaching methodology, language skills, acquisition, and research, in particular. Considering that pre-service teachers’ lack of previous knowledge and experience, the chapter focuses on basic knowledge that such teachers might need to develop and exclude any complex quantification and detailed qualitative ways of the act of investigating. The book develops ways of helping pre-service teachers engage in research and develop a research perspective (Allwright & Hanks, 2009) to investigate their attitudes towards personal issues, questions and puzzles. 1.4.1  Who Are Researchers?

Dörnyei (2011, p. 17) emphasizes four key characteristics of a researcher, which include genuine curiosity, common sense, good ideas, and finally a mixture of discipline, reliability and social responsibility.

Genuine Curiosity

Any research should begin with a topic about which one is curious. Such curiosity provides sustained motivation and interest in completing the process of investigation. When one investigates a topic of personal interest, one feels intrinsically motivated, which also creates a natural stronger commitment. Investigating a topic as a result of own curiosity also makes the researcher a critical decision-maker of what and how to do the research. We have witnessed students struggling or failing in their research process because topic was chosen by trainers, mentors, supervisors, or colleagues. A lack of an internal

17 1.4 · What Does Research Mean to Pre-service Teachers?


drive for investigating an issue causes a lack of ownership, commitment and agency which might hinder them from taking the control of the researching process. A researcher then should also be autonomous and be able to freely decide what and how to investigate an issue as well as how to collaborate with others, act interdependently, and value all sorts of perspectives and evidence, whatever source. This also helps them to “be driven by their passion for the topic” (Dörnyei, 2011, p. 17). Pre-service or in-service teachers are able to select good topics driven by curiosity about teaching and learning since they might have so many relevant experiences that might have influenced them in various ways and could be put under further investigation. These could include puzzles that they have not made sense so far and that they feel they need further to think about.

A Lot of Common Sense

Another characteristic of good researchers that Dörnyei (2011) discusses is common sense. He points to sustaining realistic stance, following a clearly articulated purpose, and minimizing bias. A good researcher might need ideas based on justification and evidence rather than assumptions. Remaining realistic about learning teaching issues can be challenging at times but it is easier when researchers do not make bold claims about the processes they follow and the issues they find. Pre-service or in-service teachers usually deal with specific issue they have experienced, which might give them a good opportunity to use their common sense. Reflecting fully on the experiences can allow them to develop a realistic view of it. Without the actual experiencing of events or incidents, developing a realistic understanding could be relatively more challenging. Teachers could display common sense when they do research as a result of the relevant and meaningful experiences they have had.

Good Ideas

Developing or creating good ideas is another key characteristic Dörnyei suggests good researchers have. These might include ideas about the research topic to select, the research process to sustain, or the results to make sense of. Good ideas evolve over time rather than be possessed inherently, so the process of engaging in research might tap further ideas as researchers think and reflect. For pre-service and in-service teachers, good ideas can be characterized by how meaningful it is to the teacher to delve into a puzzle and how contextualized it is in the learning and teaching experiences. Although being “good” is about ensuring quality, it is also about how much it addresses the individual needs of teachers, how much it helps them to develop and learn.

Discipline and Responsibility

Finally, Dörnyei (2011) describes good researchers as being characterized by discipline and responsibility. A systematic working plan enacted with discipline is often needed to create a reliable research piece. Being or feeling responsible is also critical in that what we find and generate as new knowledge for us or for others requires honesty. Pre-service teachers and in-service teachers alike need to cultivate these characteristics as researchers to create convincing research results.



Chapter 1 · Introduction to Research

1.4.2  Research as a Course in Language Teacher Education

In educational sciences, pre-service teachers are offered a research course at varying levels that change in terms of course content. As far as we have identified, such students take a course which includes academic research methods with references to complex quantification or deeper understanding of qualitative data. While we argue for the delivery of a research course, we believe that a research course at this level should specifically consider pre-service teachers’ needs and abilities. Academic research courses are aimed at those with research experience and background methodology knowledge. Research courses offered to pre-service teachers, on the other hand, should take this limited research knowledge into account. Research is likely to be “intimidating, off-putting and far-removed from life” (Lichtman, 2013, p. 5). A course to this end needs to prepare pre-service students for overcoming such negative attitudes and help them embrace the idea of research and connect it to their own profession. Such a course then should; 55 introduce research as a way of inquiry and a process of collecting evidence for further understanding, 55 focus on the process of engaging in critical thinking with reference to others’ opinions and judgments, 55 encourage understanding of issues by engaging in a systematic problem-solving task, 55 be based on an interactive mode of discussion, sharing and collaboration, and 55 be supported by sustained feedback sessions. 1.4.3  Why Do They Need Research Skills?

 he Need for Exposing Teachers’ Existing Beliefs T About Research

One way to develop insights into what research might mean for pre-service teachers is to allow them to articulate their beliefs about research. This process prepares them to deal with the new meanings of research (i.e., it is not exclusively theoretical and quantitative). In this activity, course tutors provide qualitative and quantitative papers from which they can choose. Their selection could imply their underlying beliefs. Some initial activities to do this might include asking learners to; 55 find a sample electronic or printed copy of research about teaching and learning, 55 read and understand it, 55 show what makes it a piece of research, 55 describe and comment on it with others, 55 discuss the topic and purpose, 55 identify its research questions, and 55 discuss its findings and conclusions. This task can familiarize them with a selected research paper that resonates with their conceptions of research. The second set of questions as a means to making them reflect on the chosen research could include;

19 1.4 · What Does Research Mean to Pre-service Teachers?


55 why they chose it, 55 what they learnt from it, 55 how they read it, 55 what interested them and why, 55 which part was critical for them, 55 which part they enjoyed reading and why, and 55 what, if any, resonated with their own understandings of teaching and learning. This second set of questions could help learners make sense of research and personalize knowledge from the content of the article. Conducting this activity could help course tutors prepare future teachers to understand research from multiple angles. If teachers select papers that are difficult to understand, in terms of statistics, then tutors could start discussing with them alternative approaches to research involving exploration, reflection and interpretation of own practices. A research course should also identify clearly the skills a pre-service teacher might need. Among them are:

Ability to Work Collectively

Rather than a lonely task, research involves interacting with others, particularly while collecting data. This involves seeing participants as active part of research with particular responsibilities and areas of contribution to the research. Collective work also requires sustained interaction on issues that emerge during research, a process of exploring and understanding, which is requires dialogue (Walsh, 2013).

Habit of Seeking Evidence

Decisions about teaching in a particular way should be based on systematic evidence collection. Any knowledge created for practical use needs to be evidence-supported. Therefore, it is important that a researcher develop such a perspective as a habit.

Tendency to Triangulate Evidence

Evidence plays a key role in the generation of new knowledge for use in teaching and learning. A researcher should therefore be able to develop ability to know how to collect data from multiple sources, and various relevant people in order to strengthen the knowledge that is created.

Ability to Connect Evidence

When a researcher collects much data from multiple sources, care is needed. A researcher needs to make connections among the emerging meanings in order to build up previously unexplored perspectives and knowledge.

Ability to Remain Unbiased and Objective

A challenge when dealing with evidence is the inability to suppress assumptions during the understanding and meaning-making process. Since researchers have prior experiences, existing beliefs might interfere with the process of analysis. A researcher should be able to create meanings supported by evidence under analysis.




Chapter 1 · Introduction to Research

Teacher Inquiry, Reflection, and Research

Inquiry is defined as a systematic exploration of an issue, a problem, or idea. Creswell (2017, p. 38) argues that researchers consider research problems as puzzles to be solved with a systematic research process, via critical research stages. These complex puzzles are broken down through a process of inquiry. Puzzles that form the basis of research are seen to be initial base from which research problems, purpose of study are constructed (p. 39). Developing an inquiry stance in relation to teaching requires; 55 knowledge of practice, 55 knowledge in practice, and 55 knowledge for practice (Cochran-Smith and Lytle, 1999). This set of knowledge forms an essential base for initiating and sustaining inquiry. To facilitate the inquiry process, teachers need to develop their mindset in order to; 55 take more control of their own development and teaching, 55 value deep learning which requires sustained questioning and self-reflection, and 55 work collaboratively with others to nurture dialogic interaction. Particularly during the developmental process of learning, teachers need to be exposed to challenges which they can achieve, with or without scaffolding. These challenges should offer them further thinking and might need to be overcome through a mediated cycle of inquiry to initiate thinking and reflection. It is here important to note that developmental process can be developed without negative criticism, rather inspiration to a positive approach, avoiding judgmental stance (Cochran-Smith and Lytle, 1999). Teachers need support to “engage in sustained inquiry into their practice in order to support students’ inquiry in the classroom” (Beck, 2017, p. 39). 1.5.1  How Can Pre-service Teachers Develop a Sense of Inquiry

at Initial Stages?

Pre-service teachers need to be encouraged to experience the specific processes of engaging in inquiry such as; 55 doing systematic observation of school and classroom practice, 55 reflecting on these observations in order to integrate formal input and observed practices, and 55 formalizing these through systematic writing up and sharing with others. The intent is to encourage pre-service teachers to: 55 become more than a mere “technician”, and 55 develop a more reflective perspective. Developing reflective perspective involves direct teaching experiences or direct access to evidence from observations and systematic talks with teachers and students (especially for pre-service teachers). Therefore, understanding the concept of inquiry is key.

21 1.5 · Teacher Inquiry, Reflection, and Research


1.5.2  The 5E Inquiry Process

Inquiry is defined as a cyclical process composed of 5 complementary and mutually interacting concepts (Duran & Duran, 2004). Teaching experiences could allow teachers to construct their understanding over time if systematically inquired about, following the core inquiry-related concepts. These include.


All teachers begin their profession with some already-held knowledge accumulated since they began learning. However, this set of knowledge may not have been processed and subject to inquiry to understand whether it would work for their students. The first cycle in promoting inquiry skills could be to engage in their own current ideas and beliefs, identify the topics and concepts of interest, and express their views for constructive and developmental feedback. During this cycle, teachers articulate their interests and already existing understandings, and develop questions to share with others. Therefore, engagement prepares them for the next cycle involving deeper exploration.


To promote inquiry skills, teachers need to investigate or reflect on their questions by engaging with reading to develop further questions. In exploring, teachers investigate materials they use perhaps in critical friends’ group or discussion groups within a certain context, allowing the narrowing of questions and comparing own experiences. Exploring could also involve self-observation, description, recording, and sharing of multiple experiences.


Inquiry is also deepened through developing abilities to explain connections between prior and current experiences, making more sense of teaching and learning experiences. At this stage, teachers also use academic concepts to discuss challenging and engaging experiences and display the ability to conceptualize and to think in concept (Karpov, 2003).


Elaboration stage involves transferring newly learnt concepts to further experiences through contextual connections. Inquiry at this stage is deepened through synthesis of diverse ideas, making sense of experiences through new concepts, and co-reflection, to understand and be understood.


Inquiry also includes evaluating teacher learning and development through inquiring about the classroom practices. Teachers can evaluate the materials produced, and documents related to the interactions with others. By considering the whole process from initial engagement to elaboration, teachers can ask further questions to themselves and to others, which paves way to unexplored or unnoticed issues.



Chapter 1 · Introduction to Research

This 5E reflective process is a good example of a socio-constructivist view involving individual thinking in collaboration with other teachers and students, which leads to a sense of co-reflection and interthinking (Johnson & Golombek, 2016, p. 48). 1.5.3  What Does It Mean to Be Reflective?

Dewey (1933)’s arguments about reflective teaching still prevalent in much of the relevant discussions today, involving; 55 developing as an active creator of own knowledge, 55 working for materials design, curriculum development, and innovation, and 55 engaging in experience, interaction and reflection simultaneously. The process of pre-service teachers becoming more reflective also involves the argument above which assigns them various active roles implying cognitive and social engagement in developmental tasks as opposed to exposure to others knowledge transmitted to them. Johnston (1994) describes pre-service teachers as those who need to upgrade their role of “technicians of teaching and builders of databases of activities and lessons”. This might direct teachers to consuming pre-packaged activities generated by others, and then apply these activities without instilling their own understandings and intentions. Jenkins & Healey (2010), on the other hand, describes a process of development and reflection on understandings and practices through creating a culture that values inquiry. Pre-service teachers, as they argue, need to develop skills to inquire teaching practice by internalising and producing knowledge for themselves. Such a stance could help teachers understand how to best generate knowledge that empowers them as professional teachers. Becoming reflective is then a process that requires the provision of opportunities, for example, by supporting inquiry into understanding and initial internship or practicum teaching practices. Exploration and reflection are inevitable ways of developing a research perspective, which gives teachers an opportunity to elaborate on their thoughts and develop a research focus. To this end, pre-service teachers are encouraged to engage in their own inquiries early in their career through the reflective and critical research courses, a timely process that could help them develop as inquirers. Pre-service teachers need then to construct their own theories of teaching practice, laying the foundations for a career as a reflective professional. Pre-service teachers need to be supported to develop their reflective practices by which they come to understand themselves as professionals. We argue that teachers could be encouraged to reveal issues of needs and interest, to analyse these in terms of the specific aspects, and to elaborate on the issues within group work mentored by the tutor. Since they might lack teaching experiences, these issues of needs and interest could include those from their own language learning experiences. Pre-service teachers might still hold their learner role, which might help them understand learner issues as they develop as inquirers of their own understandings. Learner issues play a critical role and could help teachers gain confidence in raising and understanding issues (though not necessarily with ultimate solutions). Investigating learning experiences that formed

23 1.5 · Teacher Inquiry, Reflection, and Research


the issues of research concerns could also give them an insider perspective, thus becoming more reflexive to understand their own internal world. Allwright (2015, p. 35) argues for the following questions to be asked to the teachers who engage in research; 1. Does this research pay sufficient attention to understanding? 2. Whose understanding can this research develop? 3. Is this research a good use of class time? These questions emphasize the role in developing understanding of teaching and learning, the specific impact that research exert on (i.e., teachers, learners, or both), and the extent to which classroom activities and time allocated for research are promoting learning and teaching quality. Allwright (2015) implies that understanding-based research is initial stage to develop more complex research designs in the classroom such as action research which is mainly conducted to improve teaching practices and taking further actions in the instruction. In contrast, in research in sense of exploratory practice, understanding is prioritized. Due to potentially limited access to classroom practices and sustained interaction with learners and other teachers, they could be guided to engage in understanding, rather than conducting research that requires implementing classroom tasks, observing and evaluating pedagogical changes. While they develop concepts related to language teaching, it seems that they could also make sense of these concepts through small-scale research designed to understand emerging issues of ­interest. Pre-service teachers might need to problematize language learning experiences, observed issues of interest during practicum, or initial challenges in the first teaching experiences. These practices could be more valuable in promoting understanding and establishing initial knowledge and skills, than conducting research aimed at practical changes. Research, in this sense, not only deals with experiential issues, but also issues leading new understandings and insights. 1.5.4  Developing Reflectivity

Developing a practical research lens is challenging due partly to the deeply seated conceptions of research as being highly theoretical (Borg, 2009). One of the empowering processes that could change this belief is being able to reflect systematically and critically on learning and teaching practices. However, this takes time, commitment, and support, through repeated exposure to thought-provoking questions. Language learning and teaching is a practical engagement, which is learnt and developed through practice and experience. As Dewey (1933) argues, teachers do not learn from their experiences but from the reflection on these. When systematically engaged, reflection transforms pedagogic experiences into meaningful learning opportunities, and deepens construction of the insightful understandings for future use. In this sense, reflection is an integral component of research, by which experiences are analysed, interpreted, and revisited in a personal way. From this perspective, any research course needs to; 55 provide ample opportunities to learn to inquire about beliefs and practices, 55 embed into it a practical component that might encourage an inquiry stance,



Chapter 1 · Introduction to Research

55 cultivate skills to engage in inquiry by using processes such as asking questions, understanding and interpreting data, 55 take a practical rather than a theoretical perspective (Kumaravadivelu, 2001), 55 aim for an inductive understanding of knowledge construction through the systematic and robust investigation of experiences, and 55 help teachers develop knowledge of research through an experiential and reflective process (Kolb, 1984). It can then be considered to be both an inquiry-based, and an inquiry-developing process which develops inquirers of their own understandings and practices. 1.5.5  The Role of Interaction in Developing Reflectivity During

Research Engagement

Reflection is a process which involves thinking and generating ideas for promoting professional teaching practices and fosters the planning. Understood as a solitary act, reflection could be turned into a joint activity where two or more interlocutors – colleagues, mentors and even students – could participate and make it truly interactive. We argue that pre-service teachers might need to work with their peers when they first engage in reflection since they might need to tell others their views and listen to others too. Reflection could become a joint thinking activity supported by continual dialogical interaction. In this way, reflection becomes co-reflection or group reflection which could add to the diversity and criticality of the ideas articulated and evaluated by peers. Asking yourself questions about your own practice would not suffice to generate alternatives unless you express your ideas, concern, doubts and questions to others and listen attentively to what they say in order to make sense of your own. Many might find themselves in need of contact with others either for expecting to hear for confirmation, or alternative ideas. Some even look for contradicting opinions, hoping to broaden and/ or deepen their insight. Interaction offers a facilitating channel of communication amount pre-service teachers. Engaging in collaborative exploratory practice, which what this book is introducing, could even intensify the depth and breadth of interaction and discussion that might be developed among pre-service teachers. 1.5.6  Reflection and Research

One of the questions that need to be asked is whether reflection is a form of research, or an integral part of it. More specifically, is reflection a cause or consequence of research. Reflection might not promote research skills but contribute to the development of these by creating spaces for further thinking and questioning of the emerging findings, and interpretation of evidence. It could be that reflection can be a step towards ‘research perspective’. Research, for example, requires; 55 a research topic to focus, 55 a problem to gauge, 55 a question to seek an answer to,

25 1.5 · Teacher Inquiry, Reflection, and Research


55 a puzzle to delve into, 55 an issue to consider, 55 a purpose to achieve, 55 a methodology to follow, 55 a set of systematically collected data to work on, 55 a group of people to provide relevant data, 55 an analytic procedure to analyse, and 55 a perspective for interpreting and discussing data. Whereas reflection requires; 55 problematic or challenging experiences, 55 thick descriptions of these experiences, 55 a systematic look into these to reach insights, and 55 a context through which to interpret on the basis of the multiple factors such as 55 context, students, materials, other courses and teachers, out of class context and engagement as well as parents. These ideas may sound like they are simply assumptions, but they are, in fact, based on a thinking process. They still may need further data collection and analysis because in reflective practice, we draw some conclusions from our subjective understanding and meaning making efforts, with little or no interaction with the people who are in a position to give us the information we need. This chapter combined the principles of reflection with research data to create research-led or data-led reflection to make reflection more legitimate and objective, with the support of evidence. The basic principle of creating knowledge for ourselves or others is that decisions, conclusions or insights need to be corroborated by sound evidence. Living and working with assumptions while teaching adds to the confidence levels and the dependability on our assumptive knowledge. Confirming our knowledge is only possible in comparison or contrast with ideas from others. This process requires a carefully adopted process if we access reliable evidence rather than create subjective knowledge on the basis of our own experiences and assumption-driven conclusions. Developing such a perspective could impact teachers’ knowledge, practice, and beliefs immensely. 1.5.7  Reflective and Reflexive Engagement

Looking into teaching experiences through reflection is rewarding and valuable, but there is also need for critically looking into ourselves, described as a reflexive process. It is usually the case that teachers appear to understand how practices are implemented and evaluated in relation to whether, or how much they lead to learning or make students feel engaged. Being reflective (external locus of thinking) and reflexive (internal locus of thinking) are two aspects of the same process and depend on each other. Reflecting on experiences may turn teachers focus on what and how, but without considering personal involvement. However, looking inwards and outwards should be considered reciprocal processes, informing each other. Such a mechanism can be cultivated early in teacher education through several ways. These include;



Chapter 1 · Introduction to Research

55 teacher stories or critical incidents recorded and then transcribed, or directly written videotaped lesson extracts online to reflect on transcribed instructional scripts, and 55 lesson plans and materials used (technology, text books, worksheets). Chapter Summary In this chapter we have introduced the concept of research that teachers can relate to for their professional development. We elaborated on the critical and reflective research process that contributes to the process of teachers’ learning to teach before and while becoming and being a teacher. And we discussed research paradigms with reference to the ways in which teaching can be integrated with the research procedures. In the following tasks that ask teachers/teacher candidates to observe, interview, and analyse lesson plan documents for further critical exploration.

??Task 1.1 Exploring Your Context Do the followings in your school (whether practicum classroom or in-service one) and explore the classroom context from your school mentors’ perspectives. 1. Observe school mentors’ classroom management practices and write thick descriptions of what happens in the classroom 2. Interview school mentors to explore their perspectives of the teaching practices, then transcribe the interview 3. Analyse lesson plans to obtain concrete examples that support teachers’ practices 4. Reflect on the observational notes, interview transcripts, and the lesson plans 5. Prepare and share a mini report with other teachers in your classroom or in your school

??Task 1.2 Write questions whose answers you want to find out as a result of what you might have explored in Task 7 1.1: 55 What 55 How 55 Why 55 When 55 Where 55 How often 55 How much  

References Allwright, D. (2003). Exploratory practice: Rethinking practitioner research in language teaching. Language Teaching Research, 7(2), 113–141. Allwright, D. (2015). Putting ‘understanding’ first in practitioner research. In K. Dikilitaş, R. C. Smith, & W. Trotman (Eds.), Teacher-researchers in action (pp. 19–36). Kent, MI: IATEFL. Allwright, D., & Hanks, J. (2009). The developing language learner. In Palgrave. London, UK: Macmillan.

27 References


Beck, C. (2017). Informal action research: The nature and contribution of everyday classroom inquiry. In L. Rowell, C. Bruce, J. Shosh, & M. Riel (Eds.), The Palgrave international handbook of action research (pp. 37–48). New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Borg, S. (2009). English language teachers’ conceptions of research. Applied Linguistics, 30(3), 358–388. Borg, S. (2010). Language teacher research engagement. Language Teaching, 43(4), 391–429. Borg, S. (2013). Teacher research in language teaching: A critical analysis. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Burns, A. (2009). Doing action research in English language teaching: A guide for practitioners. New York: Routledge. Carr, W., & Kemmis, S. (2003). Becoming critical: Education knowledge and action research. London, UK: Routledge. Cochran-Smith, M., & Lytle, S. L. (1999). The teacher research movement: A decade later. Educational Researcher, 28(7), 15–25. Creswell, J. W. (2017). Qualitative inquiry and research design 3E. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. Dewey, J. (1933). How we think: A restatement of the relationship of reflective thinking to the educative process. Boston: D.C. Heath. Dikilitaş, K., & Wyatt, M. (2018). Learning teacher-research-mentoring: Stories from Turkey. Teacher Development, 22(4), 537–553. Dörnyei, Z. (2011). Research methods in applied linguistics. China: Oxford University Press. Duran, L. B., & Duran, E. (2004). The 5E instructional model: A learning cycle approach for inquiry-based science teaching. Science Education Review, 3(2), 49–58. Earley, M.  A. (2014). A synthesis of literature on research methods education. Teaching in Higher Education, 19(3), 242–253. Hanks, J. (2015). Language teachers making sense of exploratory practice. Language Teaching Research, 19(5), 612–633. Hanks, J. (2017). Exploratory practice in language teaching: Puzzling about principles and practices. London, UK: Springer. Johnson, K. E., & Golombek, P. R. (2016). Mindful L2 teacher education: A sociocultural perspective on cultivating teachers' professional development. New York: Routledge. Johnston, S. (1994). Experience is the best teacher; or is it? An analysis of the role of experience in learning to teach. Journal of Teacher Education, 45(3), 199–208. Jenkins, A., & Healey, M. (2010). Undergraduate research and international initiatives to link teaching and research. Council on Undergraduate Research Quarterly, 30(3), 36–42. Karpov, Y.  V. (2003). Vygotsky’s doctrine of scientific concepts. In A.  Kozulin, B.  Gindis, V.  Ageyev, & S.  Miller (Eds.), Vygotsky’s educational theory in cultural context (pp.  65–82). Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press. Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as a source of learning and development. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Kumaravadivelu, B. (2001). Toward a postmethod pedagogy. TESOL Quarterly, 35(4), 537–560. Kumaravadivelu, B. (2006). TESOL methods: Changing tracks, challenging trends. TESOL Quarterly, 40(1), 59–81. Lichtman, M. (2013). Making meaning from your data. Qualitative research in education. A user’s guide. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. McDonough, J., & McDonough, S. (2014). Research methods for English language teachers. London: Routledge. Medgyes, P. (2017). The (ir)relevance of academic research for the language teacher. ELT Journal, 71(4), 491–498. Mercer, S. (2014). Re-imagining the self as a network of relationships. In K. Csizér & M. Magid (Eds.), The impact of self-concept on language learning (pp. 51–69). Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters. Nunan, D. (1992). Research methods in language learning. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press. Petek, E., & Bedir, H. (2018). An adaptable teacher education framework for critical thinking in language teaching. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 28, 56–72. Sanchez, H. S., Kuchah, K., Rodrigues, L., & Pietri, E. (2018). Pre-service language teachers’ development of appropriate pedagogies: A transition from insightful critiques to educational insights. Teaching and Teacher Education, 70, 236–245.



Chapter 1 · Introduction to Research

Tavakoli, P. (2015). Connecting research and practice in TESOL: A community of practice perspective. RELC Journal, 46(1), 37–52. Walsh, S. (2013). Classroom discourse and teacher development. Edinburgh, Scotland: Edinburgh University Press. Walsh, S., & Mann, S. (2016). Doing reflective practice: A data-led way forward. ELT Journal, 69(4), 351–362.


Exploring and Developing Puzzles 2.1

“ Puzzles” vs. “Research Problems”: Different Concepts with the Same Functions – 31


Sources of Puzzles – 34


I nteraction Patterns to Initiate the Research Process: Developmental Collaboration – 36


Defining and Revising Learners’ Puzzles – 38

2.4.1 2.4.2 2.4.3

The What and Who – 39 The How – 39 Other Issues: The Ethics, Costs, and Review of Literature – 40


 ample Puzzles by Pre-service Language S Teachers – 40


 roup 1- Puzzlement About Greetings in English G Lessons: The Mechanical “How Are You?” Dialogue – 40 Group 2 - Impact of Technology on Student Participation in Language Classrooms – 42 Group 3 - Changes in Pre-service Teachers’ Eagerness to Speak English in Different Classes – 43

2.5.2 2.5.3


Pre-service Teacher’ Comments on the Puzzlement and Puzzle Development – 44

References – 46

© The Author(s) 2019 K. Dikilitaş, A. Bostancıoğlu, Inquiry and Research Skills for Language Teachers,




Chapter 2 · Exploring and Developing Puzzles

In this chapter, we provide potential examples of how students can be guided to articulate puzzles in relation to their learning experiences. The specific issues include: 55 Why “puzzle” but not “research problem/question”? 55 Sources of puzzles 55 Interaction patterns to initiate the research process 55 Defining and revising learners’ puzzles 55 Sample puzzles by pre-service language teachers 55 Pre-service teachers’ comments on puzzles and puzzlement This chapter introduces puzzles as part of the exploratory and reflective process of developing the focus of research and constitutes a practical guide to the teaching of research methods. It is worth noting that the principles of Exploratory Practice (EP) have been incorporated into this chapter. Our aim, however, is not to compete with other means of practitioner research including Action Research (AR), Reflective Practice (RP), Lesson Study (LS), and Teacher Research (TR). We consider EP to be an amalgam of different types of practitioner research and carry the main characteristics of those approaches. For example, EP research can be considered to be a less academic (i.e. not necessarily including a review of literature or not employing complex data analysis approaches) form of AR. To provide another example, EP allows the practitioner(s) to reflect on their practice and do any changes as they see fit to develop. In this sense, EP also resembles RP. Thus, we have chosen EP and its principles to guide the process of equipping pre-service teachers with initial research skills in order to prepare them for their future practice and, in a way, prepare them to be able to conduct different forms of practitioner research. Other reasons for the selection of EP as a guide includes: 55 EP focuses on understanding through exploration and making sense, 55 EP is driven by continuous dialogue with the stakeholders of puzzles, 55 EP helps teachers be and become critical thinkers and reflective practitioners, 55 EP provokes curiosity and establishes rapport, 55 EP supports collaboration with others, and 55 EP connects teachers and learners when unpacking puzzles. Getting to learn about research and/or research perspective, pre-service teachers might need to start developing essential questioning skills rather than making a technical start by asking general research questions and/or collecting data with pre-prepared long questionnaires. At this stage, research should start from learners’ own issues verbalized as puzzles and imply research for addressing contextual and personal issues. This would satisfy curiosity and/or exploring potential answers to the questions in mind regarding pedagogical issues. Pre-service teachers, in initial years of their formal education, might need to understand and reflect on issues that once occupied or still occupy their minds, which in turn might help them construct knowledge about practical aspects of teaching. The process of learning how to systematically reach potential answers to the puzzles could prepare them to understand what research is, how it begins, what processes it involves, and what use it has. On the other hand, early stages of learning about research and research methods in conventional senses and for academic purposes may not cultivate exploration and reflection in teachers but offer a misconception of research for theory rather than research for understanding.

31 2.1 · “Puzzles” vs. “Research Problems”: Different Concepts…


In this sense, EP: 55 prioritises understanding over problem-solving for a fixed and ultimate one (Hanks, 2017), 55 encourages teachers to listen to others (learners, teachers, administrators, and even parents) for deeper and multi-lensed understanding, 55 helps reconsider assumptions (initial, personal views about puzzles), 55 helps develop an unbiased view of actual thoughts of stakeholders, 55 leads to discovery of new insights and enriches opportunities to self-evaluate own assumptions, and 55 allows for opening space for reflection through rethinking, reviewing, and reinvigorating insights. That said this chapter introduces puzzles and development of puzzles. The chapter begins with definition of “puzzle” and how it is different to a “research problem/question”. This is followed by a list of sources that can serve the process of puzzle identification. A collaborative model of developing puzzles is then proposed. After this, considerations for specifying and/or revising puzzles are offered. Finally, three sample puzzles are provided to serve as examples and student reactions to processes involved in developing puzzles are provided to help the readers realize the potential value of puzzles and puzzling. The chapter is completed with a summary, a self-reflection check-list, and research tasks. By the end of this chapter, the readers will; 55 gain an understanding of what is meant with puzzles and why the term “puzzle” is preferred over “research question or problem”, 55 recognize that a variety of sources can motivate individuals to undertake research, 55 become aware that puzzle contemplating is a process which can be revised, changed, and/or refined, 55 understand how and why puzzles can/should be turned into focused and feasible questions. 2.1

“ Puzzles” vs. “Research Problems”: Different Concepts with the Same Functions

“Puzzle” is the term that has been used in Exploratory Practice (EP) to refer to the “research problem” under investigation (Allwright, 2003). In their core, both puzzles and research problems are concerned with identifying and clarifying the issue under investigation and its related variables (Allwright, 2003; Bryman, 2007). This clarification process helps practitioners/researchers decide on how to proceed with their investigations. For example, defining and/or refining puzzles or research problems/questions can help researchers identify the target population of the inquiry and decide on the research methodology and tools to be used (Bryman, 2007). It is for these reasons that the puzzles or research problems/questions are crucial aspects of inquiry. In spite of the similarity between their function, there is a subtle difference between the two terms; a problem-oriented approach to research denotes negative connotations since a “research problem/question” generally refers to a kind of difficulty which the practitioner has to deal with and find a solution to (Hanks, 2017). On the other hand, a puzzle-oriented approach to research, whilst seeking solutions, seems to invite a more



Chapter 2 · Exploring and Developing Puzzles

open-ended and positive stance and more venues to explore, not only the negative aspect(s) towards which a solution is sought (ibid.) Hanks (1999) argues that when practitioners strictly focus on finding a solution to the research problem that they have identified in the language classrooms, there is a risk of gaining a solution which is superficial and does not necessarily provide a substantial understanding of what is/was happening in the classroom. However, if they do not focus on solely solving the problem but rather on understanding the classroom life (2nd principle of EP; work primarily to understand language classroom life), Hanks (1999) contends, practitioners have the potential to create an atmosphere that is rich and rewarding not only for teachers but also for learners involved. Such an environment encourages the inclusion of the learners in the process of solving the puzzle(s) (3rd principle of EP; involve everybody) and thereby allowing the investigation of the puzzle from multiple perspectives as a result of which unforeseen and/or unknown facts might emerge (ibid). Other potential differences between the terms, from our perspectives, are presented in . Table 2.1. In terms of the source, puzzles are driven internally and are more personal which means exploring them would satisfy personal curiosity and pedagogical practice. On the other hand, research questions are usually structured within the wider context of related research literature and in a way that the answer to it would fill a research niche in the literature. We should remind, however, that our aim is not to underestimate the role of research literature, but rather highlight that developing a critical and analytic approach that students can adopt does not have to be research literature dependent. In training pre-service teachers, our main goal is not to make them into academics but to help their development as critical researchers of their own teaching practices. The learners are specifically expected to construct their own practical knowledge rather than mere academic knowledge. In terms of their function, as mentioned before puzzles are aimed at reflecting and exploring issues while research questions aim to test hypotheses or measure variables. In terms of the processes involved, puzzles are continuous enterprises of exploration and one may move forward and backward during the exploration process as such the answers found to a puzzle can even initiate another puzzle process. However, research questions are more linear in the sense that a pre-determined research plan (generally rigid) is put into practice. Furthermore, puzzles are about one’s teaching/learning practices which make them very personal and subjective endeavours which require the individual to embrace a critical perspective and reflect on their own practice/learning.  

..      Table 2.1  Puzzles vs. research questions Puzzles

Research questions


Personally driven/internal









Critically subjective




Also beyond classroom


Microscopic (seeing details)

Telescopic (seeing broader aspects)

33 2.1 · “Puzzles” vs. “Research Problems”: Different Concepts…


Researchers who deal with research questions, on the other hand, can be involved in research that can be either objective or subjective. Moreover, puzzles are primarily about teachers’ pedagogical practices, thus, they focus on issues of the language classroom while research questions would usually problematise issues beyond the classroom level. Last but not least, since a puzzle generally relates to a subjective and specific aspect of one’s practice, it is likely to generate results that would allow the investigator to gain more details about the issue. However, investigators who try to develop critical answers to their research questions are likely to deal with issues as an outsider and therefore are more likely to gather data that would allow them to see the issue from a broad perspective. It is, however, worth noting that these conceptual categorisations are not fixed, and research questions might also include puzzles and puzzling characteristics. The process of developing particular puzzles might contribute to developing relevant ideas for writing research questions. Puzzles might create nuances in the personal microscopic perspectives and practical aspects while research questions help establish and develop telescopic views in a broader perspective. For the reasons cited in this section and in an effort to highlight the aim of this book (explained next), we have chosen to use the term “puzzle” rather than “research problem/question” throughout the book. We argue that most pre-service language teachers taking the research methods course at their undergraduate degree are going to become practitioners, not academics. Therefore, we do not have to teach them about how to conduct a comprehensive research study. In fact, even if we wanted to teach the research methods course in a detailed and comprehensive way, we are unlikely to be successful considering the limited time spared for the teaching of the research methods course (usually one module during the whole undergraduate degree which is usually 2-hours a week). Thus, in this book our aim is to develop pre-service teachers’ research skills in a way that they will be able to follow a critical and analytical approach in their teaching practice. The reader (whether it be the lecturer teaching or the learners taking the research methods course) is, however, reminded that they could use the term that better suits their context. Sections below are organized in order to help you and/or your learners with the process of identifying and specifying puzzles. In Task 7 2.1, the tasks are expected to be completed as a team (at least with one other person) rather than as individual work. It is important that pre-service teachers develop collaboration skills over time as they engage in working with others on pedagogical tasks and also learn about different ways in which they could contribute to others’ understanding. This is especially important to classroom practice which is a social learning environment.  

??Task 2.1 Do you agree that the word “problem” inherently carries negative connotations? What reason(s) do you have for your answer? Reason 1:

Reason 2:

Reason 3:


Chapter 2 · Exploring and Developing Puzzles



Sources of Puzzles

Conducting research can be a dynamic and challenging endeavour. Therefore, it is important that those who intend to engage in research be motivated and committed to do it. When using the term “motivation”, we refer to intrinsic motivation. Conducting research in areas that they are interested in can enable pre-service teachers and in-­ service teachers to persevere in spite of the difficulties they may face. In . Table  2.2 and 2.3, we list various sources that might help pre-service teachers begin their research  

..      Table 2.2  Examples of puzzles about the self Learning puzzles

Teaching puzzles


Why did we experience problems in speaking English although we have been learning this language for a long time?   Is it just us who feels this way or do other students studying in the English Language Teaching (ELT) department experience similar problems when they try to speak in English?   If yes, what could be the potential reasons for this?

Why do my students lose points in writing?   Is my approach of teaching writing different than other EFL teachers?   What can I do to help my students write better?


Why is my score always one of the highest in the class in listening tests?   What is it that helps me achieve such high scores?   Is it possible to apply this into other skills or subjects?

