Mini-ethnography: a multi-method approach in an ESOL IT class

Jane Rand


This paper focuses on the methodology employed for a mini-ethnographic review of a group of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) students in a discrete Information Technology (IT) class. It may be of interest to practitioners working with ESOL students, or researchers wishing to pursue qualitative methodologies. The review concentrated on an eight week programme on the Internet. The research was undertaken as part of an MEd programme, and to pursue a personal interest in learning strategies. The research questions focussed on seeking evidence of common ESOL group-learning strategies; individual learning strategies; and the significance of English within IT classes. A multi-method research methodology was employed involving a pre-study questionnaire to gather base-line information; two focus group interviews at either end of the study period; and observation of the eight classes. Students were also asked to complete a computer diary on a voluntary basis, to explore the use made of computers outside of the class environment, and augment the data gathered through questionnaires, interviews and observation. The broad principles of content analysis were used on transcripts of the focus groups, field notes and diaries to identify themes emergent during the research period. This paper focuses on the methodology; however, data extracts and sample analyses are provided to exemplify the processes employed, and a summary of the data analysis is provided for context.

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Editor-in-Chief: Prof Norbert Pachler
UCL Institute of Education, University College London
ISSN 1746-9082

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