2 Approaches to qualitative research
Qualitative research
Quantitative research
Insider perspective
Outsider perspective
Contrasting quantitative and qualitative research
How many contrasting items can you add to these lists?
Qualitative classroom data
What types of qualitative data might be collected in classroom
Examples of qualitative data
from classroom research
 Narrative accounts of a
typical school day
 Video/audio recordings of
classroom interaction
 Observer’s notes
 Stimulated recall
 Maps and SCORE charts
 Lesson transcripts
 Interview protocols
 Lesson plans and
teachers’ notes
 Diary entries
 Open-ended
questionnaire responses
 Copies of students’ work
‘Case study’ defined.
“A case study is what
you call a case, in
case, in case you
don’t have anything
else to call it.”
(Response from a
student who was
asked to define ‘case
“A detailed, often
investigation of a
single individual or
entity (or a few
individuals or entities)”
(Nunan & Bailey, 2009:
Case study characteristics
 a detailed, often longitudinal investigation of
a single individual or entity (or a few
individuals or entities)
 naturalistic – no manipulation of subjects; no
 the researcher sets out to find out what’s
 not merely pre-experimental
 the investigation of a ‘bounded instance’
 an “instance in action”
What are some of the ‘instances’ that
could be investigated in second
language teaching and learning?
Selecting the case: examples
 Halliday: The first language acquisition of a single
 Brown: The first language acquisition of three
 Schumann: the acquisition and acculturation of
two adults, two teenagers and two children over
a ten-month period
 Peck: The role of language play in the English
development of two Mexican children
Selecting the case:
 Celce-Murcia: Daughter’s bilingual acquisition of
English and French in California and France over
several years
 Allwright: Turns, topics and tasks in two lower level
ESL classes over 10 weeks.
 Block: The perceptions of six adult English learners
and their teacher in Spain.
 Chuk: Autonomous student teachers in a TE
A longitudinal case study examines
development and performance over time.
(Duff, 2008)
perspectives and
By concentrating on the
behavior of one individual
or a small number of
individuals (or sites) it is
possible to conduct a very
thorough analysis (“thick”
or “rich’ description) of the
case and to include
triangulated perspectives
from other participants or
(Duff 2008: 4)
The value of case studies
 Strong in reality
 You can generalize from an instance to a
 It can represent multiple viewpoints and
support alternative interpretations
 Can provide a database that can be
reinterpreted in the future
 Insights can be put to immediate use
 Case study reports usually more accessible
than reports of psychometric studies
Selecting the case
“The individual case is usually selected for
study on the basis of specific psychological,
biological, sociocultural, institutional or
linguistic attributes, representing a particular
age group, a combination of first and
second language ability level (e.g. basic or
advanced), or a skill area such as writing, a
linguistic domain such as morphology and
syntax, or mode or medium of learning, such
as an on-line, computer-mediated
environment.” (Duff, 2008:32-33)
Discuss the following statement:
“As ‘rules of the game’, reliability and validity are
irrelevant to case study research.”
It is tempting to argue that the
accumulation of case studies allows
theory building via tentative
hypotheses culled from the
accumulation of single instances. But
the generalizations produced in a
case study are no less legitimate when
about the instance, rather than the
class from which the instance is drawn
(i.e. generalizations about the case
rather than from it).
What are Adelman et al.1976:140) trying
to say below? Do you find their
argument convincing?
“If you study grains of sand, you will
find each is different. Even by
handling one, it becomes different.
But through studying it and ones like
it, you begin to learn about a beach. “
(Larsen-Freeman, 1996: 165)
Alternative rules
of the game
a) credibility (in preference
to internal validity)
b) transferability (in
preference to external
c) dependability (in
preference to reliability)
d) confirmability (in
preference to objectivity)
Defining ethnography
“the study of people’s behavior in naturally
occurring, ongoing settings, with a focus on
the cultural interpretation of that behavior.”
(Watson-Gegeo, 1988).
Principles of ethnography
Focus on cultural patterns in groups
Theoretical framework
Defining introspection
 The process of observing and reporting on one’s own
thoughts, feelings, motives, reasoning process and
mental states.
 The term also covers retrospection, in which there is a
gap between an event and the reporting of the event.
 Concurrent introspection: Occurs simultaneously with
the event being reported.
 Immediate retrospection: Occurs right after the event.
 Delayed retrospection: Occurs some time after the
Immediate retrospection,
delayed retrospection
1. What are you doing and thinking right now?
2. What were you doing and thinking
immediately prior to the class?
3. What are you doing and thinking last
Monday morning?
reliability and validity
What do you see as the threats to the
reliability and validity of introspection?
How might reliability and validity be
Stimulated recall
Use of data collected during an event
(e.g. audiotape, videotape, field notes,
SCORE charts, classroom transcripts) to
stimulate the recollections of the people
who took part in the event.
Diary / journal studies
A diary study in second language
learning, acquisition, or teaching is
an account of a second
language experience as recorded
in a first person journal.
Experiences are “documented
through regular, candid entries in a
personal journal and then and
analyzed for recurring patterns or
salient events. (Bailey 1990: 215)
a broad narrative approach that
focuses on the analysis and
description of social phenomena
as they are experienced within the
context of individual lives. … It
offers a longitudinal portrait of the
phenomenon under investigation.
(Benson and Nunan, 2005)
Complete this statement
Elicitation refers to …………………..
Which of the following
collection methods could
be used for elicitation?
 Standardized tests
 Questionnaires
 Classroom observation
 Stimulated recall
 Interviews
 Focus group discussion
 Classroom tasks
 Diary keeping
 Surveys
Defining elicitation
Elicitation refers to a range of procedures for
obtaining speech samples and other data from
subjects. Such procedures may range from the
administration of standardized tests through to
questionnaires and interviews.
(Nunan, 1992: 230)
To what extent does this definition accord with
the one that you produced?
Which paradigm?
Elicitation versus observation
1.What are the pros and cons of
elicitation as opposed to naturalistic
2.Why might SLA researchers use
elicitation rather than observation?
As a data collection device, to which
paradigm does elicitation belong –
the psychometric or naturalistic?
Picture description
tasks and SLA
Consider the following elicited
R: Look at him, he’s working. …
I: Working in the … er … park
R: And her?
I: And same, change flowers or pot.
Fresh one. (Hmm) Or watering. I think
R: Yeah. And them?
I: And them working together. (Nunan,
1992: 139)
What grammatical feature is the task
trying to elicit? Is it successful?
Analyzing qualitative data
 Finding patterns
 A ‘grounded’ approach
 Meaning condensation
 Developing themes

Session 1 Getting started with classroom research