» » Learner observation tasks as a learning tool for pre-service teachers


Learner observation tasks as a learning tool for pre-service teachers

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>Chapter 1

 

>Introduction

1.1.  >TeachingPracticum inKazakhstan

 

>TeachingPracticumiscompulsoryforstudentteachers ofgraduatelevelenrolled in the EnglishLanguageTeachingDepartment.StudentteacherstakeTeachingPracticumat stateschools, andfollow theTeachingPracticum Curriculumissuedby theDepartment ofHighEducation ofKazakhstan.According to theforegoing Curriculum theTeachingPracticumconsists of twoperiods:five-weekperiodfor thethird-yearstudentsat the end of the 5>thsemester,December, andseven-weekperiodfor thefourth-yearstudentsat thebeginning of the 7>thsemester,September andOctober.

>Lessonobservationisone of themajorcomponents of theTeachingPracticum.BothTeachingPracticumsinvolveobservationweeks: twoweeksfor thethird-yearstudents andoneweekfor thefourth-yearstudents.Observationweeksaredevoted toobservinglessons andfamiliarisingwith theschoolsfacilities,policies,procedures,pedagogicalpractices, and thepreparation oftimetable.

>During theObservationWeeksstudentteachershave toobservelessonsgivenbytheirmonitorteachers tobeaware of themethods andtechniques ofher/histeaching.Inaddition to ittheyobserve therelationshipbetween theteacher andstudents,studentslearningstyles andtheirbehaviour.Togetbetterunderstanding of thelearnerspersonalitiesstudentteachersarerecommended toobservelessonsacrossothersubjectareas thataretaughtfor theclasstheyareallocated.At thesametimepre-serviceteachersobservelessons ofotherexperiencedteachers whodisplayexemplaryteachingpractices, andnoviceteachers toevaluatevariousteachingtechniquesatdifferentlevels ofprofessionalexperience.

>During theObservationWeeksstudentteachersarerequired torecordtheirobservations offifteen Englishlanguageclassesfor thethird-yearstudents andtenclassesfor thefourth-yearstudents tobeassessed.Studentsmusthavedailyentries oftheirobservationsreflecting onvarioustypes ofteaching orparticipationexperience.Moreover,studentteachersarestronglyrecommended toconductpeerobservation andprovidefeedback onatleastonelessonperday, andwrittenfeedback onatleast twolessonsperweekduring theTeachingWeeks.

1.1.1Types of recordsat theTeachingPracticum andtraineesproblems

>Therearenofixedobservationinstruments in theNationalTeachingPracticumCirriculum.Every EnglishLanguageTeachingDepartmentcompilestheirown, inethnographic orstructuredformat.SomeDepartmentsprescribe thatstudentteachersmustkeepdiaries,whereasothersprovidetraineeswithobservationschemes. Theformertechniquerequires thatpre-serviceteachershave todescribetheirreaction to thelessonobserved,learners, therelationshipbetweenteacher andpupils,schoolpolicy ingeneral andtheirinitialteachingexperience in theform ofnarration. Thelatteronesareintroduced indifferentformats; itiseither adetailedstructuredcheck-listwithpre-specifiedcategories of theteachers orlearnersbehaviour and thetraineesroleis torecordtheiroccurrence, andaccompanywithevidences orjottedcomments thattheyconsiderrelevant to theobservation, or agenerallessonreportswherestudentteachersmakenoticesaboutplusses andminuses of thelessonobserved.

>As ateachertrainerat the state University inKazakhstan Ihaveread,analysed andassessedmorethan 200diaries andobservationsheetsforsixyears.Thisworkhasraisedmydoubtsaboutusefulness ofobservationas alearningtool. Thecomments oftraineesaremainlydescriptive; thestudentteachersnotedownwhat theteacher and thelearnershavedoneduring thelesson andwhether thelearnersare ">interested", ">involved", ">active" ornot. Ihavenoticed thattraineesfaceproblemswithidentifying theaims of thelesson,means oftransition,teachersprompts andlearningoutcomes.Thereisverylittleanalysis orreflection.Theyobserve that theteacherhasnoproblemswithdisciplinebutdonotaskthemselveswhy ithasbeenso.Veryfewtraineeshavemadeanyconnectionbetweenobservations andtheirownteaching.

Icannamesomereasons oftheseproblems. Themainoneis in thelittleamount oftime thatisallotted toTESOLcourse inKazakhstan.Due tothisreason,pre-serviceteachersareformallyintroduced toobservationskills andstrategies.Studentteachersneedhelp inobservation,butuniversitysupervisor andeducationalpsychologyinstructorarefartoooften in theclassroomwithpre-serviceteachers toguidethem andconductobservation,furtheranalysis andreflection incollaborativeway.Anotherreasonis that theformat of theobservationschemesseems tolimit thestudentteachersverymuch.Theyfeelobliged tofill in thespaceoftenrepeating thesameremarks insubsequentobservationsheets.Finally,observationsheetsprescribecategories ortasks in theform ofbroadstatementswithoutexplaining thereason ofobservation,what towrite and inwhatsequence.Teachingprocessis acomplexprocedure thatcoversteachingbehaviour,learningbehaviour,patterns ofinteraction, andpatterns of groupdynamics.Someaspects oftheseproceduresareovert,forexample,question-answerwork,butsometimes itisfarmorecovert,suchaslearnersinterest.Sostudentteachersface thedilemmawhatisnoteworthy tomention, how tointerpretteachers,learnersremarks orbehaviour,whatsize thenotesshouldbe.

