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Data collection and analysis

| October 29, 2015

 
Choose one of the following alternatives in order to collect some data from someone who has learnt a second or foreign language either formally or informally. Remember that you will need to transcribe the discourse you elicit and so you should record it on audio tape or digital media. Before collecting the data, check that the equipment and the way that it is set up will provide you with a recording of sufficient quality to enable you to transcribe the data.
Before embarking on the project you should consider the question you are interested in. What you are interested in investigating will determine the topic you choose to undertake. For example, you might want to explore issues of motivation(specific topic not in general ) or learning strategies as they relate to a particular learner, in which case you would design and carry out a structured interview. Alternatively, you may wish to examine aspects of your chosen learner’s interlanguage, in which case you would design a performance task to focus on the points of language that you wanted to investigate.
As you plan and carry out your data collection and analysis, it may help to keep the following points in mind:
• The study should have an aim, but this aim can focus on the individual learner, and can involve simply gaining a clear understanding of one aspect of SLA as it applies in this particular learner’s case.
• The study and findings should be situated within the context of the research literature (i.e. it is very important to relate your findings to a number of articles that you have read). The assignment should demonstrate that you are able to talk about these issues as someone who has read and thought about the relevant area of SLA). Students completing this assignment in previous semesters have commented that it is much easier to do this when the interview or performance task is designed with the relevant body of research literature in mind.
• The conclusions drawn should be appropriate to the amount and type of data collected and analysed. This means expressing ideas with an appropriate degree of tentativeness, and taking care not to overgeneralise from a very limited data sample.
The data that you analyse should come from one of the following sources:
Option 1: A structured interview. This is the option that you would choose if you wanted to investigate an individual’s experiences, perspectives or beliefs on one aspect of their second/foreign language learning. Before doing the interview, think about the research question(s) you are asking and the information that you need to obtain to answer this question. You can use the research literature to help you to frame your questions. Your interview should last at least fifteen minutes.
OR
Option 2: A performance task. If your main aim is to elicit a sample of language for the purposes of analysing particular features of the learners’ production, this is the option that you would choose. Depending on the features that you wish to investigate, you will need to think carefully about designing your tasks so that they elicit the feature in question. For example, if you want to investigate learners’ use of the past tense, you would need to make sure that the learner was given adequate opportunities to talk about past events. It is often a good idea to ask the participant to complete two or three different types of activity. For example, you could elicit a narrative account of some kind by asking them to tell you a personal experience of some kind (e.g. a recent holiday they have had, about a festival, the story of a film they have seen recently, or the story of a book they have read recently etc.). Then ask them to describe in detail a picture or photograph which you provide. You might also ask them to relate a brief story from a series of pictures.

Assignment 3 – Options 1 and 2
Transcribe approximately 10-15 minutes of the data. The level of detail in your transcription will depend on what you will be analysing. Ensure that you transcribe all the non-target-like elements accurately (i.e. don’t be tempted to ‘fix’ grammatical or other features when you do the transcription).
There are quite a number of different transcription systems. You can use the simplified Jefferson transcription system shown below, or, if there is another system with which you are more familiar, you can use that. Just make a note of the meaning of any symbols you use
The assignment should be presented using the following headings:
Introduction
This should introduce the reader to the research and should include a brief literature review in which previous findings relevant to the topic are outlined and synthesised. The background, rationale and objectives of the study should be described.
Method

This should provide details of your methodology under these sub-headings:
Participant. Here you should describe the relevant characteristics of the individual or group concerned (age, gender etc.)
Procedures. Here you should outline the instruments and methods that you used to collect your data.
Data analysis. Here you should describe the procedures and techniques that you used to analyse your data, i.e. after you collected the data, what steps did you go through?
Results and discussion
This should outline the results of the analysis of your data. Depending on the type of study that you undertake, you may need to quantify these in some way in order to be able to make sense of them. Percentages and/or raw scores are adequate; there is no need to use inferential statistics.
Most students undertaking this assignment opt for a qualitative design, where the data does not lend itself to quantification. In these cases, it is still important to provide the reader with evidence that your interpretation can be supported by the data.
Following the results there should be a discussion of your findings and your interpretation of their significance. These should be discussed in the context of previous findings in the literature where appropriate. Mention any problems or limitations in your data collection or analysis which might affect your interpretation of the data (e.g. any difficulties in making decisions about how to classify particular instances of language use, or how to assign meaning to an utterance).
Conclusion
This should briefly summarise your findings, identify any unanswered questions and indicate any avenues for future research that arise from your study.
References
Include here bibliographic details of all references cited in the body of the essay. Please use a standard author-date referencing system (e.g. APA).

 

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