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Unit information: Researching Language Classrooms in 2015/16

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Unit name Researching Language Classrooms
Unit code EDUCD0064
Credit points 20
Level of study D/8
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Dr. Giampapa
Open unit status Not open

Understanding Educational Research


Language and Communication, Testing and Assessment in Language Learning, Second Language Pronunciation and Fluency

School/department School of Education
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

This unit introduces students to the purposes and processes of research in second language classrooms in TESOL/Applied Linguistics. We explore a range of conceptual frameworks and qualitative and quantitative methodologies that are currently used for second language classroom research. A key focus is the theory-data link which is the cornerstone of sound research design. We prepare students to critique published research in this field and to design their own research studies.

In the unit we explore a wide range of approaches to second language classroom research, for example, ethnographic approaches, discourse analytic perspectives, and experimental studies. We draw on current themes in the field such as: language and identities, language use and learning, language and power, interaction and learning, and teacher and learner perspectives on classroom processes. In addition we will examine researcher role, power and ethical issues as aspects of the classroom research process.


  • To explore the purpose of and theoretical approaches to second language classroom research and the study of classroom phenomena
  • To analyse and critique published research studies
  • To develop an understanding of language classroom research design issues
  • To develop an awareness of methods and understanding of methodological issues in conducting classroom research.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will understand:

  • The range of theoretical frameworks used in second language classroom research across different contexts
  • The different approaches and methods for conducting second language classroom research
  • The social and ethical issues involved in researching language classrooms.

Students will be able to:

  • Design a classroom research study in a TESOL context which reflects skills in developing research questions; constructing a conceptual framework; establishing data to theory links, and attending to social ethical issues
  • Negotiate access as a researcher to language classrooms
  • Relate research outcomes to the theory development in Applied Linguistics, and problem-solving in professional contexts.

Teaching Information

Students will be expected to engage actively in the unit and will need to prepare and read before and during the unit. Students will be required to read the unit reading pack in preparation for the taught portion of the unit. The three-day unit will be a combination of interactive lectures, student presentations and data driven activities.

Assessment Information

An assignment of 4,500 words (or equivalent), which identifies a research issue in language learning theory and professional practice, and evaluates the different research strategies, which form the basis for an empirical investigation.

Reading and References

Creese, A. (2005). Teacher Collaboration and Talk in Multilingual Classrooms. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters Ltd.

Mackey, S. & Gass, S. (2007). Second Language Research: Methodology and Design. NJ: Lawrence Earlbaum

McKay, S. (2006). Researching Second Language Classrooms. NY: Routledge.

Richards, K. (2003). Qualitative Inquiry in TESOL. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Toohey, K. (2000). Learning English at School: Identity, Social Relations and Classroom Practice. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Walsh, S. (2006). Investigating Classroom Discourse. London: Routledge