Why do my students generally perform better than other teachers’ students in the school?   Is it because of me or is there any other reason for this?   If it is me, then what is it that I do different than other teachers that help my students achieve higher results?   Is there anything I can do to help my colleagues so that the quality of teaching in my school increases?

..      Table 2.3  Examples of puzzles about others Learners




Why does Cem make a lot of mistakes while speaking?

Why does my teacher have difficulty in developing group work?

Why does Cem’s mom worry about his homework?


How does Cem write well-organized paragraphs?

How does my teacher manage to increase learners’ motivation?

How does Cem’s mom encourage him to do homework?

35 2.2 · Sources of Puzzles


journeys. Acknowledging that other categorizations might exist in the literature, and in line with the purposes of this book, we organize the sources into two general themes; a) puzzles about the self and b) puzzles about others. Puzzles about the self can be further categorized; a) puzzles about learning experiences, b) puzzles about teaching experiences, c) puzzles about challenges, and d) puzzles about achievements (see . Table 2.2). If those who are taking the course are pre-service teachers who will become teachers but have not been allowed to teach yet in their practicum, then they can be advised to consider investigating their learning experiences-­ related puzzles. In this sense, pre-service teachers can be asked to think about their language learning journeys (i.e. the challenges they have faced and/or achievements they have accomplished up to that point with regards to foreign or second language learning). For example, one group of students who participated in our first implementation of this research methods course considered themselves as lacking in their ability to speak English. In spite of years of learning English, they considered speaking in English as a challenge and decided that they wanted to understand more about the underlying causes of this. In doing so, they explored their own language learning process, first, by evaluating it as a team and then checking whether their fellows experienced similar challenges and discussed any potential reasons for these. In fact, conducting research on language learning experiences can be valuable since those experiences can guide pre-­ service teachers’ future teaching career in that it creates opportunities to both empathise and understand the issues under investigation from a learner perspective while learning to become a teacher. On the other hand, if the participants of the course are pre-service teachers who are completing their teaching practicum and/or in-service teachers, then they can be advised to consider working on teaching related puzzles. They can be asked to examine their own teaching practices (i.e. the challenges they have faced and/or the achievements they have accomplished in relation to their teaching practices). For example, Leyla, a veteran English as a foreign (EFL) language teacher, realized that her students were getting low grades in the writing section of a test based on the Cambridge Key English Test (KET), which led her to thinking that “something [was] affecting [her] students’ writing” (Nunez-Aguilera, 2016, p. 51). Leyla, who considered herself to be doing “a great job”, started questioning her teaching skills and realised that “there was something either [her students] or [she] was doing wrong or failing to do” (ibid., p. 51). Thus, having identified the problem, she started asking questions about her teaching (i.e. comparing her teaching of writing to that of other teachers) as well as the strategies her students used in the writing test. She planned an exploratory study in which she sought answers to the emerging and developing puzzlement she experienced. It is timely to note that most participants would probably decide to focus on challenges rather than achievements, which is natural and understandable. However, it is also possible to focus on achievements that one might have had. Focusing on their achievements can, in fact, help individuals understand the sources of their success and realize their abilities/skills that might be transferable into other situations, thereby, increasing the chances of success in other contexts. For example, imagine that you were learning English and you always scored in the top 10% in the listening skill tests while your scores for other skills are on average and you start wondering if there is a particular reason for always scoring high in the listening tests but scoring average in others. This  



Chapter 2 · Exploring and Developing Puzzles

makes you start to question whether there is a particular reason for achieving great results for the listening part, but not for the other skills. This issue can, in fact, be investigated as a puzzle and at the end of this process you, as a pre-service or in-service teacher, will know more about your strengths and weaknesses for language learning. The same logic applies into success stories of teaching. For example, it is possible that a successful teacher might wonder why his/her students learn particular skills ­successfully when compared to students of other teachers in a given school and start questioning herself about possible reasons for that and the findings can help to increase the overall quality of education offered in that particular school (4th and 5th principles of EP; work to bring people together and also for mutual development). The findings could model other teachers and offer them practical ideas that could increase learning. ??Task 2.2 Pre-service teachers, who have not done their teaching practicum, yet are encouraged to focus on and answer Questions 1 and 2 while pre-service teachers who are doing their teaching practicum and in-service teachers are encouraged to focus on and answer Questions 3 and 4 in pairs. 1. Can you think of and list down any significant challenges that you have faced as a second language learner? 2. Can you think of and list down any significant achievements that you have accomplished as a second language learner? 3. Can you think of and list down any significant challenges that you have faced whilst teaching a second language during your practicum? 4. Can you think of and list down any significant achievements that you have accomplished whilst teaching a second language during your practicum?

Puzzles about others can involve issues that learners observe in their surroundings. The sources of such puzzles can include but not limited to; peers, supervisors, course tutors, and mentor teachers (in schools where student teachers complete their teaching practicum). Considering that our focus in this book is language teaching, observing others’ teaching has the potential to contribute to one’s development as a teacher by allowing them to realise what works or does not work in the language classroom, thus, helping the process of identifying the set of (sub) skills that are necessary for successful teaching. Areas of such investigations include, but are not limited to, teaching methods, classroom management strategies, classroom interaction, materials design, assessment and evaluation, teaching/ learning of language skills, teaching/learning of language areas, and student motivation/ expectations. Unlike puzzles about the self, participants who choose to investigate puzzles about others would most probably decide to focus on achievements of others in an effort to increase their own effectiveness as a teacher/teacher candidate (see . Table 2.3).  


I nteraction Patterns to Initiate the Research Process: Developmental Collaboration

As mentioned above, motivation is one of the key factors that might keep pre-service teachers involved in their pursuit of research. Therefore, rather than assigning inquiry topics to the pre-service teachers, the course tutor should create the conditions for them

37 2.3 · Interaction Patterns to Initiate the Research Process…


to decide on their areas of investigation. Below, we propose a developmental collaboration model for pre-service teachers in deciding what to study as a puzzle. The following steps can be implemented independently (i.e. teachers might be encouraged to decide and work on their puzzles on their own). Nevertheless, we argue that following a collaborative model might increase their collaborative skills and help them realize/understand that teaching and learning are social processes which require individuals to collaborate with others in making sense of their practices and behaviours (3rd principle of EP; involve everyone). This, as a result, can potentially contribute to pre-service teachers’ development as candidate teachers. The steps of our proposed model include; (1) individual study, (2) pair-work, (3) group-work, and (4) forming research groups. As can be understood from the name of the first step, pre-service teachers in the individual study stage are asked to work independently. In this stage, course tutor can ask them to note down their previous teaching/learning challenges and/or achievements (puzzles about the self; see . Table 2.2). Alternatively, they can also be asked to focus on puzzles about others (see . Table 2.3). What is important in this stage is that pre-service teachers identify (an) issue(s) that they find important and relevant to them, an issue that they would like to investigate, or an issue that might satisfy their curiosity. The tutor can remind them that they can note down as many ideas as they can from which they can select one at a later stage. Thus, this stage can be considered as brainstorming for research ideas. Generally, three to five initial ideas would be helpful. Though the number may seem high, it will decrease in later stages as they explore and elaborate on them further. The second step is pair-work, in this stage pre-service teachers can be asked to work with a partner and talk to their partners about their potential research ideas. They are also expected to listen to their partners’ research ideas and provide feedback to each other, thus making this stage a co-evaluative process of developing research ideas. This process is expected to help them revise and refine their puzzles. The tutor can support this process by providing a list of possible questions that they can ask each other at this stage (see 7 Sect. 2.4). At the end of this stage, pre-service teachers are expected to decrease the number of potential puzzles to one or two. Group-work, the third stage, mirrors the pair-work stage. However, it is aimed to serve as an additional layer of revising and refining puzzles. The groups can consist of four to five people which would increase the chances of potential puzzles being evaluated from multiple perspectives. At the end of this process, teachers are expected to have selected a single puzzle that they would like to investigate. Although, at this stage, most pre-service teachers might have worked with different individuals and might have had ideas of what other potential puzzles exist, the tutor can ask each to do a brief presentation of their puzzle to the whole cohort and ensure that people know about each other’s puzzles and investigation process. In the final stage, we propose formation of research groups of two to three individuals. The three stages before this stage allowed pre-service teachers to find out others’ puzzles. Therefore, they can be asked to find partners who share similar interests and with whom they can collaborate in their research project. In our experience, research groups with four or more students have the potential to fail due to having too many different perspectives which can prevent the team from narrowing down the focus to puzzle that could be investigated. In addition, groups with this number may experience problems in leadership and division of labour. On the other hand, teams of two to three  



Chapter 2 · Exploring and Developing Puzzles

individuals would not necessarily require leadership and all members would have the chance to equally participate in the decision-making processes. A final stage of revision can be included in this stage in order to allow the group members to state their expectations and agree on the final version of the puzzle to be investigated. 2.4

Defining and Revising Learners’ Puzzles

As the American inventor, Charles Kettering, once said, “a problem [puzzle] well-stated is half-solved”. Puzzles are the starting points of inquiry and direct the decisions to be made in the process of research. Therefore, a clearly articulated and focused puzzle can prevent loss of time, effort, and resources. Having established research groups, the course tutor should ask pre-service teachers to transform their research ideas into exploratory questions in this stage by considering the following meta-exploratory questions. The difference between exploratory questions and meta-exploratory questions is that the former includes actual questions (also can be considered as the sub-questions of the puzzle) to which answers are sought through the exploratory practice research and the latter goes beyond the actual research and, in fact, helps pre-service teachers with the planning of their research studies (example questions that can help the reader differentiate between the two types of questions are provided in . Table  2.4). While there could be exceptions, most initial puzzle questions would be very broad and/or include ambiguities. The first question that teachers should consider is: “Why do I/we want to investigate this puzzle?” This question is similar to the “so what?” question in formal research, which highlights the relevance of the research to teachers’ professional development process. By asking the “why” question above, we aim to reveal the importance of their proposed puzzles to the learners and motivate them. The following questions, then, can help learners narrow down and specify their ideas. Questions in the form of puzzles will be reformulated after considering each of the following questions, thus, narrowed puzzle questions can be generated at the end of this process. While pre-­  

..      Table 2.4  Sample questions regarding the exploration of the exploratory process Exploratory questions

Meta-exploratory questions

The why

Why do learners memorize vocabulary?

Why do I/we want to investigate this puzzle?

The what and who

What do they do to memorize? Who encourages them to do so?

What am I going to explore? Whom should I collaborate with during the exploration?

The how

How do they learn through memorisation?

How can I/we gather information about “the what” from “the who”? How can I/we integrate the tool(s) into my/ our teaching materials? When can I/we collect this information?

39 2.4 · Defining and Revising Learners’ Puzzles


service teachers are expected to ask these questions to each other in their groups, the tutor is encouraged to monitor this process and act as a guide whom teachers can consult when they need help.


The What and Who

What exactly is it that I/we want to do research on? Answering this question will help pre-service teachers identify the variable(s) for their study. They may not necessarily be aware of the concept of “variable” and, in fact, they do not have to. Such terms can be introduced at a later stage (i.e. data analysis; see 7 Chap. 5). What information can I/we collect about this issue? Answering this question will help them identify what data (i.e. quantitative/qualitative) they would need to generate. Who are the stakeholders of this puzzle? Identification of potential stakeholders, those to whom the puzzle relates, can help teachers narrow down the focus. Who can provide me with information so that I/we could better understand this puzzle? Answering this question will help teachers decide on the participant(s) that they would need to include in their investigation. They should also be asked to consider the following question: “Will those individuals be willing to cooperate with me/us on this matter?”  


The How

How can I undertake this study? Answering this question might help pre-service teachers clarify issues that interrelate to the data generation tools, data generation process, and data analysis. How can I/we gather information about “the what” from “the who”? Answering this question might allow them to specify the data generation tool(s) they will utilize in their study (i.e. questionnaire, interview, observation, and so on). Preservice teachers completing their teaching practicum can also be asked to consider the following question: “How can I/we integrate the tool(s) into my/our teaching materials?” When can I/we collect this information? Answering this question might help them draft a timeline for their study. Do I/we have the capacity to makes sense of this information? Answering this question might also allow them to realize their potential to analyse and interpret the data they collect. At this point, they may feel that they might not have the capacity to interpret the data (i.e. skills to analyse qualitative/quantitative data). Nevertheless, the course tutor should encourage the students and teach them the basic procedures of data analysis and provide continuous support in the process of conducting research throughout the term. It should also be noted that this is still the planning stage of research for pre-­ service teachers. Therefore, allowing flexibility would be a good idea since their research focus and interests might change as they explore and understand more about the puzzle. Whilst encouraging them to plan their research, the tutor should be observant and be ready to discuss with them the potential challenges that they might face (i.e. obtaining permissions if the proposed study is aimed to be conducted in a school). It is expected that answering the above questions might lead to feasible puzzle questions. The above questions have been grouped as a summary in . Table 2.4.  



Chapter 2 · Exploring and Developing Puzzles


Other Issues: The Ethics, Costs, and Review of Literature

The ethical considerations have become increasingly important in research involving individuals as research subjects (ethics is discussed in more details in 7 Chap. 4). Educational research is sensitive to the conduct of ethics. Thus, pre-service teachers trying to explore their puzzling questions should consider the ethical aspects of their investigation. In addition, the tutor should ask them to consider costs (i.e. printing, transcribing, and/or travelling) that can incur during their investigations. Exploring the literature is not an essential part of our proposed delivery of research methods course since this course aims to prepare the learners to follow a systematic approach in dealing with issues taking place in the language classrooms. Nevertheless, this does not mean that there should be no exploration of literature at all. In fact, informing students about sources where they could find studies similar to their puzzles and encouraging them to read about research conducted on those issues can help them with planning their investigation and/or selecting the tools. However, it should be noted that the aim here is not to have a comprehensive review that synthesizes the related literature, which is difficult even for graduate students (MA/MSc or PhD), but rather to provide pre-service teachers with support in completing their investigation.  


Sample Puzzles by Pre-service Language Teachers

The puzzle defining process will be illustrated through three examples in this section. The following illustrations mirror the tutorials conducted with groups of pre-service teachers over the course of three one-hour tutorials. An outline of the processes that took place is presented in . Table 2.5. The tutorials were separate from the lecture. Participants were divided into 6 research groups and there were three research groups present in each bi-weekly tutorial session making an average of 20 minutes guidance time for each group in each session. At the end of each session, each group was assigned tasks to be completed until the next tutorial in order to break down the research process into smaller and more manageable procedures and allow the team members to experience a sense of satisfaction at the end of completing each task in an effort to keep them motivated in their research journeys. Below we present the research journeys of three groups of students who took the course in the academic year of 2016/7.  


 roup 1- Puzzlement About Greetings in English Lessons: G The Mechanical “How Are You?” Dialogue

This group of pre-service English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teachers decided that they were bothered by the use of an old-fashioned dialogue (see below) in the EFL classrooms and they wanted to further explore this issue:

»» “Teacher: Good morning/afternoon class!

All students: Good morning/afternoon teacher.

41 2.5 · Sample Puzzles by Pre-service Language Teachers


..      Table 2.5  Outline for mentoring groups in the process of developing puzzles Stage

Activities carried out

1. Introducing puzzles

In the first lecture “exploratory practice” and the concept of “puzzle” was introduced to students.

2. Encouraging initial discussion individually and with partners

Learners, at the end of second week’s class, were asked to think about their challenges/achievements in relation to language learning/teaching and then were invited to share and discuss initial puzzle ideas.

3. Sharing emerging puzzles with others and forming research groups

After brainstorming with a partner, initial ideas were further discussed in a group to add another level of revision/refinement. Then, each member was given one minute to explain their puzzlement to the whole class which was followed by forming groups with people sharing similar interests.

4. Utilizing metaexploratory questions to finalize the puzzle creation and refinement process

At this stage, students sharing similar interests were brought together around a shared generic interest and the tutor tried to help them refine their puzzles through the use of meta-exploratory questions. At the end of this process, students not only decided on their puzzles but also decided on research tools, participants, and the data collection timeline.

Teacher: How are you today? All students: Fine, thanks, and you? Teacher: Fine, thank you! Sit down please!”

Our first question to the group was why they had decided on this topic. We found out that the group’s motivation aroused from the fact that they all had EFL teachers who used the above-mentioned dialogue at one point of their previous language learning experiences. However, they did not think it was an effective method for practicing language skills. The group thought that students responding to a teacher’s question in this way were not actually given an option to provide a real response but rather were conditioned to continuously respond in the same fashion. This suggested that the dialogical exchanges above could not be considered as authentic language use but rather mechanical use which did not necessarily require the learners to understand and be aware of the meaning of their responses. Their answers to the why question also highlighted the what (the use of the classic “how are you?” dialogue in EFL classes) aspect of their puzzle. After this stage, the tutor directed them to the who aspect of the puzzle. The tutor tried to explain how the puzzle can be studied in a number of different ways when considered from the perspectives of different stakeholders (i.e. the group could have focused on how other students felt when they had to participate in the above dialogue). At the end of this stage, as future language teachers, the group decided that they wanted to focus on teacher perspectives and explore if EFL teachers were still using the old-fashioned “How are you?” dialogue and their reasons for using or not using the dialogue. They revised their puzzle question as following: “What reasons do EFL teachers have for using or not using the classic ‘How are you?’ dialogue?”



Chapter 2 · Exploring and Developing Puzzles

Having identified their focus, it was time for the group to decide on the how aspect of their study. At this stage, it was almost mid-term and the course tutor had started covering topics on data generation tools (i.e. questionnaires) and their advantages/disadvantages. The group initially decided to administer a questionnaire in order to reach as many teachers as possible. However, they were advised by the course tutor that they need to get permission from schools in order to be able to administer questionnaires. Furthermore, they were asked to consider whether the questionnaire method would allow them to discover the logic behind EFL teachers’ (non) use of the above-mentioned dialogue. These considerations led the group to change their questionnaire idea into interviews (5 interviews to be conducted by each group member with an EFL teacher) which they would conduct outside the schools since they did not have enough time to obtain permission to access schools. They started devising interview questions such as: 55 Do you use the following dialogue in your EFL classes? 55 If you use it, what do you aim to achieve by using this dialogue? 55 If you do not use it, how do you greet the class? 55 What is your aim for this? The next step was the when aspect. The group decided to undertake the study after the mid-term exams and created a timeline for analysing their data and preparing their end of-term presentations and final reports. Over the course of three tutorials, the group had finalized their puzzles, prepared their tools, and planned the activities to undertake. 2.5.2

 roup 2 - Impact of Technology on Student Participation G in Language Classrooms

The second group of students had a variety of different topics that they initially discussed. Their initial puzzle questions included: (1) “We understand English, but we cannot speak, why?”, (2) “Can we apply what we learn during our university education to our real lives?”, and (3) “Why do we have exams mainly based on grammar and reading skills?” The group’s final decision, however, was to study the effect of using technology on student participation in language classrooms. Thus, their puzzle question was: “How does technology affect students’ participation in English language teaching?” When asked about why they decided to focus on this issue, the members responded that they were surrounded by technology and that it was becoming more and more integrated into their lives and that they felt that they needed to use technology in their future teaching career. Therefore, they wanted to know if it actually facilitated student participation, which clarified the what aspect of their research. There were different options about whom (the who) they could ask in order to learn more about this issue (i.e. students, teachers, and principals). Based on what they learned about observations (i.e. identifying or confirming behaviour of those observed), the group members planned to observe student participation in technology enriched classrooms. The tutor reminded students that they would need to obtain permission from schools in order to be able to conduct such an investigation, after several trials, the team members were finally allowed to do observations in a number of schools two weeks after the mid-term exam (the when), but they were not allowed to do any voice or video recordings.

43 2.5 · Sample Puzzles by Pre-service Language Teachers


The next issue to consider was how they would take notes during their observations. At this stage, the tutor provided feedback and asked them to think about what student actions they would consider as participation (i.e. listening to the teacher, engaging in class activities, or answering teacher’s questions). They were also asked what activities would count as the use of technology in the classroom (i.e. presenting language material using technology or students’ active use of technological tools during the class). These issues provided more focus on this group’s research. As a result, students developed an observation schedule (the research tool) in which they noted down classroom activities, whether any technology was used in the activity, teachers’ instructions to the class, and the number of students participating in a given activity based on their definition of participation. Interestingly, after generating and analysing their data, the group members realized that there were activities in which participation in technology enriched activities was lower than activities that did not utilize any technology. Nevertheless, there were also activities in which technology was utilized and student participation was high. These results led the group members to hypothesize that the use of technology does not guarantee student participation and what is important is how teachers make use of the technology or the other materials available to them, which affects student participation in the classrooms. This research process equipped students with a critical understanding of technology use in language classrooms, which could be very valuable to the process of learning to become a teacher. 2.5.3

 roup 3 - Changes in Pre-service Teachers’ Eagerness G to Speak English in Different Classes

The third group of students knew wanted to research an issue about speaking because they did not consider themselves to be proficient enough in speaking. As future EFL teachers, this group of students thought the speaking skill to be crucial for their career (the why). Their initial group discussion, however, led them to realize that they were more eager to speak English in a number of classes while they did not want to speak as much in other classes. They were really intrigued by this issue and wanted to explore potential reasons lying behind this issue. Thus, they slightly amended their research topic and decided to explore: “Why does our eagerness to speak English change from one class to another?” This focus identified the what (eagerness to speak English) and the who (themselves) of their puzzles. They then decided to expand the participant profile to other pre-service EFL teachers in order to find out more about different views on this issue. In the following weeks, the tutor introduced different research tools which they can utilize in their investigations. The group decided on utilising interviews (research tool) in order to explore the different emotions their fellow students have in relation to their puzzle. Their puzzle question became their data generation tool. Having found their data generation tool, they did not want to wait too long but arranged a timeline for data generation and analysis (the when and how). In fact, this interview question can be considered to share characteristics of pedagogically exploitable pedagogic-research activities (PEPRAs; see 7 Chap. 3) in that fellow students who answered this question ended up practicing their content knowledge (i.e. English speaking skills) through this  



Chapter 2 · Exploring and Developing Puzzles

activity. At the end of this study, members of this group identified a number of issues (i.e. teacher related factors such as gender and attitude, and classroom related factors such as class population and atmosphere) whereby they might have satisfied their curiosity as well as developing insights for their future careers as language teachers. 2.6

 re-service Teacher’ Comments on the Puzzlement P and Puzzle Development

Most students taking our research methods course heard about Exploratory Practice (EP) for the first time and were provided with hands-on experience of conducting a research study. As can be seen in examples below, initially, students were scared and anxious about conducting research mainly due to not being familiar with research;

»» “Obviously I had doubts and fears about the class at the beginning of the semester.

Because I have never taken a scientific research methods course before and have never been actively involved in such activity” (P19). “At the start of this term, this lesson seemed difficult and I could not understand what we were doing in this course. Because it was not much clear for me and I found that too hard and complicated at first” (P35).

Those negative feelings, however, seemed to diminish as the course went on;

»» “While taking this class, all of my anxious thoughts came over and over again until I

started my work on my own. […] As time passed, everything went on better and I felt confident” (P05). “Educational Research Method class was a difficult lesson for me to understand theoretical information in the beginning of class. When time passed, the class became clearer than I thought” (P09).

The reason for why these negative feelings started to disappear can be linked to the ongoing support that the tutor provided for learners which was compared to that of a “consultant”. Pre-service teachers seemed to appreciate the tutorials offered to them: “[t] hanks to the tutorials, we continued step by step” (P37). The following game analogy is a good explanation of why the “step by step” approach and the support system might have worked:

»» “At first [the research process] seemed very hard. It was like fighting with a big boss in a

game when I had a low-level character. Whatever you do you cannot beat the boss who is way stronger than you. But after you play other levels and bonus levels your level will be on a par with the boss. So, you can beat the boss easily. Lessons we had were the “other levels” and our teacher’s support was the “bonus levels”. Finally, I was ready to do this study. I was ready to beat the boss” (P44).

In addition, the following comments of P33 suggested that following the EP guided approach to research methods can help pre-service teachers develop an appreciation of research:

45 2.6 · Pre-service Teacher’ Comments on the Puzzlement…


»» “At the beginning of the term, maybe because I have a curious personality, I was really

excited about the course. […] I learned a lot of useful information that I will benefit from. First of all, I never thought that research was such a deep action, but I was wrong. The research that I made before was very superficial and I realized I knew only the dictionary meaning of the word “doing research”. I learned basics and steps of doing an educational research during the term. Now, I know it is not as easy as it looks from the outside and requires patient and enthusiastic” (P33).

This appreciation also manifested itself in the form of comments in which pre-­service teachers explained that the information gained in this course will be beneficial in their future career;

»» “This research has a big contribution to my personal development because as a teacher

candidate, I am thinking that every teacher should know and use research methods to solve problems easily and to see the source of the problem. This survey will certainly have an impact on my teaching life in the future. Thanks to this survey, I can see the reasons behind the problems and I can reach reasonable data by using these methods. Instead of waiting for someone else to find a solution the problem in my class, I prefer to find the source of the problem. I can do this in the best way, knowing and using the research methods” (P38). “In addition, this lesson contributed a lot of things to my education life. Firstly, I will use the results of this research when I will be an English teacher. If a student does not participate in the lesson, I will also consider the reasons which based on my attitudes” (P10). “But after weeks, the lessons started to get enjoyable. We chose a puzzle and solved it. Now, I know what puzzle is, how to collect data, how to categorize results of research, how to make a research. Making a research was both enjoyable and useful for us. Because, we are going to be English teachers, we will have problems about our lessons, of course. Before I took this lesson, I did not think that I would be able to find an easy way to solve my problems. But I know that doing research is the best way to solve my problems. Moreover, this lesson improved me a lot. Thanks to our puzzle, I understood that teachers have significant impact on students in lessons. I will be more careful and thoughtful for my students in the future” (P05).

Chapter Summary This chapter introduced the concept of puzzles and puzzling and defended its use as a replacement to research question/problem. Highlighting that sources of puzzles may be varied, we categorized such sources as puzzles about the self and puzzles about others. Because of the value seen in team/group work, a developmental collaboration for preservice teachers’ development of puzzles was proposed and suggestions on creating focused and detailed puzzle questions were provided. To serve as examples, then, actual puzzles from pre-service teachers’ investigations were provided and pre-­service teachers’ reactions to puzzle investigations were shared in order to highlight the positive effects of the proposed research methods delivery. A self-reflection check list and a research task that is considered to help learners start with their research projects are provided below.


Chapter 2 · Exploring and Developing Puzzles

Self-Reflection Checklist


Please evaluate your efficacy about being able to do the following ✓/X 1. I know what a “puzzle” is. 2. I understand why the term “puzzle” is preferred to “research question/problem” 3. I can differentiate among teaching/learning related puzzles and self/other related puzzles 4. I can develop my own puzzle or group puzzles 5. I know what exploratory questions are 6. I know what meta-exploratory questions are 7. I can use meta-exploratory questions to refine my puzzle 8. The example puzzles provided in this section gave me ideas of potential areas that I can address as puzzles

Documenting Own Research Process Start filling in the below table taking into consideration what you have read so far in this chapter and your experience of language teaching and/or learning My puzzle is My reasons for selecting this puzzle (The why) The what The who The how The when

References Allwright, D. (2003). Exploratory practice: Rethinking practitioner research in language teaching. Language Teaching Research, 7(2), 113–141. Bryman, A. (2007). The research question in social research: What is its role? International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 10(1), 5–20. Hanks, J. (1999). Enthusiasm, puzzlement and exploratory practice. The International House Journal of Education and Development, 7, 14–16. Hanks, J. (2017). Exploratory practice in language teaching: Puzzling about principles and practices. London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. Nunez-Aguilera, L. (2016). Upgrading writing skills. In P.  Rebolledo, R.  Smith, & D.  Bullock (Eds.), Champion teachers: Stories of exploratory action research. IATEFL Research SIG e-book, London, UK. Downloadable at ­https://englishagenda.britishcouncil.­org/sites/default/files/attachments/british_council_champion_ teachers_1.­pdf.


Designing Pedagogically Exploitable Pedagogic-­ Research Activities ­(PEPRAs) 3.1

Designing Pedagogically Exploitable Pedagogic-Research Activities (PEPRAs) – 48


Questionnaires – 49


Observations – 52



 eneral Issues for Pre-service Teachers G to Observe – 53 Why Do We Need to Observe? – 54 How Can We Turn Observation into a Process Beneficial for the Students? – 55 How Can We Observe Our Own Classrooms? – 55 What Are the Observable and Non-observable Issues? – 56 How Can We Engage Learners in the Observation Process? – 56 Types of Observations – 57


Interviews – 58


Other Tools – 60

3.3.2 3.3.3 3.3.4 3.3.5 3.3.6

References – 62

© The Author(s) 2019 K. Dikilitaş, A. Bostancıoğlu, Inquiry and Research Skills for Language Teachers,




Chapter 3 · Designing Pedagogically Exploitable Pedagogic-Research Activities (PEPRAs)

In this chapter we focus on different tools which learners can utilize for collecting data to unpack, understand, and solve their puzzles. The focus is, however, on questionnaires, interviews, and observations as these some of the most frequently used data generation methods in research. Understanding why and how these tools can be used can help pre-service teachers design their future teaching activities as “pedagogically exploitable pedagogic research activities” (PEPRAs): 55 Questionnaires 55 Interviews 55 Observations We introduce these three main conventional data collection tools in a way that could be used as normal pedagogic activities by pre-service and/or in-service teachers who engage in pedagogic research and who would like to learn to become a teacher through a professional research learning experience. The chapter focuses on how teachers, especially those who have little or no experience in research engagement could be guided and supported to develop a research perspective through normal pedagogic activities in their classrooms for gathering data or evidence from learners or in-service teachers who mentor them in the schools during their practicum experiences. 3.1

 esigning Pedagogically Exploitable Pedagogic-Research D Activities (PEPRAs)

PEPRAs are described as in-class activities that use normal pedagogic practices for unpacking and understanding puzzles without creating an extra burden on the flow of the lesson (Hanks, 2017, p. 267). PEPRAs serve a dual purpose: they not only expose students to engage in the type of activities they are already familiar with (Hanks, 2017, p. 268), but they also generate a co-constructed understanding of puzzles, a democratic process for collective understanding of pedagogic issues that matter to both teachers and students. These activities also allow students to feel confident in participating in and responding to the pedagogic-research activities, thereby ensuring integrity. Although Exploratory Practice (EP) suggests using normal pedagogical activities in generating data or evidence with pre-service or in-service teachers, for the purpose of the book and readership, we also discuss how non-pedagogic data generation tools can be converted into processes that involve teachers and learners as data generators at minimally complex level. As can be seen in the next chapter (7 Chap. 4), we avoid using the phrase “data collection”, which implies one collects data from another and the latter functions as information source (i.e. teachers delivering a questionnaire to students who respond with yes/no or with a rating of 1–5). Instead, we use “data generation” which implies revealing knowledge with others including students and teachers. In this sense, learners and other teachers might be co-researchers and play an active role in the research process. This entails engaging in understanding and unpacking the puzzle, generating evidence for it together, adopting and creating a democratic environment, and taking joint responsibility of challenges and puzzles. For example, although questionnaires are tools that elicit a vast amount of data from participants, pre-service and in-service teachers can use it by integrating its construction process into course content.  

49 3.2 · Questionnaires


..      Table 3.1  Sample alignment of conventional data generation tools with normal pedagogic activities Conventional data collection tools

Integration into normal pedagogic activities

Constructing questionnaires

Writing meaningful sentences Creating coherence among the statements Interacting with others through written language

Conducting observations

Developing note-taking skills Getting to know others in the classroom Generating evidence from what happens in the classroom

Preparing for interviews

Preparing and asking questions Developing verbal interactive skills Developing listening skills

Similarly, they can design questionnaires, interviews, and observations in a way that benefits learners’ and teachers’ language and inquiry skills development (i.e. design of a language exercise in the form of a questionnaire). These can be achieved by aligning the process of using these data generation tools with the teaching objectives in the syllabus (see . Table 3.1). While in-service teachers and pre-service teachers doing their teaching practicum have access to classrooms and teach, some pre-service teachers taking research method course early in their teacher training program would not be able to teach at the time of taking the course. As explained in the previous chapter (7 Chap. 2), such candidates can be asked to focus on learning-related puzzles rather than teaching-related ones. This situation raises the question of whether research tools developed in learning-related puzzles can be considered as PEPRAs or not. If the main idea of PEPRAs is to serve the purposes of pedagogy and research then the tools developed by pre-service teachers for investigating learning puzzles should also be considered as PEPRAs. This is because the concept of pedagogy encompasses not only teaching but also learning. We consider that pre-service teachers who focus on learning-related puzzles can both develop their content knowledge whilst doing research (i.e. practicing/learning English) and reach conclusions that might have merit for their future teaching practices (see for example the cases of Group 2 and 3 in 7 Chap. 2 7 Sect. 2.5). Therefore, in order to accommodate for this difference, we extend our definition of PEPRAs to include research tools developed for both teaching- and learning-related puzzles.  



Constructing and using a small-scale questionnaire to generate data creates an opportunity for pre-service teachers to learn how to generate data and work with their students in order to develop their language skills. There might be different ways of generating numerical and verbal data with learners and other teachers.


Chapter 3 · Designing Pedagogically Exploitable Pedagogic-Research Activities (PEPRAs)

Once pre-service teachers develop their puzzles as in 7 Chap. 2, now they can think about how they can access evidence with learners. Questionnaire construction with learners or other teachers requires some exploration and thinking purposefully about the content of the puzzle. Using the target language in preparing statements for the questionnaire can also be turned into a learning opportunity. If questionnaires are constructed with learners, this will ensure learner involvement in the research process and will not be said to be abused as the object of the study without any benefits from the engagement. The questionnaire construction can be integrated into the instructional process to contribute to student learning. For example, for an open-ended questionnaire, wh- question writing and asking could be one purpose, whereas for a close-ended questionnaire, sentence writing to get others’ feelings, thoughts, perceptions, habits, strategies, or expectations could be another purpose. Open-ended written questionnaires can be constructed in a way, which includes a few clearly written and broadly worded questions. Open-ended questions, which require responses without limited options such as Yes or No, might help gathering initial views about the puzzle to further think about and design a close-ended questionnaire for a larger group of students and teachers. Imagine the puzzle is “Why do my students opt for individual speech patterns in English speaking classes?” Some open-ended questions that can help collect their opinions can include: 55 How do you feel when you speak in your English classes? And why? 55 What speaking activities does your teacher conduct in the classroom? 55 How do you feel about talking with your friends for English learning practice? And why? 55 How do you feel when your friends want to speak with you in English? And why?  


So, while learners or teachers are constructing the questionnaire items, they use written language, discuss with others, collaborate on wording sentences, and further communicate with the participants. Notice that students who respond to those questions are also doing speaking practice in English. This highlights the dual nature of PEPRAs, they are not only used for generating data but they also serve pedagogic purposes. Similarly, one can also construct a close-ended questionnaire with the elicited data from the open-ended responses, which could help develop items for another questionnaire to be administered to a bigger cohort of students. To elicit learners’ or other teachers’ views regarding the issue in the puzzle, the questionnaire should; 55 contain 5–8 statements, 55 be clearly written, 55 be short and simple, 55 contain language free of jargons or academic terms, 55 include positive statements, and 55 ask one question in one item. The following stages can be followed to draw up an item pool: 1. talk to learners and teachers regarding the puzzle, 2. read relevant resources, 3. draft as many items as possible,


51 3.2 · Questionnaires

4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

discuss these with other learners or teachers, reduce the questionnaire items to 5–8 questions, get some expert opinion from a colleague or a (co-)researcher, pilot it with a small group, jot down the arising questions and ambiguities, and edit the final version.

Questionnaires can be designed with Likert scales rating from 1–3 or 1–5 representing anchors such as I agree and I disagree at different ends. For example, imagine the puzzle is: “Why do my students opt for individual speech patterns in English speaking classes?” To generate structured data on learners’ or teachers’ tendencies, a questionnaire like the one in . Table 3.2 can be developed. The first 4 questions measure anxiety in speaking in groups as in a dialogue, whilst the next 4 measure anxiety during individual performance. All the questions focus on measuring anxiety as in a non-dialogic or non-interactive format. Another way of questionnaire construction for the above-mentioned puzzle is using emotions rather than Likert scale anchors. Such construction could be feasible to implement and generate an array of emotions for the teacher to consider. The researcher can even add a column for the student to add her/his own emotion (see . Table 3.3). Teachers can also construct a mixed design questionnaire including open- and close- ended questions. While close-ended questions require a rating of frequency or agreement at the statement, open-ended questions demand a justification, exemplification, or evidence of the ratings provided (see . Table 3.4). Such questionnaire format with numerical and verbal data might offer an opportunity for the researcher to access responses to the pre-specified questions and the students’ own justifications and experiences that might have led them to such emotions.  