1.1.2Tasksassolution of the problem

>Inmypaper Iamlookingforsomehelpformystudents tomaketheirobservationexperiencemoremeaningful.Studentteachersshould know that thereason ofobservation andfilling theobservationsheetsis thatwewantthem tolearnsomethingfromdoingso, andonlythengradethem. Thefeatures of agoodobservershouldbemadeclear tothem.Theyshouldrealize that theskills ofobservationcanbelearnt. Theuniversitysupervisorshouldtry totransfersome ofherobservationskillsbyobserving alesson, andanalyzingobservationsheetsafter alessonshehasobservedwith thetrainees in acollaborative andconsultingway.

Themainsuggestionconcerns theformat of theobservationschemes.Numerousschedules ofobservationhavebeenintroduced: theFlanders System ofInteractionAnalysis (>FIAC)byFlanders (1970), the ForeignLanguageINTeraction (>FLINT)systembyMoskowitz (1971),FOCUSbyFanselow (1977),COLTbyAllen,Frlich andSpada (1984), theStirlingsystembyMitchell,Johnstone andParkinson (1981).Theyarevalid anddonotrequiretrials.But themain problemwiththeseinstrumentsis thattheywereoriginallydesignedforeducational research andforin-serviceteacherdevelopment.Some oftheseinstruments,theyaredescribed inChapter 2.5.2.arerecommendedforteachertrainingeducation.However, theresearchersdonotdeny thefact that all ofthemarecomplex andrequireintensivetraining.Thusforteachertrainingeducationweneedreliableobservationinstrumentsbased onscientificgrounds thatdevelopobservationskillsgradually andimprovethemwithpractice.

>Observationtaskshavebeenintroducedby theProfessorWajnryb (1992) andarewidelyused in amodifiedwayround the world inteacherdevelopmentprogrammes.Sheclearlyidentified theadvantages ofobservationtasks.Theylimit thescope ofobservation andallowanobserver tofocusher/hisattentionatone or twoparticularaspects.Concretesubsequentstatementsprovide aconvenientmeans ofcollectingdata and freestudentteachersfrominterpreting thebehaviour andmakingevaluationduring thelesson. A list ofquestionsafter alessonguidethemwhataspects of theteaching/learningprocesstheyshouldreflect on.Whatismoretheyallowstudentteacher topersonalize thedata and toviewtheirownteachingexperience.Thus thenature of thetask-basedexperienceis >inquiry-based,discovery-oriented,inductive andpotentiallyproblem-solving (>Wajnryb 1992:15).

>However,initiallyclassroomobservationtaskshavebeenintroducedforteachersprofessionalgrowthbutnotforteachertrainingeducation.Thatiswhytheyneed tobeadaptedforthispurposeaswell.Learnerobservationtasksoffersamples ofcategories to thestudentteacherswithoutrestrictingthem.Studentteacherscoulddecide inwhichform totakenotes,eitherputtingdownactualutterances orjotters.Itisimportantbecause itallowsstudentteacher tobeindependent andautonomous. Othermodificationsaredescribed inChapter 3.

The twomainpurposes of thetaskscanbeformulatedas toraisetraineesawarenessabout theaspects of theteachingprocess andguidestudentteachers tomaketheirowndecisionabout theteachingprocess.Inaddition tothemobservationtasksmayoccuras thebasisforfurtherdeepercasestudy research andprovidestudentteacherswithdataforwriting acourseworkaccording to theNationalProgrammeforTeaching EnglishLanguageDepartment.

1.1.3 The problem ofassessment ofobservationdocuments

>At the end of theTeachingPracticumobservationsheets ordiariesmustbeincluded in thePracticumFolder tobeassessed.Thereisanother problem asupervisorfaces.Therearenoexplicitcriteriaforassessmentstudentteachersobservationsheets.Gill P.S., auniversityteacherfrom theCzechRepublic, in hisfeedback tomyrequestaboutTeachingPracticumexperience indifferentcountriesnoticed: >Whatweuse toarriveatthesedecisions (>assess ornotassessstudentsobservationschedules)isourinternal anddoubtlesshighlysubjectivecriteria.Thesecriteriainclude thefullanswer to thequestions,evidence ofstudentteachersability todescribewhattheyhaveseen andlink it to theactivities of thelesson,evidence ofreflection, andlanguageexplicitness.Itisevident that allthesecriteria soundambiguously.Whatshouldwetreatas thefullanswer, >evidence ofreflection and >languageexplicitness?Inmypaper Iamgoing tointroducescientificcriteriaforassessment ofobservationfor researchpurpose andadaptthem toobservationas alearningtoolforteachertrainingeducation.


