Combining teaching, learning and research: an exploratory practice approach – Ana Ines Salvi, Yasmin Dar, Judith Hanks (IATEFL 2013)

Part of a series of summaries of the talks I’m attending at IATEFL Liverpool 2013. Please feel free to add things or correct me if I’ve misinterpreted anything!
These are the main points from Ana Ines Salvi, Yasmin Dur and Judith Hanks’ talk, taken from my tweets.



They’re going to talk about exploratory practice, teaching and learning, focussing on an EAP context, especially pre-sessionals.
There are seven principles for inclusive practitioner research, after Allwright:
1. focus on quality of life as the main issue.
2. Work to understand it before thinking about solving problems
3. Involve everyone as practitioners developing their own understanding (include learners). By involving everyone in the research it breaks down barriers.
4. Work to bring people together in a common experience
5. Work cooperatively for mutual development.
6. Make it a continuous enterprise.
7. Minimise the burden by integrating (this) work into normal pedagogic practice

Ana worked on 5-week pre-sessional and wanted to combine research and learner autonomy and find SS perceptions. She encouraged collaboration and interaction in the classroom to make decisions/choose topics/tasks for autonomy. The students kept logbooks/diaries to track their learning and sent her an email summarising their learning at the end of each week. One group came up with their own survey to do research based on four questions, then did research. They interviewed classmates, presented their findings to classmates and disseminated the findings to other teachers. Ana’s students did the research and made the posters in four hours over two days.

Yasmin did research for her MA with adult ESOL learners looking into their motivation. Yasmin’s students told each other whether they did their homework, and she eavesdropped with permission. She learnt to appreciate that they were not the same as her in terms of motivation and styles, so she changed her expectations. The main question she investigated was “Why are the learners not taking responsibility for their learning outside class?” Yasmin then repeated her research with EAP students and found they were very similar to her ESOL learners! She then introduced research to her class, asked students what their puzzles were, and they did the research.

Judith asked her students what puzzled them about their language learning experience. They made the posters on the wall. The exciting thing about Judith’s project was learners making the journey of self-discovery themselves, rather the T supplying answer. When doing the poster presentation, students were surprised that the other learners in the group were interested. (The posters in the research talk I’m at are in a lot of depth – it’s amazing what came out of the student’s research.) The research students did was a great way for them to examine their own learning.

Teachers sharing questions they have with the students can be really successful too. People in the room shared their experiences.

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