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Mixed Methods Approach A Brief Review English Language Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Language
Wordcount: 5444 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Any research in any scientific field needs first an appropriate method to be followed as well as an accurate way in collecting the data and undertaking the investigations. Thus, the research methodology chapter is as important as any section in our doctoral dissertation. Thus, this part of our work will be devoted to the theoretical part of our research.

In this chapter, we try to summarise the main points analysed and given, by many researchers those who are specialists in this scope such as Hitchcock , Leedy, Ormrod, Manion, etc, to both the qualitative and quantitative research method explaining the main steps of the techniques used, starting with the review of some definitions given about the qualitative research methodology we have read, ending up by clarifying and explaining the experience we have undertaken during our investigation.

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2.2 What is qualitative research?

As any research in any scientific field qualitative research is a search for knowledge that seeks responses to any question; it is a systematic investigation to establish truths and involves the collection of evidence. What is unique in this type of research is that researchers are going to produce findings that have not been illustrated and produced in advance.

There are several different methods for conducting a qualitative research; however, Leedy and Ormrod (2001) recommend the following five: Case studies, grounded theory, ethnography, content analysis, and phenomenological. Creswell (2003) describes how these methods meet different needs. For instance, case studies and the grounded theory research explore processes, activities, and events while ethnographic research analyses broad cultural-sharing behaviors of individuals or groups. Case studies as well as phenomenology can be used to study individuals. ( see Carrie Williams. ( 2007). Research Method. Journal of Business & Economic Research, Volume 5, Number 3, March 2007.

Case Study

Creswell (2003) define case study as “researcher explores in depth a program, an event, an activity, a process, or one or more individuals” (p. 15). Leedy and Ormrod (2001) further require a case study to have a defined time frame. The case study can be either a single case or a case bounded by time and place (Creswell, 1998). Leedy and Ormrod (2001) provide several examples from different disciplines such as a medical research studying a rare illness (event) or political science research on a presidential campaign (activity). Leedy and Ormrod (2001) state, case studies attempt to learn “more about a little known or poorly understood situation” (p.149). Creswell (1998) suggests the structure of a case study should be the problem, the context, the issues, and the lessons learned. The data collection for a case study is extensive and draws from multiple sources such as direct or participant observations, interviews, archival records or documents, physical artifacts, and audiovisual materials. The researcher must spend time on-site interacting with the people studied. The report would include lessons learned or patterns found that connect with theories.

Ethnography Study

The ethnography differs from a case study. The case study studies a person, program, or event while ethnography studies an entire group that shares a common culture (Leedy & Ormrod, 2001). Creswell (2003) defines “ethnographies, in which the researcher studies an intact cultural group in a natural setting over a prolonged period of time by collecting, primarily, observational data” (p. 14). The focus is on everyday behaviors to identify norms, beliefs, social structures, and other factors. Ethnography studies usually try to understand the changes in the group‟s culture over time. As a result, findings may be limited to generalization in other topics or theories.

In the ethnography methodology, the researcher must become immersed in the daily lives of the participants in order to observe their behavior then interpret the culture or social group and systems (Creswell, 1998). The initial step in the ethnography process is to gain access to a site. Second, the researcher must establish rapport with the participants and build trust. Third, the researcher starts using the big net approach by intermingling with everyone in order to identify the key informants in the culture (Leedy & Ormrod, 2001). The data is collected from participant observations and from interviewing several key informants. If the interviews are lengthy, the researcher gathers documentation by using audiotapes or videotapes media. The aspects included in ethnography are: the justification for the study, the description of the group and method of study, the evidence to support the researcher‟s claims, and the findings to the research question. The report must provide evidence of the group‟s shared culture that developed over time.