1.2.  >Learneras acentralfocus ofobservation

 

1.2.1Learnerscentralrole in theteachingprocess

>Formydissertation Ihavedesignedobservationtaskswhicharedirected toobserve andstudylearnersbehaviour,theirattitude toeachother, theteacher and thesubject, andguidestudentteachers tocontemplateabouttheirmotives,reasons ofthesebehaviours.Therearemanyreasons toset alearner in thecentre of theobservation.Historically,due to theteacher-centeredapproach ineducation,observationwasfocused to theaspects ofteachersbehaviours: opening />closingprocedures,use ofvoice,handlingdisciplineproblems andmanyothers.But allhumanistic,languageacquisitiontheoriesapproach to theteachingprocess thatanindividuallearnercanbringhis/herownexperience,knowledge,ideas to theclassroom.One of themainaims of thepresentteachingprocessis tohelplearners toberesponsiblefortheirlearningprogress, topromotetheirautonomy inlanguagelearning.Toaccomplishthisaim,studentteachersshould knowindividualdifferences,learnerssubjectiveneeds andpreferences.Thisknowledgewillhelpthem tomakeinstructionalproceduresmoreflexible toindividuallearningpace andneeds (>Tudor 1996:11) thatenhancelearnersinvolvementintolearningprocess andlearnersprogressaccordingly.

1.2.2Reasons toobservelearnersbehaviour

>Anothermotive thatdrivesme theidea todesignlearnerobservationtasksis thereports ofmytraineesafter theteachingpracticum.Theyhavenoted that >studentsare ofdifferentlevelsbuttheyaregiven thesametasks;tasksforstudentswithlowerlevelshouldbeadapted;studentsshouldhavenotonly groupworkbutindividualwork;pupilsdemonstratelack ofinterest indoingsometasks.Thesequotesclearlyindicatestudentteachersawareness ofindividualdifferences andimportance ofindividualapproach toeverylearner or a group oflearners.However,studentteachersenter theclassroomwith acriticallack ofknowledge (>Kagan 1992:131)aboutpupils.Toacquireknowledge ofpupils,directobservationappears tobecrucial.Thisrequiresstructuredguidedobservation thatallowstrainees tostudypupilsbehaviours, to knowtheirdifferences andneeds torespondthemappropriatelythrough avariety oflearningactivities intheirfuturelessonplanning.

>Inanextensivereview ofhundredstudies ofbeginningteachersVeenman (1984:144)rankedclassroomdiscipline,motivation ofstudents, andindividualdifferencesamongstudentsastheirfirstthreeconcerns. Thepurpose ofcompilinglearnerobservationtasksis to change in thetraineesknowledge of aclass interms of aprogression:beginningwithclassroomclimate andmanagement,moving tomotivation ofstudents andtheirindividuallearningstyles, andfinallyturning tostudentslanguageproficiency.

1.3Overview ofchapters

Thedissertationisintended toprovideuniversitysupervisors andstudentteachersatTeachingPracticumwithfourobservationtasks thataredirectedatobservinglearnersbehaviours.

>Introductionexplains thebackgroundsituation inteachingpracticum ofTESOLDepartments inHigheducation indevelopingcountries,particularly in theKazakhstanRepublic. Iintroduce themotives thathavebroughtme theidea todevelopmaterialsforobservationduring theteachingpracticum. Thesubsequentchaptershavebeendividedintospecificareas.

>Chapter 2gives adetailedaccount ofobservation ineducational research and in thelanguageclassroomstudies.Observationisdefinedas adirect researchmethods and alearningtoolfordatacollecting.Itemphasizedcharacteristicfeatures ofobservationas ascientificmethod anditsdifferencefrom thenaturalprocess oflooking.Someweaknesses ofobservationarespecified,amongwhicherrors inrepresentingdata,objectivity ofdatarecording andlimitation ofobservableitemsareclassified anddescribed.Reliability andvalidityare twokeyprocesses thatcanenhance the >trustworthiness ofreportedobservations,interpretations, andgeneralizations (>Mishler 1990:419).Typology ofreliability andevidences ofvalidityintroducemethodologicalstrategies andjudgmentcriteriaforobjectiveassessing ofobservationdata.Toensurescientificobservationanobservermustclarifyfocus ofobservation,approach todatacollection, andways ofrecordingobservationdata. Thepaperpresentsfourperspectives on alessonforpre-serviceteachereducation:teacher-centred,learner-centred,curriculum-centred andcontext-centredfocus.Twoapproaches (>system-based,ethnographic)aredescribed inopposition, andad-hocinstrumentas acombination ofboth.Method andtechniques ofobservationfocus on themaininstruments thathavebeendevelopedforpre-serviceteachereducation:fieldnotes,anecdotal records,diaries,journals,personallogs,casestudies, andchecklists,observationschedules,observationtasks,selectiveverbatim,ratingnumericalscales.Theyareclassifiedasprocedures of alowdegree and highdegree ofexplicitness (>Seliger andShohamy 1989:158)respectively.Dataevaluationis alate andcrucialstage inobservationmethod.Forteachertrainingeducationevaluation ofobservation recordsconstitutes apart of theteachingpracticumassessment.Inqualitative andquantitative research twoapproaches toanalysis of thedocumentsarepresented:manual andcomputerbased. Aset ofprocedures andcriteriaisspecifiedformanualevaluation.

>Chapter 3describes thedetails of thelearnerobservationtasksdesign.Itexplains thechoice ofareaforlearnerobservation and thereasons ofmodification ofclassroomobservationtaskselaboratedbyWajnryb (1992).Description of thetaskframe,categoriesisprovided.

>Chapter 4givesself-evaluationaccount of thedesignedmaterials in thecontext of theliteraturereview.Itexplains thechoice of thead-hocapproachas themostappropriateinstrumentforteachertrainingeducation. Iemphasise thecombinedfeatures ofethnographic andstructuredapproach to thedesign of thelearnerobservationtasks.Itisfollowedby theevidences ofreliability andvalidity of thedocuments.