..      Table 3.2  Sample Likert scale questionnaire with numbering anchors Items/Anchors 1. I feel anxious when my teacher has a conversation with me. 2. I feel anxious when I speak with my friends during the activities. 3. I feel anxious when I am invited to speak as a group in class. 4. I feel anxious when I am asked questions by my friends. 5. I feel anxious when I am invited to speak in front of my friends. 6. I feel anxious when I tell a story in the group. 7. I feel anxious when I ask a question to my teacher. 8. I feel anxious when I record my own voice and share with my friends.







Chapter 3 · Designing Pedagogically Exploitable Pedagogic-Research Activities (PEPRAs)

..      Table 3.3  Sample Likert scale questionnaire with adjective anchors Items





At ease


1. When my teacher has a conversation with me, I feel ... 2. When I speak with my friends during the activities, I feel ... 3. When I am invited to speak as a group in class, I feel ... 4. When I am asked questions by my friends, I feel ... 5. When I am invited to speak in front of my friends, I feel ... 6. When I tell a story in the group, I feel ... 7. When I ask a question to my teacher, I feel ... 8. When I record my own voice and share with my friends, I feel ...



Observation is a process of a purposeful monitoring of teachers or learners’ performances in the classroom. Observing others and reflecting on the written or recorded data could be a way of learning through the transitional approach, which enables exchange of practical knowledge. For pre-service teachers, being able to observe and generate observational notes is an essential skill because they are required to visit a real classroom and get to know classroom contexts, what teachers do, how they teach and interact with students, and how they react to what happens in the classroom. Many more observational points can be added to this list. In their journey of learning to teach, pre-service teachers could make use of the observational experiences as research opportunities because observing is an integral part of their practicum, so observation will not be a burden on them but rather make their learning process a comfortable one. Assume that observation is a normal pedagogic activity for teachers, which could turn into an experience of exploratory practice. If a teacher’s puzzle is about classroom context including a pre-service teacher and actual learners then generating data though observation would be a good opportunity. Observational notes could provide a vast amount of evidence to reflect on regarding the puzzle under exploration and investigation.


53 3.3 · Observations

..      Table 3.4  Sample questionnaire with Likert scale items and open-ended questions Items






1. I feel anxious when my teacher have a conversation with me Why do you think so? Can you give an example? 2. I feel anxious when I speak with my friends during the activities Why do you think so? Can you give an example? 3. I feel anxious when I am invited to speak as a group in class Why do you think so? Can you give an example? 4. I feel anxious when I am asked questions by my friends Why do you think so? Can you give an example? 5. I feel anxious when I am invited to speak in front of my friends Why do you think so? Can you give an example? 6. I feel anxious when I tell a story in the group Why do you think so? Can you give an example? 7. I feel anxious when I ask a question to my teacher Why do you think so? Can you give an example? 8. I feel anxious when I record my own voice and share with my friends Why do you think so? Can you give an example?


General Issues for Pre-service Teachers to Observe

Pre-service teachers might observe a number of points by observing teachers and learners alike. However, we do not suggest observing multiple points at a time but rather focusing on one of the specific issues displayed in . Table 3.5. The above-mentioned questions can be answered through observing a classroom once the observer goes to the classroom with a clearly written observation sheet or guiding themes that will be observed. They might need to think about how observation can help them unpack and understand the puzzle or what aspect of the puzzle requires the teacher to generate observational notes and evidence. The evidence generated through the observation process might strengthen criticality since gathering evidence might support what they assume or believe or prepare a basis for a new insight. The process of observing, however, also requires creativity which involves how seeing the classroom context is visualized or defined in unique ways. Pre-­ service teachers might need to be trained in this capacity. Sample training for teaching why to observe, what to observe, and how to observe can be planned as follows:  


Chapter 3 · Designing Pedagogically Exploitable Pedagogic-Research Activities (PEPRAs)

..      Table 3.5  Potential issues that can be observed in language classrooms Behaviour






How does the teacher manage the classroom, use physical space, and body language?

How does the teacher present input? What roles does the teacher take on?

How does the teacher interact with the learners?

How much does the teacher speak, and for what purposes?

What activities does the teacher offer?


How do the students listen, speak, and participate in the lesson?

What role do the students take on during the instruction?

How do the students interact with the teacher and peers?

How much are the students allowed to talk and what do they talk about?

How do the students react to the activities?



Why Do We Need to Observe?

Developing criticality is a challenging skill since it requires reliably-collected evidence to strengthen our assumptions  – personally-held, beliefs-related views. Criticality depends on the quality and integrity of the evidence that could corroborate your critical stance. Observational data or evidence could give teachers relevant and essential evidence to generate a critical account of the puzzle. While unpacking it, they discuss the emerging insights and views more confidently. Wajnryb (1992, p. 7) argues for two major purposes of observation which complement each other: (1) gaining deeper understanding of how one teaches and (2) developing the ability to observe, analyse and interpret. In addition, we can add one more purpose, which is slightly implied in the first one: getting the chance to observe students rather than only themselves and their teaching. An important aspect of teaching is finding out how students follow and react to the instruction followed in the class. Observing, for preservice teachers, holds a great value since they might observe a classroom environment including teachers, students and the process of instruction with a purpose of understanding rather than of learning another language as was the case when they were a language learner. While observing, they engage in more purposeful and focused thinking and elaboration and feel free to make critiques on what happens in the classroom on the basis of their knowledge and the emerging beliefs about teaching and learning knowledge. Observing gives teachers an essential control over synthesising knowledge that they have practically gained and the actual teaching practices that other teachers model, which could boost their self-confidence before they begin teaching as a profession. However, this may not be an easy task for them since observing requires not looking but seeing things with a critical eye, not writing but note-taking of critical points, not describing but defining teaching with certain characteristics. Observers need to possess the ability to use tools while observing, such as checklists, guiding questions, or observation sheets.


55 3.3 · Observations


 ow Can We Turn Observation into a Process Beneficial H for the Students?

Any research-oriented activity in the classroom need to benefit learners’ language learning process since “research by teachers and for teachers” (Smith, 2015, p. 207) seems to be deficient in that it excludes learners. So, in the book we reframe this quote as “research by teachers and learners for teachers and for learners”. Observation can be used as a tool for understanding the actual practices of teaching and learning as documented by teachers and learners together. This engagement might also make learners more aware of what they do, how they learn and improve their language skills and knowledge. Learners’ inclusion into the formative development of teacher instruction might also help teachers develop alternative ways of teaching and learning that make learners creator, producer and analyser of the lesson rather than consumer of it. Suppose that one of the teachers’ normal teaching pedagogic activities is n ­ ote-­taking. Observing and describing what is happening around could be a language skill developing activity for learners since they would be doing note-taking. Every individual might be able to see different things in the classroom, which allows for potentially rich and diverse issues in the notes. 3.3.4

How Can We Observe Our Own Classrooms?

There are various ways of observing a classroom (see . Table 3.6). While we provide some ways of doing so, creating alternative procedures for observing depends on the creativity of the observer (check for example Group 2 and their puzzle in 7 Sect. 2.6 of  

..      Table 3.6  Ways of observing Active participant

Silent participant

Post lesson notes

Post learner discussion

Face- to-­ face

Teacher acts as a student

Teacher silently watches and takes notes

The teacher sits and writes about the lesson

The teacher discusses with the students how the lesson went and takes notes

Audio recorded

Observing teacher acts as a student but records the lesson

Teacher remains silent but records and notes about the lesson

Teacher transcribes the recording and collates it with the notes taken

Teacher talks to the learners and records the discussion

Video recorded

Teacher video-records the lesson by keeping active in the classroom

Teacher remains silent but video-records the lesson and notes about the lesson

Teacher watches the video and collates it with the notes taken

Teacher talks to the learners and video-records the discussion


Chapter 3 · Designing Pedagogically Exploitable Pedagogic-Research Activities (PEPRAs)

7 Chap. 2). Such creativity is essential since it requires practical ways of writing or visualising what happens, how it happens, and how learners respond. For those pre-service teachers who have limited access to the classroom environment, observation may not seem to be a feasible way of generating evidence. So, the data generation process could be limited to thick note-taking without participating in the instructional process or recording of any kind, which is also fine. In this case, such teachers might need to: 55 generate thick notes systematically on the same issue in relation to the puzzle since one-shot observation may not help them draw a pattern of behaviour, 55 plan to observe different classes of the same teacher if possible, which might help them generate a rich data set, 55 support their notes with some drawings and a sketch of the classroom if possible because this could help them visualize the behaviour in different ways.  



What Are the Observable and Non-observable Issues?

While teachers can observe instructional processes as they are enacted by another teacher through activities, tasks, or interaction, the underlying personal principles of instructional decisions for doing so may not. The personal understanding can only be accessed through having a conversation with the teacher on clearly defined matters. Therefore, observing may not always serve the purpose of developing knowledge about teaching and might require follow-up conversations with teachers whose lessons have been observed. This is, as we observe and discuss, a component that is missing in the pre-service teachers’ practicum process. Even though an observing pre-service teacher can compile a number of pages of notes and of visuals, this may not tell them why things happened in the way they did. Pre-service teachers’ learning process begins when they understand, make sense of, and interpret the observed ways of instructing and prompting in the classroom. A follow-up dialogic conversation might help pre-service teacher access the opportunity not only to understand teachers’ beliefs and corresponding practices but also to satisfy their potentially puzzling curiosity. 3.3.6

How Can We Engage Learners in the Observation Process?

Observing as an activity external to the learning and teaching process may divert the interests of learners and teachers from learning. Integrating observation as a normal pedagogic activity is possible and beneficial for authentic language learning. Therefore, learners can be included in the process of observation with particular tasks. These might include asking one student to jot down: 55 what s/he has learnt during or after the lesson, 55 how s/he and his/her peers have felt during the lesson, or 55 what s/he and his/her peers did during the lesson.


57 3.3 · Observations

Once each student has done this, they can be asked to share it with others. Learners as observers in the classroom can serve for a dual purpose: (1) it helps them promote metalinguistic skills by being exposed to thinking about their own and others’ learning process and (2) develop written and verbal language skills while notetaking and sharing what they have observed.

Types of Observations


Observations can be structured or unstructured. Unstructured observations do not require much preparation since the observer takes notes of what s/he finds interesting during the observation (see . Fig. 3.1). The observer who took the notes in . Fig. 3.1 does not seem to follow a particular method in his/her notes but rather seems to have made notes of what was going on in the classroom at the time of observation, perhaps in a chronological order. Those notes, and other notes from other classes, can later be collated together and analysed (see 7 Chap. 5). Structured observations, on the other hand, require careful pre-observation planning and the observer generally prepares an ­observation schedule in line with the topics that s/he wants to observe in the classroom (see . Table 3.7). If, for example, the puzzle is “Why do students not participate in the lesson?”, then the teacher could observe the students by monitoring particular acts when they happen. If the puzzle concerns learners’ being inactive in the classroom, then the points in the . Table 3.7 could help explore what exactly happens in the classroom and how. Detailed monitoring of each student could help identify whether the inactivity is a whole class issue or whether there are some particular learners who cause this.  

– Teacher repeated the instructions at least 2 times – Students often seemed to be inactive during the lesson – Teacher stood in front of the board most of the time – Students rarely participated in the lesson and asked questions – Students never interacted with other students but more with the teacher though limited – Teacher asked few questions to the students – Teacher dominated the class and interaction – Students copied the input on the board written by the teacher – Students rarely practiced the new knowledge – Teacher depended too much on the text book

..      Fig. 3.1  Sample unstructured interview notes


Chapter 3 · Designing Pedagogically Exploitable Pedagogic-Research Activities (PEPRAs)

..      Table 3.7  Sample observation schedule for learners’ degree of interactivity Students


Raising hand

Initiating talk

Asking questions

Answering questions


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8



Interaction among people can happen in a number of ways. One form is interview, which is a way of eliciting views and understandings of learners and other teachers to gather data or evidence for our puzzles. However, interviews are not always seen as a process in which one side asks and the other answers. For pedagogical purposes, interview can and should be seen as an interactive process whereby both sides contribute actively to the dialogic conversation. If learners are those who hold unique and genuine views about classroom events and experiences, then they also need to be seen as equal interlocutors for elaborating on what happens in the classroom. They could be encouraged to ask questions and express doubts and raise concerns rather than only answer the questions posed by the interviewer. Since we consider learners as potential co-­ researchers, interviews could be innovated for the purpose of this principle, which could create learning opportunities through authentic language use. Teachers, then, can turn interview-based interactions into normal pedagogic activities by assigning new roles to learners and themselves: learners and teachers as active discussants rather than sources of information only, who benefit little or no. Lichtman (2013, p. 189) provides three ways of interviewing: individual, focus group, and online. Individual interviewing involves a dialogic conversation with the students, ranging from structured to semi-structured and unstructured formats (see . Table 3.8). As can be seen in . Table 3.8, structured and semi-structured interviews are mainly teacher-led. These types of interviews can be considered as PEPRAs due to the fact that they provide opportunities for students to practise language skills (content knowledge). However, remembering that EP mainly aims to develop well-being of learning and teaching in the classroom, strengthening rapports and relationships, and creating mutual trust (Hanks, 2017, p. 225) among teachers and students, then an unstructured form of interview can be best suited to and serve purposes of classroom research. This form of interview gives both the freedom to express and comment on issues of interest  


59 3.4 · Interviews

..      Table 3.8  Types of interviews Teachers


Interlocutor roles


Ask the same questions to all the interviewees Try to ensure objectivity with standard questions

Are information sources as there is limited or no dialogue May feel threatened and defensive against the questions posed

Teacher-led process


Have guiding questions Use prompts to tap further responses Improvise and interpret meaning too

Respond to probing and clarification questions too Talk as detailed and as creative as possible

Teacher-led process


Conduct informal conversation with few or no pre-prepared questions Ensure natural flow of conversation

Talk relatively freely without defensive stance Co-construct dialogue with teacher

Equally -shared

..      Table 3.9  Interview strategies Strategies




Expand ideas

What else can you tell me about this? What kind of factors stopped you?


Elicit more information

Can you tell me some more about that? What do you mean by this?


Maintain non-directionality

What is it like to experience it?

Single question

Ask only one

Tell me about that moment. Give me one reason for this.

Wait time

Allow silence, pauses

Great ideas. Think a bit more if you like.

Special areas

Listen; do not assume

Interesting. Tell me about it.

and the topic of the puzzle as well as offers learners to use language authentically in content and genuinely in perspectives. Such an interviewing process is also characterized as being creative and in-depth conversation during which learners may tell their own stories of learning and being or becoming a student, which can turn it into an adventurous sharing among learners and the teachers. Lichtman (2013, p.  200) presents six questioning strategies which could be integrated in the research process for mutual benefits among learners and teachers (see . Table 3.9). These techniques might help increase the degree of depth of interaction  



Chapter 3 · Designing Pedagogically Exploitable Pedagogic-Research Activities (PEPRAs)

allowing for asking further strategic questions to encourage more talk in learners or other teachers. There are also strategies that might defy the interviewing process such as asking questions which 55 lead the student to respond in a certain way, especially in line with what is in the interviewer’s mind 55 sound complex since it includes more than one question and technical language. Leading the interviewees into responding is not desirable and neither acceptable in research. Thus, course tutors should advise pre-service teachers to avoid leading questions. Additionally, the questions should be clear, concise, and designed at a level of difficulty that can be understood by the interviewees. Moreover, the interviewer should be ready to provide relevant explanations when necessary. 3.5

Other Tools

Although we have provided three main data generation tools here, investigators can, in fact, turn most teaching/learning materials into PEPRAs if they understand the aims and purposes of these three tools and if they know what to focus on in the classroom. For example, in line with the definition of PEPRAs explained in this chapter, a pre-­service language teacher, who tries to understand how students feel in his/her classroom, can use pictures of emotions with children who are at beginning level and use this opportunity to not only teach them about emotions, but also understand how they feel (a PEPRA in the form of a verbal questionnaire). Another teacher, who has the same purpose, but teaching pre-intermediate students at high school level, on the other hand, can investigate this through an informal chat with the students at the beginning of class and such an activity would serve both as a warm up for the class and speaking practice for learners (a PEPRA in the form of an interview). Allwright and Hanks (2009, p. 194) report that the following can be used as PEPRAs: problem-solving activities and projects, pair and group work, diary and journal writing, role exchanges, pre-activity discussions, suggestion boxes and ­feedback, games, tutorial sessions, self-evaluations, seminar presentations, brainstorming, storytelling, and tests. It is worth noting that this list is not fixed, and the reader is reminded that PEPRAs are only limited by teachers’ own context and imagination. Since teachers can create pedagogical research tools from their own instructional practices for co-investigation of classroom practices, the variety of such tools can be context- and teacher-specific, allowing for greater autonomy and freedom in designing them. What EP does is to show that any written or verbal production during the course can be used for exploration and understanding through careful analysis. Therefore, while designing their instruction, teachers can and should think about the potential ways of using the outcomes for further analysis. For example, student writ-


61 3.5 · Other Tools

ing papers are great sources of analysis to understand the type of challenges in writing in relation to the actual vocabulary in use, cohesive devices employed, sentence structures in production (simple, complex sentence constructions). On the other hand, students’ audios or videos can provide ample evidence and data for assessing students speaking skills particularly in relation to fluency and accuracy while speaking as well as the employment of suprasegmental speech including tone of voice, stress, and intonation while expressing diverse linguistic emotions (excitement, surprise, politeness, curiosity, etc.). Co-­investigating such issues contribute to the assessment process by adding transparency and self-regulation of performance assessment. Such mutually driven transparent research practices naturally foster engagement in learning and participation in the lesson, thereby leading to a sense of motivation and development.  hapter Summary C This chapter defined PEPRAs which have a dual purpose: (1) contribute to the research process and (2) contribute to pedagogic activities (either in the form or learning or teaching). Information on the three most common research tools (questionnaires, interviews, and observations) was provided with suggestions on how they can be developed for research purposes. A key idea of this chapter, however, is that PEPRAs are not limited to those three tools but can take many forms depending on the aims, contexts, and imagination of the investigators.

Self-Reflection Checklist Please evaluate your efficacy about being able to do the following ✓/X   1.  I can write questions or items for my questionnaire   2.  I can construct a small questionnaire study in my classroom   3.  I can design a questionnaire according to my needs   4.  I can prepare interview questions   5.  I can ask questions during the interview   6.  I can respond to students’ verbal comments   7.  I can prepare an observation sheet   8.  I can observe other teachers’ instructional moves   9.  I can observe my students’ behaviours 10.  I can take notes during the observation


Chapter 3 · Designing Pedagogically Exploitable Pedagogic-Research Activities (PEPRAs)

Documenting Own Research Process Please tell us about your own plans to design your research detailing your data collection procedures Explain how


I will design a questionnaire (close−/open ended) I will interview my students (structured/semi-structured/unstructured) I will observe my classroom (participant/non-participant)

References Allwright, D., & Hanks, J. (2009). The developing language learner: An introduction to exploratory research. London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. Hanks, J. (2017). Exploratory practice in language teaching: Puzzling about principles and practices. London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. Lichtman, M. (2013). Qualitative research for the social sciences. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE publications. Smith, R. (2015). Review of teacher research in language teaching. ELT Journal, 69(2), 205–208. Wajnryb, R. (1992). Classroom observation tasks. Cambridge, UK: CUP.


Generating the Pieces of the Puzzle 4.1

 nderstanding Principles of Data Generation U Through PEPRAs – 64

4.1.1 4.1.2 4.1.3

Epistemological Principles – 64 Ethical Principles – 67 Methodological or Procedural Principles – 68


Generating Data Through PEPRAs – 69


 xemplifying Data Generation Processes E Through PEPRAs – 71


 roup 4’s Story- Puzzlement About (Not) Being Able G to Develop all Four Skills – 72 David’s Story- Puzzlement About Students’ Motivation to Learn English – 73



 sing Multiple Sources While Generating U Data – 75

References – 77

© The Author(s) 2019 K. Dikilitaş, A. Bostancıoğlu, Inquiry and Research Skills for Language Teachers,




Chapter 4 · Generating the Pieces of the Puzzle

Upon developing their puzzles, pre-service teachers can begin to identify the pieces of the puzzle about which they feel they need to explore and develop a fuller understanding of. The missing pieces of the puzzle usually emerge as the investigator(s) explore through their research journeys. An important point of consideration here is the normalization of this research process. What we mean by normalization is that the process of generating data through pedagogically exploitable pedagogic-research activities (PEPRAs) becomes a natural part of everyday teaching so that it can be sustainable and ongoing (6th principle of Exploratory Practice; integrate the work for understanding into classroom practice). The adaptation of this definition for puzzles would be that the process of generating data supports pre-service teachers’ professional development in terms of content, pedagogy, and research knowledge. In this chapter, we focus on: 55 understanding principles of data generation through PEPRAs 55 generating data through PEPRAs 55 exemplifying data generation processes through PEPRAs 55 using multiple sources while generating data 4.1

 nderstanding Principles of Data Generation U Through PEPRAs

Lankshear and Knobel (2004, p. 180–186) discuss epistemological, ethical and methodological principles for generating data. . Table 4.1 displays these principles. Although these principles might sound too academic, which is what we are not desiring, any research needs to be governed by these principles to ensure integrity. Nevertheless, they can be enacted at different levels by pre-service or in-service teachers or academics. Adopting and adapting the following principles can support teachers in developing an appropriate level of pedagogic understanding regarding their puzzles under investigation.  


Epistemological Principles

What Kind and Amount of Data Do We Need?

Puzzles are often practical issues rather than theoretical. Defining one’s puzzle well is of significance while setting a plan for generating a relevant set of data. If for example, the ..      Table 4.1  Principles for generating data Principles

Relevant issues


Kind of data

Amount of data

Valid and reliable data

Credible and trustworthy data






Methodological or procedural

Elegance and economy




Adapted from Lankshear and Knobel (2004)

65 4.1 · Understanding Principles of Data Generation Through…


puzzle under investigation is “Why don’t my students do their homework?”, then the kind of data needed might involve students’ verbal or written responses to a set of open-­ ended questions. In line with the principles of Exploratory Practice (EP), students should sustain their language learning process while still engaged in responding to these questions (see 7 Chap. 3). We need to think how we can integrate this into our normal pedagogic activities. One way of doing so is giving them homework about designing a poster visualising reasons for not doing homework and presenting it in the classroom. In this way, two purposes are addressed and embedded: (1) poster-driven homework is assigned and (2) the topic of the homework is homework too. We assume that preparing poster is one normal pedagogic activity that the teacher often employs. In the poster the student can be asked to elaborate on the following: 55 How do I feel when I am given homework? 55 What makes homework disengaging or engaging? 55 What kind of homework inspires me? 55 Why exactly do I not want to do homework?  

Students can also be asked to place sample homework into the poster to use evidence regarding their critical views or claims. Understanding why homework is not responded to by learners, teachers can discover areas of improvement in designing and assigning homework to their students. Meanwhile, students expose and identify their own views about doing homework. This becomes a reciprocal process of discovery both for the teacher and the students. The data is generated collectively and become ready for the teacher to analyse, make sense of and reflect on. Here the kind of data which is elicited from the learners includes a process whereby learners also learn through the use of a normal pedagogic/research activity. What one can do with the puzzle of homework can also be achieved by a questionnaire that includes multiple-choice items regarding the questions listed above. However, attention should be paid to develop a questionnaire that will be able to reflect what participants think and/or feel about the topic. This can be achieved by designing a questionnaire that is not solely based on the researchers’ own hypothetical responses, but rather allowing a depth, breadth, and diversity of genuine responses. This characterizes the kind of data we might need in doing exploratory research for unpacking puzzles. A questionnaire prepared with the existing items might only serve for (dis)confirmation of our own assumptions and yield results that may not promote our understanding of the puzzles. The amount of data that is needed for the homework puzzle is also an issue to consider. Since EP is a form of research that frees off the extra research burden on learners and teachers that might arise from the processes incurring during data generation, a careful plan needs to be established for learners to generate the kind and amount of data we need to have in order to promote or understandings. Repeated research-related activities might lead to a sense of abuse, while activities that benefit students could encourage them to become actively involved and relatively more critical, and motivated to become reflective and reflexive when addressing issues that matter to them too. If each student prepares a poster individually or if this could be assigned as a collaborative group activity, this process can potentially generate enough data that could help us discover and reach new insights into the puzzle itself.


Chapter 4 · Generating the Pieces of the Puzzle


How Can We Generate Valid and Reliable Data?

Another issue with epistemological principles of data generation is ensuring validity and reliability of the data generated and analysed. Valid data is described as the set of data that helps us generate data appropriate and relevant to the puzzle under investigation. Let’s reuse the homework puzzle as an example. The following actions might defy the validity of the data generated to understand the homework puzzle: 55 Asking other teachers and/or parents about why learners do not do homework may not help us elicit direct evidence of the reasons. 55 Asking students to tell us how frequently they do homework may not tell us about the potential reasons we are not aware of. 55 Asking students to tell us ideal characteristics of a piece of homework may not tell what happens in reality. One can add more to this list that could defy validity, but in its core, validity is about how relevant the data is in helping us understand the puzzle. Reliability is another criterion to consider. An invalid data set can be unreliable however reliably it is generated. One needs to ensure validity first, and then seek and ensure reliable ways of generating data. Reliability is about how the data generation process is planned and enacted. The critical issues to consider in securing this criterion include: 55 developing the appropriate and/or common understanding of the questions by all the students to ensure a set of comparable data 55 ensuring transparency and clarity of the questions to ensure minimum variation in interpretation of meaning 55 allowing students enough time to think and prepare their responses 55 getting their consents before they begin to collaborate with the teacher 55 giving all students equal chances of involvement to ensure participation While validity is about the thematic alignment of the questions to the puzzle under investigation, reliability is about accessing the data in consistent ways. Although pre-­ service teachers generally engage in a small-scale research, they need to learn these two epistemological criteria and enact them during the implementation of PEPRAs.

How Can We Generate Credible and Trustworthy Data?

Credibility refers to the extent to which a completed research sounds credible or believable to the audience in terms of the process of doing research and the conclusions drawn after data analysis. Credibility depends on the integrity of the data generation and analysis process, which is about how true the participants’ responses are and how honestly they have been analysed and presented. To ensure credibility, one then needs to be careful while eliciting data from the participants by trying to access true responses. In an attempt to do so, the researcher might need to re-consult the participants during or after generation of data and ask for their confirmation of what they have reported, a process also known as member-checking (Mertens, 2010). One also needs to display the same veracity while analysing the data. While enacting credibility during research engagement is important, equally important is addressing and writing up the particular strategies to make readers feel convinced about these matters.

67 4.1 · Understanding Principles of Data Generation Through…


Ensuring trustworthy generation and analysis of data is also critical to arriving at sound results. Although participants might provide responses to the researchers that may not represent who they really are and what they really think or do, there are ways of overcoming this. Researchers usually ask the same questions in different ways to check the consistency of responses. It is sometimes the case that students see themselves different from how their teachers or parents see them. To elicit trustworthy data, researchers might want to compare and contrast the responses from different people who are involved. This methodological procedure is also known as triangulation. 4.1.2

Ethical Principles

 ow and Why Should We Deal with Privacy, Dignity, H Integrity, and Rigor?

While eliciting data from students or teachers, we ask questions about their teaching and learning practices as well as about their internal world. Some people might feel that they need to withhold some information private to them for fear that they might be abused when articulated and disclosed. Researchers are responsible for ensuring privacy and should be ready to explain how they will do it before, while, and after the research process. When unpacking our puzzles, we might be asking questions that might force students (though implicitly) to accuse or critique others such as their teachers, principals, and parents. Even if learners or teachers disclose such private matters, researchers need to ensure confidentiality at each stage of the data generation. Regarding dignity, researchers should balance the professional distance with their students without forcing them to participate in the process of generating data. An advantage of Exploratory Practice (EP) in relation to this issue is the fact that EP and PEPRAs engage learners in the data generation process as part of their instruction. A research process integrated into the lesson plan and conducive to sustaining learning could create an intrinsic motivation in students to contribute to this process. In all cases, however, students should be granted the opportunity to decline participation. When given options to contribute or not, students might provide their honest feelings, opinions, and responses to the questions asked, which increases the integrity of the data to be generated and later analysed. Rigor is another pivotal issue in research, which requires using clearly described methods for data generation. In qualitative research, a lot of data is generated by the researchers through note taking, diary, records, and analysis of documents in the context. Chronological details about these data sources and tools including participant details need to be identified accurately and precisely. However, when one needs to take note of an informal talk, they need to take instant permission to include this into their data (see . Table 4.2). Such a systematic chronicle could help account for every detail used as evidence in the research report, thereby contributing to or increasing credibility and trustworthiness.  


Chapter 4 · Generating the Pieces of the Puzzle

..      Table 4.2  Template to ensure rigor in research Name of participanta


Date of record

Place of record

Response provided

Diary Recoding


Observation Informal talk aIn order not to risk the integrity of the investigation, researchers are advised to use pseudo names rather than the real names of the participants


Methodological or Procedural Principles

 ow Can We Ensure Elegance and Economy in Data H Generation?

This principle refers to generating data that is of high quality in content and that takes reasonable time and energy. By allowing for data generation through normal pedagogical activities, EP is well addressing these concerns in that it does not require an extra time or energy on top of the lesson and minimizes the complexities that might arise thanks to the normal pedagogic activities with which learners are familiar. Therefore, EP seems to offer a form of research engagement that might address the teachers’ critique of doing research since they do not have or are not granted enough time by school administration. In this sense, EP reduces dependency on decision-makers and offers teachers to exercise choice for their own research engagement process. The process in which data is generated needs to be practically designed in ways that could make it easy for researchers to manage and for participants to contribute. In the context of EP-based research, teachers might need to align the data aimed to be generated with the normal pedagogic activities to be enacted. A good match between the data in demand and the activities already in use can increase the chances of practicality and creates high quality in-depth data generated in the hands of both teachers and students in cooperation. Researchers also need to be realistic about the process of employment of normal pedagogic activities for generating data. They need to consider the realities of the classroom and the profiles of their students in generating the data though the activities. Sometimes things do not occur as planned and may not yield the data that one set out to generate. When a normal pedagogic activity does not work as much as expected, other activities could be planned rather than having to work with under-quality data. The potential pitfalls that might come up might include little learner involvement in and commitment to the activity due to fatigue, misunderstanding of the activity, and little written or verbal data noted or recorded. A teacher should be aware of such risks and issues and develop or address them with alternative practices.

69 4.2 · Generating Data Through PEPRAs



Generating Data Through PEPRAs

Pre-service teachers may have limited time to do teaching practice, but they can still turn this into a piece of small-scale research by thinking about hands-on interactive activities. While they directly gather evidence or input about their puzzles by engaging learners in relevant tasks, they can also bring together what students produced in other lessons such as posters, writing samples, voice recording, and any kind of artefacts, which are relevant to the process of inquiry or research underway. Such activities, as explained before, are referred to as pedagogically exploitable pedagogic-research activities (PEPRAs). While pre-service teachers are presented with opportunities to do practice teaching, though limited, they, in these occasions, might need to focus on teaching rather than simultaneously understanding issues through PEPRAs. Although pre-service teachers’ integration of PEPRAs could pose new challenges, such integrations can still be possible through careful support and time allowed for planning under the guidance of university tutors or mentors. If pre-service teachers have the chance to teach and integrate inquiry or research activities, then they have direct access to managing the process and generating a more in-depth and purposeful set of evidence. In this case, these might embed the data generation into course plan and delivery, where students not only learn instructional content according the lesson plan, but also participate in research activities for a more engaging learning process. Homework and in-class activities might offer potential data to teachers who would like to develop more detailed and clearer understanding though using data gathered from learners. While homework might exclude learners’ active engagement in research, in-class activities might create opportunities for joint work during data generation and analysis. The co-operative and co-generative work on analysis not only assists teachers but also students who could promote self-realization about their own issues/puzzles. One function of such research is that it gives teachers space for generating learning opportunities for students while also learning about their views of learning styles, expectations, and preferences according to which they align their instruction, materials, learning strategies, expectations, and so on. How to generate data for analysis and making sense of it is a matter of conditions teachers already have. There are two routes to take. Teachers can: 55 either prepare teaching materials including tasks using students’ works in research to design teaching alongside research 55 or even use them as teaching materials such as students’ drawings, paintings, posters, short writing notes or recordings, and videos to design research process Using such learner-generated materials in class might provide further data for teachers and further opportunities for learners to think and talk about. The content of the selfgenerated tasks they are familiar with could multiply the chances of speaking or interacting since students will not need to think about what they need to say, which is already visualized or documented as written. This, in turn, provides authentic and personalized content for students to talk about just as teachers need not to differentiate materials to be employed when teaching. Rather, students use what they prepare as input. This way,


Chapter 4 · Generating the Pieces of the Puzzle

they could speak about visuals, reflect on their writing with others, or even listen to the recordings and watching the short videos. In line with the ideal function of PEPRAs, students are expected to engage in tasks that relate to puzzles. For example, if a teacher developed a puzzle about: “Why do students not want to write in English?”, then the self-generated materials could include writing content about this. . Table 4.3 presents a number of ideas about how to embed a research topic into regular classroom activities that are normally employed in classroom instruction. All of these activities provide them with opportunities for language use while participating in the investigation. Reusing learner-generated materials makes it easy for students in the research classroom to use language to communicate and express their own views about relevant issues. Miller and Cunha’s (2017) categorization of PEPRAs (see . Table 4.4) gives us ideas about the different activities that can be used for learning-related and teaching-related puzzles (activities for learner-engaged category represent teaching-related puzzles and activities for non-learner-engaged category represent learning-related puzzles). Data generation activities such as pictorial learner works and audio-visual outputs can be added to the list. Employing activities that encourage students to create pictorial or audio-visual outputs change the channel through which language is used and the conventional interaction patterns that are normally followed in the classroom (face to  


..      Table 4.3  Orientation of a puzzle to PEPRAs Puzzle: Why do students not want to write in English? Activities


Students’ learning

Research data


Writing paragraphs, essays, lists

Write a short essay on your feelings about writing and the challenges you experience in writing

Articulating feelings and practicing writing skills

Discovering students’ feelings and challenges


Drawing, painting, making infographics

Draw a picture of how you feel when you are asked to write in English/ native tongue?

Information transfer from written language to pictorial format

Discovering details about students’ written work from the pictures


Self-talk, group discussion

Talk about the first story/essay you have written (What did you like about the process? What was easy/difficult?)

Authentic language use when doing a free talk about themselves

Discovering initial causes of potential writing reticence



Shoot a short film of the topic of your writing

Information transfer from written language to video shooting

Discovering previous writing experiences

71 4.3 · Exemplifying Data Generation Processes Through PEPRAs


..      Table 4.4  PEPRAs for learner-engaged and non-learner-engaged puzzles PEPRAs


Learner-­engaged (suitable for teaching-­ related puzzle)

Warm-up talks, acting, games, assignments, in-class conversations, jig-saw activities, paired/collaborative writing, storytelling, questionnaires, pair work, tests, retelling stories, writing poems, and so on

Non-learner-­engaged (suitable for learning-­ related puzzles)

Filming, recoding learners’ voice, preparing a poster, writing authentic texts, recording of informal talks with teachers and students, observing student behaviours, monitoring interaction patterns, giving short open-ended questionnaires, and elaborating on classroom activities and students-­generated materials

face). For example, online interactions among learners and teachers could lead to different feelings and a more insightful content in the data or information. A recording of an online discussion where learners have conversations may make them feel less anxious and freer to say what they want. The videotaped conversations can also offer both teachers and learners to watch themselves and self-reflect on how they use language and how they use their body while talking. The depth of data that could be gathered through these learner-driven outputs as opposed to teacher-generated written documents could also inform teachers and students alike in a way that would not be possible in a solely teacher-driven, teacher-dominant classroom. The process of puzzling about pedagogic issues and generating data through PEPRAs might benefit teachers and learners alike in several ways. Teachers can: 55 sustain initial curiosity of discovery by puzzling, 55 contextualize a puzzle into own classroom or setting, 55 readjust mental doubts expressed through puzzles, and 55 work for mental comfort through increased understanding. Learners, on the other hand, can: 55 self-discover challenges and achievements through PEPRAs, 55 think about their own learning process, 55 notice puzzling issues about themselves, and 55 show increasing intention to overcome the challenge. 4.3

Exemplifying Data Generation Processes Through PEPRAs

As explained in the previous chapter, in-service teachers and pre-service teachers who are completing their teaching practicum can focus on teaching-related puzzles. Pre-­ service teachers who do not have access to teaching contexts, on the other hand, might consider focusing on learning-related puzzles. In this section we provide 2 different EP samples (1 learning-related and 1 teaching-related puzzle) to present you with an overview of different ways that data can be generated.


Chapter 4 · Generating the Pieces of the Puzzle


 roup 4’s Story- Puzzlement About (Not) Being Able G to Develop all Four Skills

Group 4 consisted of students who participated in our initial EP-guided research methods course during the 2016/7 academic calendar, below we present their story about their puzzlement with regards to their language skills.