Grounded Theory Study

Creswell (2003) defines grounded theory research as the “researcher attempts to derive a general, abstract theory of a process, action, or interaction grounded in the views of participants in a study” (p. 14). Leedy and Ormrod (2001) further clarifies that grounded theory research begins with data that develops into a theory. The term grounded provides the context of this method while the research requires that the theory must emerge from the data collected in the field rather than taken from the research literature (Leedy & Ormrod, 2001). Grounded theory has also been used primarily in the sociology discipline because this method examines people‟s actions and interactions.

Grounded theory research is the process of collecting data, analyzing the data, and repeating the process, which is the format called constant comparative method. The data can be obtained from several sources such as interviewing participants or witnesses, reviewing historical videotapes or records, observations while on-site. Creswell (1998) concurs with Leedy and Ormrod‟s (2001) standard format on how to analyze data in a grounded theory research that includes open coding, axial coding, selective coding, and developing a theory. Finally, a grounded theory report incorporates five aspects: describing the research question, literature review, describing the methodology, data analysis explaining the theory, and discussing the implications (Leedy & Ormrod, 2001).

Phenomenological Study

The purpose of this study is “to understand an experience from the participants‟ point of view” (Leedy & Ormrod, 2001, p. 157). The focus is on the participant‟s perceptions of the event or situation and the study tries to answer the question of the experience. Creswell (1998) points out that the essence of this study is the search for “the central underlying meaning of the experience and emphasize the intentionality of consciousness where experiences contain both the outward appearance and inward consciousness based on the memory, image, and meaning” (p. 52). The difficulty of this study is that the researcher usually has some connection, experience, or stake in the situation so bracketing (setting aside all prejudgments) is required. The method for a phenomenological study is similar to that of grounded theory because interviews are conducted.

The method of collecting data is through lengthy (1-2 hours) interviews in order to understand and interpret a participant‟s perception on the meaning of an event. Creswell (1998) suggests the procedural format is writing the research questions that explore the meaning of the experience, conducting the interviews, analyzing the data to find the clusters of meanings, and ending with a report that furthers the readers understanding of the essential structure of the experience. The study collects data that leads to identifying common themes in people‟s perceptions of their experiences.

Content Analysis Study

Leedy and Ormrod (2001) define this method as “a detailed and systematic examination of the contents of a particular body of materials for the purpose of identifying patterns, themes, or biases” (p. 155). Content analysis review forms of human communication including books, newspapers, and films as well as other forms in order to identify patterns, themes, or biases. The method is designed to identify specific characteristics from the content in the human communications. The researcher is exploring verbal, visual, behavioral patterns, themes, or biases.

The procedural process for the content analysis study is designed to achieve the highest objective analysis possible and involves identifying the body of material to be studied and defining the characteristics or qualities to be examined (Leedy & Ormrod, 2001). The collection of data is a two-step process. First, the researcher must analyze the materials and put them in a frequency table as each characteristic or quality is mentioned. Second, the researcher must conduct a statistical analysis so that the results are reported in a quantitative format. The research report has five sections: the description of the materials studied, the characteristics and qualities studied, a description of the methodology, the statistical analysis showing the frequency table, and. drawing conclusions about the patterns, themes, or biases found in the human communications and data collection.

According to many researchers, research is not only collecting data or representing facts; “research is the process of collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data in order to understand a phenomenon” (Leedy & Ormro) From this quotation, we understand that the research process is a systematic order to attain all objectives in accordance with findings and researcher’s guidelines. The latter provide researchers with much information of what are required for qualitative research and how to undergo and perform the research as well as what types of techniques the researcher are going to use in their researches. Moreover, to define what is qualitative research and what makes it different from other kind of researches let us see what other approaches are for a good research.

These approaches are quantitative and mixed methods. In conducting research, if we want to focus on numerical data we use the quantitative research and if we want to focus on numerical and textual data we use what we call the mixed methods approach. In other words, the mixed methods approach is a mixture of the quantitative and qualitative methods the researchers are following in their research.