>Chapter 5introduces abriefbackgroundabout theparticularfacet oflearnerbehaviour thatis tobefocused ondoingeveryobservationtask.Thisisfollowedby theactualdescription of thetask,itsobjectives and theprocedure of thework on thetaskbefore,during andafter thelesson. Iexplain thechoice ofcategories andsymbols of thetask thatstudentteachersarerecommended toemploy intheirdescriptivenotes.

>Chapter 6indicatesfurtherimplication of thelearnerobservationtasksinto theTeachingPracticum Curriculum.Alsothreephases how toworkwith thetasksaregivenforuniversitysupervisors. IhaveadaptedevaluationcriteriaproposedbyScott (1990)formanualassessment oftraineesdocuments.Finally,somerecommendationsforfutureimprovement ofassessmentprocedurewith theuse ofcomputerpackagesareintroduced.


>Chapter 2

 

>Literaturereview

2.1   >Whatisobservation?

2.1.1.   >Observation inscientific research

>Repeatedreferencerefersobservationas amethod ofdatacollection and aprocessinvolvingrepresentations andrecordings inwhichrealityisdepicted.Techniques ofobservationarenotthemselves new:theyhavebeenused inscientific researchforstudying thebehaviour ofmen andanimals.Anthropologists,sociologists andpsychologistswereconcernedprimarilywithdescribing >observablebehaviours andactivities (>Seliger andShohamy 1989:118)with the >systematicrecording inobjectiveterms ofbehaviour in theprocess ofoccurring (>Jersild andMeigs 1939), anddescribingthese intheirentiretyfrombeginning to end.

>Onecouldtreatobservationas afamiliar andnaturalphenomenon thatdoesnotneedanydefinition.Hutt andHutt (1974)givenodefinition ofobservation intheirbook Directobservation andMeasurement ofBehaviour. Thedefinition ofgeneralobservationisgivenbyWright (1960:71) researchmethodsrestupondirectobservationas ascientificpractice thatincludesobserving andrecording andanalysis ofnaturallyoccurringevents andthings.According toWright (1960:71)observationisdirectasnoarrangements standbetween theobserver and theobserved, and the recordsareusuallycompiledimmediatelyafter theobservation.In areviewarticle,Weick (1968:360)definesanobservationalmethod inmoreelaborativewayas theselection,provocation,recording andencoding of thatset ofbehaviours andsettingorganism insituwhichisconsistentwithempiricalaims.

>So, thecharacteristicfeatures ofobservationas ascientificmethod Icandefineasthereshouldbe a limitedamount of information tobecollected; thedatashouldberecordedsystematically andanalysedover aperiod oftime; thedatashouldbecongruentwith theaims; theobservationsessionmustbeplanned; and,finally, theobservation andanalysismustbeobjective.

2.1.2.   >Approaches toobservation in thelanguageclassroomstudies

>Observation in thelanguageclassroomistreatedeitheras a researchprocedurefor in -serviceprofessionaldevelopment oras alearningtoolforpre-serviceteachers.Hargreaves (1980:212)suggests that the1970swere a >notabledecadeforclassroomstudiesthanks to thenumber ofprojects and thewiderange ofmethodologicalapproaches, andheidentified >threegreattraditions ofstudyingclassrooms -systematicobservation,ethnographicobservation andsociolinguisticstudies.Sociolinguisticsstudies theaspects oflinguisticsappliedtoward theconnectionsbetweenlanguage andsociety.Theseaspectsarenot ofprimeinterestforpre-serviceclassroomobservation thatiswhy Idonotdwelluponthisapproach inthispaper.

>Hammersley (1986:47)proposes thatsystematicobservation andethnographyaretreatedas >self-contained andmutuallyexclusiveparadigms. Thefurtherdescription ofboth oftheseapproachessupportsthisidea.Croll (1986:5)illustratessomefundamentalaspects ofsystematicobservationasfollows:explicitpurposeswhichareworked outbeforedatacollection;explicit andrigorouscategories andcriteriaforclassifyingphenomena;datashouldbepresented inquantitativeform tobeanalysedwithstatisticaltechniques;anyobservershouldrecord aparticularevent inanidentical fashion toanyother.Ethnographicapproachinvolves acompletecycle ofevents thatoccurwithin theinteractionbetween thesociety andenvironment.Lutz (1986:108)definesethnographyas aholistic,thickdescription of theinteractiveprocessinvolving thediscovery ofimportant andrecurringvariables in thesocietyastheyrelate tooneanother,underspecificconditions, andastheyaffect orproducecertainresults andoutcomes in thesociety.So,systematicobservationisdescribedashighlyeclecticstudies ofaneventwithpre-specifiedcategories anddetailedanalysisispresented inquantitativemannerwhereasethnographydescribes andinterpretseventsholistically intheirnaturallyoccurringcontexts.Moredetailedcharacteristics ofsystematic andethnographicapproachesareprovided inChapter 2.3.

2.2.   >Observationas a problem

 

2.2. 1.  >Classifications oferrors in theprocess ofobservation

>Thereisalways thepossibility oferror in theobservationprocess.Fassnacht (1982:43)reviewsCampbells (1958)classifications oferrors inrepresentingdata inpsychological andsocialstudies.Some oftheseerrorsfrequentlyoccurwhenmakingjudgements andprimarilyconcernlanguagebehaviour:

a)error ofcentraltendency

b)error ofleniency orgenerosity

)primacy orrecencyeffect

>d)haloeffect

e)logicalerror

Afirsterroroccurs inusing aratingscale.Hollingworth (1910)called theeffect >centraltendency in aseries ofjudgementsaboutobjectivity ofquantifiablestimuli,when thelargestimuliareunderestimated and thesmallonesoverestimated.