Case Study During the years we were at high school, while getting prepared to become English as a foreign language (EFL) teachers in Turkey, we had negative experiences in terms of our language skills. Our language teachers generally focused on only some skills, not all of the four skills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking). For example, our teachers had us do reading and they did not do much speaking exercises with us. Thus, we, as students, have been unsuccessful in developing all of the four skills in this process. Each of us shared such negative experiences in high school about the use of the four language skills and we realized that we were not good at listening and speaking. Therefore, we decided to investigate this issue, and, in addition, we wanted to find out whether this situation was true for other EFL teacher candidates. In other words, we wanted to explore the following puzzle questions: 55 Do other EFL teacher candidates feel the same way as we feel about their development of language skills? 55 If yes/no, what can be potential reasons of this situation?

We had a number of options about how to proceed with our exploration, but we decided on administering a questionnaire since we wanted to explore whether what we experienced in terms of learning language skills (i.e. lack of speaking activities) was common or not among other students in the English Language Teaching (ELT) Department. We prepared questions that asked our colleagues about the extent to which they considered their English courses in high school and university included the four skills. After pilot testing the questions for understandability, we continued our investigation and administered our questionnaire to 68 fellow ELT students (53 female, 15 male) in their first (28 students), second (21 students), and third (19 students) year of studies. We used adverbs of frequency as Likert scale anchors (1 = Never, 2 = Occasionally, 3 = Often, 4 = Usually, and 5 = Always) for our colleagues to describe the extent to which the language skills were incorporated in their language classes. Analysis of the data on the Microsoft Excel software confirmed our initial ideas

about having limited exposure to listening and speaking activities in high school. The average scores of our colleagues’ responses to listening and speaking were 2.07 and 1.76 (out of 5) respectively for their high school education. The average scores for reading and writing activities in high school were 2.73 and 2.04 respectively. On the other hand, the analysis of responses for university education showed that our colleagues considered to be more exposed to listening and speaking activities in their university education (with average scores of 3.13 and 3.89 respectively) and reading and writing activities had an average of 3.18 and 2.70 respectively (see . Table 4.5). Finding out that we shared similar experiences with our colleagues was, in a way, comforting since we felt that we were not alone. Finding out that we were not alone, however, was not enough for us. We also wanted to understand what this situation might have resulted from. Therefore, we decided to investigate this issue further by firstly discussing the potential reasons among our group members and then asking other ELT students (6 of  

73 4.3 · Exemplifying Data Generation Processes Through PEPRAs

them; 2 from first year, 2 from second year, and 2 from the third year) about their opinions on this issue. At the end of this investigation we reached the conclusion that a) the assessment methods which were mainly based on grammar, vocabulary, and

reading, b) our teachers’ level of English expertise, and c) our (students’) attitudes and limited exposure to the English language outside the language classroom could be the reasons for our lack of speaking skills. We are aware that our results are not


conclusive, nevertheless, we feel like we, now, have a better understanding of this issue and when we become teachers, we will try to help our students develop four language skills by giving them opportunities to use all of these skills.

..      Table 4.5  Summary of Group 4’s results Language Skills

Student perceptions of exposure to language skills At High school

At University













??Task 4.1 Now that you have read Group 4’s story, answer the questions below. 1. What kind of data did Group 4 generate to answer their first puzzle (Do other EFL teacher candidates feel the same way as we feel about their development of language skills?) question? 2. What kind of data did Group 4 generate to answer their second puzzle (What can be potential reasons for why we could not develop all four language skills?) question?


 avid’s Story- Puzzlement About Students’ Motivation D to Learn English

David is an English as a foreign language teacher (EFL) teaching in a high school. His students are in the 9th grade and have been learning English since the fourth grade. An enthusiastic EFL teacher, David felt that his students were not motivated to learn English.


Chapter 4 · Generating the Pieces of the Puzzle

Case Study


My puzzlement is about my students’ level of motivation in English classes. I am very passionate about my teaching and I always start full of energy but after a while that passion starts fading away because I can see that my students (Class X) are not as interested in my classes as I expect them to be. I knew I needed to do something about this and started exploration by trying to find answers to the following puzzle questions: 55 What are the reasons for the decrease in my students’ (Class X) motivation towards learning English? 55 What can I do to help them become more motivated to learn English? Initially, I have had informal chats with my colleagues and explained the situation to them. My colleagues were supportive and consoled me and I have been advised to also listen to students’ voice on this matter. I have decided to listen to their advice and arranged two of my lessons into a speaking lesson and created four focus groups that consisted of 6–7 members each. Each group was provided with two questions that they were asked to discuss among the group members and note down responses to be reported back to the whole class. The questions were: 55 What do you (not) like about the English classes?

55 What do you think can be done to make English classes more enjoyable? The groups discussed each question for 15 minutes (20 minutes total). At the end of the first lesson, each focus group was asked to collate their answers onto a paper and select a group leader to report to the class. In the second class, group leaders talked about their focus group discussions and, where possible, whole class discussions took place on topics that repeated themselves across different groups. In general, students reported that they were happy about the English classes and that they appreciated my efforts, but they also added that they wanted to have more classes that included different activities such as the speaking activity that they were doing at that moment. The common perception among students was that I focused too much on ‘rules and structures of language’ which meant that they thought my classes were focused on the English grammar. In addition, students did not seem to be happy with their English book and complained that the book included drawings that were more appropriate for children. It did not appeal to teenagers. They wondered if the book could be changed and if they could use a book that is more ‘modern’.

It was good to see that students were able to talk about the problems that they saw about my classes, but I felt that there could still be other problems which students might have not mentioned due to the power relationship between teachers and students. Therefore, I decided to ask one of my colleagues to observe one of my lessons. I was lucky enough to have three other colleagues (EFL teachers) working with me and one of them agreed to observe my class. Before the observation, I asked my colleague to pay attention to whether I focus too much on grammar and if there were anything that seemed to demotivate students. After the observation, we sat down with my colleague who confronted me by saying that she understood that I was too keen on making sure that students learn, but she also added that I (consciously or unconsciously) spent more time explaining language structures and providing less opportunities for students to use language. Suddenly, the picture was clear to me and I realized that students were right. In the past, I have learnt English in a way that resembled the Grammar Translation Method (GTM) and although I have been told to focus on Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) during my teacher education, I might have focused my teaching

75 4.4 · Using Multiple Sources While Generating Data

more on language forms than the use of forms. I was so worried that my students will not learn the content that I spent most of my time explaining. However, I did not spare enough time for doing language practice. As a result, the students

became bored and did not enjoy my classes as much as I thought they would. In terms of finding a solution to this issue, both parties (students and my colleague) suggested that that more activities in which students are given opportunities to use


language can be included in the lessons. I am aware that changing my habits would not be easy and it will take time, but thanks to this small project, I had an opportunity to reflect upon my teaching and get feedback from both students and colleagues.

??Task 4.2 Now that you have read David’s story, answer the questions below. 1. What kind of data did David generate to answer his first puzzle (What are the reasons that decrease my students’ (Class X) motivation towards learning English?) question? 2. What kind of data did David generate to answer his second puzzle (What can I do to change this situation?) question?

A careful analysis of the above examples reveals that both qualitative and quantitative methods of data generation can be utilized in unpacking puzzles. In line with the ­conceptualization of PEPRAs, David’s research activities (i.e. the focus group interviews with students which also were a speaking practice activity) did not create a heavy burden which can prevent him from fulfilling his actual role as a teacher. Group 4’s learning-­ related puzzle, on the other hand, allowed them to go through a self-exploration journey during their investigation and the completion of their investigation had pedagogic and research outcomes which included; 55 learning how to do research, 55 developing an investigative lens, 55 learning to reflect on teaching, 55 learning to investigate self and learners, 55 learning to develop through researching, 55 practicing language skills, 55 learning to work with others, and 55 generating ideas for how to teach in the profession. 4.4

Using Multiple Sources While Generating Data

It can be observed in the above examples that data generation does not have to take place at one time and by using only one medium of research. In order to find the answers to the questions directing their inquiry, teachers can utilize different research tools. Such research is described as multi-method or mixed-method research in the literature. Group 4 generated their data through questionnaires and interviews with colleagues while David generated data with his students via focus group interviews and observation. However, there is a subtle difference between the two processes; while Group 4’s utilized each data generation tool to answer one of their puzzle questions, David utilized both


Chapter 4 · Generating the Pieces of the Puzzle

data generation tools to answer each of the puzzle questions he had. This means that David combined different sources of data in his EP study. As explained before (see 7 Sect. 4.5), this process is also known as triangulation. In fact, triangulation can increase the validity and reliability of your investigation. For example, in David’s study, data from both sources signalled to the same issue that is David’s focus on forms rather than the use of forms as the reason for students getting bored and losing their motivation. In this sense, triangulation strengthened David’s findings. Moreover, during the focus group interviews students mentioned the drawings in their course book to be not appropriate for teenagers. Thus, triangulation also extended David’s coverage of the puzzle and allowed him to see it from multiple perspectives. Triangulation, in this sense, allows for the creation of diverse paths to new perspectives while elaborating on teaching, learning and improvement. A set of PEPRA-driven data compiled over longer periods through multimodal tools contribute to the quality and trustworthiness of the information and is relatively more likely to promote teachers’ and students’ understandings of the puzzling questions or issues. Therefore, we encourage pre-service teachers to triangulate their data.  


Chapter Summary This chapter has introduced epistemological, ethical, and methodological principles for generating data in a systematic way which can contribute to understanding puzzles under investigation. The chapter highlighted the use of pedagogically exploitable pedagogic-research activities (PEPRAs) and offered insights into their use for unpacking puzzles. As such, sample data generation processes for both learning- and teaching-related puzzles were presented. Finally, benefits of generating data through multiple sources were explained which aimed to encourage pre-service teachers to triangulate their findings and increase reliability, validity, and trustworthiness of their investigations.

Self-Reflection Checklist Please evaluate your efficacy about being able to do the following ✓/X 1. I understand that following a principled approach in data collection can contribute to the success of the investigation (i.e. collecting the right kind and amount of data) 2. I am aware that I should abstain from any activity that may pose harm/damage to the individuals with whom I generate the data. 3. I know that following a systematic approach in generating data will save me time. 4. I am aware that PEPRAs help teachers the data collection process   make it easier for teachers to conduct EP studies in their language classrooms.   normalize

5. I am aware that most activities in the language classroom (i.e. speaking, writing, or drawing) can be transformed into a PEPRA 6. I know that data from more than one research tool can be used in finding answers to a puzzle question. 7. I understand that triangulation of data increases the chances of ensuring depth and breadth in teacher understanding

77 References


Documenting Own Research Process Please write a summary (no longer than a page) explaining the steps and procedures of your plans for generating data. Do not forget to highlight how you are triangulating your sources of data.

References Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2004). A handbook for teacher research. Berkshire, UK: McGraw-Hill Education. Mertens, D.  M. (2010). Research and evaluation in education and psychology: Integrating diversity with quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Miller, I.  K., & Cunha, M.  I. A. (2017). Exploratory practice in continuing professional development: Critical and ethical issues. In K. Dikilitaş & I. H. Erten (Eds.), Facilitating in-service teacher training for professional development (pp. 61–85). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.


Putting the Pieces Together 5.1

Qualitative Data Analysis – 80

5.1.1 5.1.2 5.1.3 5.1.4 5.1.5

S tep 1: Familiarize Yourself with Your Data – 82 Step 2: Generate Initial Codes – 83 Step 3: Search for Themes – 86 Step 4: Review Themes – 86 Step 5–6: Define and Name Themes, and Produce the Report – 88 Things to Consider in Qualitative Data Analysis – 89



Quantitative Data Analysis – 90

5.2.1 5.2.2 5.2.3 5.2.4 5.2.5

 ey Terms – 90 K Coding Variables – 91 Types of Quantitative Data Analysis – 96 Using Digital Tools in Managing Your Data Set – 98 Things to Consider in Quantitative Data Analysis – 101

References – 105

© The Author(s) 2019 K. Dikilitaş, A. Bostancıoğlu, Inquiry and Research Skills for Language Teachers,



Chapter 5 · Putting the Pieces Together

This chapter introduces pre-service teachers to qualitative and quantitative data analysis by providing a detailed understanding of what characterizes these types of analysis and how they can be used with the data that teachers can generate in order to develop new insights into their puzzles: 55 Qualitative data analysis 55 Quantitative data analysis


Considering the inexperience of learners in this field and possible lack of knowledge about research, the concepts and techniques of investigation (both qualitative and quantitative) are presented in a relatively basic fashion in an effort to maximize learning opportunities. The section on qualitative data analysis offers an introduction to Thematic Analysis (TA) which is seen as “a foundational method for qualitative data analysis” (Braun & Clarke, 2006, p. 78). Steps of conducting TA are summarized and explained with examples where possible. The section on quantitative analysis, on the other hand, starts with definition of key terms and the stages of quantitative data analysis including the creation of a data set, coding quantitative data, and conducting univariate analysis (i.e. mean, mode, median). A summary, self-reflection checklist, and a task for learners to document their research process is provided at the end. There is no doubt that generating data is an important part of the research process. However, data analysis is an even more important part of this process since without understanding what the collected pieces of the puzzle means; one cannot address the puzzle questions that guided the research process in the first place. Data generation allows the investigator to bring the pieces of the puzzle together. However, at this stage those pieces are still scrambled like a jigsaw and data analysis can help unscramble those pieces in an effort to reach a better understanding of the puzzle being investigated. On a different note, considering that Exploratory Practice (EP) aims for collegiality (3rd principle: involve everybody; 4th principle: work to bring people together; and 5th principle: work also for mutual development) then the process of data analysis can also be considered to be a collaborative one in which individuals involved can work together in an effort to reach a mutual understanding of the issue(s) under investigation. There are two main approaches to analyse data generated in a study regardless of the source of data [i.e. a questionnaire, an interview schedule, an observation schedule, or any other type of pedagogically exploitable pedagogic-research activity (PEPRA)]. The first approach is to analyse the data qualitatively and the second is to analyse the data quantitatively. The former is closely associated with meaning, experiences, and views. The latter is closely associated with numbers. That is to say, the data is generated in the form of or is later transformed into numbers. In the joint activity of analysing data, collaborators can follow either or both approaches depending on their puzzle questions. In other words, EP research allows the use of multi-/mixed-methods research where necessary. 5.1

Qualitative Data Analysis

Qualitative data analysis refers to “the range of processes and procedures whereby we move from the qualitative data that have been collected into some form of explanation, understanding, or interpretation of the people and situations we are investigating”

81 5.1 · Qualitative Data Analysis


(Lewins, Taylor, & Gibbs, n.d.). This definition highlights the importance of meaning, experiences, and views which have been given priority over numbers in this process. This section offers a step-by-step approach to qualitative data analysis. Generally data collected from interviews and unstructured/semi-structured observations can be analysed qualitatively in order to better understand issues surrounding the topic of investigation. ??Task 5.1 When does the qualitative data analysis process start? Select one of the options below and discuss your reasons for your answer with a partner. (a) As you generate the data (b) During data transcription (c) After data transcription

A number of different methods are available to researchers conducting qualitative research (i.e. Grounded Theory, Phenomenology). However, remembering that the aim of this book is to provide the audience with basic knowledge of research methods, we realized the importance of keeping it simple. Therefore, rather than discussing similarities and differences between different qualitative research methods, we will focus on Thematic Analysis which is seen to be “a foundational method for qualitative data analysis” (Braun & Clarke, 2006, p. 78). The reasons for selecting Thematic Analysis (TA) over other approaches can be summarized as: 55 usefulness for researchers undertaking a study with participants as collaborators (suiting the nature of Exploratory Practice and classroom research) 55 ability to condense large data sets and offer a “thick description”, 55 ability to show similarities and differences, 55 possibility to generate unexpected insights (in other words new understandings), 55 flexibility, 55 relative easiness of learning and conducting it, and 55 accessibility to researchers with little or no experience in qualitative data analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006). TA is “a method for identifying, analysing and reporting patterns (themes) within data” (Braun & Clarke, 2006, p. 79). It is “an accessible and theoretically flexible approach to analysing qualitative data” (Braun & Clarke, p. 77). This suggests that TA is not bound by theory and/or epistemological positioning which allows its use deductively (theory driven) or inductively (data driven). From a deductive perspective, pre-service teachers can decide to analyse their data under pre-determined themes (i.e. data generated through structured means). From an inductive perspective, on the other hand, researchers can decide to analyse their data without any pre-conceptions and develop themes based on the generated data (i.e. data generated through unstructured means). Braun and Clarke (2006, p. 87) detailed a six-step approach to conduct TA on a data set; 1) familiarizing yourself with your data, 2) generating initial codes, 3) searching for themes, 4) reviewing themes, 5) defining and naming themes, and 6) producing the report (see . Table 5.1).  


Chapter 5 · Putting the Pieces Together

..      Table 5.1  Steps of conducting Thematic Analysis Step

Description of the process


1. Familiarizing yourself with your data

Transcribing data (if necessary), reading and re-reading the data, noting down initial ideas.

For a successful analysis, it is important to have command of your data and understand the depth and breadth of it.

2. Generating initial codes

Coding interesting features of the data in a systematic fashion across the entire data set, collating data relevant to each code.

Coding is like pattern finding. You would not code your data only for similarities but you should also be looking for differences across the dataset.

3. Searching for themes

Collating codes into potential themes, gathering all data relevant to each potential theme.

While building your thematic map from your codes, keep in mind that this is not the final version and that you are likely to merge, add, or discard themes/ subthemes.

4. Reviewing themes

Checking if the themes work in relation to the coded extracts (Level 1) and the entire data set (Level 2), generating a thematic ‘map’ of the analysis.

Remember that qualitative data is a cyclical process and it can continue “forever”. However, you should stop after no significant changes start to occur in your thematic map.

5. Defining and naming themes

Ongoing analysis to refine the specifics of each theme, and the overall story the analysis tells, generating clear definitions and names for each theme.

Your writing should be “concise, coherent, logical, non-repetitive, and interesting”.

6. Producing the report

The final opportunity for analysis. Selection of vivid, compelling extract examples, final analysis of selected extracts, relating back of the analysis to the research question and literature, producing a scholarly report of the analysis.

You can check further details in 7 Chap. 6 7 Sect. 6.2


Adapted from Braun & Clarke, 2006, p. 87


Step 1: Familiarize Yourself with Your Data

As you generate your data, you become more familiar with what kind of data you have and start to develop initial ideas about what they might mean. In other words, when it is time to analyse the data, you will have already developed initial assumptions about what

83 5.1 · Qualitative Data Analysis


you might find in your data set. Nevertheless, you should be prepared to fully immerse yourself in the data in order to be able to understand the depth and breadth of it. This means that you should read and re-read your data while taking notes, searching for meaning, and becoming familiar with the data set. If you are working with verbal data (i.e. interviews, video records of classroom ­observations), this means you will either re-listen to/ re-watch your recordings or you will transcribe them to make it more accessible to you and your group members (if you have any). In our experience we have found that working on written transcripts of our data is much more manageable than re-listening to or re-watching recordings. Compared to the past where efficient transcription of verbal data required the use of software with special hardware such as a foot pedal, digital tools we have today allow fast and efficient transcription without the need to use such hardware. You can utilize software that allow you to use functions such as personal shortcut keys (i.e. pause, forward) and inserting timestamps without the need for extra hardware. A number of software for such transcription purposes are available both for free and as paid. At this stage, we generally encourage our students to use free software or trial versions of paid ones. The time you will spend on transcription should not be seen as a “lost time” since this process gives you the opportunity to familiarize yourself with the data. If you are working as a group, the workload of transcription can be divided among the group members. Furthermore, the practice of transcribing verbal data has the potential to increase your digital literacy in the sense that this experience allows you to use a new tool and type faster. If you have your data readily transcribed by someone else or if you will analyse documents such as the contents of a book then we suggest that you spend relatively longer time on reading and re-reading the transcripts until you feel comfortable that you have a general “feel” of the data. After this, you are ready to analyse the data. 5.1.2

Step 2: Generate Initial Codes

Coding can start once you have familiarized yourself with your data and organized your data set in way that it can be coded. Similar to quantitative data analysis, there are special programs (i.e. NVivo) that can help you with organizing and coding your data. Such software, however, can be quiet expensive and/or inaccessible to learners. Therefore, we suggest the use of the Word or Excel programs which are more generic and accessible. You can organize your data set using tables in Word (see . Fig. 5.1) or the boxes in Excel (see . Fig. 5.2). You can organize your data according to participants and/or questions. After organizing your data you can start the coding process. A code in qualitative data analysis refers to “a word or short phrase that symbolically assigns a summative, salient, essence-­ capturing, and/or evocative attribute for a portion of language-based or visual data” (Saldaña, 2013, p. 3). Coding should be done in an orderly and systematic fashion in search for recurring concepts (also known as themes, see Step 3 below). In this sense qualitative coding is similar to pattern finding.  



Chapter 5 · Putting the Pieces Together

..      Fig. 5.1  Sample template for qualitative data analysis in Word

..      Fig. 5.2  Sample template for qualitative data analysis in Excel

??Task 5.2 Below is a puzzle that consists of 12 cards. The objective is to identify a set of 3 cards from the 12 cards provided below. Each card has four features which can vary as follows; (a) shape (triangle, circle, or diamond), (b) colour (black, white, or grey), (c) number (one, two, or three), and (d) shading (solid, striped horizontally, or striped vertically). A set consists of 3 cards in which each of the card’s features, looked at one-by-one, are the same on each card, or, are different on each card. For example, Boxes 6, 8, and 9 are a set since all boxes have different numbers, different colours, same shapes (triangle), and same shading (striped vertically). After checking the example, read the following questions and answer them based on the 12 boxes provided on . Fig. 5.3. 1. Identify a set in which boxes have different numbers, different shadings, but same colours, and same shapes 2. Identify a set in which boxes have same numbers and shapes, but have different colours and shadings. 3. Identify 2 sets in which boxes have different numbers, different colours, different shadings, but same shapes. (a) (b)  


85 5.1 · Qualitative Data Analysis













..      Fig. 5.3  Figure which belongs to Task 5.2

The exercise above is intended to help you practice coding. Notice that the boxes comprising the sets did not share all the same characteristics. In each set, the boxes had a characteristic (i.e. number, shape, shading, or colour) that was either same or different for all boxes that comprised the set. This suggests you should not only code for similarities but also for differences. Following a theory-driven (deductive) or data driven (inductive) approach in coding has a number of implications. Following a deductive approach suggests you will be searching for codes considering specific questions and aspects that you want to code in your data. Following an inductive approach, on the other hand, suggests that the coding process and, eventually, themes will be based on the data. At the stage of coding, Braun and Clarke (2006) advise investigators to code as much as possible within the time limitation in order not to miss out details. In their words “you never know what might be interesting later” (p. 89). Researchers can manipulate the text (i.e. change colouring, using bold or italic) in order to highlight the codes. Furthermore, keeping memos or a codebook that explains the codes can be helpful to ensure consistency across the data set. Last but not least, if you are working as part of a group, it would be a good idea to analyse and code parts of the data individually. Group members, later on, can get together in order to discuss the themes they found and challenge each other’s conceptualizations until they reach an agreement and revise accordingly. This will increase the “trustworthiness” of your investigation.



Chapter 5 · Putting the Pieces Together


Step 3: Search for Themes

“A theme captures something important about the data in relation to the research question, and represents some level of patterned response or meaning within the data set” (Braun & Clarke, 2006, p. 82). The number of times a theme recurs might mean that it is of significance particularly if it recurs in most of the reports or comments by participants. Therefore, it is expected that a theme would recur across the data set. Nevertheless, it is the quality not the quantity that matters in qualitative inquiry. Thus, a theme can still be significant even if it does not repeat itself across the data set. The search for themes can start once you have completed the coding of your data set. Searching for themes is like a second layer of analysis that you conduct on your codes. If you have a theory-driven approach, then it is likely that you will have predetermined themes and will try to arrange your codes under those themes. If you have a data-driven approach, then you are expected to go through your initial codes and consider how different codes relate to each other as well as whether those codes can be gathered under an overarching theme. Visualising your codes and themes using tables or mind maps can help you organize your data at this stage. This is an ongoing process which means some themes might be merged later on, while others’ hierarchy changes and even some others might get discarded (especially when there is too much data to report on). Therefore, it could take a number of iterations before you end up with your final version of thematic analysis. At the end of the third step, you will have produced a number of candidate themes and subthemes to be reviewed in the next step. A thematic map of this early stage and later stages are presented in . Figs. 5.4 and 5.5. . Figure 5.4 symbolizes the first iteration of organizing codes and a comparison of . Figs. 5.4 and 5.5 suggests a reorganization in which new sub-themes have been added while others were removed. The examples come from the analysis of Bostancıoğlu’s (2015) doctoral research. By the end of the third step, you are expected to have developed an understanding of the significance of the themes they found.  


Step 4: Review Themes

This step starts after having an initial map of candidate themes (see . Fig. 5.4) and involves refinements and revisions to the initial themes identified in the data set. At this stage, you might realize that some themes/sub-themes overlap suggesting that those themes either need to be merged or revised to prevent overlap. For example, the subthemes “help each other with technology” and “support each other” under the theme of “rules of the community” in . Fig. 5.4 have been merged as “provide support” in the revised thematic map in . Fig. 5.5. Sometimes themes or subthemes may be dropped. For example, the themes of “written rules” and “unwritten rules” in . Fig. 5.4 have been dropped in the revised thematic map in . Fig. 5.5. And sometimes you might need to break a theme into sub-themes. For example, two sub-themes (“DO” and “DO NOT” in) were added to the theme of “rules of the community (later changed to culture of the  

87 5.1 · Qualitative Data Analysis



Rules of the community Be polite

Help each other with technology Do not engage in religious discussions

Support each other Do not engage in politics

No spamming Stick to the topic (educational technologies)

Written rules

Unwritten rules

..      Fig. 5.4  Initial thematic map of the analysis of the community rules theme

community)” in . Fig. 5.5. At this stage it is important to ensure that (revised) themes are a reflection of your data and create a coherent and clear thematic map. There should be no overlaps and/or contradictions among the themes and sub-themes. They should stand out in harmony. The review step involves two processes; (1) refinement/revision of the candidate themes against the coded data extracts and (2) refinement/revision of the candidate thematic map against the whole data set (Braun & Clarke, 2006). In the first process, you are expected to go through your candidate themes and check their suitability to the coded extracts. If the coded extracts and candidate themes hold together then you can go to the second process. However, if candidate themes are not consistent with the coded data then you should consider revising/refining your candidate themes. After refinements, you are expected to go through your coding and amend coded extracts in  


Chapter 5 · Putting the Pieces Together

Culture of the community



5 Provide Support

Show politeness

Show respect

Do not spam

Do not engage in political discussions

Do not engage in religious discussions

..      Fig. 5.5  Developed thematic map of the analysis of the community rules theme

accordance with the new candidate themes. The second process is similar to the first, but, in the latter, you crosscheck your themes against the whole data set. At this stage Braun and Clarke (2006) advise reading the whole data set twice; the first time to check the fit between the themes and the data and the second time to check whether any data were missed/ not coded. At this point it is worth pointing out that there is not a “perfect” way to organize themes. Qualitative data analysis is a cyclical process. If you have time, you can keep developing your thematic map and refining your themes. However, we generally advise pre-service teachers to stop when they think their thematic map is “good enough”. What we mean by “good enough” is when the review process resulted in a candidate thematic map which stops changing significantly in a next iteration of refinement. By the end of the fourth step, you would have a good understanding of how themes relate to each other and “the overall story they tell about the data” (Braun & Clarke, 2006, p. 92). 5.1.5

 tep 5–6: Define and Name Themes, and Produce S the Report

The final refinement process can start once you are satisfied with the thematic map that you developed in previous steps. The aim in this final process is to define what each of the themes stand for and detail the different aspects of the data each theme represents. In order to achieve this aim, you should be able to provide detailed accounts of each theme and support it with extracts from the data. While doing this, you should pay attention to not just paraphrase the content of the data but rather comment on it by,

89 5.1 · Qualitative Data Analysis


for example, highlighting its significance and importance to your main argument. In this sense, writing up results of a qualitative inquiry is similar to storytelling. Up to this point, you have considered how each theme relates to each other and to the main argument. However, at this stage, you should ensure that the thematic map you have devised is reflected in your writing and the story you tell. If there are themes which are large and/or complex, you should consider using sub-­ themes to provide structure and/or show hierarchy. For example, you can see that the theme of “culture of the community” (see . Fig. 5.5 above) has been broken down into two sub-themes of “DO” and “DO NOT”. “DO” represents the actions that the community encourages its members to take and “DO NOT” represents the actions that the community discourages its members from taking. The use of sub-themes adds another layer of organization within a theme, thus, making the process of writing more manageable. Finally, you should pay attention to having a “concise, coherent, logical, non-­ repetitive, and interesting” story line (see 7 Chap. 6 7 Sect. 6.2).  


Things to Consider in Qualitative Data Analysis

Based on our experiences, below, we provide a number of tips that we consider might help you whilst conducting qualitative data analysis and/or reporting qualitative data. 55 “A picture is worth a thousand words”. During data analysis, the use of graphs, tables, or figures will help you organize your codes around themes and create your thematic map. In addition, the availability of a visual representation of your findings will also help your reader/audience better understand the findings in the sense that the visual representation acts as a signpost. This prepares the reader/ audience for the content of reports/ presentations. Therefore, we strongly encourage you to develop visual representations of your findings. 55 One of the criticisms of qualitative research is that the coded data is chopped and moved from its context. This lack of context can cause the intended message in the original data to be lost or misinterpreted. In order to prevent that, the investigators are responsible for providing “enough” context to the reader. There are, unfortunately, no clear cut borderlines so as to what counts as “enough”. An alternative approach to prevent such incidents, however, may be narrating the findings through the stories of “vignettes”. 55 One can easily get distracted and/or overwhelmed in search for codes/themes in qualitative data analysis. One way of preventing that is to approach the data keeping the puzzle questions (the questions that started the inquiry process) in mind. 55 Though themes are expected to be recurrent in the data set, it is the quality not the quantity that you should watch for in the process of analysis. 55 While it is acceptable to have expectations of what to find, this should not direct you to only focus on what you expect to find. You should also watch for the “unexpected” meaning that there could be themes that you were not expecting to find.


Chapter 5 · Putting the Pieces Together

55 You should present enough evidence to convince the reader of your interpretations of the data. This does not mean that you should present all data that you coded under a theme but rather use a selection of coded data extract(s) that vividly represents the themes. This is also referred to as providing a “thick description” of the data which essentially increases the trustworthiness of findings (see 7 Chap. 4 7 Sect. 4.1). 55 It will be useful for the research process if you worked in groups and collaborated in the process of coding and finding themes. If you explore your puzzle on your own, you can try to find a colleague/ classmate to help you in the process of coding and devising themes. The reason for this is to increase the trustworthiness of your research through interrater reliability1. In return, you can help your colleague/ classmate in their exploration. 55 One of the biggest problems we have observed in student work is that they take chunks of words from data and present it without clarifying their significance and/ or importance to the story line. Therefore, we encourage learners to comment on, summarize, or highlight the significance of those extracts.  



Quantitative Data Analysis

Quantitative data analysis refers to “the application of statistical techniques to the data that have been collected” (Bryman, 2012, p.  13). In this sense, the numerical representation and manipulation of the data are needed to describe what has been found. Generally, data generated through the use of questionnaires involving answers to close-ended questions is analysed quantitatively. Data generated from structured/ tally observations can also be analysed quantitatively. This, however, does not mean that all questionnaires and/or observations can be quantitatively analysed. Some questionnaires include o ­ pen-­ended questions and some observations are planned in an unstructured fashion. In such cases, descriptive statistics (the focus of quantitative data analysis presented in this section) can be employed to quantify qualitative data (i.e. calculating frequencies of codes/themes in a given data set). It is, nevertheless, worth noting that in qualitative research it is the quality not the quantity that matters (see 7 Sect. 5.1).  


Key Terms

The following is not a comprehensive list of all terms in quantitative research but includes the key terms at the basic level. 55 Variable: a variable is something “that can change (or vary); they might vary between people (i.e. IQ, behaviour) or locations (i.e. unemployment) or even time (i.e. motivation, learning style, mood, profit, number of cancerous cells)” (Field, 2009, p. 7). 55 Nominal/categorical variable: variables where categories cannot be ranked or ordered (i.e. gender, ethnic origin)


Interrater reliability refers to the degree of agreement between coders (Bryman, 2012).

91 5.2 · Quantitative Data Analysis


55 Ordinal variable: variables where categories can be ordered by distances between them, but the distances between each category cannot be assumed to be equal (i.e. Likert scale items such as “I agree” and “I don’t agree”, ranks in a marathon such as 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, exam scores such as 100, 70, 30) 55 Interval variable: variables where distance between categories are identical (i.e. age, weight, height) 55 Data set: a data set is a table, an array of data arranged in rows and columns representing the variables collected in a particular research. 5.2.2

Coding Variables

Coding in quantitative data analysis refers to the transformation of the generated data into numerical representations. Before moving on check . Fig. 5.6 below, the following example has been taken from the demographics section of a questionnaire. The first question “gender” in . Fig. 5.6 can be considered as nominal/categorical variable. In order to transform the data generated from such a question into numbers, we should consider the answer options which are female and male. We can assign a number for each answer option (i.e. number 1 for female and number 2 for male). In other words, when we will create the data set, we will represent female participants with 1 and male participants with 2 (see . Table 5.2). The variable in the second question is “year of study”. The same principle of transforming response options into numbers can be applied to this question as well. Thus, 1st year of study can be represented with 1, 2nd year with 2, 3rd year with 3, 4th year with 4, and prep class with 5. Notice that numbering  

Please fill in the following demographic information 1. What is your gender? Female Male 2. What year of study are you in? 1st Year 2nd Year 3rd Year 4th Year Prep class

..      Fig. 5.6  Sample questionnaire items- Demographics 1


Chapter 5 · Putting the Pieces Together

..      Table 5.2  Data set for the sample questionnaire items in . Fig. 5.6  




Year of study
















of the response options restarted from 1 for the second question because it is a new variable. Response options for each variable and participant will be represented on a different row/column (see . Table 5.2). Additionally, numbering for nominal/categorical variables does not have to start from 1; you might decide that you want to start with 0 or any other number. You should, however, keep notes of which number represent which selection for each question you have. The data set in . Table 5.1 has been prepared according to the coding specified for . Fig. 5.6. The participant column specifies the code of participant. As you may remember for ethical purposes it is better to not include real names of participants in your research (see 7 Chap. 4 7 Sect 4.1). Therefore, each participant has been given a number. Notice that the columns represent variables, while the rows represent each participant. The gender column includes data on the gender of each participant and year of study column includes data on which year of their university education each participant is studying in. Based on the coding explained in the previous paragraph, it is safe to assume that Participant 5 (P5) was a male student who was in his 4th year at the university (see . Table 5.2). Apart from nominal/categorical variables, there are also ordinal and interval variables. In interval variables, the distance between the categories are equal. For example the difference between 22  years of age and 23  years of age is equal to the difference between 23 years of age and 24 years of age. In ordinal variables, however, this difference between categories is not equal. For example, the difference between the options of strongly agree and agree is not the same as the difference between the options of agree and neither agree nor disagree. When transforming ordinal variables, you should pay attention to the ordering/hierarchy among the categories. When we check . Fig. 5.7, we can see that actually the answers to the age and number of research methods courses per week variables will be provided in numbers. When we check . Fig. 5.8, on the other hand, we can see that we need to find numerical representations for the options ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree for the variables of understanding research methods and enjoying research methods. We can use 1 to represent strongly disagree, 2 for disagree, 3 for neither agree nor disagree, 4 for agree, and 5 for strongly agree. Depending on your aim, the numbering of the options can be reversed. What is important, however, is that the numbering should be in line with the hierarchy of the answer options.  


93 5.2 · Quantitative Data Analysis

Please fill in the following demographic information 1.

How old are you? –


How many hours a week do you attend research methods classes? –

..      Fig. 5.7  Sample questionnaire items- Demographics 2

Please carefully read the following statements and choose the extent to which you agree with each one of them. 1. I understand research methods. Strongly agree Agree Neither agree nor disagree Disagree Strongly disagree 2. I enjoy learning about research methods. Strongly agree Agree Neither agree nor disagree Disagree Strongly disagree

..      Fig. 5.8  Sample questionnaire items- Liker scale

The data set in . Table 5.3 has been prepared by adding the variables specified in . Figs. 5.6, 5.7, and 5.8. The participant column specifies the code of participant. Participants’ age,  

gender, and year of study are detailed under the age, gender, and year of study columns respectively. The number of research methods course per week column provides information on the number of hours per week that participants attend research methods classes. And


Chapter 5 · Putting the Pieces Together

..      Table 5.3  Data set for sample questionnaire items in . Figs. 5.6, 5.7, and 5.8  




Year of study


Number of research methods course per week

Understanding research methods

Enjoy learning research methods




































the last two columns detail whether the participants understand and enjoy research methods courses. Based on the coding presented in . Table 5.3, it is safe to assume that Participant 5 (P5) was a male student who was in his fourth year of study. He was 23 years of age and had not had a research methods class at the time he participated in the questionnaire. His statement about understanding research methods suggested that he did not understand research methods and he was not sure whether he liked or disliked research methods classes.  