2.2.1 Quantitative Research Approach

According to Leedy & Ormrod (2001) quantitave research method is “the general approach the researcher takes in carrying out the research project” (p. 14). Quantitative research involves the collection of data so that information can be quantified and subjected to statistical treatment in order to support or refute “alternate knowledge claims” (Creswell, 2003, p. 153).

There are three broad classifications of quantitative research: descriptive experimental and causal comparative (Leedy and Ormrod, 2001). The descriptive research approach is a basic research method that examines the situation, as it exists in its current state. Descriptive research involves identification of attributes of a particular phenomenon based on an observational basis, or the exploration of correlation between two or more phenomena. Quantitative research begins with a problem statement and involves the formation of a hypothesis, a literature review, and a quantitative data analysis.

Creswell (2003) states, quantitative research “employ strategies of inquiry such as experimental and surveys, and collect data on predetermined instruments that yield statistical data” (p. 18). The findings from quantitative research can be predictive, explanatory, and confirming. The next section focuses on quantitative research methodology. See the article of Carrie Williams, (March 2007), Research Methods.

2.2.3 Mixed Methods Approach (a brief review)

Tashakkori and Teddlie (2003) discussed the mixed methods approach to research, which emerged in the mid-to-late 1900s (Tashakkori & Teddlie). Johnson and Onwuegbuzie (2004) hoped that the mixed methods approach to research provided researchers with an alternative to believing that the quantitative and qualitative research approaches are incompatible and, in turn, their associated methods “cannot and should not be mixed” (p. 14). With the mixed methods approach to research, researchers incorporate methods of collecting or analyzing data from the quantitative and qualitative research approaches in a single research study (Creswell, 2003; Johnson & Onwuegbuzie; Tashakkori & Teddlie).

That is, researchers collect or analyze not only numerical data, which is customary for quantitative research, but also narrative data, which is the norm for qualitative research in order to address the research question(s) defined for a particular research study. As an example, in order to collect a mixture of data, researchers might distribute a survey that contains closed-ended questions to collect the numerical, or quantitative, data and conduct an interview using open-ended questions to data. See the article of Carrie Williams, (March 2007), Research Methods.

The mixed methods approach to research is an extension of rather than a replacement for the quantitative and qualitative approaches to research, as the latter two research approaches will continue to be useful and important (Johnson & Onwuegbuzie, 2004:14-26). The goal for researchers using the mixed methods approach to research is to draw from the strengths and minimize the weaknesses of the quantitative and qualitative research approaches (Johnson & Onwuegbuzie). Of course, the strengths and weaknesses associated with the various research approaches are not absolute but rather relative to the context and the manner in which researchers aspire to address the phenomenon under study. See the article of Carrie Williams, (March 2007), Research Methods.

According to what we have read about the types of research methods we have chosen the mixed methods approach because our interest is in both cases that is to say a good research starting from searching numerical data and ending up with the ability to design an original research study which responds to both simple and complex questions. Pragmatically speaking, in relation to the mixed methods approach, the quantitative research methods approach and the qualitative one are very interrelated, complementary and compatible. (Johnson & Onwuegbuzie 2004: 14-26).

In our research, we have needed much effort to following and doing investigation because it is about a new experience we are undergoing in our country in particular at Mostaganem University. To make this experience successful we have based our research on both quantitative and qualitative research methods. Moreover, looking for a new suitable interviewing technique was a first necessary step towards a successful undergoing of this work. So what is this technique?

2.3 In-depth Interviewing

Hitchcock (1989:79) lists nine types: structured interview, 

survey interview, counselling interview, diary interview, life hestory interview, ethnographic interview, informal/ unstructured interview, and conversations. Cohen & Manion (1994:273), however, prefers to group interviews into four kinds, including the structure or guided interview, the unstructured or unguided interview, the non-directive interview, and the focused interview.