>Anerror ofleniency orgenerositycouldarise inmakingfavourableverbaljudgementsusingpersonalityscales.Fassnacht (1982:40)clarifies that in thepersonalityscales anumber ofquestionsrelating tooneparticularpersonalitytraitaredrawntogether and theanswers tothesequestionsaregiven in theform of >yes, >no, >sometimes, >oftenwhichmightnotreflectobjectivereality.

Athirderroroccursas aresult of theorder inwhichperceptualeventshappen. The problemis that inbehaviourtesting thefirstimpressioncouldhave adistortingeffect onlaterdatacollection andthuslead toerrors.Bailey (1990:218)admits that indiarykeeping,events thatareembarrassing orpainfulwhentheyoccur >oftenlosetheirstingafterweeks ofreflection.

Afourtherror,haloeffect,isdescribedbyMandl (1971)when theevaluator >has thetendencywhenjudging apersonalitytrait tobeinfluencedby ageneralimpression or asalientcharacteristic.

>Logicalerrors orerror oftheoryrevealsdue to thetheoreticalassumptions of theobserver.Itisnowwidelyaccepted thatobservationisalways >theory-laden (>Phillips 1993:62). Hecontinues thatobservationscannotbe >pure, freefrom theinfluence ofbackgroundtheories orhypotheses orpersonalhopes anddesires.Ratcliffe (1983:148)supportsthisassumption in that >most researchmethodologistsarenowaware that alldataaretheory-,method-, andmeasurement-dependent.AsBailey (1990:226)suggests inconducting '>pure research' itisbetter toavoidreading the researchliterature in thefield, tokeepfrombiasing theresults.

2.2.2.  The problem of >observableitems

Theitem >observable in thedefinitiongivenbySeliger andShohamy (1989:118)mentionedaboveemphasizes the problem ofwhatitems tobetreatedasobservable inclassroomsetting.Thus,Smith andGeoffrey (1968)makevalidassertionscriticisingsystematicobservationsystems:

Theway theteacherposes hisproblems, thekind ofgoals andsub-goalsheistrying toreach, thealternativesheweighs areaspects ofteachingwhicharefrequentlylost to thebehaviouralorientedempirical whofocuses onwhat theteacherdoes to theexclusion of howhethinksaboutteaching.Smith andGeoffrey (1968:96)

>McIntyre andMacleod (1986:14)generalize the problem ofobservableitems andlimitation ofdataobtainedthroughsystematicobservationclaiming thatthereis >nodirectevidence on theactions ofparticipantswhicharenotovert. Thedetailedcriticism ofsystematicobservationisgiven inChapter 2.6.2.

2.2.3.  >Datarecordingproblems

The problem ofaccuraterecording

>Datacollection,descriptionproceduresfaceproblems of theaccuracy andexplicitness of records. Thecrucial problemis tobeable torenderinterpretable theprocess ofevents andbehaviouras itoccursnaturally (>McKernan 1996:60).

>Hutt andHutt (1970:34)emphasise thedifficulty ofaccuratedescription of thebehaviour.Theyemphasize the problemwith thevocabularychoice in thattherearemanythousands ofwordswhichdescribemotor andlanguagebehaviourbut >unfortunately, thewordsareinjunctiveconcepts,learnedbyusageratherthanbydefinition (>Hutt andHutt 1970:34). Otherthan that, itisfrequentlyfound thatsomedefinitionsareoverencompassing in thattheycoverpatterns ofbehaviourforwhichordinarylanguagehas two ormoreterms.Lofland andLofland (1995:93)recommendemployingbehaviouristic andconcretevocabularyratherthanabstractadjectives andadverbs,whicharebased onparaphrase andgeneralrecall.

The problem ofobjectiverecording

>Another problemwith thewrittencommentary tobediscussedis the problem ofobjectivity.Allresearchersagree that thedataareoftensubjective,reflectpersonalimpressions,inferential andinterpretative.Eventsmaynotbeviewed thesamewaybydifferentobservers. >Itis common tofind thatwitnesses toanaccidentgivedifferingaccounts ofwhathappened (>Lofland 1995:127).

>Eisner (1993:49)definesobjectivityasbeing >fair, open to allsides of theargument. Heconsiders that toreducesubjectivity theobservermustachievecorrespondencenotonly inwhats/heperceives orunderstandsbut howshe orherepresents it.Schaffer (1982:75)continuous the problem ofvocabularychoicesaying thattherearesomeaspects ofrealitywhichcanbedescribedfairlyobjectively andthosewhichcanonlybedescribedsubjectively, and itisdifficult to knowwhere theborderlinebetweenobjectivity andsubjectivitylies.Scheurich (1997:161)doubts in theveryexistence ofgrossmaterialreality. Heclaims that researchmainlyaddressesinterpretation ofmeaning orconstructions of >reality.

>Tosum theproblemswithdatarecording Icansuggest thatanobservermaydescribe andinterpretanevent insubjectivewaydue topersonalbias,theoreticalassumptions,s/hecanexperiencedifficulty in thechoice ofanobject/behaviour toobserve andwords torecordanevent inaccurate andexplicitway.