??Task 5.3 Please answer the following questions based on the data set provided in . Table 5.3 1. How many male and female participants are there?  

2. How many third year students are there? 3. Which student(s) is/are the youngest? 4. Which student(s) is/are the oldest? 5. Which student(s) do/does seem to be enrolled in a research methods course? 6. Which student(s) do/does seem to understand research methods the most? 7. Which student(s) do/does seem to understand research methods the least? 8. Which student(s) do/does seem to enjoy research methods the most? 9. Which student(s) do/does seem to enjoy learning about research methods the least?

95 5.2 · Quantitative Data Analysis

??Task 5.4 A sample questionnaire is given below. Administer the questionnaire to 5–10 participants and then transform the responses into numbers and create a data set. You are expected to give each participant a number. Part A. Please state the extent to which you agree with the following statements 1. I am good at English. Strongly agree Agree Neither agree nor disagree Disagree Strongly disagree 2. I love learning English. Strongly agree Agree Neither agree nor disagree Disagree Strongly disagree 3. I enjoy teaching English. Strongly agree Agree Neither agree nor disagree Disagree Strongly disagree 4. English is easy to teach. Strongly agree Agree Neither agree nor disagree Disagree Strongly disagree Part B. Please fill in the following demographic information 5. What is your gender? Female Male



Chapter 5 · Putting the Pieces Together

6. What is your year of study? 1st Year 2nd Year 3rd Year 4th Year Prep class 7. On average, how high do you score on English tests? 0-20


20-40 %


40-60 % 60-80 % 80-100 % 8. Apart from homework, do you spend extra time on English related activities? Yes No 9. If your answer was “Yes” to Question 8, can you please specify how much time (in hours) do you spend on such activities on an average week? •


…………….…. hours a week

Types of Quantitative Data Analysis

Data analysis can start after the creation of the data set. The way researchers will analyse the data may change depending on their aims. There are a number of different types of quantitative data analysis; a) univariate analysis, b) bivariate analysis, and c) multivariate analysis. Univariate analysis refers to the analysis of one variable at a time (i.e. frequencies, measures of central tendency). Bivariate analysis, on the other hand, deals with the analysis of two variables at the same time in an effort to find our whether any two variables are related (i.e. the relationship between the number of research methods courses taken and success in the research methods courses). When it comes to multivariate analysis, it deals with the analysis of more than two variables at a time (i.e. the relationship between gender, language learning ability, and age). Bivariate and multivariate analyses are complex processes that require the use of special software called the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). Remembering that this book is intended to equip pre-service language teachers with basic knowledge of conducting research, this section will only focus on univariate statistics which is seen as the simplest way of analysing quantitative data. Univariate analysis consists of two main parts; (a) measures of central tendency and (b) measures of dispersion. Measures of central tendency help researchers describe their

97 5.2 · Quantitative Data Analysis


data by identifying the central location of the data and finding the representative value of the data. Mean, mode, and median are the most frequently used measures of central tendency. Measures of dispersion, on the other hand aims to measure the amount of variability between the values. Range is a measure of dispersion used in univariate statistics. Univariate analysis allows researchers to summarize their data, but, unlike bivariate and multivariate analyses, this way of analysis does not deal with relationships among variables or causality.


Mean is calculated by adding all the scores generated for a given variable and then dividing it to the number of scores added together. Example Let’s calculate the mean for the following set of numbers which represents the hours of English study for six students beyond classroom per week. Set: 4, 12, 10, 5, 8, 3 In order to find the mean, we should first add up all the numbers which equals 42 (4+12+10+5+8+3). Then we should divide 42 to 6 (we added a total of six individual numbers). The result is calculated as 7. Accordingly, the students in the research classroom study English on average 7 hours beyond the classroom.


Median is the middle value in a given set of numbers. Example Let’s calculate the median for the following set of numbers, which represent the number of questions each student asks in the English lessons per week. Set: 5, 14, 2, 10, 6, 21, 3 To calculate the median, we should first order the values. The values in the above data set can be ordered as: 2, 3, 5, 6, 10, 14, and 21. There are a total of 7 values in this data set and the median is the 4th value which is in the middle of this data set consisting of 7 numbers. Accordingly, in general the number of questions asked by the students in the research classroom is around 6.


Mode is the value that occurs most frequently in a set of numbers. Example Let’s calculate the mode for the following set of numbers, which represent the number of words students do not know in the story assigned by the teacher. Set: 13, 4, 7, 21, 4, 9, 7, 13, 16, 4 In order to find the mode, we should first order the values. The values in the above data set can be ordered as; 4, 4, 4, 7, 7, 9, 13, 13, 16, and 21. Although there are two occurrences for 7 and 13, the value 4 has occurred three times which makes it the mode of this data set. Therefore, it seems that the number of words that students do not know in general is low (4).


Chapter 5 · Putting the Pieces Together


Frequency is the number of times a data value occurs. Example


Let’s calculate the frequency of the values in the below data set, which represent the hours of English reading beyond classroom. Set: 13, 4, 7, 21, 4, 9, 7, 13, 16, 4 It can be seen that 4 occurs three times making its frequency value “3; 30%”. Similarly, 7 and 13 occur two times which makes their frequency value of each one “2; 20%”. The remaining values (9, 16, and 21) have a frequency value of “1; 10%”. Accordingly, for example, you can reach the following conclusion: e.g., 30% of the students do 4 hours of English


Range is the difference between the highest and lowest values that occurred for a particular variable. Range can be found by subtracting the lowest value from the highest value. Example Let’s calculate the range for the following set of numbers Set: 13, 4, 7, 21, 4, 9, 7, 13, 16, 4 In order to find the range, we should first identify the highest and lowest values in the set. Screening the test, one can realize that the highest values are 21 and the lowest is 4. Subtracting 4 from 21 gives us the range value which is 17.

??Task 5.5 Student (S) scores achieved in an English language exam are presented below. Calculate the mean, mode, median, and range for the following set of scores. Data set. S1


























Mean: Median: Mode: Range:


Using Digital Tools in Managing Your Data Set

Up to this point, the tasks and examples included sets of numbers that can be managed by hand. However, there can be cases where you have larger sets of data and analysing such data sets can be time consuming to do by hand. This process, however, can be eased by taking advantage of digital technologies. As mentioned earlier, there are software packages such as SPSS to analyse numerical data. However, obtaining such software can


99 5.2 · Quantitative Data Analysis

..      Fig. 5.9  Sample for calculating the mean in Excel

be expensive for students and institutions might not be able to provide such software for student use for various reasons (i.e. cost, technology infrastructure). Nevertheless, Excel which can be considered as generic office software can be used for conducting univariate analyses. The rows and columns in the Excel software provide an easy to use template for creating your data set (see . Fig. 5.9). The software allows the use of formulas in order to calculate univariate statistics. In order to find the mean, you can select an empty box and write the following formula without the quotation marks “=AVERAGE (Box number for the first value: Box number for the last value)” and then hit the “enter” button (see . Fig. 5.9). In order to calculate the mode, you can select an empty box and write the following formula without the quotation marks “=MODE (Box number for the first value: Box number for the last value)” and then hit the “enter” button (see . Fig. 5.10). In order to calculate the median, you can select an empty box and write the following formula without the quotation marks “=MEDIAN (Box number for the first value: Box number for the last value)” and then hit the “enter” button (see . Fig. 5.11). Calculating the frequency and range is slightly different than calculating the mean, mode, and median. In order to calculate the range, you should subtract the lowest value occurring in your data from the highest value. In order to do this, use the following formula without the quotation marks “=MAX (Box number for the first value: Box number for the last value) - MIN (Box number for the first value: Box number for the last value)” and then hit the “enter” button (see . Fig. 5.12). In order to calculate the frequency, firstly fill in the values whose frequencies that you want to find into empty boxes. Then select the empty boxes next to those values and write down the following formula without the quotation marks “=FREQUENCY  


Chapter 5 · Putting the Pieces Together


..      Fig. 5.10  Sample for calculating the mode in Excel

..      Fig. 5.11  Sample for calculating the median in Excel

(Box number for the first value: Box number for the last value, Box number for the first value whose frequency will be found: Box number for the last value whose frequency will be found)” and then hit “Ctrl + Shift + Enter” simultaneously (see . Fig. 5.13). It is worth highlighting that -unlike other formulas- calculating the frequency requires the execution of the formula by simultaneously pressing on the “Ctrl”, “Shift”, and “Enter” buttons. Otherwise, Excel will only calculate the frequency for the first box selected.  

101 5.2 · Quantitative Data Analysis


..      Fig. 5.12  Sample for calculating the range in English

..      Fig. 5.13  Sample for calculating the frequency in Excel


Things to Consider in Quantitative Data Analysis

Based on our experiences, below, we provide a number of tips that we consider might help pre-service teachers whilst conducting quantitative data analysis and/or reporting quantitative data.



Chapter 5 · Putting the Pieces Together

55 Have a master data set file, but work on a copy: It is usually safer to work on a saved copy rather than the original data set in case something goes wrong (especially if you are new to doing statistical analysis). Knowing that your original data is safe will allow you to work more freely and comfortably. 55 If you are using the Excel in your local language then the formulas provided above are not likely going to work. If that is the case, you can do a basic internet search and find out the equivalent formula values for that particular version/ language. 55 If you remember the median is the value that occurs in the middle of a set of numbers. The middle number is easy to find if you have an odd number of values in your set. If the number of values in your set is even, however, there would be two values in the middle. In such cases, the mean of those two numbers is calculated and reported as the median. 55 If you remember mode is the value that occurs most frequently in a set of numbers. In cases where two different values occurred in the same frequency, both values can be reported as the mode of the set. 55 The formulas presented above are helpful to analyse your data set. However, you do not have to report all those statistics when writing your results. You are encouraged to be selective in deciding what information and how much information you report based on your aims (you can find more on this 7 Chap. 6 7 Sect. 6.2). 55 You might have realized that when quantitative results are presented in tables, numerical values are aligned to the right. The reason for this is to make it easier for the reader to recognize the numbers and better understand the tables. Numbers aligned to the centre or left can be confusing and difficult to read (see below A vs. B).  

A Participant no

B Test score

Participant no

Test score





























55 If you are using numbers with fractions (i.e. 4.08), you should make sure you are consistent in how you use the fractions. For example, you might consider

103 5.2 · Quantitative Data Analysis


highlighting the decimal with a comma (“,”) or a period (“.”). Regardless of which one you decide to use, make sure that you use the same sign consistently. You should also be consistent in the number of digits you report after the comma/period. If you are reporting two digits, then you should ensure that all cases where you use decimals include two digits after the comma/period (see below A vs B). A


Participant no

Height (meter)


1, 700








Participant no

Height (meter)


1, 70


1, 82


2, 00


1, 80

1, 69


1, 69




1, 67


1, 764


1, 76

55 You can use abbreviations while reporting univariate statistics in tables or sentences. You can use M for mean; Mdn for median; Md for mode; f for frequency; and Ra for range. 55 Quantitative data analysis techniques are generally administered when analysing questionnaire responses. However, it might not be possible to quantify all questionnaire responses. For example, answers to open-ended questionnaires are very likely to vary among participants and it would be difficult to quantify such responses. In such cases it would be more sensible to use qualitative data analysis techniques to analyse your data (see 7 Sect. 5.1). 55 It might be possible to analyse structured interview and observation data through quantitative data analysis. You should, however, find ways to transform such data into numerical forms.  

Chapter Summary Two main approaches (qualitative and quantitative) to data analysis have been explored in this chapter. Our aim was to provide readers with foundational knowledge of each approach and provide hands on activities for practicing those approaches. The section on qualitative data analysis introduced the concept of Thematic Analysis (TA) and detailed steps of conducting TA. The section on quantitative data analysis provided key terms and the stages of conducting univariate analysis such as creating a data set, coding quantitative data, and calculating univariate statistics (i.e. mean, mode, median).


Chapter 5 · Putting the Pieces Together

Self-Reflection Checklist Please evaluate your knowledge, awareness and self-efficacy about the following statements. ✓/ X 1. I understand that qualitative and quantitative data analyses are the two main approaches to data analysis in research. 2. I know what a “variable” is.


3. I can differentiate between different types of variables “i.e. categorical variable, ordinal variable”. 4. I am aware that the numbers are important in quantitative data analysis. 5. I know how to transform data into numbers. 6. I can create a dataset to conduct quantitative data analysis. 7. I am aware that there are different methods for quantitative data analysis (i.e. univariate analysis, bivariate analysis). 8. I know I can use generic technologies (i.e. Excel) for analysing a quantitative dataset. 9. Ican calculate the mean of a given variable in a quantitative dataset. 10. I can calculate the mode of a given variable in a quantitative dataset. 11. I can calculate the median of a given variable in a quantitative dataset. 12. I can calculate frequencies of a given variable in a quantitative dataset. 13. I can calculate the range of a given variable in a quantitative dataset. 14. I am aware that meanings, experiences, and views are important in qualitative data analysis. 15. I know I can use digital technologies to help me with transcribing verbal data. 16. I am aware that qualitative data analysis can start as early as the data collection stage. 17. I am aware of the importance of being familiar with the data in qualitative research. 18. I know what a code is in qualitative research. 19. I know what a theme is in qualitative research. 20. I know I can use generic software (i.e. Word) to help me with coding qualitative data. 21. I can follow a deductive (theory-driven) approach in analysing a qualitative dataset. 22. I can follow an inductive (data-driven) approach in analysing a qualitative dataset.


105 References

✓/ X 23. I know how to use visuals (i.e. graphs, tables) for creating a thematic map of a qualitative dataset. 24. I am aware that qualitative data analysis is cyclical and ongoing. 25. I know I should support any interpretations of qualitative data with extracts from the dataset. 26. I know how to transform data into numbers.

Documenting Own Research Process Whether it is quantitative or qualitative data that you are generating in your research, write a summary of how you plan to organize and then analyse it. If you are working as a team, you can also explain the division of labour among group members and how you develop the research plan.

References Bostancıoğlu, A. (2015). English as a foreign language teachers’ technology professional development through online communities of practice: A case study. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, University of York, York, UK. Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77–101. Bryman, A. (2012). Social research methods. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Field, A. (2009). Discovering statistics using SPSS. London, UK: Sage. Lewins, A., Taylor, C., & Gibbs, G. R. (n.d.). What is qualitative data analysis? Retrieved 10 October, 2018, from http://onlineqda.­hud.­ac.­uk/Intro_QDA/what_is_qda.­php Saldaña, J. (2013). The coding manual for qualitative researchers. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.


Understanding the Puzzle and the Emerging ­Picture 6.1

What the Results Mean – 108


 elate the Results to the Aim(s) R and Puzzle Question(s) – 108 Dataset – 109 Interpret the Results – 109 Localise the Emerging Information – 110

6.1.2 6.1.3 6.1.4


 ow to Disseminate Puzzle H Understandings – 111

6.2.1 6.2.2

 roducing a Written Report – 111 P Producing an Oral Presentation – 116


 ow Pre-service Teachers Develop After H the Exploration of Their Puzzles – 119

6.3.1 6.3.2

L earning Language Skills – 119 Learning to Inquire – 119

References – 123

© The Author(s) 2019 K. Dikilitaş, A. Bostancıoğlu, Inquiry and Research Skills for Language Teachers,



Chapter 6 · Understanding the Puzzle and the Emerging Picture

The research journey that pre-service teachers started in 7 Chap. 2 (Exploring and Developing Puzzles) might seem to come to an end in this chapter, but, as we argue, it just starts with potential new puzzles in mind. Puzzling over pedagogical issues is a dynamic process that is explored but never fully completed. Once a teacher develops puzzles regarding his or her teaching, this becomes a never-ending process with new puzzles to think about. Puzzles might start to shape teaching over time once they are unpacked and understood better. We are aware that it has not been an easy journey and pre-service teachers should be proud of unpacking their puzzle investigations. There is one final step left, which includes understanding what pieces of the puzzle that emerged mean and disseminating them (i.e. a written report or an oral presentation). In addition, we touch upon the issue of pre-service teachers’ professional development after the exploration of puzzles. Although teachers are in their final step towards understanding their puzzles, this is also the beginning of their career as an “enlightened” teacher with a growth mindset focused on continuous development as opposed to fixed mindset, which implies completion of professional learning process. This chapter covers the following topics: 55 What the results mean 55 How to disseminate puzzle understandings 55 How pre-service teachers develop after the exploration of their puzzles  


6.1  What the Results Mean 7 Chapter 5 invited pre-service teachers to produce the results of their investigations,  

but what do these results mean? At this stage, pre-service teachers should take a step back and remind themselves what helped them start their investigations and what aim(s) they had. The course tutor can ask them to recall the puzzle question(s) that they have developed at the start of their investigations. After that, they can be asked to apply RIL; 55 Relate the results to the aim(s) and puzzle question(s), 55 Interpret the results, and 55 Localise the emerging information. 6.1.1  Relate the Results to the Aim(s) and Puzzle Question(s)

The results (either qualitative or quantitative, or even both) do not mean much on their own. In order to understand what they mean, pre-service teachers should consider the context(s) in which those results emerged. This is to say that pre-service teachers should think about their aim(s) and puzzle question(s) and how those results are going to help them reach their aim(s) and/or answer their puzzle question(s). The key at this stage is to figure out which part(s) of the result are needed in answering the puzzle question(s) they have established before. Let’s take the following example from Task 5.5 in 7 Chap. 5 into consideration; Task 5.5 in 7 Chap. 5 was about calculating the mean, median, mode, and range of the results achieved by 13 students in an English language exam.  


109 6.1 · What the Results Mean

6.1.2  Dataset S1


























The mean of the above dataset was calculated as 59, the median was 56, the mode was 48, and the range was 44. Those statistics as they stand do not mean much, but when put in context they can provide valuable information. For the sake of providing an example, we will consider that the above results were part of an English teachers’ investigation into her students’ English levels. To provide further context, the teacher has recently started teaching this group and wanted to understand the students’ levels in order to provide them with an appropriate level of education. When put in context, the above data starts to make more sense; it provides information on not only the average of the class but also the most and least successful students, and the gap between them. Similar to this example, the results that pre-service teachers will reach in their puzzles will be more meaningful when considered in their own contexts. Once the teachers get these results, they can consider their students’ performance in doing homework, participating in the lesson, asking questions, and engagement in tasks. Then they can see whether class performance is well in line with the test scores. This could help them to develop another puzzle for example: Why does the students’ in-class performance seem not to be in line with the scores they get from the exam? As can be seen, the numerical results can lead the teacher to develop other puzzles to engage in. The teacher can also relate the numerical test scores to other contextual factors such as gender and socio-economic status of the students. It could be that boys or girls are more successful, or students from low social-economic status might have lower scores. There could be other contextual factors teachers could think of and interpret the results in a way that could help them develop their instruction strategically. Similarly, the analysis of verbal responses can also be related to the contextual factors. For example, what students said about their demotivation to learn English can be used to develop a list of things to change and do for a teacher. Students’ responses might have immense impact on the way teachers are designing their instruction. They might abandon some of the teaching practices (activities, tasks, or techniques) if students find them demotivating. Teachers decide whether to abandon these instructional practices or not by carefully thinking about what students actually mean and how they can be replaced by other activities that could be re-planned. 6.1.3  Interpret the Results

Interpretation is the act of explaining the meaning of something. Relating the results back to the aim(s)/ puzzle question(s) will allow the investigator to make a more informed interpretation. Going back to the example provided above, statistics above provide valuable information into the dynamics of that particular class. To begin with, the range of those scores (44 points) helps us predict that there is a big gap of English language knowledge between the student who has the highest score (S6= 89 points) and



Chapter 6 · Understanding the Puzzle and the Emerging Picture

the student who has the lowest score (S7= 44 points)1. On the other hand, the mean (59 points) and the median (56 points) suggest that the classroom average is slightly above the threshold limit to pass2. In spite of this, however, the mode (48 points scored by three individuals) suggests that the number of those who are likely to fail should not be underestimated. Moreover, the number of students below the mean score is 7 and 6 students scored higher than the mean. The scores generated here could help the teacher to develop strategies for individual students. They might plan to assign individual extra assignment, give them in-class activities that could help them increase their scores. Similarly, qualitative results about demotivation mentioned above could also be interpreted according to their students who reported different factors that demotivate them. Teachers could analyse and review them carefully by thinking about the individual students. Since every student might have given different responses regarding the demotivating factors, teachers could develop student specific plans to help them become more motivated in future lessons. Students might attribute their source of demotivation to materials, teachers’ instruction, classroom environment, exams, or their need for learning English. In this case, teachers need to address them all by developing a strategic plan. Sometimes even an individual talk about such factors with students could help students develop more motivation, some others might require more systematic changes in the course design. 6.1.4  Localise the Emerging Information

After interpreting the results, it is time to transform the emerging picture into practical information that will help the investigators understand their puzzles. We will continue with the same example. Based on our current knowledge of the context, in our view, the teacher who teaches that particular group of students has a number of different options. For example, the teacher can decide to do more pair work and pair more experienced students with less experienced ones (i.e. S6 who has the highest score and S7 who has the lowest score, or S4 who has the second lowest score and S12 who has the second highest score). The logic for such a match is to allow peer learning which might be less intimidating and support the learning processes. Another option would be to create two heterogeneous groups and assign leadership roles to the two students with the highest scores and create opportunities for those students to pass on their knowledge to their peers. Yet, another option can be creating two groups of learners (7 students who were below and 6 students who were above the average score of 59) and provide different tasks for the two groups using the same materials. That is to say, teachers can grade the tasks for those learners based on their current levels. Similarly, in the light of qualitative results, teachers could plan to make some pedagogical changes in the classroom setting, exam format, course delivery process (e.g., relatively more learner-centred instruction), and in interaction patterns already used (more towards the use of pair and group work). To make pedagogical changes in the above listed areas requires teachers to carefully interpret the analysis. The

1 2

This is based on the assumption that the test was valid and reliable. As in most exams, the threshold limit for passing is assumed to be 50 points or 50%.


111 6.2 · How to Disseminate Puzzle Understandings

results interpreted from the analysis should convince them to make these changes. Teachers need to properly read what students actually mean and how they mean it. Please notice that we have italicised “in our view” above because we wanted to ­highlight that different people might reach different conclusions with the same data and in different contexts. 6.2  How to Disseminate Puzzle Understandings

Underlining that each classroom setting is unique (i.e. student profile, physical conditions of the classroom, materials available, and so on), the results obtained in a puzzle inquiry may not necessarily be generalizable for other classrooms. In this sense, classroom investigations can be compared to case studies. Although results of an investigation are not directly generalizable, there is still value in disseminating findings because readers/audience can evaluate those findings in the light of their own experiences. We focus on two forms of dissemination: (1) producing a written report and (2) producing an oral presentation. 6.2.1  Producing a Written Report

Reports are generally prepared for a certain audience. In the case of classroom research, reports can be produced to be shared with the school management, fellow teachers, or even students and their families. Reports are generally structured in sections and include the following elements; (1) title page, (2) executive summary/abstract, (3) introduction, (4) methodology, (5) results, and (6) conclusions. Notice that that review of literature, unlike dissertations/academic articles, is left out since it is not a significant part of our research methods delivery at undergraduate level (see 7 Chap. 2). In this section, examples from Group 1’s report will be provided. To remind the reader Group 1 consisted of students whose puzzle investigation was about the use of an old-fashioned dialogue (including mechanical language) at the beginning of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) classes in Turkey (more information on Group 1 and their puzzle has been provided in 7 Chap. 2 7 Sect. 2.5).  Title and Title Page

The title should be concise, clear, and meaningful. A successful title is generally an indicator of whether the report will be read or not. Therefore, the title should reflect the nature of the investigation and include key words that best describe what has been done in that particular investigation. Since the title helps the author to summarize the main idea of the report, it might be a wise idea to leave the task of writing the title to the end. The analysis of Group 1’s report title is provided in . Table 6.1. The above title provides the reader with a vague idea of what the investigation is about. We can understand that the investigation was about a dialogue used in Turkish  

..      Table 6.1  Sample title of a report Title:

“The use of classic ‘How are you?’ dialogues in Turkish EFL classes”


Chapter 6 · Understanding the Puzzle and the Emerging Picture

EFL classes, but other key information such as who the subjects were is missing. Specifying the title further could have helped the reader understand what that particular investigation was about (see the revised version below):

»» “Reasons behind EFL teachers’ (non-)use of the classic ‘How are you?’ dialogue in Turkish EFL classes”

The revised version above specifies that the puzzle inquiry investigated why (reasons) EFL teachers (subjects) used or did not use that particular dialogue. The title page should also include author name(s).  Executive Summary/Abstract


An executive summary or abstract is a short section that is included at the beginning of a report/article. Like the title, abstract is also one of the parts of the report that the readers are likely to read first. Its main function is to provide a summary of the report. The abstract is like the road map of the report signposting the reader about its content. Since they will serve the purpose of summarizing the research undertaken, abstracts are expected to be written after the main body of the report is complete (introduction, methodology, results, and conclusion). Additionally, abstracts are not expected to be long, generally one paragraph between 150 and 250 words. In writing their abstracts, pre-service teachers should ensure that they provide details with regards to; (1) their motivation (why) to undertake that particular investigation (what), (2) procedures (how), (3) findings of the investigation (the answers they found), and (4) conclusions (implications). For the sake of consistency, we continue providing examples from Group 1’s study in . Table 6.2.  

..      Table 6.2  Sample abstract section of a report The moves

Content of abstract


During our language learning experiences, we heard the same question “Good morning/afternoon class, how are you today?” over and over again, and we have kept responding in the same way “Fine, thanks, and you?” We did not feel that this dialogue contributed to our language learning at all and we decided to explore whether this dialogue is still being used in English as a foreign language (EFL) classes and understand teachers’ reasoning for their (non)-use of it.


We conducted semi-structured interviews with 25 teachers teaching EFL across different cities in Turkey and then analysed their responses.


We found that the dialogue was still being used in EFL classes and its use was based on a number of factors such as the student profile, teaching experience, and the education system. Nevertheless, we were happy to see that there were also teachers who stopped using this classic dialogue and replaced it with questions that they genuinely asked to understand how students felt.


This experience allowed us to evaluate the current situation in Turkish EFL classrooms and understand the reasons for teachers’ non(use) of this dialogue. Observing that there are teachers who no longer used this dialogue encouraged us to think that we are right in not wanting to use this dialogue in the future. Thanks to this study, we have also learned how to identify a problem in our teaching/learning and solve it.

113 6.2 · How to Disseminate Puzzle Understandings


The following list of questions can help students prepare their abstracts: 55 Why did I/we want to research this puzzle? 55 How did I/we investigate the puzzle? 55 What did I/we find? 55 What did the findings mean to me/us? What did I/we learn from those findings? After answering the above questions, all that is left to do is link the answers in a coherent way and create a paragraph.  Introduction

Introduction is the first part of the main body of the report. The aim of the introduction is to provide context for pre-service teachers’ puzzles and highlight the significance of the puzzles for them. We try not to be prescriptive about how long an introduction should be. Therefore, we abstain from setting a word limit, but we expect the introductions to be between 2 and 4 paragraphs long. In addition to contextual information, pre-service teachers can be reminded that they can use “hooks” to attract the reader’s attention. A hook can be an analogy, example, statistical information, a quote, or a question. Notice that Group 1 below used the analogy of “inheritance” as a hook in their introduction (see 7 Box 6.1).  

Box 6.1  Sample Part of an Introduction Section of a Report A heritage from grandfather to grandson sometimes can be a house, a buried treasure or a land. In language teaching in Turkey, what is inherited to a whole generation is the stereotype “How are you?” dialogue. In English lessons in Turkey, we have always experienced one type of a greeting dialogue during the start of the course. We thought that this was a major deficiency in language education. Therefore, we chose this topic as our puzzle, and decided to investigate the reasons for the use of this dialogue by interviewing teachers. In other words, this study was guided by the following research puzzle: Why is this classical “How are you?” dialogue constantly used in Turkish classes that English is given as a foreign language?

In order to clarify what exactly has been studied in the puzzle, pre-service teachers are expected to insert their puzzle question(s) at the end of their introductions. ­Pre-­service teachers can also signpost the remainder of their reports in their ­introductions.  Methodology

The methodology section includes details regarding the processes involved in collecting the pieces of the puzzle under investigation and making sense of it. Key information to present in the methodology section is: participants, data generation tools, data analysis, and ethics. The details pre-service teachers provide in the methodology will help the reader evaluate validity and reliability of the results that emerged at the end of the puzzle investigations. With regards to participants, pre-service teachers are expected to provide details of those who participated in the study and how and why


Chapter 6 · Understanding the Puzzle and the Emerging Picture

..      Table 6.3  Sample part of a methodology section of a report Moves

Content of methodology


[…] In accordance with this purpose, we decided to talk with 25 teachers. Each of the group members interviewed five teachers in the 10th week of the term. […]


[…] Then, we prepared the interview questions. […]First, we asked the teachers if they used the classical “How are you?” dialogue or not. According to the answers we received from this question, we asked the following interview questions to those who use the dialogue and then probed as necessary: ✓A  s a result of our observation, we have observed that most of English teachers use this dialogue. What do you think about the reasons for this? ✓ Have you ever tried to change this situation? Why? ✓ If you tried, why did you fail? And we asked the following questions to teachers who say “No, I don’t use” to this question: ✓ What is the dialogue that you use when you enter the class? ✓ What are your thoughts about this classical dialogue? ✓ Why do not you prefer to use this dialogue?

Data analysis

[…] Afterwards, we have semi-transcribed interviews for key information and developed codes and categories from the data. […] We have then developed the final thematic map.


[…]Prior to the interviews, we had given the assurance that participants’ names and voice recordings would never be shared in any way with others in order to obey the ethical rules. […]


they have been selected. Details about data generation tools should explain what tools have been used to generate data, why those tools were selected, how they have been developed, and how the data through those tools were generated. With regards to data analysis, as the name suggests, pre-service teachers are expected to explain how they analysed the data. 7 Chapter 5 can give you an idea of what to include while writing about the procedures of data analysis. And details about ethics should inform the reader about how an ethical stance has been adopted in the investigation (see . Table 6.3).  Findings/Results

The findings/ results sections of pre-service teachers’ reports are generally written as a response to the puzzle question(s) asked in the investigation. Qualitative and/or quantitative data is presented accordingly. Since each puzzle study is unique, the way in which findings/results sections will be written can differ significantly from one another. Group 1, who conducted a qualitative puzzle study, applied Thematic Analysis (TA) to analyse interview responses and they first categorized the responses on their predetermined themes (those who use the classic dialogue and those who do not use the classic dialogue) and then developed further categorizations which emerged from the data (see 7 Box 6.2).  

115 6.2 · How to Disseminate Puzzle Understandings


Box 6.2  Sample Parts of a Results/Findings Section of a Report In this section, factors affecting the use of the classic “How are you?” dialogue has been introduced. Those factors have been grouped under two themes: 55 Those who use the dialogue. 55 Those who extend/do not use the dialogue. Those who use the dialogue Many teachers whom we interviewed stated that they used this dialogue because of various reasons such as; the student profile, their teaching experience, and the education system. With regards to the student profile, for instance, one of the teachers stated “I prefer using this dialogue in low age groups because they understand this classic dialogue easily” (Participant 2). […] Those who do not use the dialogue There were also few teachers who destroyed the taboos and decided not to use this dialogue. One of these teachers explained: “I change this classical dialogue according to the subject of the lesson. For example, if I taught the weather conditions in the previous lesson, for the next lesson, I enter the class by asking how the weather is like” (Participant 9). […]  Reflection

The reflection section includes a brief summary of the puzzle investigations as well as the implications of the understandings that pre-service teachers reached at the end of their puzzle inquiries. The specific findings could be highlighted and those that inform the teaching practices or other pedagogic decisions could be discussed. Teachers could explain how and why they decide to make pedagogic alterations, how their understandings have been developed and what other puzzle(s) emerged as a result of their exploration journey. Reflection also strengthens the pedagogic outcomes that pre-service teachers achieve at the end of their investigation. Group 1, for example, found that the classic dialogue, which they did not want to use when they become a teacher, is not always used in language classrooms. There were teachers who did not use this dialogue and after interviewing those teachers, group members developed ideas about what alternatives they would have for replacing this dialogue (i.e. relating the warm up part of the class to the topics covered in the previous lesson). Similar to the findings/results section, reflections on each puzzle will be different. We therefore also encourage pre-service teachers to reflect on their research journeys as a whole at the end of their puzzle explorations since it holds a value in developing reflective writing skills (see 7 Chaps. 1 and 7). A reflection sample is provided in 7 Box 6.3.  

Box 6.3  Sample Reflection of a Pre-service Teacher at the End of His/Her Research Journey I can say without any doubt that I have lived four seasons in the Educational Research Methods lesson. When my teacher started talking about the lesson, I started to get excited. But, I felt like a fish out of water when my teacher finished talking. I had no idea how to proceed because I have never done any research on any topic before. My teacher taught this course, but I was still completely unsure of everything at the end of the first lesson. I started worrying instead of getting excited. Moreover, when my teacher told what to do in the next course, I felt a shock.


Chapter 6 · Understanding the Puzzle and the Emerging Picture

My head was thoroughly confused and I thought I could not do research. Although my teacher gave me information about this course, everything seemed impossible. I had no idea how to do what is being said so I felt myself lost in a mountain. As time progressed, however, our puzzle began to emerge with the contributions of each member in our group. Everything started to become clearer and we began to give fruits like the trees. Contrary to the first lesson, the last lesson I felt like a researcher. Despite being my first research, our research has been on top of my dreams. In conclusion, this course has benefited me in almost every area of my life. Thanks to this lesson, my personal development has improved further. I have increased my confidence and interaction with people. I know steps of doing research. Thus, when I will be a teacher in the future, I will be able to solve my student’s educational problems easily. I do not hesitate to face some educational problems because I know how to shoot two birds with a stone anymore. Finally, I think that I learned this course most effectively because my teacher is always interacting with the students. My teacher was like our superman during this term.

6 6.2.2  Producing an Oral Presentation

An oral presentation could be given through a poster presentation, PowerPoint presentation, or any other means that students would like to present. Students can come up with creative ways of sharing their puzzle investigation. Whichever approach they may choose, we expect pre-service teachers to provide details of introduction, methodology, findings, and reflection. These sections mirror the main parts of a written report. Thus, suggestions we provided for preparing those sections are also applicable for the production of an oral report. However, because of the difference in the means of delivery (which is audio-visual), we encourage pre-service teachers to take into account the points below:  Planning and Preparation 55 Create an outline: An outline provides a structure for the presentation and allows

the presenters to break it into more manageable parts. 55 Check timing: Presentations are generally required to be completed within certain time limits. Presenters should learn how much time they will be allowed and ensure that they deliver their presentations within time limits. 55 Get prepared for questions: The audience is generally given the option to ask questions at the end of presentations, presenters should think about potential questions that the audience may ask and prepare answers. In cases where there are too many details to present, the presenters may decide to provide less detail in the presentation but be ready to present them in case the audience requests extra information at the end. 55 Practice makes perfect: Presenting in front of an audience is not an easy task. The more practice the presenters make (preferable in front of a real audience), the more comfortable they will become when they do the presentation.  Content 55 Consider the advice on producing a written report: In terms of content, the

presenters are asked to consider the suggestions made when preparing the main parts of their reports.

117 6.2 · How to Disseminate Puzzle Understandings


55 Greet the audience: Prior to presenting the content, presenters are advised to greet the audience, introduce themselves and their topic, and signpost the content. 55 Make sure the content is readable: Whether on a poster or in a presentation, the presenters should ensure that their content is readable to the whole audience. 55 Use visual supports: A picture is worth a thousand words, minimizing the use of words and maximizing the visual supports will ensure that the audience is listening to the presenter and not constantly trying to read the information provided on the poster/ slides.  Delivery

55 Maintain eye contact: Maintaining eye contact helps the audience focus their attention on the presenter. When eye contact is lost, the audience might start focusing on different elements. 55 Use spoken language: There are differences between written and spoken language (i.e. longer sentences are used in written format and spoken format generally includes shorter sentences). Using spoken language will make it easier for the audience to follow the presenter and the argument. 55 Move around: Moving around the presentation area will add to the dynamicity of the presentation. However, attention should be paid not too move too much since it can distract the audience. 55 Change tone of voice: Speaking on the same tone might bore the audience. Therefore, the presenters are encouraged to change their tone at times. For example, the tone can be increased to highlight the importance of a point being presented. 55 Do not read: One of the common mistakes that presenters make is trying to read content from poster/ slides. Trying to read from the slides might result in the loss of eye contact between the presenter and the audience which eventually causes the audience to be disinterested in the presentation. Presenters can consider the use of cue cards to help them remember the content of their posters/ slides and the points they want to raise. 55 Speak clearly and use pauses: Pauses can help the presenter stay calm, signal any changes in the topic, and allows the audience to absorb information.  Working in Groups

55 Plan together: Presenting as a group requires team work. Team work, however, might require more time to complete. Thus, planning for team work should start early. 55 Divide presentation work load equally: It is important to ensure that each group member contributes to the presentation so that the feelings of injustice can be prevented among the members of the group. 55 Ensure smooth transition between group members: Smooth transition between group members is important to allow the audience to follow the presentation and keep them focused.  Useful Language

In . Table 6.4, we present language structures that students can use in their presentations.  


