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Applying Research Findings to Instruction for Adult English Language Students

Author(s): 
Smith, C.
Harris, K.
Reder, S.
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation: 
National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy (NCSALL)
Center for Adult English Language Acquisition (CAELA)
Published: 
2005
Resource Type: 
Research
Number of Pages: 
4
Abstract: 

In this short article the authors combine a comprehensive overview of:

  • why practitioners need to understand and use research,
  • how researchers and teachers can pair up to conduct and appreciate research,
  • how research findings can be incorporated into classroom practice, and
  • the role of follow-up with participating teachers.

The authors provide a concrete example to underscore the importance of using research in practice and how to do so. The example provided is based in a collaboration between researchers and teachers working together to apply research findings on the use of pair work in beginning ESL classes (e.g. negotiating meaning, role of teacher in student pair work). The authors chart the outcomes for teachers who were engaged in this research project (e.g. utilizing new ideas, how to set up classroom tasks, not to intervene). They also provide information on teacher reactions to the experience, touching on what the teachers learned and the quality of their experience. The authors also provide background on what is considered good research and what drives teachers to incorporate findings in their classroom. Lastly, they offer ways to access, understand, evaluate, and use research even without engaging in a researcher-teacher collaboration.

What the Experts Say: 

Reviewer 1:
This piece is a good, concise introduction to the topic of teacher utilization of research which underscores the value of reflective practice and practitioner inquiry. It conveys useful information for researchers, policymakers, and practitioners. It would be a good addition to teacher professional development study circle and a good starting point for further reading and inquiry as it provides good guidance on how teachers can use research to question and improve their instructional practices and gently steers teachers toward becoming teacher researchers (or at least reflective consumers of empirical research).

While the brief does not explicitly answer the question of how teachers can "integrate their own knowledge of what is effective …with findings from … research," raising the question is itself useful.

Reviewer 2:

In this short article the authors combine a comprehensive overview of:

  • why practitioners need to understand and use research,
  • how researchers and teachers can pair up to conduct and appreciate research,
  • how research findings can be incorporated into classroom practice, and the role of follow-up with participating teachers.

The description of negotiating meaning and the pair-work in beginning level ESL was much more interesting and practical. I think teachers and administrators will find it invaluable. I have already used the "teacher should not interfere in group discussion" advice in my own classes.

Methods the resource used to collect and analyze the data for the research: 
Literature review and a case study - this is a weak area of the article as the authors provide limited information on the case study (e.g., they do not tell the reader how they went about choosing the case, nor how wide the literature review was).

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