In-depth interviewing, also known as unstructured interviewing, is a type of interview which researchers use to elicit information in order to achieve a holistic understanding of the interviewee’s point of view or situation; it can also be used to explore interesting areas for further investigation. This type of interview involves asking informants open-ended questions, and probing wherever necessary to obtain data deemed useful by the researcher. As in-depth interviewing often involves qualitative data, it is also called qualitative interviewing. Patton (1987:113) suggests three basic approaches to conducting qualitative interviewing:

2.3.1 The Informal Conversational Interviewing

This type of interview resembles a chat, during which the informants may sometimes forget that they are being interviewed. Most of the questions asked will flow from the immediate context. Informal conversational interviews are useful for exploring interesting topics for investigation and are typical of ‘ongoing’ participant observation fieldwork.

In our research, we do not need to this type of research. Because our research required formal questions given to our students in order to elicit as much data as possible from them about their opinions on learning and teaching foreign languages in the Algerian universities under the various system implementation, it was necessary to propose formal and not informal interviews so that the informants would think carefully of their answers.

2.3.2 The General Interview Guide Approach (commonly called guided


When following this approach for interviewing, a basic checklist is prepared to make sure that all relevant topics are covered. The interviewer is still free to explore, probe and ask questions deemed interesting to the researcher.

This type of interview approach is useful for eliciting information about specific topics. For this reason, Wenden (1982) formulated a checklist as a basis to interview her informants in a piece of research leading towards her PhD studies. She (1982:39) considers that the general interview guide approach is useful as it ‘allows for in-depth probing while permitting the interviewer to keep the interview within the parameters traced out by the aim of the study.’

This kind of interviews was necessary, in the sense that some many times we had to stick to a set of questions that we asked to the informants. For example, all the informants had to be asked same questions like: what’s your name? How old are you? What do you do? What are the new words that you use particularly with your friends? Questions like these are guided questions.

2.3.3 The Standardized Open-ended Interview

Researchers using this approach prepare a set of open-ended questions which are carefully worded and arranged for the purpose of minimising variation in the questions posed to the interviewees. In view of this, this method is often preferred for collecting interviewing data when two or more researchers are involved in the data collecting process. Although this method provides less flexibility for questions than the other two mentioned previously, probing is still possible, depending on the nature of the interview and the skills of the interviewers (Patton 1987:112).

2.4 The Research Method

The central concern of the interpretative research is understanding human experiences at a holistic level. Because of the nature of this type of research, investigations are often connected with methods such as in-depth interviewing, participant observation and the collection of relevant documents

Accordingly, we have preferred to use only audio-taped interviews for there was no necessity to film or photograph our informants as we were interested in the linguistic attitudes.

2.5 Interviewing Techniques Found in the Literature

One essential element of all interviews is the verbal interaction between the interviewer/s and the interviewee/s. Hitchcock (1989:79) stresses that “central to the interview is the issue of asking questions and this is often achieved in qualitative research through conversational encounters.” Consequently, it is important for the researchers to familiarise themselves with questioning techniques before conducting interviews.

2.6 Questioning Techniques

Individuals vary in their ability to articulate their thoughts and ideas. With good questioning techniques, researchers will be more able to facilitate the subjects’ accounts and to obtain quality data from them. Current literature suggests some questioning techniques, summarised in the points below:

Ask clear questions

Cicourel (1964) reflects that ‘many of the meanings which are clear to one will be relatively opaque to the other, even when the intention is genuine communication. ‘ Accordingly, it is important to use words that make sense to the interviewees, words that are sensitive to the respondent’s context and world view. To enhance their comprehensibility to the interviewees, questions should be easy to understand, short, and devoid of jargon (Kvale 1996:130).

Ask single questions

Patton (1987:124) points out that interviewer often put several questions together and ask them all as one. He suggests that researchers should ask one thing at a time. This will eliminate any unnecessary burden of interpretation on the interviewees.