Chapter 6 · Understanding the Puzzle and the Emerging Picture

..      Table 6.4  Useful language for presentations Intro

Introducing the topic

What I’d like to do is discuss ... What I intend to do is to explain ... In my presentation today ... My topic today is ... Today I want to consider ... In this presentation, I’d like to concentrate on ...

The subject of this presentation is ... The purpose of this presentation is to ... This presentation is designed to ...

Signposting the content

I’m going to deal with three aspects of the subject… I’ve divided my presentation into three sections… This subject can be looked at under the following headings ... The talk should last about ... minutes.

I’ll be happy to answer questions at the end. If you have any questions, I’ll try to answer them afterwards. If you have any questions, please feel free to interrupt.

Ordering points

Firstly… To start with… First of all… Secondly…

Next… Then… Thirdly… Finally…

Giving examples

For example… For instance…

Remember ... You only have to think of ...


Furthermore… What’s more… This supports my argument that ...

It follows… Therefore,…

Referring back to an earlier point

As I said at the beginning ... In the first part of my talk, I said ...

As I mentioned earlier ...

Articulating the same point in a different way

In other words ... That is to say ...

To put it another way ... What I’m suggesting is …

Transition to the next point

I’d like now to move on to ... Turning now to ... Having looked at ...,

I’d now like to consider ... Another interesting point is ...

We’ve seen that ... I have argued ... In brief ... To sum up ... In conclusion, I’d like to emphasise that ... That completes my presentation Thank you for your attention

Inviting questions That covers the main points. If you have any comments or questions, I’ll be happy to hear them Does anyone have any comments or questions? I’d be glad to try and answer any questions




119 6.3 · How Pre-service Teachers Develop After the Exploration…


6.3  How Pre-service Teachers Develop After the Exploration

of Their Puzzles

In this section, we discuss the positive effects of exploring and understanding pedagogic puzzles through a systematic investigation on pre-service teachers’ professional development. We present three aspects of this development: (1) learning language skills, (2) learning to inquire, and (3) learning to teach. 6.3.1  Learning Language Skills

Unlike others, language teaching is a subject in which the object and the medium of teaching is the same. In this sense, language teaching is a unique subject to teach. We argue that preservice teachers, who are enrolled in a research methods course such as the one that has been specified in this book, will consciously or unconsciously develop language skills throughout the course. Unlike in many courses in their teacher training programs, they can develop not only general English skills but also English for Academic Purposes (EAP) skills. More specifically, they can develop academic writing, listening, and speaking skills (Gillett, 2011): 55 Academic writing: Through the tasks involved in the course, pre-service teachers can be provided with the opportunity to develop skills in relation to creating an argument (i.e. presenting their arguments, ideas, and opinions), supporting/ defending claims, and writing in different genres (i.e. preparing a questionnaire or interview, writing a research report). 55 Academic listening: Through the tasks involved in the course, pre-service teachers can be provided with the opportunity to develop skills in relation to note-taking (if they observed classrooms or conducted interviews) and understanding the role of intonation and emphasis in talks (i.e. highlighting important points). 55 Academic speaking: Through the tasks involved in the course, pre-service teachers can be provided with the opportunity to prepare a presentation (i.e. preparing content of presentations and delivering them, summarising points, and concluding), control the discussion (i.e. changing the subject), and participate in discussions (i.e. asking questions, engaging in team work, making clarifications, and challenging and commenting on others’ views). 6.3.2  Learning to Inquire

The concept of inquiry can date as far back as to Socrates and it is not a new concept in education either. The concept has been evolving since the works of educational pioneers such as Piaget (1929), Dewey (1933), and Vygotsky (1978). In its core, inquiry is about the “search for truth”. It is also referred to as the scientific method and is about the systematic study of issues at hand. Inquiry skills include the following which we argue that pre-service teachers will have an opportunity to develop: 55 Asking (the right) questions: An important step in dealing with a problem is the identification of it. As such, pre-service teachers can practise questioning skills in order to create focused puzzle questions (see 7 Chap. 2).  



Chapter 6 · Understanding the Puzzle and the Emerging Picture

55 Investigating answers: After developing focused questions, pre-service teachers can design tools to generate data that would help them answer the questions they identified. 55 Creating new understandings: Pre-service teachers can analyse the data they generated and form answers to the questions they prepared. Those answers can both confirm/refute their initial ideas and also allow them to see the issue under investigation from multiple perspectives. 55 Communicating findings: At the end of the course, pre-service teachers can be brought together to share their findings with their class mates or future colleagues, which can create an opportunity to learn from one another. 55 Reflecting on pedagogical issues: At the end of the course, pre-service teachers can be asked to prepare reports of their puzzle investigations which will include a section that they can include their reflections on the research process as a whole (further information on reflection and its value can be found in 7 Chap. 7).  

The above skills also contribute to the development of higher order thinking skills such as analysing, evaluating, creating and critical thinking (Anderson et al., 2014). The process of formulating puzzle questions suggests a move from taking things at face value to adopting a sceptical and investigative stance which implies critical thinking. Moreover, the process of generating data through research tools being developed is an indicator of creating and the process of analysing the generated data requires analysis skills. Not only data but also pre- and post-research conceptions are analysed which leads to evaluations and interpretations. The dissemination of puzzle understandings can be considered as creation and the self-reflections such as the pedagogic understandings developed through puzzle explorations can be considered as evaluation.  Learning to Teach

The process of conducting research about their puzzles, we argue, can have a number of pedagogic outcomes for pre-service teachers. For example, Group 1 who investigated the use of a mechanical dialogue at the beginning of classes expanded their understanding of why teachers used or did not use that particular dialogue and what alternatives there were that they could use to replace it (see 7 Sect. 2 in this chapter). In this way, they projected on their future practices and learnt how to make students creative users of classroom language. On the other hand, Group 2 (see 7 Chap. 2 7 Sect. 2.5) investigated the effects of using technology in language teaching on student participation in classes and concluded that technology does not necessarily guarantee student participation in classroom activities. They, therefore, developed a more critical stance of using technology in language teaching. Since technology is an integral part of language teaching today, it is important that teachers learn how to or not to integrate technology into language teaching. So pre-­ service teachers in this group might have developed knowledge about how to teach through technology. Additionally, pre-service teachers, who conduct research in a way similar to the one described in this book, will be more likely to adopt an inquiry-based teaching approach  

121 6.3 · How Pre-service Teachers Develop After the Exploration…


in their careers. Although it is not a new concept, inquiry-based teaching has become popular in recent years. For language classrooms, inquiry-based teaching has the ­potential to actively engage students in teaching/learning processes, reinforce meaningful communication, increase intellectual capacity, and develop student’s cognitive and meta-cognitive strategies (Lee, 2014). Last but not least, understanding puzzles can contribute to the development of pre-­ service teachers’ self-efficacy for teaching. Self-efficacy for teaching is important in that it helps teachers become more satisfied with their jobs and demonstrate more commitment (for further details see Gibbs, 2003). For example, the following excerpt indicates that this pre-service teacher felt ready to teach and seemed to have internalised the nature of pedagogically-exploitable pedagogic research activities (PEPRAs) which is to serve two purposes; teaching and research:

»» In conclusion, this course has benefited me in almost every area of my life. Thanks to this

lesson, my personal development has improved further. I have increased my confidence and interaction with people. I know steps of doing research. Thus, when I will be a teacher in the future, I will be able to solve my student’s educational problems easily. I do not hesitate to face some educational problems because I know how to shoot two birds with a stone.

The following pre-service teacher seemed to have a strong sense of self-efficacy as a result of having taken a research methods course and it can be clearly seen that the exploration of his/her puzzle allowed this teacher candidate to be ready for new puzzle experiences:

»» Research methods classes gave me high confidence to research much more topics. […]

Being self-confident and seeing myself in the mirror of my work of future gives me the courage to move forward and I believe I can handle all of the struggles that I am going to face while working on a puzzle because I have experienced this.

Chapter Summary In this chapter we touched upon the importance of evaluating emerging puzzle findings in the light of the context in which they emerged. We also presented the RIL model (relate, interpret, and localise) to help this evaluation process. Each puzzle exploration is unique which means they are not readily generalizable to all other contexts. Nevertheless, dissemination is offered to communicate teacher candidates’ understandings among classmates and offer them a chance to evaluate those findings in the light of their own experiences. Strategies to prepare written and oral presentations have been included in subsequent sections. Finally, the potential positive benefits of undertaking research in such fashion have been presented with hopes to motivate other to conduct research methods in a similar way. Those potential benefits included: development of language skills (i.e. familiarization with academic genre, academic writing, presentation skills), development of inquiry and higher order thinking skills (i.e. analysing, evaluating, creating, critical thinking), and development of pedagogic skills (i.e. understandings that teacher candidates can transfer to their future careers, self-efficacy).


Chapter 6 · Understanding the Puzzle and the Emerging Picture

Self-Reflection Checklist Please evaluate your knowledge, awareness and self-efficacy about the following. ✓/X 1. I know what RIL stands for 2. I understand that I should evaluate findings in my own context. 3. I can write a title that summarizes my puzzle findings. 4. I can write an abstract that summarizes my puzzle findings. 5. I know what details to include in the introduction section of my report.


6. I know what details to include in the methodology section of my report. 7. I know what details to include in the findings section of my report. 8. I know what details to include in the reflection section of my report. 9. I am aware that I should adhere to time limitations in presentations. 10. I am aware that I should be well-prepared to be able to make an effective presentation. 11. I am aware of the importance of maintaining eye-contact in presentations. 12. I can work as a group with colleagues to do a group presentation. 13. I am aware that my language skills have been developing through the process of exploring my puzzle. 14. I am aware that my inquiry skills have been developing through the process of exploring my puzzle. 15. The understandings I reached at the end of my puzzle exploration gave me ideas for how to teach in the future.

Documenting Own Research Process 1. List down three to four points that summarize the understandings you have reached whilst unpacking your puzzle. 2. What language-related skills, if any, have you developed during the process of exploring your puzzle? If you have not developed any skills, why do you think that was the case? 3. What inquiry-related skills, if any, have you developed during the process of exploring your puzzle? If you have not developed any skills, why do you think that was the case? 4. At the end of your exploration, did you reach any understanding(s) that can help you with teaching languages?

123 References


References Anderson, L. W., Krathwohl, D. R., Airasian, P. W., Cruikshank, K. A., Mayer, R. E., Pintrich, P. R., et al. (2014). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom's taxonomy of educational objectives, abridged edition. Essex, UK: Pearson. Dewey, J. (1933). How we think: A restatement of the relation of reflective thinking to the educative process. Boston, MA: D.C. Heath. Gibbs, C. (2003). Explaining effective teaching: Self-efficacy and thought control of action. Journal of Educational Enquiry, 4(2), 1–15. Gillett, A. J. (2011). What is EAP, from http://www.­uefap.­com/articles/eap.­htm. Lee, H. Y. (2014). Inquiry-based teaching in second and foreign language pedagogy. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 5(6), 1236–1244. Piaget, J. (1929). The child’s conception of the world. New York: Harcourt Brace. Vygotsky, L.  S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.


Developing Critical Reflection Practices via Reflective Writing for  Pre-service Language ­Teachers 7.1

Reflective Writing – 126


 ole of Reflective Writing in the Learning R Process – 126


 ays to Integrate Reflective Writing Practices W into Pre-­service Education – 129


 hy Reflective Writing Is Important for  W Pre-service Teachers – 131


 ow Collaborative Writing Supports and Fosters H Reflection or Research – 132 References – 135

Contributions by Erdem Akbaş and Kenan Dikilitaş. © The Author(s) 2019 K. Dikilitaş, A. Bostancıoğlu, Inquiry and Research Skills for Language Teachers,



Chapter 7 · Developing Critical Reflection Practices via Reflective Writing…

The aim of this chapter is to shed light on how reflective practitioners, to be more specific- pre-service language teachers, could integrate exploratory research writing practices into their reflective practices. With this in mind, we believe that they can support their learning potential and inform their practices for their future-self. 7.1


Reflective Writing

Considering the importance of reflective skills in the professional development of students, reflective writing practices are now commonly applied within educational circles (see Reidsema & Mort, 2009; Ryan, 2011). Although there have been various ways to describe the notion of reflective writing, it is better to note down the components of reflective writing so that we can create a context-specific definition of the term for pre-­ service language teachers in teacher training programmes: 55 An experience or practice to reflect upon: this could be a teaching experience/ practice for teacher candidates, or a learning opportunity bound to a ‘work-­ integrated learning’ (Ryan, 2011) 55 Critical evaluation of the details of the experience or practice: this is achieved by interpreting what seems interesting and useful when evaluating the teaching/ learning experience 55 A thorough thinking to reach new insight: this is in parallel with what knowledge this particular experience or practice lets one tap into 55 Different angles to shed light on to the future: this is related to approaching the case from various perspectives to be able to recognize previous thoughts and experiences for the sake of acquiring new meanings for current/future practices. The components given above can help us define the reflective writing for pre-service language teachers. Reflective writing in teacher training programmes can be a process of putting a teaching/learning experience on paper involving critical thinking and writing by making a snapshot of what seems useful to mention on the way to reaching a new insight for their current/future practice. The whole process can, therefore, be seen as aiding the intellectual and professional growth of the practitioners since it includes a ‘profound form of reflection’ (Moon, 2004, p. 96). 7.2

Role of Reflective Writing in the Learning Process

The place of reflective writing has now been accepted as a practice which can subsequently offer writers to create various opportunities on the way to learning from experience. As is highlighted by Gibbs (1988), reflection upon any particular experience can simply enhance the learning potential of it. In other words, the pathway to learning is, thus, closely knitted to the reflective practices of any experience the practitioners may have. Glaze (2001) suggests that the transformative nature of reflective writing can enable writers to evaluate their own cases and develop insights by generating knowledge. Yet, Moon (2004) argues that it is only probable when practitioners reflect upon their expe-

127 7.2 · Role of Reflective Writing in the Learning Process


riences via ‘deep reflection’. The process of deep reflection could be well described as taking a critical stance towards “processes of mental functioning”, creating an “internal dialogue” as well as noting down “learning points” (p. 216). In other words, writing may not own reflective components if only a bare description of what is experienced is presented throughout the writing process. From this point of view, reflective comments and accounts of the writers gain a lot of importance so as to make particular issues go deeper and deeper in triggering the potential learning process from the experience to start. To do this, the writers should remember that whenever they read it back, they need to remember all the details, so do others. In order to achieve a qualified depth of reflection, writers can be expected to put various skills into action: 1. Stepping back: Critical thinking and cognitive engagement with the practice 2. Connecting issues: Recognizing past, present and future issues 3. Affective perspective: Judging previous or current feelings 4. Creating new meanings/practices: Meaningful learning opportunities of this process 5. Gaining deeper understanding of how important to look back an experience critically The first of above skills is strongly linked to how the writer should tap into the details of the practice so as to foster reflection upon it. This can include a brief description of what is being conveyed through reflecting piece such as the contextual information about the practice. However, being too descriptive in this could end up with a lower level of quality in reflection. Thus, the practitioners are expected to employ “critical thinking and cognitive engagement skills” to enhance the depth of reflection as in the following excerpt from the corpus of teacher researcher (Akbaş & Dikilitaş, 20171). The practitioner clearly describes a problem upon which the reflective practice was carried; and at the end, the writer signals that the issue was crucial enough to turn this into raise-­your-­awareness context: 1. Though for years, I have been aware of my excessive talk and dominance over the students and the lesson in general, I could not investigate this until last year. However, the waiting time helped me identify the problem better and encouraged me to make it focus of a research I can do in my classroom The second skill “connecting issues” is probably one of the most notable skills since it extensively allows the practitioners to discover something new when they are able to compare what they have throughout the reflective process with what is known/believed earlier on. The examples (2) (3) and (4) below can be given as examples to how past-­ present or present-future issues are connected to create new knowledge/meaning out of the experience: 2. Before conducting this research, I always thought that podcasts could be a great tool to enhance listening skill; however, this study also made me aware of its role in speaking. I would definitely assign more projects where students create their own podcast. 1

The examples are based on the project entitled “A discourse-oriented investigation of reflective writing: A case of teacher research writers” (Project No: SBA-2016-6346) funded by Erciyes University and coordinated by Erdem Akbaş and Kenan Dikilitaş.


Chapter 7 · Developing Critical Reflection Practices via Reflective Writing…

3. Prior to my study, I thought that my students had negative attitudes to PGWA and didn’t want to participate in them. I realized that I had misinterpreted what was going on in my class. I came to the realization that they actually see the merit in such activities and they really want to take part in them. 4. Until then, I was a teacher who was mothering and over-teaching. I could not take the risk of doing too little for my students. Instead, I chose to over-teach them. Then, I finally admitted that I did not let them take as many responsibilities as I wanted them to.


The “affective or emotional state” of the practitioners can also help them increase the quality of reflection because questioning the emotional reactions may allow them to deepen the reflective practice to conceive it in a different way. This is partly thanks to the role of our emotional states in supporting our conceptions. As an example, the excerpt (5) and (6) below signal the affective state of the writer, which, in turn, contributes to conceptualizing the points for creating a new structure of knowledge. 5. This research was a rewarding experience for us in many ways. The first effect is that we had a chance to deepen our knowledge on vocabulary teaching techniques, learning strategies, and extensive reading. Another effect is that we were able to monitor the change in students’ views. It was fulfilling to see that there had been some considerable change in many of the learners’ beliefs and practices regarding vocabulary learning and readers. 6. In this respect, it was a turning point in my classroom practices. As the title suggests, these were small steps to be taken, however, the effects were much greater than I expected. I went over my teaching techniques to avoid over-teaching, pointed out where I was making mistakes and then focused on creating a classroom environment where students were more self-disciplined and responsible. The first thing that I learnt is to be consistent with what I am doing. I have to be self-disciplined to be a model for my students. I planned every step beforehand. I focused on the term “over-­teaching.” My concept of a “good teacher” has changed dramatically. Nevertheless, it should be kept in mind that the writer in (5) could have deepen reflective account better if he had attempted to elaborate more on the knowledge reached after the experience, i.e. in what way and how; connecting what was gained with the past. Similarly, the second part of the excerpt (5) could have been enriched to reflect more upon the experience rather than providing it rather superficially. On the other hand, the example (6) seems to be handled better than (5) since it presents a more profound reflection level by detailing how the practice was a turning point (affective state) for himself. This example does reflect upon the desire of the practitioner to create a “new meaning/practice” for the terminology in his context and he took the advantage of re-­ defining it. The last skill “Gaining deeper understanding of how important to look back an experience critically” can profoundly let the practitioners observe the practice/experience by taking a broader view to the case. Clearly, it serves as a developing awareness with respect to the gain of being critical upon an experience and signalling significance of the overall practice/experience. Example (7) substantially indicates how notable the

129 7.3 · Ways to Integrate Reflective Writing Practices…


practice of investigation was for the teacher researcher in his professional identity, which can be seen as an aid to continuous professional development while teaching. Similar to this, the practitioner in (8) appears to offer a detailed view rather than presenting a case of memorization in related to what was experienced. 7. Investigating it gave me different insights to think about and design materials and tasks to try out and develop my skills in using my own talk in an efficient way. It has definitely contributed to my idea of how to design my lessons with the aim of more student talk. 8. With the help of my research project, I had the chance to learn what the students thought and how they felt, and identified the real source of the problem so as to be able to move towards excellence in my teaching practices. I had the chance to revise what I had already known and applied in my classes and added new techniques to my repertoire related to the application of pair and group work activities. I also realized that an enjoyable and stimulating learning environment is as important as providing students with cognitively adequate instructional practices. 7.3

 ays to Integrate Reflective Writing Practices into W Pre-­service Education

Since the pre-service language teacher education provides one of the earliest phases for practitioners to be able to understand the dynamics and needs of language teaching process and learners in the classroom, integrating reflective writing practices into curriculum can already be of great help for their future practices. Nevertheless, one of the drawbacks of the integration of reflective writing to the curriculum of pre-service teacher could be strongly linked to the fact that they may be short of finding a challenge or puzzle worth of exploring other than their own learning experiences. The reason is that pre-service teachers do not usually have access to an authentic teaching context in which they can be in charge of it by being the teacher or a part of it via observing. The following discussion, therefore, revolves around how pre-service teachers can identify topics/puzzles to explore in some of their practical classes. Of a great variety of ways, such as letting them focus on their own language learning experiences, pre-determined “puzzles” integrated into the practical classes of the curriculum (i.e. school experience and practicum, macro and micro teaching, research methodology), with which the practitioners delve into designing their own teaching practices or observing others (mentor teachers and/or students), could be one of the routes in integrating reflective writing practices into language teacher education. However, it should be noted that the practitioners will gain a better understanding of the puzzle if they focus on the dynamics of the classes they are exploring as well rather than simply attempting to find a solution. As an example, in practicum or school experience classes, the practitioners could be given a list of pre-determined puzzles so that they can select weekly and come up with. The following table can show a range of areas of investigations which can be easily switched into pre-determined “puzzles”. The Puzzles about the self (see also 7 Chap. 2) are clearly the issues to be explored by the practitioners, which will then shed light on their own teaching practices since the focus of the puzzles is strongly linked to “how they do something and to what extent it is  


Chapter 7 · Developing Critical Reflection Practices via Reflective Writing…

..      Table 7.1  Examples of pre-determined puzzles in exploratory reflective writing


Puzzles about the self

Puzzles about others

The use of L1 in teaching L2 (when, how, to what extent) Dealing with the misbehaviour of a student Giving better instructions for a better classroom activity Increasing the willingness/participation rate of students Making use of cultural elements of the target culture

Designing interactive activities Motivating students to join in-class activities Resolving frustration and rivalry among students Managing group discussions Giving feedback (oral/written) Integrating skills for communicative purposes Teaching of contextualized vocabulary Implicit and explicit teaching/learning

­successful/practical/feasible”. In contrast, the Puzzles about others (see also 7 Chap. 2) are more of their observations about mentor teachers and/or students, which can lead them to transfer issues from an authentic classroom into their own teaching practices since they will be able to comment on whether anything serves a purpose in a classroom (. Table 7.1.). As an example, in one of the reflective writing practices examined by Akbaş & Dikilitaş (2017), the practitioners initially aimed to explore how they could integrate an effective way to lessen the amount of time spent for checking the meaning of unknown words in extensive reading sessions. The practitioners took this challenge as their point of departure with the idea in their mind that such a ‘dictionary interruption’ causes the classroom activity to turn into a time-consumer rather than making use of this activity as a chance to infer unknown words from the contexts. In other words, the practitioners of this particular case treated the puzzle as a challenge about their own classroom practices as a teacher and attempted to come up with a solution. The reflective writing practice at the end of their investigation below can effectively signal us how such a puzzle can be switched into an opportunity that will definitively inform their future practices as well as creating more autonomous learners: 9. Having seen that our students overcame their bias regarding contextualized techniques and tended to use inference-based techniques rather than frequent use of dictionaries, we are planning to use similar strategies in our future reading classes to help our students be less dependent on dictionaries and teachers and more autonomous in vocabulary leaning. We are now more aware of the positive effect of teaching vocabulary in context.  

To give you another example of what we mean by providing pre-service teachers with pre-determined puzzles in some of their classes (i.e. school experience and practicum, macro and micro teaching), the following example stands out to be a great contribution to a creating a new teaching practice at the end of a ten-week instruction. to After noticing that her learners in the classroom did not really have much to say about British and American culture, the practitioner aimed at integrating cultural elements from the target language into language teaching in order to motivate the learners in the classroom over the course of ten weeks. At the end of ten weeks of integration of target cultural

131 7.4 · Why Reflective Writing Is Important for Pre-service Teachers


elements into the teaching context through sit-coms, proverb and idiom teaching and online quizzes, the practitioner came to the conclusion that she was short of putting what she knew in theory (teaching culture) and transformed her teaching practices and beliefs. This transformation process can easily be felt in the reflective writing below: 10. In my teaching profession, for five years, I have always supported using cultural elements in our classes and claimed to know the importance of target culture teaching on students’ learning. However, I realized that my ideas on target c­ ulture teaching only remained in theory. When I was asked, I was totally in favour of teaching it; however, it was not the case in practice. I was like the teachers I criticized; I was one of the teachers who did not teach how to cook, who did not give students the recipe but just gave the ingredients and asked for a good meal. What is more, I was unfair towards my students because I really got angry when they did not understand or use what I taught. All in all, I had a chance to have a deep insight of my teaching and myself, as a teacher. It was important to see my weaknesses and find a solution for them. The above cases can be added into the list of pre-determined puzzles as ‘teaching of contextualized vocabulary’ and ‘making use of cultural elements of the target culture’. This could be a great motive for the practitioners to explore in their practicum when the mentor teachers are in action so as to find what may work or may not work in actual teaching/learning environment and report this critically as an outsider by observing a foreign or second language learning context. While doing so, the practitioner can be highly recommended to follow the previously-mentioned steps in creating a qualified depth of reflection ranging from stepping back to creating new meaning/practices for their teaching/learning contexts. 7.4

Why Reflective Writing Is Important for Pre-service Teachers

The title of this section can be better understood only when the pre-service teachers are engaged in some kind of activities (i.e. letting them explore their own learning experiences, providing pre-determined puzzles about them or others) described in the previous section; that is, keeping them engage in tasks to be able to reflect upon. First of all, a reflective writing practice seems to serve as the closure part of any exploratory activity, through which the practitioner is likely to take a critical stance towards a particular issue and reach a higher quality of learning. One of the potential advantages to get personally involved in the exploratory activities in real teaching contexts and reflect upon them critically by following the steps described earlier on will be definitely related to an outcome as a shift/change in the beliefs or internal experiences. In other words, the more the pre-service teachers are involved in the reflective writing practices, the better they will construct their new beliefs and internal experiences. In doing so, the practitioner either teaching or observing others will probably gain a deeper understanding of the puzzle/challenge with respect to a pedagogical practice. Another invaluable experience of getting involved in reflective writing practices is linked to conceptualizing the classroom practices and learning opportunities. To give you an example, the practitioner is in the classroom. What he could be seeing there is



Chapter 7 · Developing Critical Reflection Practices via Reflective Writing…

most likely the elements of the classroom as a whole, ranging from the teacher to students, learning instances, and even to materials and other recognizable components of the classroom. However, for a practitioner who is likely to know more about these elements and their dynamics after being engaged in the classes many times, the initial effort in the recognition of the class to be able to transform it into a learning hub will probably be less and he will be able to frame his attention to other issues thanks to a wealth of deeper understanding from exploratory and reflective practices. It is simply because of the fact that the deeper understanding reached through a reflective process is believed to shed light on future practices of the practitioner. The last but may be the most critical one of integrating reflective writing practices into pre-service teaching is the engagement of teacher candidates with the other reflective processes. To be more specific, in line with the previous two advantages, the pre-­service teachers will be able to share and comment on what the others in the classes have done in their reflective practices which they could also benefit from. Nevertheless, this is only achievable only when the deep reflection component of reflective writing practices is assured. If a piece of reflective writing does not create an internal dialogue with the practitioner who writes it, then, it will unfortunately will be less of help to others. By taking this into account, the pre-service teachers should focus on how they can create and sustain such an internal dialogue with the learning experience or puzzles to be solved so that other pre-service teachers can also make use of the critical stance taken towards pedagogical issues dealt with. The detailed/longer versions of the examples taken from the corpus of Akbaş and Dikilitaş (2017) and presented above can even help pre-service teachers to equip themselves for the relevant cases in their teaching contexts. Therefore, relying on the importance of learning as a community, the reflective writing practices coming from potential exploratory activities must be coordinated to be shared within the community of teacher candidates if a higher level of preparedness for these candidates is to be established. 7.5

 ow Collaborative Writing Supports and Fosters Reflection H or Research

This section shall recommend a further dimension to carrying out an exploratory practice, which is also likely to function as another part of the learning cycle. Nevertheless, we should first underline that the following processes should be completed jointly by the practitioners who look into the same issue from different perspectives. In other words, rather than working discreetly, when the practitioners work as synchronized as possible by completing the phases of the reflective writing practice, the outcome is deemed to be quite fruitful. The reason is that the joint reflective writing process can foster deeper reflection and promote a better understanding of the puzzle or issue under investigation. The practitioners are suggested to take the following points into account: 55 Synthesizing diverse ideas: Since the practitioners will have the opportunity to evaluate and assess the same puzzle to reflect upon from their own perspective, they are likely to discuss their observations, findings and ideas thoroughly by stepping back. At the end of a few rounds of discussion, they are expected to synthesize in order to create original meanings of the case analysed. This step can be sees as the construction on what to write on.

133 7.5 · How Collaborative Writing Supports and Fosters…


55 Generating critical points to write: When the first step of collaborative writing or co-authoring is completed, the critical points to note down become relatively more explicit. While putting them down, the practitioners can be suggested to follow the same procedures detailed for a qualified depth of reflection previously. By doing so, they will be able to find their ways to go deeper and deeper resulting in a rewarding sense of reflection. 55 Linking research findings to all learning and/or teaching experiences/practices: While working on the reflective writing practice collaboratively, the practitioners can take the advantage of thinking over potential practical issues/suggestions that they could take out of the whole experience. This will not only boost how they can effectively link what they have found out with their own learning and/or teaching experiences but also let them shape their own teacher/learner identity at the end of the reflective process. 55 Creating points to consider for future practices: Following the previous point, the practitioners may come up with various previously-thought-over cases to be able to apply to their future learning/teaching contexts. 55 Supportive space: With the help of working on the same issue with a peer or colleague, the writing process can be considered relatively more gainful because such a practice particularly creates a space of support. The more supportive it is, the better attitude towards critical reflective writing through joint writing process is achieved. Since it is a continuation of reflective practices from exploratory practice to critical thinking and reflecting on the practice, the learning cycle turns out to be well-grounded. To have a clearer perspective of the above-mentioned suggestions, reflective writing offers a process of rethinking and revisiting beliefs, arguments, and pedagogical stances and positionings that emerged or manifested themselves while engaged in research. It is likely to create opportunities for reflectivity to be cultivated and develop as a natural consequence of research engagement. Such insightful process might trigger self-doubts, intriguing questions, and newly merging puzzles. Writing could include all these internal dialogues, emotions, and senses of uncertainty about learning to teach. While these details are discussed with examples and experiences from own professional engagement with a reflective and critical tone, these should create a safe and private space for self-­ evaluation and deepening thoughts and understandings. In this sense, reflective writing allows writers to verbalise self-suggestions, self-doubts, realisations, self-evaluations, and self-criticisms, each mirroring teachers’ reflective stance that might transform their own learning process as teachers. Having discussed extensively the role of reflective writing in becoming reflective researchers and teachers, we argue that any research course offered to pre-service teachers could integrate course content and procedures that encourage them to think towards generating the abovementioned considerations about the self and in turn about others including practices, learners, and materials. When given opportunities or when they initiate reflective process themselves, teachers can manage to generate their own puzzles and investigate these. Teachers who learn to critically synthesise their pedagogic ­experiences (puzzle-driven learning to teach) into the process of becoming a teacher can then adopt a reflective lens through which they evaluate their own learning process.


Chapter 7 · Developing Critical Reflection Practices via Reflective Writing…

Within this direction, reflective writing is not a one-shot writing but a kind of writing that engages teachers in thinking and writing over time to procedures a text that involves the process of thinking and developing. Pre-service teachers then need to be guided to write with the following considerations in mind: 55 Support your ideas with concede examples from your experiences to generate an evidence-driven text 55 Use your observation and diary notes to enrich your writing to create an ­omni-­perspective writing 55 Write with an evaluative language that comments on your experiences and reveal critical points that could help see alternatives thoughts 55 Voice yourself in your texts without self-censoring and highlight the cognitive, practical changes that have occurred in you.


Chapter Summary To recap what we cover above, reflective writing contributes not only to the understanding of issues in the classroom but also to the development critical writing skills of language teachers, particularly of pre-service language teachers who are to improve such skills. Therefore, we argue that pre-service teachers can and should learn to write reflective both for understanding the learning to teach process and for professional development-embedded language learning. Putting into words the learning and teaching experiences and creating personal and pedagogical meanings could empower teachers since it leads to a sense of self-regulation of own learning to become a teacher. The written short reflective comments as exemplified in this chapter above could support teacher candidates in turning their experiences into formal knowledge by formalising through the help of writing. Since Exploratory Practice (EP) helps teachers explore issues of needs and interests framed as puzzles, reflective writing can complement the procedural process of doing EP by putting all the experience into writing in a way that further contribute to the reflection and exploration process. Writing becomes a tool for understanding rather than a means to convey ideas. While reflecting on the research procedures, analysis, and experiences, teachers develop further and deeper awareness about their puzzles as well as reach insights that they might not have discovered while engaged in the research. We, therefore, argue for reflective writing not as an optional step of doing exploratory practice for professional learning, but as an essential step that should be carefully supported and mentored. Considering that there are limited opportunities for language teachers to do authentic writing apart from teaching and assessing student writing, writing-up of exploratory practice with a reflective development in mind could substantially add to their learning. Taking a marginal stance here, we would like to encourage teachers to write up research process together with their students who participate in the research as co-researchers. There are examples of teacher and learner driven research, but to our best knowledge, we have not seen a jointly written research by language teachers and their learners. Such experiences could be authentic writing which is likely to support reflective and democratic writing in the classrooms. High inclusivity in classroom

135 References


research and writing up process could be an empowering experience to teach reflective writing as well. Inclusion of learners into research writing process could then have the following pedagogical benefits: 55 Learning to write reflectively in non-threatening environments with teachers 55 Minimising the discrepancy between learning and assessment 55 Making students take the control of their own language development (writing) 55 Learning to reflect on critical real word matters such as self-driven research 55 Turning classrooms into places learners generate new insights by writing reflectively

References Akbaş, E. & Dikilitaş, E. (2017). A discourse-oriented investigation of reflective writing: A case of teacher research writers .[Scholarly project funded by Erciyes University Project No: SBA-2016-6346]. Gibbs, G. (1988). Learning by doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods. London: Further Education Unit. Glaze, J. E. (2001). Reflection as a transforming process: Student advanced nurse practitioners’ experiences of developing reflective skills as part of an MSc programme. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 34(5), 639–647. Moon, J.  A. (2004). A handbook of reflective and experiential learning: Theory and practice. London, New York: Routledge-Falmer. Reidsema, C., & Mort, P. (2009). Assessing reflective writing: Analysis of reflective writing in an engineering design course. Journal of Academic Language & Learning, 3(2), 117–12929. Ryan, M. (2011). Improving reflective writing in higher education: A social semiotic perspective. Teaching in Higher Education, 16(1), 99–111.


