METHODOLOGY AND PRESENTATION IN RELATION TO PUPIL INTEREST
In schools that train pupils in the vocations and in special techniques, in those devoted entirely to the arts or sciences, and in those offering specialized courses and training for other than an academic degree, great care must be exercised not only in selecting textbooks but in drawing up a course of study which will be in harmony with the particular interests of the students. Unfortunately very few specialized language textbooks are available for such schools, but material can be mimeographed and distributed to the students.
Many of you will have noticed the recent publication of the 7th edition of the American Psychological Association Publication Manual (American Psychological Association, 2019).
Many of the changes will be welcomed.
I have been supervising dissertation students recently at several institutions.
One thing that has been mentioned several times is the interpretation of the Turnitin Similarity Report. One student showed me her Turnitin report in which she had received a similarity score of 32%. She was worried as she had been told that anything above 20% was problematic. I looked at her work and found that most of the 32% similarity was made up of typical EAP phrases. Examples are “questions have been raised over the ,,,”, “… have received very little consideration” and “this evidence leads us to reject the hypothesis that…” These are kinds of phrases that EAP students are expected to learn and use and are covered in books such as Jeanne Godfrey’s The student phrase book (Godfrey, 2013) and John Morley’s online Academic Phrasebank.
I have been supervising MA student doing dissertations for many years now at several institutions and this is the time of year when we usually get started.
As soon as I am given the list of students who I will be supervising, I usually email each student and give them some information about me. I ask them to reply with some information about themselves. Some reply quickly, some reply slowly and some do not reply at all until I have sent several reminders.
I have been supervising students doing research at both undergraduate and graduate levels recently and many of the students have been doing qualitative studies, involving interviews. In doing so, I have found that many of them find it difficult to report their findings and provide evidence. I am not surprised as there does not seem to be much information available. As Robert Yin (2011, p. 234) has made clear:
At a minimum, a common kind of narrative data would take the form of quotations and paraphrased passages, representing your study participants’ descriptions their own lives, actions, and views. In qualitative research, even these briefer descriptions serve as an important form of data. Not surprisingly, the choices about how to present these narrative data are more than a matter of literary style. Methodological issues also are relevant. Yet, this type of narrative — whether brief or lengthy — has not received much attention in existing guides for doing qualitative research.
I have looked through the publications in the references list below. Most of them are excellent, but none of them provide the useful information that my students need.
There are some useful suggestions, but none of them – apart from Yin – are detailed enough:
I have been supervising MA TESOL and Applied Linguistics students this summer as they write their dissertations and I have most recently been marking them. May of the students have focussed on ESP (both EAP and EOP) for their research, but most of them have concentrated on general English (EGP). I also attended a Business English conference in the summer. I saw some interesting presentations at the conference and have have seen some interesting MA studies and it has made me realise that the distinction between EGP and ESP may not be so clear.
ESP books are rare, but Routledge have recently published a series called: Routledge Introductions to English for Specific Purposes, edited by Brian Paltridge and Sue Starfield – well know joint editors of the Handbook for English for Specific Purposes (Wiley, 2013).
According to the blurb: Routledge Introductions to English for Specific Purposes provide a comprehensive and contemporary overview of various topics within the area of English for specific purposes, written by leading academics in the field. Aimed at postgraduate students in applied linguistics, English language teaching and TESOL, as well as pre- and in-service teachers, these books outline the issues that are central to understanding and teaching English for specific purposes, and provide examples of innovative classroom tasks and techniques for teachers to draw on in their professional practice.
At the ESP Special Interest Group (SIG) meeting at the IATEFL conference in Brighton this year, there seemed to be some lack of agreement as to whether EAP was a type of ESP. This was shown in several presentations – and committee discussions – when ESP seemed to be contrasted with EAP. People would say and write things such as “In ESP and EAP” and “it is true in ESP, but what about EAP?”
In a piece of work that a student handed in recently, I found the following sentences. The assignment was for a research methods course and the task was to analyse some questionnaire data using IBM SPSS Statistics.
Language for Specific Purposes. Sandra Gollin-Kies, David R. Hall, and Stephen H. Moore. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.
Theoretical and practical books about ESP teaching are rare, so I was happy to see this book available recently. Although the title is “Languages for Specific Purposes”, most of the examples are from English and as well as that useful research from other languages is included. The book is highly recommended to all ESP, including EAP, teachers.
In Language for Specific Purposes, Gollin-Kies, Hall, and Moore provide a good overview of the history, concepts, application, pedagogy and research of language for specific purposes (LSP).