Practitioner researchers and academic researchers can do better together

22nd February 2021 : 12:00 - 13:00

Category: Seminar Webinar

Research Group: Applied Linguistics

Speaker: Dr Sal Consoli, Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Location: Teams Online

Convener: Faidra Faitaki

Audience: Public

Join the webinar on the day, with this link.

Whilst Practitioner research has gained momentum, guidance is required for teachers who wish to research their own classrooms or for academics who support teachers in such endeavours. I will report on a qualitative study of 6 Chinese students who joined a pre-sessional programme before commencing a postgraduate course in the UK. Initially, I was their pre-sessional teacher, and during this programme I adopted Exploratory Practice to investigate their motivation to study and live in the UK. At the end of this programme, I followed them throughout their postgraduate year, this time, as a narrative researcher who organised several rounds of interviews. Having worn the teacher and researcher hats, I wish to draw upon this experience to raise and address questions such as what are the key challenges and affordances of practitioner research? Who benefits from practitioner research? What ethical dilemmas might one face? I will argue that, as teachers, we are well-placed to conduct research with our own students, showing how teacher-research done within one’s educational context can illuminate phenomena that an ‘external’ researcher may not see. In this light, a ‘small-lens approach’ to research (Ushioda, 2016) may offer insights which more traditional approaches within Applied Linguistics may not capture. At the same time, I will discuss the need for teacher-researchers to receive some kind of research training in order to develop a repertoire of research skills which, combined with an ethical teacher sensitivity, offer a formidable pathway for successful, useful and ethically sound research. In other words, practitioners can offer applied linguistics the insider-knowledge and understandings that traditional research approaches may not fully grasp, and academics can offer tools and perspectives from academic research which may support practitioners’ inquiries. This work heeds Rose’s (2019) and McKinley’s (2019) calls for more collaboration between practitioners and academics and a practice-driven research agenda.

Bio: Sal Consoli is (Research) Assistant Professor in the Department of English at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. His research focuses on the psychology of language learning and teaching as well as research ethics and reflexivity in applied linguistics. His work has been largely influenced by the epistemological and methodological traditions of narrative inquiry and practitioner research. Sal is co-founder of the Forum on Language Learning Motivation (FOLLM) and serves on the Executive Committee of the British Association of Applied Linguistics (BAAL).