Educational Research Course Designs Across the World 8.1

 eaching Research in IELTE: An Experience T from Argentina (by Darío Luis Banegas) – 141

8.1.1 8.1.2 8.1.3 8.1.4 8.1.5

S elf-Introduction – 141 Context of the Course – 141 Course Content, Structure and Tasks – 142 Assessment – 143 Reflection on the Course – 143


 eaching Research Skills in the Context T of the Argentinian Patagonia (by Eva Laura Acosta) – 147


S elf-Introduction: A Long Story that Leads Me to Teach Research – 147 A Window on the Context of the Course – 149 About the Course Content and Structure – 149 Overview of Research Tasks Assigned – 150 Assessment of the Course – 151 Personal Reflection on the Course – 151

8.2.2 8.2.3 8.2.4 8.2.5 8.2.6


 wo Complementary Approaches to Research T Methodology Teaching: Exploring Questions, Designs, and Identities (by Ma. Isabel Azevedo Cunha, Sabine Mendes Moura, Inés K. Miller and Clarissa X. Ewald) – 152

8.3.1 8.3.2

S elf-Introduction – 152 Context of Course – 153

© The Author(s) 2019 K. Dikilitaş, A. Bostancıoğlu, Inquiry and Research Skills for Language Teachers,


8.3.3 8.3.4 8.3.5 8.3.6

 ourse Content and Structure – 153 C Research Tasks Assigned – 154 Assessment – 155 Reflection on the Course – 155


 eaching Practitioner Research to Pre-service T Teachers in Japan (by Richard Pinner) – 156

8.4.1 8.4.2 8.4.3 8.4.4 8.4.5 8.4.6

S elf-Introduction – 156 Context of Course – 156 Course Content and Structure – 157 Research Tasks Assigned – 157 Assessment – 158 Reflection on the Course – 159


 Course for Teaching Basic Practical A Research Skills to Pre-­service Teachers of English (by M. Sercan Uztosun & İsmail Hakkı Erten) – 159

8.5.1 8.5.2 8.5.3 8.5.4 8.5.5 8.5.6

S elf-Introduction – 159 Context of Course – 160 Course Content and Structure – 161 Research Tasks Assigned – 162 Assessment – 162 Reflection on the Course – 163


 esearch Skills Development of Pre-service R Language Teachers in Pakistan (by Bushra Khurram) – 164

8.6.1 8.6.2 8.6.3 8.6.4 8.6.5 8.6.6

S elf-Introduction – 164 Context of Course – 165 Course Content and Structure – 165 Research Tasks Assigned – 166 Assessment – 167 Reflection on the Course – 167

References – 169

139 Educational Research Course Designs Across the World


This chapter introduces various educational research course designs offered to pre-­ service teachers in different countries. The contributions are documented and reflected upon by the course tutors who deliver the course. The reason for compiling such a part is to bring together the diverse models implemented in these courses and offer different perspectives. At preservice level teachers are offered research courses whose content and delivery often depending on the teacher educators’ orientation to educational research. While some see it as an academic endeavour for teachers (see Uztosun and Erten in part), others consider it to be an opportunity to help teachers develop critical reflective and inquiry-driven skills (Banegas; Miller et al., in this part). This current book introduces a step by step course book for a research course which aims to cultivate inquest and research perspective in pre-service teachers by blending particular aspects of academic research such as developing a topic and questions to seek, data collection, but this is offered in the form of generation of evidence in the classroom with and for students, and discussing and interpreting findings in a way that informs teachers emerging and developing beliefs about and practices of teaching. Early in their education stages pre service teachers may not need to develop and academic research perspective which is in fact hard to do. So we argue for the necessity to offer research courses which support their investigative and inquiry skills for learning about learners, in-service teachers, and classroom and school contexts. Research needs to be introduced as a way of exploring and understanding pedagogical issues rather than developing research skills as being independent or separate from teachers’ pedagogical learning process. In the part, the chapters exemplify diverse stances to the research course designs. Despite the differences in the course structure, reading materials, assessment and delivery mode, the outlined courses provide a range of perspectives for those who would like to design a similar course for their own needs and interests. In this part, the contributions from different countries are given to show how preservice teachers are engaged in research through formal courses in language teacher education programmes. We argue that pre-service teachers need to reflect on their learning experiences to inform their future teaching experiences by adopting a research perspective and learn how to do a small-scale research within their local context with certain students and teachers. Such process could give them an opportunity to gain a relatively more detailed insights into their local context. As part of a school of education, pre-­ service teachers can be offered research courses which include a set of methodological content and feasible procedures for them to understand and follow. Language teacher education is often composed of courses that train them for a particular set of teaching skills rather than providing tools and opportunities for them to explore their own language learning process and/or the classroom context. The recent argument as to language teacher roles has shifted from being a teacher who is given expert knowledge to one who initiate their own professional learning process and sustain their efforts in becoming a proactive teacher. In line with this shift in teachers’ roles, courses in pre-service language teacher education also need to change from equipping teachers with research knowledge for developing technical skills of referencing, academic conventions and conventional data collection tools to research as a way of teacher learning through knowledge discovery and of developing reflective learning and teaching experiences and understandings.



Chapter 8 · Educational Research Course Designs Across the World

In this part, the chapters offer detailed descriptions of research courses which could contribute to the evolving tendency to support pre-service teachers’ professional development before they commence teaching in the actual classrooms. The first contribution includes the case of Argentina by Dario Luis Banegas, who have been actively involved in action research in his country. He documented for us the Research in English Language Teaching course which he has delivered since 2007. The course he has described includes the aspects of reflective and pedagogical research with reference to sister terms such as teacher research, action research, and exploratory action research. His course aims to help pre-service teachers to develop reflective, critical, and investigative stance towards their initial teacher development. The next chapter from the same country, Argentine, exemplifies a different approach to a similar course by using relatively older references focusing on reflection and research methods course books which address the field of applied linguistics. The course materials offer a more academic perspective to the students who develop research knowledge with relatively less focus on developing reflective and critical look at classroom practices. The third chapter in this part is contributed from Brazil, where research for professional development has been extensively implemented by adopting the long-settled approach research for professional development: Exploratory Practice. The course offered is closely guided by exploratory qualitative inquiry research. The chapter describes two courses that complement each other and provide mutually inclusive opportunities to learn to do qualitative research and to develop language knowledge alike. The course structure follows a critical development of teachers by exploring issues of interest through a systematic inquiry. The next contribution was authored by Richard Pinner, who describes his supervising process of Japanese BA students who write their graduation theses. While the chapter is not about a structured formal course, it still exemplifies a process of research supervision of undergraduate students, which we thought could hold value for readers. The supervision includes how pre-service students can be supported to complete a thesis under supervision by developing a critical and reflective writing process to foster investigative perspective and learn to write up a reflective account of research in the form of a thesis. The fifth contribution was from Turkey, which is a dynamic context for English language teaching, where a number of research projects are conducted, and conferences are organized across the country. However, research at undergraduate level does not have a long history though there are teacher educators who offer research courses in a way to support pre-service teachers in developing a reflective and critical lens through research engagement. This chapter showcases a research course which describes the course content and process very clearly as a blend of research from academic standpoint and from professional development perspective. The final contribution is from Pakistani context where English language teacher education has been developing substantially. Bushra is one of the leading researchers and educators in Pakistan who has several research and training initiatives across the country. Her course focuses on developing research skills by helping pre-service

141 8.1 · Teaching Research in IELTE: An Experience from Argentina…


teachers learn to do research through a variety of research methods. The following course is an example to a well-established content and assessment organized around the p ­ rinciples of academic and teacher action research. 8.1  Teaching Research in IELTE: An Experience from Argentina

(by Darío Luis Banegas)



My research road began in 2005 when I took a research-driven university course on linguistics and teaching English as a foreign language. After that experience I gained further knowledge of research through my masters and doctorate studies at the University of Warwick where I mostly focused on a qualitative paradigm and action research in particular. In 2007 the director of an online initial English language teacher education (IELTE) programme invited me to teach a one-term module called Research in English Language Teaching. My major drive to accept the offer was the challenge of designing a module for which I had only been provided with a title and with the task of helping my student-­ teachers carry out a small-scale study. It is 2018 and I am still teaching this mandatory module. Now I am a research tutor more experienced in doing and learning about research. My motivation to continue teaching the module is to spread the pedagogical and professional development values that research can offer teachers. 8.1.2

Context of the Course

The online four-year IELTE programme aims at preparing teachers of English for kindergarten, primary, and secondary English language education. Programme administration is located in Bariloche (Argentina), but student-teachers and tutors are spread across the country. A notable feature of this programme is student-teacher heterogeneity as I may have student-teachers who have just finished their secondary education, novice practising teachers, and experienced practising teachers. By “practising” I mean teachers who teach English without holding an ELT teaching degree. Research in ELT is a fully online one-term mandatory module located in the third year of the programme and it has 64 hours allocated. By the time student-teachers take this module, they have completed modules on grammar, phonetics and phonology, ELT didactics, educational psychology, and are navigating the professional practice modules and practicum. In this context, the module aims at raising awareness of language teaching and learning research and providing (future) teachers with tools for research engagement. As it has been noted (e.g., Banegas, 2017; Dikilitaş & Griffiths, 2017), research engagement allows teachers to develop pedagogical strategies and autonomy, systematise reflection, and improve their English language proficiency. Such concepts shape the module (see . Table 8.1).  


Chapter 8 · Educational Research Course Designs Across the World

..      Table 8.1  RELT Syllabus Unit



Exploring a definition of research in (language) education. Teacher research. Educational research paradigms. How to start a research process. Drafting a research project. Action research (AR): aims, rationale, experiences, stages, teachers’ stories, planning.


How to collect data through qualitative and quantitative processes. AR: from reflecting, observing and planning to intervention.


Data analysis. Making sense of what we find and reflecting on them. AR: reflection and data analysis. AR: reflection and evaluation.


Exploratory action research. Sharing our research experiences. Writing a report. Speaking at conferences and teachers’ meetings.

8 8.1.3

Course Content, Structure and Tasks

I have designed the course as described in this chapter led by the motivation to equip student-teachers with conceptual and practical tools to carry teacher research. I believe that research pedagogy should concentrate on providing future teachers with reflection, a clear, sustainable and doable conceptual framework, and several examples of research carried out by other teachers in settings similar to theirs. The course content (. Table 8.1) is delivered through specific course materials and input I have developed and refined over the years. Due to student-teachers’ feedback, in 2018 the reading material has been: 55 Brown (2014), Burns (2010a), Burns, Dikilitaş, Smith, & Wyatt (2017), Rebolledo, Smith, & Bullock (2016), and Smith and Rebolledo (2018). 55 Selected Papers from past FAAPI conferences. 55 Articles from academic (e.g., Computers & Education) and professional journals (e.g. AJAL, Profile, ELT Journal). 55 Research reports from previous cohorts.  

It should be noted that the reading material includes books for pre-service (Brown, 2014) as well as in-service (Smith and Rebolledo, 2018). On the one hand, a book for pre-­ service teachers provides with introductory concepts and reflective tasks for research; on the other hand, a book for in-service teachers operationalises research and shows contextualised examples of research usually around issues that student-teachers have experienced in the practicum. For the module, I designed units with a variety of research tasks: 1. Reflective forums. Either at the beginning or end of each unit, student-­teachers share views around a question. For example, in Unit 2, student-­teachers reflect

143 8.1 · Teaching Research in IELTE: An Experience from Argentina…


around the following question: “Now that you have more knowledge about action research, what challenges and benefits can you see in doing action research in your context? Share your reasons.” 2. Video-based activities. Each unit includes videos which show teachers from Argentina and other countries in South America describing research projects (. Fig. 8.1) at the Teachers Research! Conference held in Buenos Aires in 2017. 3. Mandatory written assignments. At the end of each unit, student-­teachers have to complete assignments (. Fig. 8.2) which may include summarising an article, completing graphic organisers which raise awareness on research framework (e.g., listing the data collection instruments used), text organisation, and academic language (e.g., identifying reporting verbs). 4. Research project. Student-teachers may work alone or in pairs to draft a research proposal (. Fig. 8.3) they can implement in their contexts in the practicum or classes they teach. I often encourage them to work in teams as that will operationalise collaborative learning, criticality and research intersubjectivity. They can complete this project either as the module develops or until a year after they attend the module. They also keep a research journal which condenses their insights.  



Because of institutional policies, student-teachers’ progress is assessed in two ways as they need to pass their e-attendance before they can sit for the module final exam. To pass e-attendance, they need to have actively participated in each forum, and passed each of the written assignments and their research report. Assignments and the research report are assessed on the following criteria known to student-teachers beforehand: (1) clarity, (2) coherence, (3) responds to task aims, (4) adherence to task guidelines, (5) supported claims, (6) reflections and context awareness, and (7) English proficiency. Assignments need to be passed with a mark between 6 and 10, where 10 is the highest mark. The final exam, which is written, consists of reading a research article and establishing connections with their own research report. However, if a studentteacher obtains grades between 8 and 10 in all the assignments, (s)he can pass the module without taking the final exam. 8.1.5

Reflection on the Course

Since 2007, the student-teachers’ journey taking this module can be described through the following stages: (1) Apologetical for their limited knowledge of research, (2) Interested in solving the tasks but concerned about the reading weight and complexity, (3) Attracted to doing a small-scale study, (4) Frustrated by context limitations (e.g. lack of time), (5) Aware of their progress in terms of tools for reflection and research but concerned that their final reports do not look like published reports read during the module. The course has changed since 2007 as a reflection of my own growth as a researcher. In the module, I have shifted from long lectures on research, from a rather


Chapter 8 · Educational Research Course Designs Across the World

..      Fig. 8.1  Video-based activity




..      Fig. 8.2  Sample assignment

8.1 · Teaching Research in IELTE: An Experience from Argentina…


Chapter 8 · Educational Research Course Designs Across the World

..      Fig. 8.3  Extract from a student-teacher’s research proposal



147 8.2 · Teaching Research Skills in the Context of the Argentinian…

prescriptive stance, and then assigning the final research task to describing the research processes, encouraging reflection, visualising research as an iterative process, and favouring exploratory and qualitative research. Over the years, I believe I have succeeded in i­ntroducing student-teachers to research and awakening their curiosity about investigating, exploring, changing, and making pedagogical decisions based on data. By the end of each academic year, their feedback shows, and so do their assignments, that they become more reflective and critical and interested in carrying out further research projects, usually through action research (. Fig. 8.4). They finish the module motivated not only to conduct research in their contexts but also to engage with the professional community through the sharing of their research experiences and pursue further studies. With each iteration of the module, challenges are always present. There are two major challenges I face every year: (1) providing context-responsive reading material, and (2) supporting academic writing. Every year I devote considerable time to journals such as Profile, AJAL, or the FAAPI Selected Papers, which have helped me find teacher-­ research articles which somehow respond to the student-teachers’ context and professional developmental stage. Since I included the volume by Rebolledo et  al. (2016), student-teachers can see how their own stories can be organised and written. However, having such models does not suffice when it comes to writing their own reports. Not only do they have trouble with writing at a more professional/academic level even when the target audience is other fellow student-teachers and teachers, but also with the literature review and discussion of their findings. They have no problems with engaging in the field-work, but they usually paralyse when they need to write their report. One way I have found to avoid that challenge is by asking them to start writing the context section because that is something they know of. It is from there that I help them write the rest of the report. Over the years I have grown with each cohort, and therefore my feedback, support, and pedagogical resources continue changing to match my student-teachers’ contexts, needs, and wants. In conclusion, teaching a module on research to future teachers acts as an eye opener and it helps them integrate the contents and experiences of other modules in the programme. Personally, this is a module that poses interesting challenges and invigorates my professional practice.  

8.2  Teaching Research Skills in the Context of the Argentinian

Patagonia (by Eva Laura Acosta)


 elf-Introduction: A Long Story that Leads Me to Teach S Research

I have been a teacher of English as a Foreign Language (EFLT) since 1988, in Trelew, Patagonia, a city 600 miles away from the main ESOL centres in Buenos Aires; however, it was in 1998, at Universidad del Litoral, when I had my first encounter with research studies and second language (SL) acquisition. Between 2002 and 2010 I took a postgraduate diploma in Education and FLT at Universidad de Quilmes (UVQ), Buenos Aires. While at the UVQ, I studied the case of students who failed at learning


Chapter 8 · Educational Research Course Designs Across the World

..      Fig. 8.4  Feedback sample


149 8.2 · Teaching Research Skills in the Context of the Argentinian…


EFL. Conclusions drawn showed lack of trained TEFL teachers in the area, which led to the opening of the first State Teacher Training Tertiary School, at the Instituto Superior de Formación Docente N° 801, “Juana Manso” (ISFD N° 801). In 2012, as a Visiting Scholar by the school in Linguistics and International Languages, Massey University, New Zealand, Dr. Gillian Skyrme, as my mentor, provided me guidance in research studies and TESOL.  This experience helped me to become a research teacher for the ISFD N° 801, and a regular lecturer for TESOL at IPU, Tertiary Institute, New Zealand. Because of this last position I became interested in Teaching Spanish as a Second Language (TSSOL), at Universidad del Salvador, Buenos Aires. Definitely, since 1998, my motivation to do research and teach it to teacher trainees has been being aware of the multiple realities of FL classrooms in an almost a forgotten land: Patagonia. 8.2.2

A Window on the Context of the Course

In 2007 the English Teacher Training School opened as one of the many teacher training courses offered at Instituto de Formación Docente N° 801 “Juana Manso”. The first cohort consisted of 150 students, most of them in-service teachers who had a vast experience in teaching at state education; however, this was not in itself a guarantee of good EFLT.  In Argentina, to become a certified EFLT requires four levels of study, each one a year long, covering up a total of 4224 learning hours. Prospective teachers attend seminars and workshops in English and Spanish. However, it is in the third year when students are formally introduced to educational research traditions, psycholinguistics and sociolinguistics, and start practicum. Accordingly, Research in English Education is studied in the last year of the training career. Research in English Education consists of a one year-long Seminar Workshop, which covers 128 teaching hours. The course consists of traditional face-to-face classes combined with virtual classes. The purposes of this course are to make learners observe their teaching contexts, listen to their own voices and the ones of colleagues and students, discuss SL theories, and finally find a project research of their own interest to study. The didactic organization of the class is multiple and complex, in accordance with the students’ educational needs and interests. During this course learners are expected to identify an adequate second language research topic; review literature; plan research; select investigation methods; collect and analyse data; and integrate metacognitive, cognitive, and linguistic-­ communicative competences. 8.2.3

About the Course Content and Structure

The specific objectives of Research in English Education are threefold: to open a moment for learners to think research as the basis for teaching EFL in the state schools; construct knowledge; and develop the role of the teacher as an observer, thinker and researcher. Lincoln and Guba define the “naturalistic research paradigm” as the way events are naturally studied (as cited in Bailey and Nunan, 2000, p. 1); thus, to be able



Chapter 8 · Educational Research Course Designs Across the World

to understand the course content and its structure it is necessary to know the multifaceted educational, cultural, and geographical realities of the state Tertiary Level English Training Institutions in Patagonia. Since many libraries might be incomplete or non-existent, lecturers usually provide learners with course materials; however, nowadays, with the help of the internet, the access to updated research papers from academic journals is possible. Although learners’ experiences are respected here, to understand them it is essential to review specific literature. Consequently, there are must-reads to follow such as Brown (1991); Brookfield (1995); McDonough and McDonough (1997); Bailey and Nunan (2000); Richards and Lockhard (2007); Cohen, Manion and Morrison (2011); the online Argentinian Journal of Applied Linguistics; and online documents from the research bank of the Argentinian National Institute for Teacher Training. Different interwoven reasons support these authors and web-pages as worth to visit and read. They are valued for their educational relevance; however, there is also a further point to consider, which is materials availability in the area, so in this specific course, compulsory bibliography belongs to my personal library. Consequently, the course content is structured around the pre-service and in-service learners’ experiences and reflections; and because of them, learners generate ideas and identify topics to research, either individually or collaboratively; read literature; decide on research instruments; gather and interpret data; pursue answers and outcomes; and finally, systematize their studies to be shared with other learners and colleagues in a colloquium. 8.2.4

Overview of Research Tasks Assigned

Research in English Education tasks are characterized by their practical focus. The first-­ class learners brainstorm on teaching-learning incidents that might have surprised them in any way. The objective of class one is, as Bailey and Nunan suggest (2000), to create a culture of observing and listening to the “voices from the language classroom [s]” (p. 1). However, observing or listening does not mean becoming a “sentimental anecdote writer” as McDonough and McDonough (1997) argue (p. 69). Therefore, during the following classes students learn about the importance of theory to understand and respect research, its principles and ethics, and to support their studies. Moreover, these lessons lead them to raise questions on some specific teaching and learning areas which are summarized below: 55 Learning materials 55 Professional development 55 Student’s affective factors and attitudes 55 Classroom management 55 Teacher-student interactions 55 Teacher beliefs 55 Interlanguage communicative strategies 55 Bilingualism

151 8.2 · Teaching Research Skills in the Context of the Argentinian…


Guidance to finding a topic to investigate is sometimes needed; thus, learners are invited to surf the Argentinian Journal of Applied Linguistics web-page to obtain ideas; this is might be done in either face-to-face classes, or during online classes through the institutional virtual campus. During all these meetings students are nurtured in the development of their own written research studies, which are collaboratively edited and finally defended in an oral public presentation. 8.2.5

Assessment of the Course

As the didactic organization of Research in English Education, the final assessment and grading criteria are also complex. Thus, class attendance, use of the virtual campus, personal reflections, and oral debates and written presentations are all important to access to a final public colloquium. The following rubric for the written report and oral presentations are examples of the kinds of checklist used to grade learners: About the Final Written Report: 55 Adequate layout 55 Appropriate academic language and conventions 55 Abstract written in English and Spanish 55 Theoretical frames clearly identified 55 Validity and reliability standards 55 Clear connections between abstract, introduction, methods, results, discussions, conclusions, references and appendixes About the colloquium: 55 Clear voice, presentations supported by posters and ITCs tools. 8.2.6

Personal Reflection on the Course

Of all the pedagogic tasks I have faced as a teacher educator, delivering this course has been the most rewarding one. When I started doing it, I had just arrived from Massey University, New Zealand. While there Dr. Gillian Skyrme organised and chaired the CLESOL 2012 Conference; that means that it was then when I learned how to do research and prepare speakers for an audience. Consequently, all that experience has enabled me to carry out this Research in English Education course in a consistent and professional way. Probably the most puzzling issue to consider is lack of updated literature or libraries. If students discover a topic that needs to be addressed, but theoretical materials are not available, they have to google for literature, and most of the time, online academic journals need paid subscription, which is done by us, lecturers. On the other hand, complexities and difficulties of doing SL research in this place are easily overcome if pre-service and in-service teachers do not feel intimidated by lack of resources. This was the case of a teacher who, while in practicum, discovered Aymará-­ Spanish bilingualism in a rural school, where no other teacher had ever noticed it.


Chapter 8 · Educational Research Course Designs Across the World

Clearly knowing the course objectives is another positive and powerful aspect to consider here. If research teachers lead learners to good observation and careful listening, learners easily find valuable research ideas by building connections between practicum, concerns, expectations and research studies. Another fine example was shown by a group of research students who collaboratively studied teacher beliefs to learn how those teachers’ principles had also shaped their own learning processes. According to students’ insights on this course role, they find it particularly helpful to face their teaching careers; they value reflections breaks and respectful debates and pride themselves in the final colloquium. Finally, assessment on this course always reveals learners’ satisfaction. And it is also helpful to improve classes and make new decisions. Finally, what I have learned from teaching it is a better understanding of teacher trainees’ voices and that what we do, as we do it, may change in our students’ world. 8.3  Two Complementary Approaches to Research Methodology


Teaching: Exploring Questions, Designs, and Identities (by Ma. Isabel Azevedo Cunha, Sabine Mendes Moura, Inés K. Miller and Clarissa X. Ewald)



The authors of this chapter have been teaching courses on research methodology for 20  years to teachers who begin to learn about research and how to do it. The two courses – Issues in Research Methodology I and II – are part of the curriculum of the Post-graduate and Diploma level course in English language, at the Pontifical Catholic University (PUC-Rio) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In the last decade, all the four authors have been reflecting and investigating intensively upon issues related to the teaching and learning of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) and Exploratory Practice, an innovative form of practitioner research. They have published their work in dissertations, book chapters and academic papers. Inés K. Miller is Associate Professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio) and she is the Supervisor of the Pre-service Teacher Education Programs. She also mentors the Rio Exploratory Practice Group and coordinates the Institutional Grant Program for Teaching Initiation  – PIBID/PUC-Rio. Clarissa Xavier Ewald is an exploratory teacher of EFL at schools and language institutes. Her recent PhD focused on becoming a practitioner researcher with a special interest on the researcher’s identity construction through the analysis of narratives and accounts. Maria Isabel Azevedo Cunha coordinates the post-graduate course and has been working with the Rio de Janeiro Exploratory Practice Group in the development of practitioner research. Sabine Mendes Moura developed her doctoral research by discussing possible innovations for the academic genre under the scope of the participatory paradigm. Her work focuses on practitioner research, collaboratively investigating its implications for teacher education, researchers’ identities and the relationship between lived experiences within each community of practice and academic knowledge production.


153 8.3 · Two Complementary Approaches to Research…


Context of Course

The Post-graduate and Diploma level course in English Language is offered over a year and a half, in two face-to-face evening classes per week. The students are professional teachers of English, working at language institutes and at public and private schools, who have none or very little experience with research practice. The Postgraduate course curriculum includes a total of seventeen modules, all taught in English and focusing on Linguistics, Language Studies, Spoken Discourse, Written Discourse, Literary Discourse, Phonology, Research Methodology, Second Language Acquisition, English for Specific Purposes, Reading, and Critical Perspectives in ELT. As all the other modules, Issues in Research Methodology I and II aim at promoting not only opportunities for language development in English but also knowledge and practice of qualitative research. By the time teachers start Issues in Research Methodology II; they have already completed approximately 75% of the mandatory curriculum. Specific academic writing and teacher research modules (the latest, focusing on Exploratory Practice) are normally offered simultaneously. It is the moment when they need to start looking for advisors and planning for their final monographic papers. After having completed all the modules, the students have the opportunity to participate in two poster sessions where they can present and discuss their on-going work as practitioner researchers. A final monograph is a course requirement, written under the supervision of a member of the academic staff and presented to an examiner in a face-to-face viva session. The outstanding monographs are published at PUC-Rio’s virtual library (7 https://www.­ maxwell.­vrac.­puc-rio.­br/monografia.­php?strSecao=consulta&nrseqprg=99).  


Course Content and Structure

Issues in Research Methodology I is a 21-hour introductory module to qualitative research approaches typically used in linguistics, applied linguistics, and educational research. Its intention is to cover basic issues in qualitative research design and methodology. Through the study of research work available in the literature, EFL teachers begin to understand and critique, as well as plan and carry out, independent research in English language studies. The module covers the following topics: Understanding Qualitative Research, Learning how to See, Learning how to Listen, Analysing Data, Planning a Research Project, and Representing Research. In the first session, we work with why-questions from previous groups (e.g. “Why is it important to teach grammar in a meaningful way?”, “Why do teachers quit?”) so the teachers get familiarized with the notion of asking their own research questions. After discussing their questions, some of the elements are refined so as to unearth beliefs and narrow down the scope of their questions. Some time is also dedicated to the various research approaches and methods: ethnography, grounded theory, case study, action research, discourse analysis, exploratory practice among others. The second and third sessions focus on the procedures to obtain data: observation, monitoring, interviewing, diary, and questionnaire. The teachers try monitoring and interviewing during the sessions and analyse published monographs to notice the



Chapter 8 · Educational Research Course Designs Across the World

­ ifferent instruments used. The fourth session is dedicated to studying data analysed in d teachers’ research. The two last sessions cover planning a research project, and preparing research reports, monographs and seminar presentations. The main objective of the second module  – Issues in Research Methodology II (24.5 hours) – is to offer development opportunities for the teachers to position themselves regarding the framework discussed in Issues in Research Methodology I. Therefore, the teachers discuss and experimentally apply the proposals of qualitative research paradigms as systematized in Denzin and Lincoln (2011). We encourage teachers to examine ontological, epistemological, and methodological proposals, comparing and contrasting them with their own hypotheses, questions and beliefs about their research paradigmatic positioning. A specific objective is to foster awareness on how paradigmatic choices affect genre structure (focusing on thematic progression and word choice). Advisors and evaluative committees base themselves on these underlying rationales while analysing papers and articles. Therefore, the process of reviewing, textually experimenting and positioning research proposals according to one or more paradigmatic trends enables teachers to meet specific expectations for academic research which are not always familiar to them. 8.3.4

Research Tasks Assigned

All the sessions in Issues in Research Methodology I have a reading assignment related to the topic to be developed in the module. Most of the suggested reading comes from: Keith Richards’ Qualitative Inquiry in TESOL and Allwright and Bailey (1991) Focus on the Language Classroom. The teachers are encouraged to start planning an outline of a research project of their own, which may later be developed into their monograph projects at the end of the Post-graduate course program. They may temporarily join research projects led by the four teachers who conduct the two modules. The reading tasks for Issues in Research Methodology II are organized within four sessions. Each session requires teachers to come up with their own doubts and/or debate topics in preparation for the graded activities applied in the following sessions. The themes presented are: 1. review on research design and implementation problems, including a fully commented research report (Kramsch, 2002) and an article on novice struggles with the academic genre (Casanave & Yongyan, 2015); 2. a debate on classroom-based research, tackling issues such as complexity, ethics, needed permissions, etc.; 3. positioning within the paradigmatic field (from positivism to critical theory) and 4. positioning within the paradigmatic field (from critical theory to the participatory paradigm). For the last two sessions, teachers are required to examine the tables provided by Denzin and Lincoln (2011), while systematizing qualitative research paradigms, and discuss their inclinations, according to their projects and personal identities as novice researchers.

155 8.3 · Two Complementary Approaches to Research…




The assessment of the Issues in Research Methodology I module is made throughout the process of writing of a research project outline. The teachers are encouraged to create a few drafts from the very first session, so as to focus on the process of preparing their pre-projects. Some of the items suggested to be part of the outline structure are: 1. Research question(s) – one or more inter-related questions 2. Narrowed down research question(s) – a scrutiny of the ideas in the question(s) 3. Hypotheses or questions – first approaches to the issue(s) to be researched 4. Justification – the story of the research question(s) 5. Literature review – authors and works related to the topic to be researched 6. Methodology – approaches and instruments to be used to collect and to analyse data 7. References – a list of the works and authors cited in the text 8. Appendix – relevant documents, photos and transcriptions Assessment opportunities on Issues in Research Methodology II include a text production workshop, communication sessions, and the writing of a memorial. The workshop starts with an analysis of article excerpts from the areas of Linguistics and Applied Linguistics. After that, teachers write abstracts for their own proposals. Feedback is immediate, providing opportunities for in-class rewriting. During the communication sessions, teachers defend their projects, focusing on their methodological coherence. They also highlight conflicting issues and showcase data samples, if applicable. Feedback is provided after each individual presentation by both the instructor and their peers. The final memorial accounts for the teacher’s trajectory throughout their investigative process. As evaluative pre-requisites, these memorials need to address at least three of the authors reviewed during the module and describe the evolution of their research design. Teachers are encouraged to express any doubt they may still have, since the feedback provided focuses on their specific follow-up needs. 8.3.6

Reflection on the Course

The experience of designing their own research agendas, while approaching practitioner research in their own unique ways, seems to be disruptive in itself, as far as the emergence of an inquisitive vocation towards their own classroom practices is concerned. Students report on a heightened level of criticality towards teaching, evoking the need to go beyond positivist attitudes within the classroom. This seems to be one of the perceived difficulties of undertaking research based on their own professional lives, notwithstanding the academic final evaluation each monograph receives. Nevertheless, most of these teachers’ monographs have been published at the open access platform and its number of visitors has increased exponentially over the last two years. Due to time constraints, some aspects of the modules are further developed during the individual sessions that teachers schedule with their future advisors. Tool


Chapter 8 · Educational Research Course Designs Across the World

implementation specificities, transcription techniques, questionnaire design, and data analysis procedures are discussed according to the needs of each research project and the scope of each advisor’s research strand. Over these years of working with research methodology for foreign language teachers, we have pursued our work considering the teachers as practitioners of learning and classroom research, and not just as consumers of information, theories and paradigms. Such a critical and ethical attitude allows us to see these professionals as agents of their own investigation. We believe that the two research methodology modules can provide them with opportunities to question and seek for independency and autonomy in their work as teachers and research practitioners. 8.4  Teaching Practitioner Research to Pre-service Teachers

in Japan (by Richard Pinner)




I have been a language teacher since 2004 and am currently an associate professor at Sophia University in Tokyo, where I teach mainly undergraduate students in the department of English literature, although I also teach a module on the MA in TESOL about Materials Development. I hold a PhD in ELT and Applied Linguistics from the University of Warwick and I have published several articles on language teaching and three books. Most of my teaching in the classroom can be categorised as EFL, although the majority of this also relates in some way to applied linguistics or literature. In addition to my normal teaching load, I also supervise around twelve to fourteen undergraduate students per year to write their dissertations, which are essential to them graduating and being awarded their degrees. As a language specialist within the department, I mostly supervise students on the teaching certificate program, and this is where my main experience of teaching research methods to pre-service teachers comes in. 8.4.2

Context of Course

In this chapter, I will talk about the process of supervising students who are writing their BA Dissertations or Graduation Theses (in Japanese this is called the sotsugyou ronbun or sotsuron for short). The students are all in their final year of a 4-year bachelor’s degree in English Literature. However, in our department we offer three streams for specialisation within this area; British Literature, American Literature and Language Studies. I teach on the Language Studies stream and therefore the vast majority of my students choose to write about English language teaching for their sotsuron. Students are expected to write at least 7000 words in English about their subject. Most of them are encouraged to conduct original research. Almost without exception, this is the very first time that students have been required to conduct their own research inquiry, and yet the sotsuron is undoubtedly their most high-stakes assessment within the department to date. Whilst this may seem strange, this mirrors my own experience

157 8.4 · Teaching Practitioner Research to Pre-service Teachers…


on my MA ELT and Applied Linguistics in the UK, where previous modules’ coursework was mainly just essays evaluating the literature, and suddenly for my MA dissertation I was required to present my own original research. My sotsuron students mainly appear to be completely new to research, and they are understandably daunted by the task ahead of them, which is where I come in. 8.4.3

Course Content and Structure

Students do not have an allocated class-time for the sotsuron, but they are expected to meet with their supervisor at least once per month. This year (2018) for the first time, this proviso was formalised into an actual group meeting once a month, although previously students arranged tutorials individually at their own convenience. The more rigid structure this year with groups rather than individuals means the meetings take on a more lesson-like focus rather than the previous tutorial system I used. This has advantages in that I can formalise the information I give them about research methods and (in theory at least) do not need to repeat the same information again and again, however it also works against the more autonomous approach I generally try to encourage with students going their own way. Although at the time of writing we are only half-way through the semester, I have already noticed that students seem to be in need of more individual guidance and they appear to have done little work outside the required meetings. This is further exacerbated, as it always has been, by the fact that 4th years at Japanese universities have to engage in shukatsu or job hunting, which requires them to attend numerous interviews and group orientations and is extremely time-consuming and stressful. Usually students in the 4th year have other things than university on their mind, although paradoxically their future career depends on them being able to graduate. This means that such students often require quite a lot of additional support and both empathy and emotional intelligence are key factors (Gkonou & Mercer, 2017; Mercer & Gkonou, 2017). 8.4.4

Research Tasks Assigned

Meeting infrequently as we do, I heavily utilise the university’s Moodle in order to communicate with students, set tasks, and provide a repository of materials. As each student comes up with his or her own research questions and initial design, I assign a wide range of readings depending on what they are specifically looking at, although most of these are chapters from a wonderful introduction to qualitative research edited by Heigham and Croker (2009), which offers a practical introduction to the main types of inquiry which I generally recommend to my students. However, this is a little at-odds with the image many students have when they come to me, as most of them seem to believe they need to set some kind of quantitative questionnaire during their teaching practice. I firmly believe that as (future) practitioners, they would benefit more from knowing how to conduct research on their own classes, which generally requires a more qualitative and practitioner-oriented paradigm. Here I should point out that this is



Chapter 8 · Educational Research Course Designs Across the World

­ sually the first time these students have been exposed to this type of literature, and not u all of the students I supervise are pre-service teachers. As such, even this accessible reading can be very challenging for some of them. For this reason, I spend most of the time trying to encourage supervisees to share their own observations about language (and teaching) and think about how these observations can be marshalled into data and turned into a research inquiry. In this way, many of the supervisees end up doing things that resemble Exploratory Practice (Allwright & Hanks, 2009; Hanks, 2015), or Evidence-based reflective practice (Walsh & Mann, 2015), although these are naturally difficult for pre-service teachers. In terms of formalised tasks, as each student is very much expected to work autonomously and follow their own interest, I tend to see their work only at certain periods within the semester. First of all, at the start of each academic year I receive their proposals, which outline their possible title and what they want to research. This is mainly to decide how to assign students to supervisors, and topics can be broad. After the proposal, there is no required coursework until the end of the spring semester, at which time they must submit a full chapter and a detailed outline of the entire thesis. This is usually the point where the real work begins, as by this time most of the job hunting is completed or in the final stages. This is also when I receive the first sizeable chunk of student’s work to comment on. Until this stage all that I have asked is for them to write progress reports and reflections in the Moodle discussion forum and to comment on their progress during the monthly meetings (of which there will have been at the very most only four – April through to July). Giving individual feedback at this time is essential, and yet I must also be understanding as the stakes are very high and most of the students have been working hard, albeit it not necessarily on their sotsurons. 8.4.5


After the mid-semester report, the students usually begin to knuckle down on their sotsuron and meetings become much more frequent. As the sotsuron is not counted as part of our teaching load, this extra responsibility becomes quite a burden for most of the faculty at our department, as it sits on top of our already heavy teaching loads. In order to alleviate this, I set my deadlines very early. By the end of September, I expect a full first draft, which means students have to work all through the summer. The first draft is then peer-reviewed, and the second draft due at the end of October comes to me for a very severe and close read through. As I have found myself, simply reading about research methods, or even reading actual research, does little to prepare for the reality of conducting research (although Dikilitaş, Wyatt, Hanks, & Bullock, 2016 is a good blend of both of these). In order to really know what we are doing, we must experience it and then adapt. This is why I have been somewhat hands-off until this final and most crucial stage. In my experience, given the time we have together, the best thing I can do is throw them in at the deep end and then encourage them to keep swimming. In other words, they jump into the data collection and research, and then I help them shape it into a coherent piece of academic writing.