Other techniques Found in the literature

In addition to questioning techniques, there are other factors which may have an impact on to interview. Cohen & Manion (1994:286) cite Tuckman’s (1972) guidelines for interviewing procedures, as follows:

At the meeting, the interviewer should brief the respondent as to the nature or purpose of the interview (being as candid as possible without biasing responses) and attempt to make the respondent feel at ease. S/He should explain the manner in which he will be recording responses, and if he plans to tape record, she/he should get the respondent’s assent. At all times, an interviewer must remember that she/he is a data collection element and try not to let his own biases, opinions, or curiosity affect his/her behaviour. In our research, we have tried to grasp the most significant points of views from our interviewees.

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Because our interviewees are not so familiar with questionnaires and interviews mainly if this interview is on their attitudes and comprehension towards what is happening around them in the area, it was somehow difficult in the beginning to select our informants to grasp as much information as possible. For this reason, this phase of interviewing the informants took longer time than it should; however, the amount information which has been gathered was more interesting. For making a good investigation and of course to achieve a good result our method is as follows:

2.5 Method

Our research work is a tentative attempt to relate the implementation of LMD, teachers/students attitudes towards this new system and its success or failure. This study focuses on mainly the following questions:

What are the problems the English teachers and learners encounter in Algerian universities, in particular, Mostaganem University?

How can LMD contribute to English language teaching in the Algerian universities, in particular, Mostaganem University?

What are the difficulties and challenges that Algerian teachers of English face in implementing LMD and the integration of information and communication technologies (ICT) in their English classrooms?

The present study is a cross-sectional survey under qualitative paradigm. In survey research, according to Fraenkel and Wallen, “Researchers are often interested in the opinions of a large group of people about a particular topic or issue. They ask a number of questions, all related to the issue, to find answers” (2010, p. 390). Considering the purpose of the study, in order to collect necessary data, an in-depth interviewing technique is adopted.

This technique is also known as unstructured interviewing; it is a type of interview researchers use to elicit information in order to achieve a holistic understanding of the interviewees’ point of view or situation. It can also be used to explore interesting areas for further investigation. This type of interview is a face-to-face interviewing that involves asking informants open-ended questions, and probing wherever it is necessary to obtain data deemed useful by the researchers. As in-depth interviewing often involves qualitative data, it is also called qualitative interviewing ( as it is mentioned before)

It was decided to use in-depth interviewing as the main method to collect data for this study since an interpretative approach (qualitative in nature) was adopted for the investigation. The central concern of the interpretative research is to understand human experiences at a holistic level. Because of the nature of this type of research, investigations are often connected with methods such as in-depth interviewing, participant observation and the collection of relevant documents. Maykut and Morehouse (1994, p. 46) state that:

The data of qualitative inquiry is most often people’s words and actions, and thus requires methods that allow the researcher to capture language and behaviour. The most useful ways of gathering these forms of data are participant observation, in-depth interviews, group interviews, and the collection of relevant documents. Observation and interview data is collected by the researcher in the form of field notes and audio-taped interviews, which are later transcribed for use in data analysis.

There is also some qualitative research being done with photographs and video-taped observations as primary sources of data.

. Maykut and Morehouse (1994, p. 46)

Accordingly, in this project, only using audio-taped interviews was preferred for it was not necessary to film or photograph our informants as the focus of the study does not require this necessity. Our informants were given, orally, a series of questionnaires, and then given time to answer them. Their answers were analyzed considering their linguistic level arising from their points of views as well as their observations towards the new reforms and the integration of the ICT too in the classroom such as the Internet use.

What was observed at a linguistic and didactic level in our data analysis is that teaching and learning English as a foreign language in university, in terms of English development came out of not only the new changes and reforms brought to the educational setting but also other means of communication, notably the Internet use and other means of communication widely used among students and teachers too. Hence, our data would be classified according to the number of students (interviewees) selected and their learning level and grade.

