December 2008
Volume 12, Number 3

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From Experience to Learning: An Appraisal of the Questionnaire and Workshop as Research Methods in ESL

Premakumari Dheram
English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad, India

Nitya Rani


An appreciation of the role of reflection in professional development is encouraging more and more research scholars, teachers, and teacher trainers to locate research in the classroom. And, most of them collect data using the questionnaire. Given the situation, it is useful to acquire fresh insights into the questionnaire as a research method in L2 situations. Our study demonstrates that respondents may find exploratory questions threatening both cognitively and linguistically, and choose not to respond to them. This will lead to a low response and return rate of the questionnaire. Although a great deal of guidance is available on the design and administration of the research tool, there appears to be very little research on the relationship between the nature of the open-ended questions and the low response rate, especially in the ESL context. The findings of this study show that researchers, investigating classroom-related issues, can use the workshop as an alternative tool for data on unobservable phenomena such as attitudes, perceptions, and opinions. Between the two research methods, the workshop is less threatening than the questionnaire for two reasons. It allows interaction among peers, encourages them to think on the issues through reflective activities, and facilitates their learning from the experience.

Keywords: EFL, ESL, India, reflection, action research, questionnaires, workshops

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