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Unit information: Research Methods for TESOL in 2015/16

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Unit name Research Methods for TESOL
Unit code EDUCM5903
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Professor. Yu
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

This unit introduces language teachers to research in the TESOL / Applied Linguistics field. This involves enquiry into three aspects of TESOL practice: the description of English for pedagogical purposes; the processes of language learning; the processes of language teaching. These aspects of professional practice illustrate the ways in which TESOL interfaces with different disciplines: the description of English borrows from linguistics; the study of language learning borrows from cognitive and sociocultural approaches in psychology and Applied Linguistics; and the study of language teaching uses frameworks from education and across the social sciences. An important dimension of learning about research is a critical focus on the research practices and constructions of knowledge in the other units of the MSc TESOL. Students are introduced to different contexts of research, and the role of reseach practices in improving professional TESOL skills.

The unit aims to:

  • develop awareness of and skills in research in TESOL /Applied linguistics contexts in order to extend understanding of professional practice;
  • enhance critical skills in reading across all units on the TESOL pathway;
  • provide opportunities for developing research presentation skills, and
  • prepare students for designing and implementing a research study for the Masters dissertation.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of this unit, students will have developed their understanding of:

  1. Research purposes in the social sciences and language education in general and in TESOL in particular;
  2. The role of research in understanding language learning, language teaching and language description;
  3. The role of existing research findings in doing research;
  4. The role of professional context and culture in doing research;
  5. Approaches and frameworks for designing and planning research studies;
  6. Ethical issues in doing research.

By the end of this unit, students will have developed skills in:

  1. Reading and critiquing published research studies;
  2. Identifying research opportunities in their own professional context;
  3. Formulating research questions;
  4. Doing a literature review which relates to both conceptual and contextual aspects of the research problem;
  5. Selecting data elicitation and analysis procedures to address these;
  6. Presenting research findings in written and oral formats;
  7. Disseminating and using research findings and implications for the development of policy and practice in TESOL.

Teaching Information

  • Lecture input
  • Online learning support (Blackboard)
  • Data Projects (online resources, using data from Tutors’ Research Projects)
  • Presentations,
  • Small group work,
  • Seminars or workshops,
  • Action research,
  • Simulations,
  • Individual tutorials and supported self study.

Individualised and supervised studies to include on-line discussion, supervision and directed reading

Assessment Information

Summative assessment

  1. Written critique of a published research study
  2. Group oral presentation to peers of selected aspects of the research design, data gathering and analysis.

The assessment process is in two stages:

a) Each student selects a research publication from refereed international journals (2005 - present), to be approved by unit tutors. They then write a critique illustrating awareness of the research process, conceptual and methodological strengths and weaknesses, and utility (75% of unit assessment).

b) Students will present in twelve groups their critiques of the studies to classmates. (group performance: 12.5% of unit assessment; on individual performance: 12.5% of unit assessment)

A final grade is then awarded.

Formative assessment

In addition, after the group presentations, students will write a 1000 word reflection on the outcomes of the group presentation in relation to their thinking about the article they critiqued in the Autumn Term. This piece must be written independently from he group and will not simply be a summary of the presentation.

Reading and References

  • Blaxter, L., Hughes, C. & Tight, M. (2016) How to Research. 3rd edition. Buckingham: Open University Press.
  • Cohen, L., Mannion, L. & Morrison, K. (2007) Research Methods in Education. 6th edition. London: Routledge
  • Creswell, J.W. (2009). Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches. 3rd edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • Kiely, R. & P. Rea-Dickins (2005) Programme Evaluation in Language Education. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Porte, G.K. (2002) Appraising Research in Second Language Learning: a practical approach to critical analysis of quantitative research. Amsterdam: John Betjamin
  • Richards, K. (2003) Qualitative Inquiry in TESOL. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Wallace, M. (1998) Action Research for Language Teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press