2.2.4.  Thechoice ofanapproach toobservation

>Anobserverfaces thedilemma inchoosingsystematic orethnographicapproaches. Themain problem ofethnographicalapproachlies initsverynature itissobroad that itdemands ahighlytrainedobserver todo acompetent andreliableobservation. >Anuntrainedobservermaybeoverwhelmedby thecomplexity ofwhatgoes on andnotbeable tofocus onimportantevents in theclassroom (>Day 1990:44).Pre-specifiedcodingsystems insystematicobservationareexclusivelyconcernedwith >whatcanbecategorized ormeasured (Simon andBoyer 1974).Thustheymaydistort orignore thequalitativefeatureswhichtheyclaim toinvestigate.At thesametimelimiting theattention of theobservercanhelpimprovereliability.

2.3.  >Reliability andValidity

 

2.3.1  >Types ofreliability

>Reliability andvalidityare themostimportantcriteriaforassuring thequality of thedatacollectionprocedures. Thecriterion ofreliabilityprovides information onwhether thedatacollectionprocedureis >consistent andaccurate (>Seliger andShohamy 1989:185). Theresearcherssuspect thatobserversmayunintentionallyimposetheirownbiases andimpressions on theobservedsituation.Seliger andShohamy (1985:185)claim thatfordifferenttypes ofdatacollectionproceduresdifferenttypes ofreliabilityarerelevant.Thustheydeterminefor theethnographicapproach thefollowingtypes:

a)inter-raterreliability (toexamine towhichdifferentobserversagree on thedatacollectedfrom theobservation);

b)test-retesreliability (tocheckstability ofdatacollectionovertime);

)regrounding (torepeat thedatacollection andcomparebothresults);

>d)parallelform (toexamine towhichextent twoversions of thesamedatacollectionprocedurearereallycollecting thesamedata)

>Toassurereliabilitydifferentmethodologistssuggestinvolvingatleast twoobservers tocarry a >sequentialanalysis (>Becker 1970:79), or toachieve >inter-observeragreement (>Croll 1986:150). Theidea of theformerprocedureis tocarry out theanalysisconcurrentlywithdatacollection in thesense that >onemay >stepbackfrom thedata,soas toreflect ontheirpossiblemeaning (>Fielding 2001:158).Thusfurthersubsequentdatagatheringwilldirect theobservereither toabandon orpursue theoriginalhypothesis.In thelaterprocedure twoobservers lookat thesameeventsfromdifferentlocations tocategorisetheseevents andcompare theoutcomes.Usingsystematicschemeswithpre-specifiedcategoriestheyrefine, or >index (>Fielding 2001:159) thedefinitions andcategories ofobservationby >applying in aconsistentmanner theproceduresfordataselection,collection,grouping,inclusion,exclusion etc. (>Simpson andTuson 1995:65).

2.3.2Types andevidences ofvalidity

>Justastherearedifferenttypes ofreliability,Seliger andShohamy (1989: 102)suggest thattherearedifferenttypes ofvaliditywhichprovide >evidenceforvalidity.Thus,theirtypology of >evidences ofvaliditycomprises

a)evidence oncontentvaliditywhichdemonstratesappropriateness ofdatacollectionagainst thecontent tobemeasured;

b)criterionvaliditywhichprovidesanindicationas towhether theinstrumentcanbemeasuredagainstsomeothercriterion andcomparedwith thepreviousresults (>concurrentvalidity), andwhether theprocedureiscapable offoretellingcertainbehaviour (>predictivevalidity);

)constructvaliditywhichexamineswhether thedatacollectionprocedureis agoodrepresentation of andconsistentwithcurrenttheoriesunderlying thevariablebeingmeasured.

>Chaudron (1988:24)givesanotherterm to thecontentvalidity andsuggests >treatmentvaliditywhichrelates to theprocesscomponent ofprocess-productstudy anddemonstrates that thetreatmentwas infactimplemented and that itwasidentifiabledifferentfromwhatever itwasbeingcomparedwith.

>For theresults of the secondlanguage researchSeliger andShohamy (1989:104)identifyinternal andexternalvalidity.Theypropose that astudyhasinternalvalidityif theoutcomes of theobservationaldatacanbedirectly andunambiguouslyattributed to thetreatment thatisapplied to theobserved group, and that theinterpretation ofthesedataisnotdependent on thesubjectivejudgement ofanindividualresearcher.Internalvalidity inthissenserelates tothreeareas: >representativeness,retrievability, andconfirmability of thedata (>Seliger andShohamy 1989:104).Externalvalidityinvolves theextent towhich thefindings of astudycanbegeneralized andapplied toanothersituation and thecategories of thestudyaretreatedasbasic,applied, andpractical.

>Toachieveevidences ofvalidityitems orquestions ofaninstrumentmustbeanalyzed in theprocess ofdatacollection. Aresearcher orobservershouldobtain information onwhether theitemsare of >low-inference or >high-inference (>Long 1980),tooeasy ortoodifficult, andwhether theitemsarephrased andeasilyunderstoodby therespondents.Alltheseaspectsarerecommended toexamine in thepilotphase of the research thatislikely tobeprovedbyevidencesfrom avariety ofsources,suchasadditionalquestionnairedatafrompupils orteachers,interviews,surveys.Anotherway ofexamining thevalidity ofobservationis toaskcolleagues tostudy thecategories and todefine thepurpose of theobservation.Simpson andTuson (1995:65)treatthismethodas ausefulcheck onfacevalidity.Thus toachievereliable andvalidobservationanevaluatorshouldtakeintoaccount thespatiallocation ofanobserver,engagemorethanoneobserver,involve >low-inferencecategories thatdonotrequirecomplexinterpretation andcheckagreement ofkeyaspectsagainstindependentstudies.


