Last year my boss suggested that me and my two foreigner co-workers put together a new addition of his English textbook, which we use with our college students.
That idea sat on the back-burner for awhile, and a few months ago he came back to us with another suggestion. Our college has an annual research “contest” of sorts, where professors or, in our case, teachers could apply for a modest stipend to write a research paper.
Long story short, the four of us have started work on a paper that will involve examining and surveying our (beginner level) college students in order to come up with more effective classroom questions ranging from closed and convergent (yes / no, who, what, where, when) to open and divergent (how, why, what if). Our goal is to find out which questions work best in relation to Bloom’s Taxonomy of learning objectives, from less to more complex, in a beginner level English classroom.
So recently I’ve been scrambling to catch up with all of this stuff that, as a teacher, I should be familiar with by now.
The thing is, I have an M.A. in English literature and pretty much zero background in the social sciences. I presented a whopping total of two papers in graduate school, once at a graduate conference and once at a “real” conference in Toronto, where I basically got to pick and choose the critical framework I wanted to use.
Not so with this paper. I’m up to my ears in papers about L.E.P. students (“less English proficient”), effective questions (open vs. closed, divergent vs. convergent), E.S.L. vs. E.F.L. (secondary vs. foreign language), and the history of Bloom’s Taxonomy in general.
It’s overwhelming. But it’s good. It’s a chance to stretch my brain in ways I haven’t for a while. And it’s nice to collaborate with my co-workers in a manner beyond our general plans for the semester, and our approaches with our adult students.
And thankfully, one of my co-workers has an honest-to-goodness M.A. in education, so he can explain all of this stuff to me when necessary.
Anyhow, our actual research will take place in September and October during the new semester, and hopefully we’ll be presenting at the big E.S.L. / E.F.L. conference this winter in Seoul.