Thursday, June 14, 2012

Data Collection Options

I'm still in the research proposal phase and am facing some options for collecting data.  I will list them here and hopefully they will help me (and maybe my committee) to help decide which path is the best to choose.

Option #1 - The Idealistic Path
I most likely will not choose this path, but for the sake of completeness and continuity, I'd like to share my original idea for data collection.  I would travel abroad to either Japan or South Korea for 6-12 months to collect data on a group of individuals or on an already established community of EFL teachers that has formed.  This would be either a multiple case study or an ethnography.  Data collection would consist of interviews, participant-observation, and document analysis.

Option #2 - The First Stages of Adjustment
For my research proposal assignment, I proposed interviewing EFL instructors who had just arrived to Japan for the first time.  Through my contacts in Japan, I would interview between 3 and 15 new sojourners with my theoretical framework based on cross-cultural adjustment, mainly from the field of psychology.  I would interview each participant at least twice and ideally three times in stages within a 6 month period for a multiple case study.  This study would be limited to Japan only.

Option #3 - Before and After Arriving to a New Country
Keeping the same theoretical framework as option #2, I would interview the same number of participants in the United States with weeks or a few months before they travel to teach EFL abroad.  Because of my literature review, I would like to isolate the countries to Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and China.  I would interview each participant once before he or she leaves and once or twice after he or she arrives.  The endpoint would be no longer than 3 months after their arrival, thus making this study a few months shorter than option #2 and it may be easier to find participants through the University of Iowa and perhaps my other alma mater.

Option #4 - Before, During, and After Sojourning
This option was raised by my advisor, but we hadn't much time to discuss in detail, so I may be misrepresenting her ideas.  This is mainly my interpretation of how I see it.  In this case, I would not follow my participants through a process as in the first 3 options.  Instead they would represent a certain stage of sojourning.  Like option 3, I can interview a few people before they teach abroad.  Like options 1 & 2, I can interview a few who are currently teaching abroad.  And a new option is to interview someone who has returned from teaching abroad.  I would need a new theoretical framework for this, and my advisor and I have some ideas.

Option #5 - Interviews and Blogs
Many sojourning EFL teachers have written or are writing blogs about their experiences and beliefs about teaching abroad.  I am strongly interested in investigating these blogs, but I would like to triangulate the data with some interviews from participants similar to the ones in option #4.  I have already started collecting literature on collecting data from blogs for qualitative research.

Option #6 - Community of Sojourning EFL Teachers Online?
This idea is the furthest removed from my original idea, but I am equally interested in it.  It involves the same target population, but they no longer need to be new to the country.  This study would instead investigate the extent to which a community of sojourning EFL teachers exists online.  I would start with locating web sites for these hypothetical communities and then join them (like in a netnography) or email/interview them about the structure, benefits, and caveats of the community online.  

  • Target Participants - sojourning EFL instructors; the original plan was on those new to a certain country, but I do not need to focus on them exclusively; I'm not sure how important it is that they all come from the same country for some of these options
  • Theoretical Framework - initially it was in cross-cultural adjustment theory and Holliday's host culture complex (1994); I would like to the use the latter more than the former as it focuses on EFL education more; ideally I'd like to use a theory that deals with the sociocultural nature of teaching EFL abroad
  • Target Site - in the strictest sense, I have the most literature and experience with Japan; in the loosest sense, it could be in any country where English is not the dominant or official language; in a stricter sense, I would like to focus on East Asia based on my literature and experience 
  • Method - qualitative with emphasis on interviews or blog document analysis or combination of both, with some participant-observation possible

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