Academic journal article Sign Language Studies

Teacher-as-Researcher Paradigm for Sign Language Teachers: Toward Evidence-Based Pedagogies for Improved Learner Outcomes

Academic journal article Sign Language Studies

Teacher-as-Researcher Paradigm for Sign Language Teachers: Toward Evidence-Based Pedagogies for Improved Learner Outcomes

Article excerpt

IN THE TEACHING of sign languages as foreign languages (FLs), teachers instruct learners in vocabulary and conversational grammar. In doing so they frequently notice that some learners are able to learn and use correct vocabulary and grammar, whereas others struggle. Particularly for learners who struggle, these teachers need to rethink their pedagogy, including their curriculum, instructional techniques, and assessment practices, to help enhance learner outcomes. For instance, they may want to test a new teaching method, modify a pedagogy-in-use, or compare different practices. For a better understanding of learners' learning processes and their own pedagogical approaches, FL teachers turn to studies on the teaching and learning of FLs. However, those studies are often inapplicable to classroom practices for the teaching of sign language as a FL. Thus teachers ought to conduct research on their own pedagogical practices and their learners'learning techniques. This article proposes and explicates teacher-as-researcher as a research paradigm for teachers' pedagogical development to bring about improved learner outcomes.

In the following sections, types of classroom research and problems of using findings that were generated in earlier educational studies are first discussed. A teacher-as-researcher paradigm that employs action research design to ameliorate the problems in general classroom research is then described.

Problems in Educational Research for Teachers

Educational research studies in applied linguistics are shaped by research designs that delimit the scope of theories and findings that teachers can use to construct their pedagogies. The studies follow one of two main research designs. One is quantitative research design; the other is qualitative research design. They differ in the nature of research inquiry and constructs, scope of participants and settings, types of data that are elicited, and the relationship between constructs (Campbell and Stanley 1963). Quantitative studies in education, which consist of experiments, draw participants with a wide range of demographic characteristics from many schools and identify the significance of relationships between, for instance, learner aptitude, instructional material, teaching strategy, and learner outcomes. Qualitative studies in education, which consist of ethnographies, draw participants with certain demographic characteristics from one or more schools and identify associations between, for instance, learner outcomes, learner and teacher motivation and attitudes, and teacher-learner communication strategies.

We anticipated finding that sign language teachers are able to translate research findings and theories into pedagogical practices that will optimize teaching and learning. However, teachers often discover that others' findings are too broad and mostly inapplicable to their inclassroom practices (Darling-Hammond and Bransford 2005; Babkie and Provost 2004; Reason and Bradbury 2008).Those studies tend to be global in that their participants are drawn from many classrooms and schools. They have demographic characteristics that may or may not be similar to those of the teachers' own learners. The two research designs represent dissimilar pedagogical orientations. Quantitative studies isolate and determine relationships between variables beyond classroom contexts, and the findings are generalized across participants that are specified in the studies. Qualitative studies assess the effects of context on the relationship between variables, and the findings are specific only to the contexts and participants in the studies. Teachers may find the results of studies that employ diverse methodologies daunting and confusing. In addition, studies rarely suggest how to apply their findings to pedagogy, which leaves teachers to their own devices in doing so (Darling-Hammond and Bransford 2005; Babkie and Provost 2004; Reason and Bradbury 2008).

In the field of applied linguistics research, a gap exists between research and practice (Darling-Hammond and Bransford 2005). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.