Extensive Reading Research in Action Rob Waring Notre Dame Seishin University firstname.lastname@example.org
Research with a small ‘r’ Two types of research Research to answer broader questions such as ongoing issues and questions that are important in the field (i.e. often called theory-driven research) Research that emerges from a teacher's immediate concerns and problems (i.e. the classroom) Action Research is the second one. Action Research involves research with a small 'r' not a big 'R’ Action research is often also called 'Teacher Research' or 'Classroom Research’
What is Action Research? Research which focuses on * answering classroom questions * interpreting data in the context of a teaching situation * providing the teacher with better insights * developing new ways of looking at his / her classes systematically * involving the learners * increasing knowledge about the curriculum, the classes, teaching and learning * ‘research’ at the chalk-face * using traditional research tools if needed But ….. The insights collected may not impact directly on teachers or learners outside that class / environment
Why don’t people do Action Research? ‘I didn’t know about it’ ‘I don't have time’ ‘I don't know how’ ‘I don’t have the resources’ ‘I'm worried someone will find out my classes have problems’ ‘I have no one to support me’ ‘I don't want, or know, how to write it up’ ‘I can’t be bothered to learn about my classes’ No excuses now …
A Typical Action Research Cycle Identify something that is puzzling, it may be a problem or a doubt about a classroom situation. Make this into a question. e.g. Why do some learners get this quickly and other slowly? Could I teach this another way to get better retention? Recordpresent behaviors. Ask … What is happening? What are they doing? Make an educated guess about what is happening Plan an intervention
Typical Action Research cycle (continued) Change something to see if it is better. E.g.modify either the students' behavior, or the teacher's. Study the outcomes. Look for patterns. Quiet reflection. If need be, collect more information Report the outcomes (it helps you to work out what is happening) • to other teachers informally • to see if they have similar or different experiences • to let them know what worked • to other teachers formally - at a school meeting or conference or in a teacher's journal Go back to the start It doesn’t always have to be as formal as this. A teacher’s intuition is often just as good as formal data.
What is Extensive Reading? It involves at minimum .. Massive textual input (say 2 books a month) Using simplified materials Input over a long period of time At the student's fluent reading ability level (without dictionaries) Student selected material preferred Focus on fluency, enjoyment and building reading confidence If your study does not have these components it is not Extensive Reading research, but that’s OK, just please don’t call it ER research.
Some typical ER classroom research questions • Do they read faster if they have easier books? • Do they learn more words if they have difficult books? • What is the best reading speed for my students? • Why do they go down difficulty levels as the semester goes on? • Does the way I introduce ER influence their opinions about the readers? • Does their writing get better if they only read, or if they write summaries as well as read? • What types of summaries are best for improving their writing? • Do the learners prefer to write or talk about their books? • What are their favourite books and genres they read? • Do positive reports from previous ER classes lead to positive initial attitudes to ER?
Some typical ER classroom research questions 2 • Do they prefer ‘native texts’ or graded readers? • How much of their reading do they understand? • What is the best way to prepare learners for reading extensively? • Which types of reading strategy training can have an affect on ER ability? • What is an optimum relationship between intensive reading, extensive reading and reading strategy instruction for my learners? • What is the relationship between ER motivation and confidence in reading? • How much is the ‘right amount’ of reading for my learners? • What are the minimum linguistic requirements for my students to read extensively?
Things to be careful of Ensure little/no external exposure to English outside your design Equal contact (hours) with English for all groups Use the right test to collect the data you want Pilot your test / text/ questionnaire to ensure reliability Make sure you test them on only words they have met in their reading Ensure 2 groups have equal ER ‘rich’ or ‘poor’ environments Remember that lower ability learners should gain more than high ability learners as they have more to learn. Are you asking the right questions in your questionnaire? Do the changes in behavior stay, or do behaviors return to the ‘old ways’
What can you expect in ‘gains’ studies? i-1 (i.e. a little lower than their current ability). You can expect them to learn very few, if any, new words because they are not meeting new language, but there will be a good chance they will gain in fluency because the reading is easy and enjoyable. i (i.e. at their ability level) You can expect them to meet and learn a few new words and they may have some gains in fluency i+1 (i.e. a little beyond their current ability). You can expect them to learn a little, but there will not be much gain in fluency because they have to stop frequently. i+2 or i+3 … (i.e. a way beyond their current ability). You can expect them to learn almost no new language because it is too difficult to work with, and there will not be much gain in fluency because they have to stop very often.
In closing … If you are doing some research and want some advice, ask … If you want someone to comment on research you have already done, ask … If you want to read ER research others have done, ask … email@example.com