2.4.  >Items ofobservation

 

2.4.1 Theimportance ofitems

>Insofar thelanguageclassroomobservation >doesnotsimplymeanwatchingclasses (>Wallace 1991:123).Anobservermayrecordeitherverynarrowlydefineddatasuchas aspecificspeechact, ormoregeneralkinds oflanguagelearningactivitysuchasturn-taking, groupwork.

>Anyscientific research orobservationischaracterisedbytermsas >structured, >organised, >methodical, and >systematic.Tofollowthesecharacteristicsanydatacollectionobtains astructure orformat, andguidedbysomequestions orvariables.Croll (1986:55)notifies avariableas abasicunit thatrepresents theprocessbywhich aconcept ofinterestisturnedinto aset ofworkingdefinitionswhereby theresults ofobservation orsomeotherdatacollectingprocesscanbecategorized andmeasured.

2.4.2Items ofobservation in thelanguageclassroom

>Forclassroomobservationas alearningtoolRichards (1998:143)proposesthreeperspectives on alessonforpre-servicetraining todevelop adeeperunderstanding of how andwhyteachersteach thewaytheydo and thedifferentwaysteachersapproachtheirlessons.Theyare:

1)Teacher-centeredfocus: theteacherisprimaryfocus;factorsinclude theteachersrole,classroommanagementskills,questioningskills,presence,voicequality,manner, andqualityinstructions.

2)Curriculum-centeredfocus: thelessonasaninstructionalunitis theprimaryfocus;factorsincludelessongoals, opening,structuring,tasktypes,flow, anddevelopment andpacing.

3)Learner-centeredfocus: thelearnersare theprimaryfocus;factorsinclude theextent towhich thelessonengagedthem,participationpatterns, andextent oflanguageuse.

>Wallace (1998:68)substitutes thefocus on thecurriculumwith thefocus on thecontext inwhich theteacherteaches: theclassroomlayout, theteachingaidsavailable and howtheyareused.

>Low-inference andhigh-inferencecategoreis

Thepresentation ofitemsinvolvesconstructingsets ofcategoriesintowhichoccurrencesmustbecodedunambiguously.InthisrespectLong (1980:3)introduceslow-inference andhigh-inferencemeasures.Low-inferencecategoriesincludethings thatcanbecounted orcodedwithout theobserverhaving toinfertheirmeaningfromobservablebehaviour.Suchcategoriesaccording toAllwright andBailey (2000:73)involve thenumber oftimes thestudentraisesher/hishands, or thefrequencywithwhich theteacheruses thestudentsname.High-frequencyitemsdemand that theobservermake ajudgement thatgoesbeyondwhatisimmediatelyobserved. Thesamples ofthistype ofcategoriescoverfactorslikelearnersattention, or thesocialclimate. Icanconclude thatobservationdatashouldcovercategories ofobservablebehaviour thatdoesnotrequiremuchinterpretation.

2.5.  >Typology ofobservation

>Typology ofclassroomobservationinstrumentsisworked outbyWallace (1991:66) andhepresents thefollowingoppositions:

1.system-based,ethnographic orad-hoc

2.global orspecific

3.evaluative,formative orresearch-related

4.teacher-focused,learner-focused orneutral infocus

5.quantitative orqualitative

Headmits thatsome of theoppositionsarenotclear-cut andoverlap.Forexample,observationtechniqueswhichareprimarilyevaluativemaybeemployedforformativepurposes,ethnographicapproachistreatedasglobal andqualitative. Systembasedapproachcanfocus onteachersactivity andlearnersactivities.System-based (>systematic),ethnographic andad-hocapproachesencompassothercharacteristics of theclassificationprovided.Thus, Ioutline thefeatures of thefirstopposition.

2.5.1System-basedapproach

>Bysystem-basedobservationWallace (1991:67)means theobservation thatisbased on asystem offixed andpre-specifiedcategories.Theyareglobal innature,i.e. >theyareintended togivegeneralcoverage of themostsalientaspects of theclassroomprocess (>Wallace 1991:110).Anysystemcontains afinitearray ofcategories. Theendeavour of allsystem-basedobservationinstrumentsis theanalysis ofteacher-classinteraction. The twomostinfluentialsystemsaredevisedbyBellack (1966:267) andbyFlanders (1970:314).Wallace (1991:112)hasidentified thecharacteristicfeatures of thefirstsystemas:

1) thedataaremeasuredfrom atranscript,i.e. thedatahave tobefirstrecorded andthentranscribed;

2) thecentralplace oflabelledunits ofdiscoursearestructure,solicit,response,reaction.

>In the >Flanderstraditionthereis aform ofdocumentedrecallwheretalliesaremadeeverythreeminutesunderonerange ofcategories.Inchapter 2.6 theanalysis of arange ofinteractionschemes,theiradvantages anddisadvantagesarepresentedwithmoredetails.Theyarewidelyusedbyresearchersastheyare ready-made,wellknown and itdoesnot tobetrialled andvalidated (>Wallace 1991:111).

