Practitioner researchers and academic researchers can do better together

3rd March 2020 : 13:00 - 14:00

Category: Seminar

Research Group: Applied Linguistics

Speaker: Sal Consoli, Newcastle University

Location: Department of Education, Seminar Room G/H

Convener: Hamish Chalmers

Audience: Public

Seminar Abstract


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.


About the Speaker


Sal began his career as an EFL teacher in France, Italy, Spain and the UK, and then moved to the area of English for Academic Purposes (EAP). His ESRC-funded PhD investigated the motivational psychology of Chinese students in the UK higher education system. Sal is now a lecturer in Applied Linguistics and TESOL at Newcastle University. Before joining Newcastle, he taught on the BA and MA in TESOL & Applied Linguistics at the University of Warwick. His research interests are concerned with EAP practice and policy, internationalisation of higher education, motivational psychology for teaching and learning, and research ethics. His work sits within the epistemological and methodological traditions of narrative inquiry and practitioner research (i.e. Action Research and Exploratory Practice). 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).