Final Project

*This project was originally designed for use in ENS 5503, an English course for international graduate students, as an academically oriented project for investigating speech behaviors. This is a course which has two native speaking undergraduate assistants who engage in group work with the students.  It is designed as a qualitative study of speech behavior aimed at  improving students' skills of observation and critical analysis to help enable them to reformulate their own behaviors.  Students are encouraged to work in pairs using each step to guide their inquiry and produce a written report and presentation.  An example of one group's work is provided as an example.

Step One Step Two  Step Three Write Up Student Work


This project will be an investigation into real life speech using qualitative research methods.  This includes predicting, planning, data collecting, analyzing, and applying your findings.

You will be given guidelines on using qualitative methods to investigate speech behavior ad guided through the process, step-by-step.

You will conduct your investigation over this week and next week.  You will present your findings and turn in a written account at the beginning of the third week.

You will be expected you use your own time in addition to class time.  Investigation will require activity both inside and outside the classroom.

You will collaborate in teams of two.  Data can be collected from friends, coworkers, or strangers. You are encouraged to correspond with and check you ideas with me, the native speaking assistants, each other, and anyone else you like during all parts of your investigation.

At your level of study, it is important to develop autonomy.  That is, the ability to identify and answer your own questions.  You need more than to simply receive more information about spoken English, you need to actively experience these process and from them learn to reformulate your own behaviors.

*Don't take your ability to generate new knowledge lightly.  You will be surprised at what you will uncover.

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 Step One:  Deciding What to Investigate

What you will investigate is up to you and your partner.  I suggest you base your decision on your interest or need, the availability of information, and the time involved (only two weeks). You can choose from several different areas such as:

Aspects of interaction we've covered in class

    clarification, active listening, turn taking, disagreeing, persuasion, apologizing, refusing

Functions tested on the SPEAK test

    giving directions, making suggestions, giving advice, telling a story, persuasion,
    explaining a concept

Situations in the world around you

    getting information, making a complaint, returning a purchase, buying a car

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Step Two:  Planning Your Investigation

Qualitative research may be different than what you're used to.  You do not need to form a hypothesis, design an experiment, and test it.  Rather you form a stance and investigate it, describe your investigation, and analyze what you find.  Though it does not require the same rigor as quantitative research, it does require validity in its results.  This is best achieved through 1) using multiple data sources such as observations, interviews, and written resources and comparing them and 2) constant checking and rechecking of your hypotheses as they emerge.  For now, you and your partner need to decide:

Remember, as you collect you are not limited to testing your original hypothesis.  Collect your data, analyze it carefully, and allow new ideas to emerge based on possible patterns or other types of ideas.  Over time, these ideas should become better and increasingly accurate.  Also, I want you to keep me informed by email what you're doing and what you're thinking.  This way I can help you form ideas, suggest ways of looking at your investigation, and help you analyze your results.
Good luck, have fun, and be ready to discuss what you've done and what you're doing at the end of this week.

For more details on how to investigate, see Methods of Investigation.

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Step Three:  Checking and Reformulating

By now, you should have a good amount of data collected and began to form some good ideas about it.  At this point, I want you and your partner to check your ideas with me and the native speaking assistants in this class and get some feedback.  Some questions you may want to address are:

Based on what you learn and decide on, you will conduct another week of investigation.  During this time, continue to form new ideas and check them.  Keep me informed of what you are doing by email.

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Write Up and Presentation

When you write up your project, use the following format.  Each section only needs to be one or two paragraphs long and should answer the applicable questions for that section. Don't be shy in asserting what you think you've found.


Method, Participants, and Site Findings Analysis and Discussion Implications Next week, you will present your paper to the class.  This will be a very informal presentation.  I would like you to lead us through the steps you did and what you were thinking as you went through each one.  Especially important is what you believe are the implications of your work.  Be ready to demonstrate what you observed and to answer lots of questions.

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Examples of Student Projects
Clarification in American English
Sung-Kuang Chen and Maohua Du
Giving Directions
Zhao Xiang and Soonthorn Ativanichayaphong

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