2.5.2.Ethnographicapproach

Theobservationtechniquessharemany ofqualities ofethnographicpractices.Ethnographyis adetailedsociologicalobservation ofpeoplewhichimmerses theresearcher inanintenseperiod ofobservation >whichguides andinforms allsubsequentdatagathering. (>Radnor 2002:49)

>Ethnographicalapproachisoriginallydevelopedfrom themethodologies offieldanthropologists andsociologistsconcernedwithstudyinghumanbehaviourwithin thecontext inwhich thatbehaviourwouldnaturallyoccur.Methodologically, >anthropologicalclassroomstudiesarebased onparticipantobservation,duringwhich theobserverimmersehim/herself in the newculture.Initialdatagatheredby theethnographerareopen-ended andrelativelyunstructured that >allows andencourages thedevelopment of newcategories (>Delamont andHamilton 1976:13).Anethnographeruses aholisticframework.S/hemakesnoattempt tomanipulate, control oreliminatevariables.At thesametimes/hereduces thebreadth of researchproblemssystematically togivemoreconcentratedattention to theemergingsalientissues.

Thegreatstrength of theethnographic researchis that itgetsawayfrom thesimplisticbehaviouralemphasis of thepre-specifiedcodes. (>Delamont andHamilton 1976:37).

Themainpurpose of theethnographicapproachis thesearchformeaning andisbased on thedescription of thestudiedphenomenon.However,Lutz (1986:112)warns thatnoteveryone whocanwrite aparagraphdescribinganencounterbetween ateacher and astudentisanethnographer, andhepoints out thatanobservershouldbetrained inethnographicmethods,particularlyparticipant-observerfieldmethods.

2.5.3Ad-hocapproach

Theterm >ad-hocisused todescribesomething thathasbeendevisedfor aparticularpurpose, >withnoclaims togenerality (>Wallace 1991:113). Thead-hocapproachrelates tostructuredapproachesbut thecategoriesderivefrom aparticular problem or researchtopic.Thatiswhythissystemismorepopularwithpractisingteachers.Whatismorethisapproachisflexible andeclectic, andinvolvesbothquantitative andqualitativedatawhereeachseemsappropriate.Wallace (1991:113)assumes thateachdifferentarea ofconcernwillyield adifferentsystem ofanalysis.Ad-hocapproachisconsidered tobe themostappropriate inteacher-trainingeducationas itisbasicallyguideddiscoveryapproach thatdrivestudent-teachers tofocus andreflect onanimportantarea oflanguageteaching, andprovide ameta-languagewithwhich todiscuss. Theinstrument ofad-hocapproachisknownasobservationtasks (>Wajnryb 1992) andisdescribed inChapter 2.6.2.

2.6.  >Methods andtechniques ofobservation

 

2.6.1Classification ofdatacollectiontechniques

>Seliger andShohamy (1989:158)presentclassification ofdatacollectionproceduresaccording to thedegree ofexplicitness.Onone end of thescaletheysetbroad andgeneraltechniqueswhichdonotfocus on aparticulartype ofdata andareconsidered tobe of alowdegree,whileat theother endtheytend toputprocedureswhicharemoreexplicit andstructured andthusreveal highdegree ofexplicitness.Collectingdatabyprocedures of alowdegree ofexplicitnessisdonebymeans of open andinformaldescription,whichtends tobedonesimultaneouslywithitsoccurrence.Typicalprocedures ofthiskindarefieldnotes, records,diaries,journals,lessonreports,personallogs, lifehistoryaccounts,informalinterviewswith thesubjects ofobservation.Collectingdatabymeans ofprocedures of a highdegree ofexplicitnessinvolves theuse offormal andstructuredtypes ofdatacollectionprocedures.Examples ofsuchproceduresareinteractionschemes,checklists,observationschedules,observationtasks,formalinterviews,surveys,structuredquestionnaires,casestudies,ratingnumericalscales.Differentproceduresimplydifferenttechniquesfordatacollection.Dataobtainedfrommorestructuredobservationsarepresented in theform ofchecks,tallies,frequencies, andratings,whiledataobtainedfrom theinformalobservationsarepresented in theform ofnarration,field-notes, ortranscripts.

>According tothisclassification Iamgoing todescribe arange ofprocedures thatareapplied topre-serviceclassroomobservation.


2.6.2Observationinstruments

>Fieldnotes

>Fieldnotesare records ofnaturalisticobservation in thenaturalcontext of thebehaviourresearchedthroughdirectlistening andwatching. Themainfocus ofobservationnotesisaccuratedescriptionratherthaninterpretation.Anobservercanwritedowninterestingdetails onvariousaspects ofschool life ingeneral and of theteachingprocess inparticulars. >Eachobservationalnoterepresents ahappening orevent itapproximates the who,what,when, and how of theactionobserved (>McKernan 1996:94).McKernanconsidersfieldnotesas ausefultoolas

1.theyaresimple records tokeeprequiringdirectobservation

2.nooutsideobserverisnecessary

3.problemscanbestudied in theteachersowntime

4.theycanfunctionasanaide-memoire

5.theyprovideclues anddatanotdredged upbyquantifiedmeans.

>At thesametimeanobservershouldconsidersomedrawbacks in theuse

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