2.6 Context

The research study took place in Mostaganem; it has been followed and supervised since the LMD new reform was implemented in Mostaganem University in 2005. This location, Mostaganem city, was selected because Mostaganem University is among the pioneering universities to adopt LMD, thus it could provide us with a sample of students and teachers whose characteristics are appropriate for the research study, and as a teacher at Mostaganem University who witnessed the implementation of LMD new reform, we could have this opportunity to do this investigation.

2.7 Participants

For this study, our participants were chosen randomly in English at the university of Mostaganem and SidiBel Abbes. They were thirty Mostaganem University English LMD students from L1, L2, M1 and M2 and 10 EFL teachers at Abdelhamid University. To reinforce our work, we have also interviewed some English classical or licence students from second, third and fourth year.

The age range of the informants was between 18 and 22; 70% of these students are acquainted with ICTs but not so familiar with the LMD system because of its newness. The informants, male and female, were chosen purposefully from different levels according to the conditions mentioned before. The reason for their participation in this survey was to check whether the LMD system affects them either positively or negatively and why in both cases. The sampling method used in this study was purposive sampling as considered appropriate in qualitative research.

According to Fraenkel and Wallen (2010, p. 431), “Researchers who engage in some form of qualitative research are likely to select a purposive sample, that is, they select a sample they feel will yield the best understanding of what they are studying”.

2.8 Data collection instruments

The data collection instruments used in this research study are a semi-structured audio-taped interview guide that contained 10 items and a questionnaire given to the students mentioned before for the purpose of getting a good analysis of their experience as the first generation who welcomes this reform. The aim of the audio-taped interview guide was to collect several responses from different informants; the interviewees’ responses were noted down by the interviewer. The audio-taped interviews helped us analyze students and teachers’ views, i.e., to analyze the depth of the psychological effects the LMD and the integration of ICTs use have on learners.

2.9 Data Collection Procedure

This research study was conducted in two phases that took about 1 year of observation and analyses to follow the process of learning and teaching advancement. It has taken a considerable time to get accurate results without any judgment or subjectivity. During the first period, we have first selected our sample group of students’ level whom we intended to work with, and then have started observing them to collect as many views as we could via audio-taped interviews that took the form of questionnaires.

2.9.1 The teacher’s questionnaire

The aim of this questionnaire is to collect data about the teachers’ comments and it contains the following 10 items.

As an LMD teacher who has been undertaking the previous experience, i.e. the classical system, how is the classical system different from the LMD?

According to your own experience as an EFL teacher in both systems, where does the shift or transit from the classical system to LMD lie in English teaching?

To what extent did your teaching and pedagogy as an EFL university teacher change? How is this change perceived?

Are you in charge of LMD teaching units similar to those you have taught in classical system? If yes, is there a change in teaching similar modules under distinct systems?

Have you been given the responsibility of teaching new disciplines under the LMD system? If yes, have you faced given obstacles in teaching new materials?

Is coordination among teachers of the same teaching unit valuable and worth being adopted by English departments? If yes, in which sense?

How good are your knowledge and your understanding of new scoring and new ways of assessment under the LMD system as an English teacher?

Because it might be new up to now, assessing in the LMD system might be seen as complicated for most teachers mainly those in charge of tutorials.Do you see this experience of LMD implementation in our country contribute to enhance ELT in the classroom?

What is your role in this experience?

Is it positive or negative experience to enable the learners to cross the globe?

2.9.2 The licence students’ questionnaire

The aim of this questionnaire is to collect data about the licence students’ comments and it contains the following 10 items.

As an EFL student, but under a classical system, how would you evaluate your learning and capacities vis-à-vis an LMD EFL student?

Some years, you could have chosen to study English under the new system, the LMD. Why did you choose to carry on university studies under a dying classical system?

What do you know about the LMD as a new international, educational system?

How is a student of classical system different from an LMD student in terms of knowledge background, language acquisition and learning, and further post-studies chances?

Do you think that what you


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