159 8.5 · A Course for Teaching Basic Practical Research Skills…


By December, the students will have produced a 7000-word essay featuring a literature review, research methods, data presentation and analysis, and conclusion. On average, they cite about 30 papers, although this varies greatly. After the initial submission, students do an oral exam (much like a viva, with supervisor and another department member as internal examiner), and then make alterations to finalise their draft before submitting it as part of completion of their degrees. 8.4.6

Reflection on the Course

I feel that knowing about how to conduct research is an essential skill for any teacher. Despite the commonly perceived divide between theory-driven research and actual teaching practice, teachers would do very well to know how to conduct research. As Keith Richards so aptly points out, most foreign language teachers ‘are natural researchers’ because;

»» We’re used to working out the needs of our students, evaluating the effects of particular approaches, spotting things that work or don’t work and adjusting our teaching accordingly. (Richards, 2003, p. 232).

For this reason, I try to make the sotsuron not just about research and academic writing, but about the process of being a language user and/or becoming a teacher. I highlight that students need to focus on what is relevant to them about their emerging beliefs about how teaching should be done, and to look at ways that research can help confirm or re-calibrate their beliefs in order to be able to continue striving to be better practitioners. 8.5  A Course for Teaching Basic Practical Research Skills

to Pre-­service Teachers of English (by M. Sercan Uztosun & İsmail Hakkı Erten)



Research courses have been taught for almost two decades at English Language Teaching (ELT) department at Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University (ÇOMÜ). In this course, students are introduced basic concepts of research and asked to conduct small-scale research studies under the supervision of the course tutor and write a research report. The second author of this chapter is the first tutor of these courses, designed the earliest version of the syllabus, and taught these classes for years. The syllabus of these courses was updated by different course tutors and the first author taught these courses in the last two years. The idea of offering research courses is informed by the concept of teacher as a researcher which was proposed by Stenhouse (1984) with the assumption that teachers should identify and deal with practical problems (McNiff, Lomax, & Whitehead, 1996) through conducting classroom research studies. Considering that the graduates of ELT departments are certified as teachers of English, they should be familiar with research


Chapter 8 · Educational Research Course Designs Across the World

and have experience in how to conduct research. This could enable them to find solutions to instructional problems they encounter while teaching English and find ways for improving their teaching practice. Only then can they develop new perspectives on their teaching and learning process (McKay, 2006). This would allow for becoming more competent teachers as they can improve their personal and professional development throughout their career, and hence, can provide learning environments that promote personal growth (Johnson, 1992). Alternatively, the graduates of ELT departments can become academics after doing further degrees in their fields. Considering that preservice teacher education programmes should equip students with basic theoretical and practical knowledge required to do further degrees, they should be knowledgeable about basic concepts about research. Therefore, this course is also useful for those students. 8.5.2


Context of Course

This is a face-to-face course, taught four hours a week in a 14-week period of time. The prerequisites of the course are being knowledgeable about academic writing and using in-text citation and referencing appropriately to APA 6th edition. The course comprises theoretical and practical sessions. While theoretical sessions are lecture sessions that aim to teach basic theoretical concepts of research, individual tutorials are offered in practical sessions to guide students to conduct their research. These tutorials take around 3–4 minutes for each student. The theoretical sessions comprise 16 class hours. The weeks and topics covered in these sessions are displayed in . Table 8.2. As can be seen in . Table 8.2, in Week 1, students are introduced parts of a research article (e.g. abstract, introduction, methodology). This gives them an idea about how to outline and write their research reports that will be submitted at the end of the term.  

..      Table 8.2  Topics covered in theoretical sessions Week



Parts of a research article


Defining research Teacher as a researcher – classroom research


Introduction to research methods and traditions Planning a research project


Literature review (Bell, 7 Chaps. 5 and 6)


Research methodology


Methods of data collection


Analysing and interpreting quantitative data


Analysing and interpreting qualitative data

161 8.5 · A Course for Teaching Basic Practical Research Skills…


This week is followed by a discussion on different descriptions of research and the ­concepts of ‘teachers as a researcher’ and ‘classroom research’. After that, different research traditions (i.e. quantitative and qualitative) are taught and information is given on how to plan a research project with reference to ‘sampling’, ‘finding research questions/problems’, and ‘research ethics’. In week 4, literature review is introduced, and students are taught how to outline literature review section, review the literature critically, find sources, and use in-text citations and referencing. In week 5, the concept of research methodology is taught and different data collection methods (i.e. questionnaires, interviews, diaries, and ­introspective methods) are introduced. In week 7, students are introduced the basics of SPSS and they practise how to enter data on SPSS and how to analyse central tendencies in class. In week 8, content analysis is taught as a means to analyse qualitative data. They are given sample interview protocols in-class and asked to identify recurring responses and determine themes.


Course Content and Structure

This course does not have a specific course book, but students are given a list of resources that they are expected to read before the class so that they can contribute to class discussions in theoretical sessions. These resources are listed in 7 Box 8.1. To do so, relevant chapters of the books are written in the course content. Additionally, several research articles are discussed in class to teach how to write a research article with reference to the organisation of different parts (e.g. introduction, literature review, methodology) and how to report quantitative and qualitative findings. PPTs are used as a course material in theoretical sessions.  

Box 8.1  List of Sources Used in the Course 55 Bell, J. (1993). Doing Your Research Project. Buckingham: Open University Press. 55 Burns, A. (1999). Collaborative Action Research for English Language Teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 55 Brown, J. D. (1988). Understanding Research in Second Language Learning. Cambridge University Press. 55 Brown, J. D., & Rodgers, T. S. (2002). Doing Second Language Research. Oxford University Press. 55 Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2007). Research methods in education. (6th ed.) London: Routledge 55 Dörnyei, Z. (2003). Questionnaires in Second Language Research. New Jersey: Lawrence Earlbaum. 55 Kvale, S. (1996). Interviews: An Introduction to Qualitative Research Interviewing. USA: Sage. 55 Mackey, A., & Gass, S. M. (2005). Second Language Research: Methodology and Design. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. 55 McKay, S. L. (2006). Researching Second Language Classrooms. London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc. 55 Nunan, D. (1992). Research Methods in Language Learning. Cambridge University Press.


Chapter 8 · Educational Research Course Designs Across the World


Research Tasks Assigned

Students are free to select their research topic. In Week 4, the tutor organises a whole class discussion in which s/he asks each student what they want to investigate and give them feedback regarding the feasibility of the research in terms of data collection. Students can conduct either quantitative or qualitative research studies depending on their research interests. In quantitative studies, they are expected to collect data from at least 30 participants through a scale or a questionnaire. In qualitative studies, they are asked to conduct interviews with at least 5 participants. Students work individually in this course and they are given five tasks. These tasks aim to help them progress in their research by following regular research procedures ­systematically. They get timely feedback by this means from the course tutor regarding their progress in each stage of the research. The weeks and the content of these tasks are given in . Table 8.3. The research report, which is submitted at the end of the term, must be between 2500 and 3500 words (excluding abstract, tables, and references) and include all sections of a research article. Students submit their report through TURNITIN so that the course tutor has similarity report for each student.  




Students take paper-and-pencil mid-term examination in which they are asked to respond to a number of theoretical questions. This examination constitutes 40% of the final grade. Research project constitutes 60% of the final grade and it comprises: a) five tasks, b) punctuality of submission, and c) research report. Each task is 5 points and task submission is the only criteria because students are not expected to write a sound research question on the first try but to progress in their research on time. Students are awarded 10 points if they submit their research reports on time. Research report is 65 points and scored according to the criteria that are displayed in . Table 8.4. These criteria are presented to all students at the beginning of the term so that they have an idea about how their reports will be scored.  

..      Table 8.3  Tasks given to students Weeks



Task 1: Submit the first draft of your research questions and research sampling


Task 2: Submit the title of your research project and outline of your literature review


Task 3: Submit the first draft of your data collection tool(s)


Task 4: Submit the first draft of your literature review section


Task 5: Submit your data analysis and findings


163 8.5 · A Course for Teaching Basic Practical Research Skills…

..      Table 8.4  Criteria for scoring research reports Sections

Maximum Points



Introduction (Background; gap, aims; significance)


Literature Review (Content and Organisation)


Methodology (Research Questions; rationale for the methodology; setting; participants; instruments and materials; and procedures for data collection and analysis)


Findings (Content; organisation; tables and figures)


Discussion (Reference to the relevant literature)


Conclusions and Implications (Summary of the study; conclusions; pedagogical implications; methodological implications)


Appendix (All instruments used, extra materials)


Citation and Paraphrasing (Breach of ethical values will be considered as a major reason for failure)


References (Full list and style of referencing)


Use of Academic English





Reflection on the Course

To get feedback from the students regarding the effectiveness of the course, the course tutor invited students to fill out a short course evaluation questionnaire at the end of the term. 26 students responded to the questionnaire that comprised two open-ended and two-closed ended items. Students’ responses to closed-ended items are given in . Table 8.5. As shown in . Table 8.5, the majority of the students were positive about the effectiveness of the course. Participants were also asked to comment on their ratings on these items. Most of them stated that they found this course beneficial because they learned how to conduct research and write a research article. While some participants related the positive aspects of the course to doing a master’s degree, some emphasised the usefulness of this course from a future teacher of English perspective. They stated that they learned the significance of doing research when they became teachers. One student asserted that “I learned how to become a better teacher”. Considering the negative comments made by the students, it seems that this course failed to teach the idea of teacher as a researcher to some students: those assumed that this course was beneficial only for students who wanted to do further degrees. One  


Chapter 8 · Educational Research Course Designs Across the World

..      Table 8.5  Student responses to course evaluation questionnaire








Are you happy that you took this course?


1 (3.8%)

4 (15.4%)

15 (57.7%)

6 (23.1%)


Do you think that this course was beneficial?


1 (3.8%)

1 (3.8%)

15 (57.7%)

9 (34.6%)

student stated that “since I do not want an academic career, this amount of scientific work was very demanding.” These students supported that this course should be an elective course and taken by students who want academic careers. The most positive aspect of the course was reported to be the individual tutorials. The majority of the students agreed that tutorials enabled them to progress in their research in a more disciplined and systematic way and to get timely feedback from the course tutor in each step. As for the negative aspects of the course, students reported a need for examining more sample articles in-class so that they can understand main issues that they need to take into account while writing their research reports. The main difficulty that the course tutor encountered was student resistance to do research and write a research report. Some students believed that this course was irrelevant to their future career because they would not conduct research or write research articles when they became teachers. Fifteen out of ninety-one students withdrew from the course for such reasons. On the other hand, the most positive outcome of this course was that 10 students presented their research studies in a poster presentation in an international conference. This course reached its objectives in terms of teaching central concepts about research and guiding students to conduct their research in a systematic way. However, it is questionable that the course enabled students to understand the significance of teacher as a researcher. This is probably because the students were pre-service teachers, and hence, it was difficult to present real classroom problems that teachers can overcome through conducting research. Since students could not conduct classroom-based research or action research, these issues were not put into practice but taught from a theoretical perspective. These issues could be addressed in following courses (i.e. school experience, teaching practicum) and the information and experience provided in this course could serve as a baseline for doing classroom research or action research, and hence, becoming a teacher researcher. 8.6  Research Skills Development of Pre-service Language

Teachers in Pakistan (by Bushra Khurram)



In 2015, I returned to Pakistan on obtaining a PhD in English Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics from the Centre of Applied Linguistics, University of Warwick, UK.  On my return I started (along with other team members) an MPhil in English

165 8.6 · Research Skills Development of Pre-service Language…


Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics Program in a public sector university in the province of Sindh, Pakistan. In the first term of the MPhil program I taught a course entitled ‘Qualitative Research Methods’ to a group of students who were aiming to become English Language teachers but had no prior teaching experience. For a teacher-­ researcher who has not only completed her coursework entitled ‘PhD Research ­Methods Programme’, but who has also regularly attended research-based workshops offered by IATEFL Research SIG and ‘Research Students Skills Program’ at the University of Warwick, the opportunity to teach a research related course was, to say the least, a dream come true. 8.6.2

Context of Course

The students who took ‘Qualitative Research Methods’ course were 6 in number, two males and four females. They were between the ages of 24 and 25, with two slightly below or above this age range. These students mainly belonged to the middle class and had no prior research experience. The course was designed to provide high quality, flexible support to students as they develop and deepen their familiarity with and competence in the deployment of research skills. The specific aims were to enable the student to demonstrate the following by the end of the course: 55 knowledge and understanding of the selected research techniques and approaches within the qualitative research paradigm 55 knowledge, understanding and skills of using appropriate tools for collecting data 55 an understanding of ways of analysing and reporting qualitative data; 55 an awareness of ethical issues 55 an ability to plan and carryout a qualitative research study The course ran from Week 1 to Week 16 of the first term and was delivered over 44 contact hours. The content of the course was delivered in a two-hour interactive lecture on Wednesday and a one-hour interactive seminar on Thursday. We worked with a combination of plenary input, group discussion and individual and group tasks. The course was credited and students undertook two assignments that altogether carried 100 marks. 8.6.3

Course Content and Structure

The course started by considering what is research; as well as the difference between qualitative and quantitative research. Next, the course reviewed selected research approaches within the qualitative research paradigm including case study, ethnography, narrative inquiry and action research. Following that, the ethical issues with illustrative examples and how they might be addressed at each stage of the research process were discussed. The issues related to quality in qualitative research were also highlighted. Following that, selected tools for data collection including interviews, observation and document analysis were studied. The course concluded by discussing the methods and tools for data management and analysis including thematic analysis, content analysis and computer assisted analysis of qualitative research.


Chapter 8 · Educational Research Course Designs Across the World

For each week students were assigned 2–3 essential readings. These were either chapters from books or published research papers. For instance, for the week we had to discuss action research students were assigned the following essential readings: Burns (2010b), Dörnyei (2007), and Burns (2005). Assigned readings for each lecture and seminar were a mandatory part of the course. Students were informed that they must prepare before each session as they would be required to discuss the assigned readings in class. Students were also informed that they should also read from the list of further reading both during the course and also for the assignment. 8.6.4


Research Tasks Assigned

Students were assigned two research-based tasks during the term. One of the tasks involved conducting a small-scale qualitative study. This task was designed to assess the students’ ability to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the principles and practice of qualitative research. For the purposes of the task, students were told that they will: 55 select a research question 55 review related literature (at least five key studies) concerning that question 55 identify the appropriate methodology 55 select appropriate tools for collection and analysis of data 55 collect data through conducting the study 55 analyse the data manually or using appropriate computer software The group was encouraged to discuss their research question(s) with the tutor and peers before beginning work on other parts of the task. The task was divided into two components parts. The first was giving a class presentation and second was submission of a research report. To elaborate, the students summarized their research study in a class presentation during the third last week of the term. The classmates contributed to the presentation by asking questions and providing substantive comments. The students also received tutor and peer feedback at the end of their presentation on the following aspects of their research report: 55 Rationale and purpose of the study 55 Research question(s) 55 Theoretical framework and related literature 55 Methodology The experience of oral presentation was designed to mimic a presentation at a professional conference and the discussion that may ensue. It also provided students an opportunity to showcase their learning, engage in discussion about the work they have carried out and strengthen their study prior to the submission deadline. By the end of the term, each student was also required to write a paper of approximately 2000–2500 words, as mentioned earlier. Students were informed that the paper should be formatted according to the APA manual (7th edition) and in totality should include:

167 8.6 · Research Skills Development of Pre-service Language…


55 introduction (1–2 paragraphs). 55 literature review (4–5 paragraphs). 55 purpose of the study & research question(s) 55 detailed rationale for his/her choice of methodology showing awareness of its theoretical and philosophical underpinnings 55 detailed description of method of data analysis with illustrative examples 55 ethical issues raised during the study and their attempt to address them 55 results 55 discussion (2–3 paragraphs) Students were also informed that it is important to: 55 use headings (and subheadings) for each section of the paper. 55 use peer reviewed research on their chosen topic to write the introduction and the literature review. 55 compose their reference list to match the in-text citations. 55 check their work for plagiarism using Turnitin Software. The second research-based task that students were assigned was maintaining a researcher diary. In the diary, each student was expected to reflect on the development (if any) of their knowledge, skills and attitude related to research. The student was also expected to reflect on the development of their identity as a researcher, the learning processes they undergo, and the research-related activities they undertake (inside or outside the classroom), amongst others in their diary. 8.6.5


A rubric that listed grading criteria was used to evaluate student work. Students were provided a copy of the rubric at the start of the term. The rubric detailed three levels of achievement namely, Novice, Competent and Proficient. Presented below is an extract from the Proficient level of achievement of the rubric (. Table 8.6):  


Reflection on the Course

The course was rigorous, but it appears that the objectives of the course were mainly achieved probably because students were provided support and scaffolding throughout the term. What I found particularly challenging in teaching the course was students’ lack of background knowledge on research itself. However, the extensive readings, group discussions and the illustrative examples that I provided during the lectures helped bridge this gap to a large extend. In this regard, one of the students in her course reflection stated:

»» Readings were extensive but helpful. Just because of those readings, I was able to

participate in classroom discussions. The classroom discussions kept me motivated.


Chapter 8 · Educational Research Course Designs Across the World

..      Table 8.6  Sample rubric Proficient Introduction

Points: 05 There is a compelling opening sentence. Theoretical background and contextual information is adequate and sets the stage for the literature review. The statement of the problem is grounded in the relevant literature.

Literature Review

Points: 10 The literature review is extensive and comprehensive in its coverage of relevant theory and research. Most of the literature cited is within 10 years. The literature is synthesized appropriately, and the writing is well organized, clear and concise.

Purpose and Research Questions

Points: 10 There is a strongly drafted statement that serves as the connection between the problem being addressed and the focus of the study. The research questions are clearly stated.


Points: 20 The methodological components (e.g., research design, participants, procedure, and data analysis) are clearly stated. The criteria for the selection of particular methods are well specified. The method(s) used for analysis are justified and are sufficient for the task.


Points: 15 The results are clearly linked to the stated research question(s). Clear and relevant result interpretations are made.


Points: 10 The discussion is aligned with the research purpose and is embedded in existing literature. A section is included that discusses the limitations, future research, and implications of the study.

Writing and Organization

Points: 05 The paper is nearly error-free. The sections are suitably proportioned and are well organized and fully developed.

APA 7th

Points: 05 APA 7th edition guidelines are followed in formatting and citations.


169 References


The above listed elements of the course not only helped motivate students but also helped them develop their research focus as can be seen from the reflection made by another student on the course:

»» Varied examples used by the course supervisor during lectures, thoughtful discussions, readings from the recommended books, notes and handouts further developed my thinking for designing a framework for my research.

The researcher diary also seems to have helped students to discover their own thoughts and to reflect on their growing understanding of qualitative research. This is noticeable from the following extract from course reflection:

»» Researcher diary was a big help. The fact that I can see my thoughts in writing and the

progression of my ideas was really satisfying. It helped a lot to clear all the confusions I had earlier.

To sum, overall the course was a challenging yet rewarding experience both for the students and the tutor.

References Allwright, D., & Bailey, K.  M. (1991). Focus on the language classroom. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press. Allwright, D., & Hanks, J. (2009). The developing language learner: An introduction to exploratory practice. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. Bailey, K., & Nunan, D. (Eds.). (2000). Voices from the language classroom (1st ed.). Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press. Banegas, D. L. (2017). “We can also be researchers”: Teacher research in initial English language teacher education. ETAS Journal, 35(1), 31–33. Brookfield, S. (1995). Becoming a critically reflective teacher. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Brown, J. D. (1991). Understanding research in second language learning: A teacher’s guide to statistics and research design. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Brown, J. D. (2014). Mixed methods research for TESOL. Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press. Burns, A. (2005). Action research: An evolving paradigm? Language Teaching, 38(2), 57–74. Burns, A. (2010a). Doing action research in English language teaching. New York: Routledge. Burns, A. (2010b). What is action research? In Doing action research in English language teaching: A guide for practitioners (pp. 1–22). New York: Routledge. Burns, A., Dikilitaş, K., Smith, R., & Wyatt, M. (Eds.). (2017). Developing insights into teacher research. Faversham, UK: IATEFL. Casanave, C. P., & Yongyan, L. (2015). Novices’ struggles with conceptual and theoretical framing in writing dissertations and papers for publication. Publications, 3(2), 104–119. publications3020104. Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2011). Research methods in education (7th ed.). New  York: Routledge. Denzin, N.  K., & Lincoln, Y.  S. (2011). The Sage handbook of qualitative research. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE. Dikilitaş, K., & Griffiths, C. (2017). Developing language teacher autonomy through action research. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave. Dikilitaş, K., Wyatt, M., Hanks, J., & Bullock, D. (Eds.). (2016). Teachers engaging in research. Kent, MI: IATEFL.



Chapter 8 · Educational Research Course Designs Across the World

Dörnyei, Z. (2007). Research methods in applied linguistics. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Gkonou, C., & Mercer, S. (2017). Understanding emotional and social intelligence among English language teachers (0863558429). Retrieved from London. Hanks, J. (2015). Language teachers making sense of Exploratory Practice. Language Teaching Research, 1362168814567805. Heigham, J., & Croker, R. A. (Eds.). (2009). Qualitative research in applied linguistics: A practical introduction. London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. Johnson, D. (1992). Approaches to research in second language learning. New York: Longman. Kramsch, C. (2002). From theory to practice and back again. Language, Culture and Curriculum, 15(3), 196–209. McDonough, J., & McDonough, S. (1997). Research methods for English language teachers. Great Britain: Arnold, a member of the Hodder Headline Group. McKay, S.  L. (2006). Researching second language classrooms. London, UK: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc. McNiff, J., Lomax, P., & Whitehead, J. (1996). You and your action research project. London, UK: Routledge. Mercer, S., & Gkonou, C. (2017). Teaching with heart and soul. In T. S. Gregersen & P. D. MacIntyre (Eds.), Innovative practices in language teacher education: Spanning the spectrum from intra- to inter-­ personal professional development (pp.  103–124). Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing. Rebolledo, P., Smith, R., & Bullock, D. (2016). Champion teachers: Stories of exploratory action research. Faversham, UK: IATEFL. Richards, J. C., & Lockhart, C. (2007). Reflective teaching in second language classrooms. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Richards, K. (2003). Qualitative inquiry in TESOL. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. Smith, R., & Rebolledo, P. (2018). A handbook for exploratory action research. London, UK: British Council. Stenhouse, L. (1984). Evaluating curriculum evaluation. In C. Adelman (Ed.), The politics and ethics of evaluation. London: Croom Helm. Walsh, S., & Mann, S. (2015). Doing reflective practice: a data-led way forward. ELT Journal, 69(4), 351–362.


Supplementary Information Answers to Research Tasks – 172 Index – 179

© The Author(s) 2019 K. Dikilitaş, A. Bostancıoğlu, Inquiry and Research Skills for Language Teachers,


Answers to Research Tasks

Answers to Research Tasks Chapter 1 Tasks vvTask 1.1 You are expected to prepare notes to the points raised considering your specific contexts.

vvTask 1.2 The list can include many different answers some of which are presented below: 55 What do others find interesting about this research course? 55 How can I form a group who wants to investigate a similar topic to mine? 55 Why do teachers not plan their lessons effectively? 55 When is the right time to reflect? 55 Where can I find teachers to consult? 55 How often would I be able to observe this classroom? 55 How much time do I need to find for interviews?

Chapter 2 Tasks vvTask 2.1 Do you agree that the word “problem” inherently carries negative connotations? What reason(s) do you have for your answer? As explained in the chapter, we consider the word “problem” to carry negative connotations and posit that a solution is reached in the end. This can negatively affect students’ attitudes towards research. Take for example the following utterances: “What’s the problem?”

“Can you solve this problem?” The earlier question suggests that there is something wrong and the next one requires a solution. The word “puzzle”, on the other hand emanates neutral if not positive thoughts. This might be because “puzzles” generally include joyful game experiences.

vvTask 2.2 Answers to the below questions will be personal. Nevertheless, we listed a number of answers from our own experiences. 1. Can you think of and list down any significant challenges that you have faced as a second language learner? 55 The pronunciation of “congratulations” 55 The use of past perfect tense in English 55 Relative clause reductions 2. Can you think of and list down any significant achievements that you have accomplished as a second language learner? 55 I am good at creating mental images and short stories that help me remember words. Therefore, learning new vocabulary has been relatively easy. 55 In the past, listening was the most challenging skill for me to develop which also affected my speaking. I decided to start watching TV series in English with Turkish sub-titles. After some time,

173 Answers to Research Tasks

I started watching them with English sub-titles and after about a year, I felt that I have really improved. 3. Can you think of and list down any significant challenges that you have faced whilst teaching a second language? 55 My biggest challenge was maintaining classroom management with year 4 (9/10 year old) students. I was a newly appointed teacher and it was a really frustrating experience for me. 4. Can you think of and list down any significant achievements that you have accomplished whilst teaching a second language? 55 Over the years I have realized that making students feel they matter is a great source of motivation for them. This earned me their respect which eventually contributed to using classroom time effectively and increased learning opportunities.

Chapter 4 Tasks vvTask 4.1 Now that you have read Group 4’s story, answer the questions below. 1. What kind of data did Group 4 generate to answer their first puzzle (Do other EFL teacher candidates feel the same way as we feel about their development of language skills?) question? 55 In order to investigate whether what they felt about not being able to develop all

language skills was shared among other ELT Department students, Group 4 utilized a survey/questionnaire. If you are aiming to reach a high number of participants in a short period of time then surveys/ questionnaires can help you achieve this aim. 2. What kind of data did Group 4 generate to answer their second puzzle (What can be potential reasons for why we could not develop all four language skills?) question? 55 In order to investigate potential reasons about (not) being able to develop all language skills, the group members first did a self-reflection discussion and then interviewed their colleagues. Reflective materials (i.e. reflective writing, reflective discussions) can be used to explore one’s own opinions on a given topic, while interviews provide an opportunity to explore what others think on a certain topic.

vvTask 4.2 Now that you have read David’s story, answer the questions below. 1. What kind of data did David generate to answer his first puzzle (What are the reasons that decrease my students’ (Class X) motivation towards learning English?) question? 55 In order to answer the first puzzle question, David utilized focus group interviews/discussions as well as being observed by a


Answers to Research Tasks

colleague. The data that came from both sources allowed him to put the pieces of the puzzle together. 2. What kind of data did David collect to answer his second puzzle (What can I do to change this situation?) question? 55 The same data generation tools utilized for answering the first puzzle question were also used to answer the second puzzle question.

Chapter 5 Tasks vvTask 5.1 When does the qualitative data analysis process start? Select one of the options below and discuss your reasons for your answer with a partner. (a) As you generate the data (b) During data transcription (c) After data transcription

generated and transcribed by someone else then your data analysis starts when you start reading the data provided to you.

vvTask 5.2 1. Identify a set in which boxes have different numbers, different shadings, but same colours, and same shapes 55 Boxes 3, 5, and 8 2. Identify a set in which boxes have same numbers and shapes, but have different colours and shadings. 55 Boxes 1, 7, and 8 3. Identify 2 sets in which boxes have different numbers, different colours, different shadings, but same shapes (There are 3 sets matching these criteria). (a) Boxes 3, 6, and 7 (b) Boxes 2, 6, and 11 (c) Boxes 1, 5, and 9

vvTask 5.3 Answer: Depending on your situation all three responses can be correct. Data analysis starts as you become more familiar with your data. This means if you have played an active role in generating the data, you have already started your analysis (since you started making sense of your data as you generated it). If someone else generated the data for you (which is not something favored in EP research), then your data analysis starts as you start transcribing the data provided and become more familiar with your data. And if your data was both

Please answer the following questions based on the dataset provided in . Table 5.2 1. How many male and female participants are there? 55 Participants’ sex is specified under the gender column. There are three participants coded with number 1 and two participants coded with number 2. Remembering the coding specified before (1 stands for female and 2 stands for male) then there are three female and two male participants.  

175 Answers to Research Tasks

2. How many third year students are there? 55 Participants’ year of study is specified in the third column. Remembering the coding specified before (1 stands for year 1, 2 for year 2, 3 for 3, 4 for year 4, and 5 for Prep class) then only the second participant is in their third year of study. Therefore, the answer is one. 3. Which student(s) is/are the youngest? 55 Participants’ age is specified in the fourth column. Checking through the numbers, one can realize that the youngest participant is Participant 3 (P3) who is 19 years old. 4. Which student(s) is/are the oldest? 55 Participants’ age is specified in the fourth column. Checking through the numbers, one can realize that the oldest participants were P4 and P5 who are both 23 years old. 5. Which student(s) do/does seem to be enrolled in a research methods course? 55 The number of research methods classes that participants took is specified in the fifth column. The participants’ answers show that P1 and P3 had 2 hours of research methods classes a week but the remaining participants’ answers were 0. This suggests that P1 and P3 attend a research methods course.

6. Which student(s) do/does seem to understand research methods the most? 55 The sixth column specified participants’ answers to the extent to which they considered they understood research methods. According to the coding specified before, the higher the number is, the stronger the agreement will be with the statement. In this sense, P1 and P3 reported the highest level of agreement with the statement. Thus, P1 and P3 can be considered to have the highest level of understanding of research methods. 7. Which student(s) do/ does seem to understand research methods the least? 55 The sixth column specified participants’ answers to the extent to which they considered they understood research methods. According to the coding specified before, the lower the number is the lesser the agreement with the statement will be. In this sense P5 who reported the lowest agreement with the statement can be considered to understand research methods the least. 8. Which student(s) do/does seem to enjoy research methods the most? 55 The seventh column specified participants’ answers to the extent to which they


Answers to Research Tasks

considered they enjoyed research methods. According to the coding specified before, the lower the number is the lesser the agreement with the statement will be. In this sense P4 and P5 who reported the lowest agreement with the statement can be considered to enjoy learning about research methods the least.

considered they enjoyed research methods. According to the coding specified before, the higher the number is, the stronger the agreement will be with the statement. In this sense, P1 reported the highest level of agreement with the statement. Thus, P1 can be considered to have the highest level of enjoyment of learning about research methods.

vvTask 5.4

Extra time for English

Extra time for English

English test score

Year of study

This task asked you to administer a sample questionnaire and collect responses to be transformed into a data set. The template below can be used to transfer your data.


Easy to teach English

Enjoy teaching English

Love learning English

Good in English


9. Which student(s) do/does seem to enjoy learning about research methods the least? 55 The seventh column specified participants’ answers to the extent to which they

177 Answers to Research Tasks

vvTask 5.5 Task 7 5.3 asked you to calculate the mean, median, mode, and range for the following data set.  

Data set S1


























Mean: 767 is the sum that can be found when all the scores each student achieved are added up. Considering there are 13 students whose scores were added, we should divide 767 to 13 to find the mean which is 59. Median: When we put the numbers from lowest to the highest (or vice versa) the number in the middle would be 56 (45, 48, 48, 48, 50, 54, 56, 61, 61, 63, 67, 77, 89).

Mode: It can be seen that the number 48 is the most frequently occurring value (three times) in exam scores of students. Therefore, 48 is the mode (45, 48, 48, 48, 50, 54, 56, 61, 61, 63, 67, 77, 89). Range: The highest value is 89 and the lowest is 45 in this dataset. The difference between these numbers is 44 (89–45= 44). Therefore, the range is 44.




A Academic research  3–5, 11, 16, 18, 139, 154

B Bivariate  96, 97, 104

Exploratory  11, 23, 24, 26, 30, 31, 35, 38, 41, 44, 46, 48, 52, 64, 65, 67, 80, 81, 126, 130–134, 140, 142, 147, 152, 153, 158 Exploratory process  38

G Group work  5, 9, 12, 22, 37, 45, 60, 110, 129



Co-generation 69 Collaborative  12, 15, 20, 24, 31, 37, 65, 71, 80, 132–134, 150–152, 161 Consistency  64, 67, 85, 112 Conventional data generation  49 Critical writing  134

Inquiry  3, 4, 11–15, 18, 20–26, 31, 36, 49, 69, 75, 86, 89, 111, 112, 119–122, 139, 140, 154, 156–158, 165 Interview  6, 14, 26, 39, 42, 43, 48, 49, 57–62, 65, 75, 76, 81, 103, 112–115, 119, 153, 157, 161, 162, 165, 173 Interview strategies  59

D Data analysis  4, 30, 39, 66, 80–105, 114, 142, 156, 162, 167, 168, 174 Data generation  4, 39, 42, 43, 48, 49, 56, 60, 64–76, 80, 113, 114, 174 Developing puzzles  30–46 Development  3, 5, 7, 11–15, 20–22, 24, 26, 31, 32, 36–38, 44–46, 55, 61, 64, 72, 73, 80, 108, 116, 119, 121, 126, 129, 134, 135, 140, 141, 147, 150–153, 156, 160, 164–169 Dissemination  111, 120, 121 Dual  48, 50, 57, 61

E Engagement  3, 9, 11–13, 21, 23–26, 48, 50, 55, 66, 68, 69, 109, 127, 132, 133, 140, 141 Ethics  40, 113, 114, 154, 161 Example  3, 5, 9, 15, 16, 22, 24, 30, 31, 35, 36, 38, 46, 48, 49, 51, 53, 55, 57, 60, 66, 70–72, 76, 84, 86, 89, 91, 92, 97, 98, 102, 103, 108–110, 113, 115, 117, 118, 120, 128–131, 141, 142, 152 Exploration  12, 13, 15, 16, 19–22, 26, 30, 32, 38, 40, 50, 52, 60, 72, 74, 75, 90, 108, 115, 119–122, 134

L Learner puzzle  30, 38–40 Learning puzzle  34, 49 Likert scale questionnaire  51, 52

M Meaning  7, 9–11, 14, 16–19, 23, 41, 45, 49, 59, 66, 81, 83, 86, 89, 104, 109, 111, 126–128, 130–132, 134, 153 Method  5, 9, 11, 13, 18, 30, 33, 36, 40–42, 44, 45, 48, 49, 57, 72–75, 77, 80, 81, 92–94, 96, 104, 111, 115, 119, 121, 140, 141, 149, 151, 153, 156–161, 165, 167, 168, 175, 176 Multiple  4, 19, 21, 25, 32, 37, 53, 64, 65, 75–77, 120, 149 Multivariate  96, 97

N Normalization 64 Normal pedagogic activities  48, 49, 58, 65, 68

O Observation  6–8, 11, 20, 21, 26, 29, 39, 42, 43, 48, 49, 52–58, 61, 68, 74, 75, 80, 81, 83, 90, 103, 114, 130, 132, 134, 152, 153, 158

180 Index

P Pedagogically exploitable pedagogic-research activities (PEPRAs)  43, 47–77, 80, 121 Pre-service  3–20, 22, 24, 30, 32–45, 48–50, 52–54, 56, 60, 64, 66, 69, 71, 76, 80, 81, 88, 96, 101, 108, 109, 112–116, 119–122, 134, 139, 140, 142, 150–169 Pre-service teacher research  3–5 Principled 76 Puzzle about others  64, 70 Puzzle about self  70 Puzzle question  38, 39, 41–43, 45, 72, 74–76, 80, 89, 108, 109, 113, 114, 119, 120, 173, 174 Puzzling  8, 31, 33, 40, 45, 46, 56, 71, 76, 108, 151

Reflective  6, 9, 14, 15, 20, 22–26, 30, 65, 115, 125–135, 139, 140, 142, 147, 158, 173 Researcher  3–6, 11, 14–17, 19, 20, 26, 31–33, 48, 51, 58, 65–68, 81, 85, 96, 116, 127, 129, 133, 134, 140, 143, 149, 152–154, 159–161, 163–165, 167, 169 Research questions  4, 5, 18, 30–33, 46, 82, 86, 153, 155, 157, 161–163, 166–168

S Self-reflection  20, 31, 45, 46, 61, 76, 80, 104, 120, 122



Qualitative  5–7, 12, 16, 18, 39, 67, 75, 80–90, 103–105, 108, 110, 114, 140–142, 147, 153, 154, 157, 160–162, 165, 166, 169 Qualitative research  6–7, 67, 81, 89, 90, 104, 140, 147, 153, 154, 157, 162, 165, 166, 169 Quantitative  6, 7, 18, 39, 75, 80, 83, 90–105, 108, 114, 142, 157, 160–162, 165 Quantitative research  6, 7, 90, 165 Questionnaire  16, 30, 39, 42, 48–52, 60–62, 65, 71, 72, 75, 80, 90–95, 103, 119, 153, 156, 157, 161–164, 173, 176

Teaching puzzle  34 Thematic analysis  80–82, 86, 103, 114, 165 Trustworthiness  67, 76, 85, 90

R Reflection  3–5, 7–9, 11, 12, 15, 19–25, 30, 31, 45, 46, 61, 76, 80, 87, 104, 115, 116, 120, 122, 125–135, 140–143, 147, 150–152, 155–156, 158, 159, 163–164, 167–169, 173

U Understanding  3–6, 8–14, 16–26, 30–33, 43, 48, 54–56, 58, 60, 64–69, 71, 73, 76, 80, 81, 86, 88, 92, 94, 107–122, 127–129, 131–134, 139, 152, 153, 158, 161, 165, 166, 169, 175 Univariate  80, 96, 97, 99, 103, 104 Unpacking  30, 48, 54, 65, 67, 75, 76, 108, 122

V Variable  6, 31, 32, 39, 90–93, 96–98, 104