Questions for Tutorial 3
1. What is ethnographic research? State the difference between an ethnographic research and a psychometric research and give example from applied linguistic studies. 2. Find a report of an ethnographic research in applied linguistics and give your comments on the following points: - The research question - The contexts the research was conducted - What is group or case under study? - What conceptual and theoretical frame works inform the study? - What field techniques were used? For how much time? In what contexts? What were the roles of the ethnographer? 3. Find a report of a ethnographic research in applied linguistics and give your comments on: - What field techniques were used? For how much time? In what contexts? What were the roles of the ethnographer? - What analysis strategies were developed and used? what levels and types of context were attended to in interpretation? - What recurrent patterns are described? - What cultural interpretation is provided? - What are the stated implications for teaching?

Lecture 3
Nunan. D. 1992. Research Methods in Language Learning. Cambridge: CUP (P. 52 - 73)

Coffey, A. & Atkinson, P. 1996, Making Sense of Qualitative Data, Complementary Research Strategies, CA: SAGE Publications. Newman, P. & Ratliff, M. 2001, Linguistics Fieldwork, Cambridge: CUP Wajnryb, R. 1992, Classroom Observation Tasks, Cambridge: CUP.

What is ethnography?
Ethnography, which seeks to understand and represent the points of view of the members of a particular culture, is a primary approach to data collection and analysis in anthropology and sociology.

Ethnographic research is one form of qualitative research which concerns with studying human behavior within the context in which that behavior would occur naturally and in which the role of the researcher would not affect the normal behavior of the subjects.
Ethnography research is a type of research which required: - much training, skill and dedication - a great store on the collection and interpretation of data - question and hypothesis emerge during the course of investigation, rather than beforehand

Ethnographic research

What is ethnography research
•Ethnographic research uses naturalistic observation to record
systematically the behaviour of the subject under study in its own settings. Its root is in ethnography: anthropology and sociology and the focus is on cultural aspects of behaviour Characteristics of ethnographic research

• Contextual: carried out in the context in which the subjects

normally live and work • Unobtrusive: the researcher does not try to control or handle the phenomenon • Longitudinal: the research takes a relative long time • Collaborative: the research involves the interaction between participants

•Interpretative: interpretative analysis of data •Organic: ethnographers may obtain data which do not support

their original questions or hypothesis but are suggestive of others.

Procedures for conducting ethnographic research:
•Define the phenomenon to be described. •Use qualitative methods to gather data. •Look for patterns in the data. •Validate initial conclusions by returning to the data
or collecting more data.

•Recycle through the process or the data.
Principles of ethnography
Two sets of hypotheses about human behaviours:

•naturalistic-ecological •qualitative – phynomenological

• Context has significant influence on behaviour • Investigating natural contexts: field research, real life
situation, real world Qualitative-phenomenological

•Belief: there is no objective reality independent of subjective

perceptions •Human behaviour must be investigated with subjective perception and belief systems of researcher •No objective observer •Cultural meanings are revealed by the behaviours of the subject under study

Principles of ethnography

•The use of participant and non-participant observation •A focus on natural settings •Use of subjective views and belief systems of the participant in
the research process •Not to manipulate the study variables •Holism and thick explanation

Low Inference Descriptors Vs High Inference Descriptors

•Low Inference Descriptors (LID): Behaviours easily observed and •High Inference Descriptors (HID):

Behaviours requires much inference

External reliability

• To what extent can the findings from a study carried out in a
particular site be generalized to other sites? • Threat:
Based on detailed description of a particular context/ situation → difficult for outsiders to conduct another research

To overcome this:

Explicit about 5 key aspects • Status of researcher •Choice of informants •Social situation & conditions •Constructs & premises •Method of data collection & analysis

Questions to be asked:

•Is the status of the researcher made explicit? •Does the researcher provide a detailed description of subjects? •Does the research provide a detailed description of the context and
conditions under which the research was carried out? •Are constructs and premises explicitly defined? •Are data collection and analysis methods presented in detail?

Internal reliability
• Can an independent researcher come to the same conclusion as
the original investigators when he/ she analyzes the same primary data?


Ethnographer rarely uses standardized instruments → difficult for independent researcher to reanalyze data themselves

To overcome this:

•Use low inference descriptors

•Multiple researchers/ participant researchers •Peer examination •Use mechanically recorded data

Questions to be asked:

•Does the research use low inference descriptors? •Does it employ more than one researcher/ collaborator? •Does the researcher invite peer examination or cross-site corroboration? •Are data mechanically recorded?

Internal validity
To what extent the research is measuring what it purports to measure?

To overcome this:

Employ data collection and analysis techniques: + ethnographer as a participant + informants interviewing + participant observation + ethnographic analysis

Questions to be asked:

•Is it likely that maturational changes occurring during the course of the

research will affect outcomes? •Is there bias in the selection of informants? •Is the growth or attrition of informants over time likely to affect outcomes? •Have alternative explanations for the phenomena been rigorously examined and excluded?

External validity
To what extent can research outcomes be extended to other groups?

To overcome this: Questions to be asked:
Describe phenomena explicitly so that they can be compared with other studies/ carry out multiple-site investigation

•Are some phenomena unique to a particular group or site and therefore

non-comparable? •Are outcomes due in part to the presence of the research? •Are cross-group comparisons invalidated by unique historical experiences of particular groups? •To what extent are abstract terms and constructs shared across different groups and research sites?

Criteria for assessing ethnographic reports

•What are the goals of ethnography? What is the research problem? •In what contexts was the research conducted? •What is the group or case under study? •What conceptual and theoretical frame works inform the study? •What field techniques are used? For how much time? In what
contexts? What was the role of the ethnographer?

•What analysis strategies were developed and used? What levels and

types of context attended to in interpretation? •What recurrent patterns are described? •What cultural interpretation is provided? •What is the contribution of the study to our knowledge of sociocultural factors involved in schooling in second language and culture? •What are the stated implications for teaching?

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