Classroom research

The classroom context is one of the richest sources of data for research, exploration and learning.  Research can help us explore the complex processes of teaching and learning, allowing us to gain a richer understanding of our own and our learners’ values, beliefs, attitudes, behaviours and feelings. As Freire (1998) states, “there is no such thing as teaching without research and research without teaching”. This is why we strive to embed classroom research and formative feedback practices as a ‘thread’ in our teaching and shared professional practices. In our research practices in the SL, we prefer to use the term, exploratory research for the following main reasons:

  • it encompasses a broader research spectrum including classroom research and exploratory teaching but not excluding teaching and learning-related processes beyond the classroom
  • it allows for data to be explored and analyzed in search of questions and not necessarily the other way round (i.e. questions in search of data)
  • the teacher does not have to start by identifying a ‘problem’ nor does s/he necessarily have to ‘change’ his/her teaching behavior in the light of his/her findings (Çeltek &  Kurtoğlu Eken, 2017).


Key principles that can guide us in our explorations and research are:

  • seeking ways to exploit everyday teaching tasks for research purposes and weaving them into our teaching practices
  • using a variety of exploratory and research tools and processes (Please see mind map above)
  • believing in learners’ potential and in what learners can offer to our explorations of teaching and learning processes
  • viewing data as learning
  • sharing data and learning with learners and colleagues (Kurtoğlu Eken, 2015)

Here is a summary of the key principles and tools for classroom and exploratory research: ClassroomAndExploratoryResearch-DKE

Instructors who would like to use an online survey tool as part of their classroom research are welcome to use the institutional SL account for ‘surveymonkey’. The question types available on ‘surveymonkey’ can be viewed here: SurveyMonkeyQuestionTypes. Alternatively you can create your basic own account free of charge or use alternative free online tools such as Google forms/survey.

For  research tools and practical examples, please also refer to the following chapter of our book, A Practical Guide to English Language Teacher Development in an Academic Context: Approaches, Explorations and Practices (2017) Bosson, A. and Kurtoğlu Eken, D. (Eds.) Blackswan Publishing House: Developing through Teacher Research and Exploration by Sharon Çeltek & Deniz Kurtoğlu Eken (Chapter 7)

and the following chapter in A Practical Guide to English Language Learner Development in an Academic Context: Practices and Processes (2015) Alayafi, E.G. and Demirdirek, N. (Eds.) Blackswan Publishing House: Learner-based Research by Deniz Kurtoğlu Eken (Chapter 9)


A Handbook for Exploratory Action Research by Smith & Rebolledo, British Council:

or: OnlineHandbookExploratoryActionResearch

Copyright by Sabancı University School of Languages

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