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permission to record and transcribe the interviews was obtained from the learners concerned. The tape-recorder was inconspicuously placed in order not to unnerve the participants (Strydom 2011:359). These interviews were all conducted at the language centre and later transcribed (see subsection 4.4.5).
3.3 Personal notes Detailed notes of the researcher’s own experiences, thoughts and feelings were kept during the research process, (see subsection 18.104.22.168). This was in line with Mruck and Breuer (2003:3) who encourage researchers to reflect on “their presuppositions, choices, experiences and actions during the research process.” These notes were kept in order for the researcher to reflect regularly on her own perspectives and practices while doing the study, and at the same time to review this alongside the adult language learners and English second language lecturers who participated (see subsection 4.3.6).
3.4 Summary The research design and methodology used for the research were described in this chapter. It provided an in-depth explanation of the data collection techniques followed, as well as the sampling methods applied by the researcher.
In Chapter 4, the data analysed, results found and discussion of the investigation are presented.
DATA ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION OF FINDINGS
4.1 Introduction In this chapter, the results of the data collected, were examined. The data collected were from classroom observations, (subsection 4.4.1), Strategy Inventory in Language Learning (SILL) questionnaires, (subsection 22.214.171.124), Attitude Motivation Test Battery (AMTB) questionnaires, (subsection 126.96.36.199), focus group interviews, (subsection 4.4.3), individual interviews with lecturers (see subsection 4.4.4) and learners, (see subsection 4.4.5), as well as personal notes kept during the study (see subsection 4.3.6). The steps taken to simplify the analysis process are also discussed in this chapter. These specific steps are divided into: preparing the data, inductive category coding, refining of the categories and finally the analysis of the results.
Five classroom observations were done as specified in subsection 3.2.1. Twenty SILL questionnaires, as described in subsection 188.8.131.52, were handed out, but only 13 completed ones were received back. Eleven AMTB questionnaires were handed out to five adult males and six adult females (see subsection 184.108.40.206). Two focus group interviews, as described in subsection 3.2.3, were conducted. The focus group interviews were conducted with learners and formed part of their general communication skills development sessions. Nine individual interviews were conducted as specified in subsection 3.2.4. Three lecturers were participants in the individual interviews (see subsection 220.127.116.11). The other six of participants in the individual interviews were adult learners, three males and three females from different nationalities (see subsection 18.104.22.168). Perceptions of the participants were presented in narrative form. Special attention was given to the adult learners and their lecturers’ perceptions of their cognitive differences during English language acquisition, their motivation towards acquiring language, the strategies they employed while learning and the anxieties experienced while acquiring English as a second or foreign language. It should be noted that where the research participants’ were quoted, their respective responses were transcribed verbatim and the transcripts have not been edited in order to keep the participants’ views as accurately as possible.
Schurink, Fouche and De Vos (2011:398) describe qualitative data analysis as “messy, ambiguous and time consuming, but it is also a creative and fascinating process.” McMillan and Schumacher (2006:364) refer to data analysis as an inductive systematic process of coding, categorizing and interpreting data for providing explanations of a single phenomenon of interest, and finding a meaning in all the data gathered. This is in line with Patton (1990:390) who notes that inductive analysis means that “the patterns, themes and categories of analysis come from the data; they emerge out of the data rather than being imposed on them prior to data collection and analysis.” The research questions were therefore “a search for patterns in the data – recurrent behaviours, objects or body of knowledge” and therefore exploratory in nature (Neuman 2003:447).
4.2 Data analysis Schurink, Fouche and De Vos (2011:399) describe qualitative data analysis in the first place as “a process of inductive reasoning, thinking, and theorising which certainly is far removed from structured, mechanical and technical procedures to make inferences from empirical data of social life.” Initially, the data collected seemed very overwhelming. Firstly the researcher listened to the tape recordings a couple of times, before transcribing the tape recorded interviews of the lecturers and adult male and female language learners verbatim. This was followed up by reading and rereading the transcription a couple of times. Thereafter, the researcher read through the SILL questionnaires a couple of times. Thirdly, she went through her list of classroom observations and finally she read her own personal notes, kept up to date throughout the research, a number of times. This was done in order to establish what Schurink, Fouche and De Vos (2011:399) with reference to Babbie (2007:378) state that qualitative analysis is the “... non-numerical examination and interpretation of observations, for the purpose of discovering underlying meanings and patterns of relationships”.
4.2.1 Data collected
The data sets consisted of:
• Transcripts of the classroom observations, as well as personal notes made during this time.
• Transcripts of the data collected from the SILL questionnaires.
• Transcripts of the data collected from the adapted AMTB questionnaires.
• Transcripts of the focus group interviews with learners from five different classes as described in subsection 3.4.3.
• Transcripts of the three lecturers’ interviews.
• