Cornelia Tschichold Senior Lecturer
College of Arts and Humanities
In recent years, calls for replication in Second Language Acquisition (SLA) research have become more frequent. Replication is often seen as a tool to increase the reliability of findings in SLA research. If a study is well-designed, transparent and open in its description, it can also serve as an excellent tool for beginning researchers to learn about the methodologies and data analysis types typically used in a field. A publication on vocabulary learning, for instance, needs the description of the tests to be detailed enough to either re-use the tests without any changes, or allow for the construction of a close equivalent.
Replication is not only needed for strengthening the validity of research results, replication is also an excellent tool for teaching. The students who study SLA within an under¬graduate or MA degree often intend to go into a teaching job, or are already teaching in some function. Among the benefits for students of replicating a good study, we can see opportunities to learn about research methods, literature reviews, and the challenges of drawing conclusions from published studies for a specific classroom situation. The experience of replicating a study can therefore help future teachers to understand the publications in their field and to draw appropriate conclusions for their own teaching practice, even if their thesis remains the only piece of research they conduct before embarking on their teaching career.
The presentation will use the example of a study on vocabulary learning that was replicated by a TESOL student for her MA dissertation. Franciosi et al. (2016) investigated the effects of a simple simulation game on long-term vocabulary retention. The same game (Third World Farmer) and the same basic methodology were used, but with a younger age group and a different language group than the learners in the original study. The replication basically confirmed the main findings, but it also raised a number of new questions. A set of replications (good and bad) could provide models that can be used in teaching, including establishing marking criteria, as well as being the perfect basis for discussions of what makes a good research study and what to look for when critically reading research papers.
Replications have been an invaluable and impactful tool for training our PhD students (Fitzpatrick 2012) in the successful part-time distance PhD in Applied Linguistics. What we advocate here is the use of replications as tools for teaching students at MA and undergraduate as well as in PhD level studies. While these students are not normally in a position to do longer-term replication research, studies where the data collection occurs over a shorter timeframe are still good candidates for replication by novice, aspiring researchers.
Fitzpatrick, T. (2012). Conducting replication studies: Lessons from a graduate programme. In Porte, ed. (2012) 151-170.
Franciosi, S., Yagi, J., Tomoshige, Y., Ye, S. (2016). The Effect of a Simple Simulation Game on Long-Term Vocabulary Retention. CALICO Journal 33 (3) 355-379.
The role of replications in research and teaching, case study of a replication by an MA student
Replication, novice researchers, teaching research skills, games for learning
Replications can be an invaluable tool for teaching undergraduates and other novice researchers.