Overview In this chapter
In this chapter, the researcher describes the methodology used to investigate whether EFL teachers’ proficiency has any significant effects on their class discourse creation and class management or not. The descriptions of method include research design, participants, materials, and procedure are presented below.
3.1 Research Design
Qualitative design is adopted in this study that aims to present the effect of EFL intermediate teachers’ proficiency on their class discourse creation and class management. In order to answer the research question effectively, the researcher may also use quantitative design in the rest of the work.
The subject of this exploratory study are ten male and five female EFL teachers of an intermediate level of Iran Language Institutes of Sari and Babol, with at least four years teaching experience. The participants are relatively homogeneous in terms of language proficiency and performance.
The materials used in this study include:
i. The transcription of voice-recorded interactions between ten males and five female EFL teachers and their students in different sessions of teaching various parts of the materials in order to analyze them according to the Discourse Model of walsh.
ii. Interviews with the above-mentioned teachers to verify if their proficiency has any effects on their class discourse creation and class management.
The researcher tries to analyze teachers’ classroom discourse, and she will write and report her other audio-recordings during this analyzing. She intends to conduct the teachers to analyze the data of their classes and direct them to change their class management if necessary.
Recording and transcribing classroom interaction
Classrooms are highly complex places where there is so much going on at any one point in time that it would be very dif?cult to capture everything. Multiple interactions are the norm and multi-party talk underpins every action, every activity, every moment. Not only are there technical problems associated with recording what actually happens, there are, more importantly, enormous issues associated with transcribing spoken discourse as written text.
The ?rst decision that must be made is how to record classroom interaction. Basically, there are four choices:
Audio recordings are, in many ways, the easiest means of catching spoken interaction in classrooms. Modern technology makes it very simple to record the interaction, using digital recorders situated carefully around the room. More elaborate techniques might entail the use of lapel microphones or multi-directional microphones that are more intricate and may result in higher quality recordings. The main dif?culty associated with audio-recordings is the presence of background ‘noise’ – a constant presence that can make deciphering very dif?cult. This can be overcome, to some extent, by ensuring that recording devices are situated in such a way that if something is not clear on one recorder, it can be picked up on another one. In this study researcher is applied audio recording.
The main concern of transcription is to ‘represent reality’ as precisely and faithfully as possible. There has been much discussion and debate on this over past decades and there is still only partial agreement as to the extent to which a written transcript can accurately represent a spoken encounter.
Initial attempts to problematize transcription focused largely on the technical side of representing in writing a spoken text. Clearly, there are specialized technical dif?culties associated with actually hearing what was said, eliminating background noise, including all the ?ner nuances of spoken language, representing all of this in a written form. There are technical dif?culties too at the level of representation: do we opt for broad or narrow transcripts, for instance? An expansive transcript captures the essence of what was said, the words themselves or even their intended meaning, but ignores the ?ne details such as a stressed syllable, a pause, a rising intonation, overlapping speech. These technical dif?culties stay as much a problem for transcribers as they have always done.
However, and more significantly, there are factors to consider that go beyond the purely technical side of transcription. Methodological decisions made at the time a transcript is produced will incredibly in?uence our understandings of a particular discourse encounter such as a second language class. The precise relationship between the interaction that occurred and the words and symbols used to represent it is crucial and complex.
Users of SETT made short (?fteen minute), ‘snapshot’ recordings of parts of their classes and broke down these recordings using the framework. This entailed listening to the tape twice: once to recognize the four modes, then a second time to identify and make a note of speci?c interactures such as teacher echo, direct repair, scaffolding, etc. This procedure was repeated over a period of time in order to allow emergent under standings of classroom interaction to develop. From this dual analysis (modes plus interactures), it is then possible to create a kind of pro?le of one’s teaching, taken from a purely interactional perspective.
Walsh have considered how re?ective practice (RP) might be realigned and improved if the focus of the re?ection is classroom interaction. By examining extracts of classroom discourse and utilizing them for re?ection, Walsh have contended that teachers will learn how to re?ect on their practice in a structured and systematic way. Moreover, a classroom discourse focused approach to RP permits the key elements of the process to be addressed: ?rst, a problem is identi?ed; then data are collected (here, in the form of classroom recordings); data are then analyzed using a proper tool and there is some re?ection; ?nally, new understandings and changes to practice emerge through dialogue and discussion. The entire cycle is then repeated. Using interview data, we have seen how emergent understandings are collaboratively achieved; teacher and interviewer co-construct meanings and uncover the detail of interactions in a bid to improve practice. Taking this a little further, we have seen how stimulated recall has much to offer RP in terms of its potential for providing a ?negrained analysis of classroom discourse. The main point of this part has been to demonstrate how teachers can become effective researchers of their own practice and acquire some of the skills and tools that they will be able to use in their professional lives. A classroom discourse oriented approach to RP, Walsh suggest, is more likely to result in sustainable professional development and enable teachers to really gain close understandings of the contexts in which they work.
Teachers, while still assuming a more central role, would need a far more sophisticated understanding of classroom discourse in order to be able to manage the interaction, create learning opportunities and shape learner contributions.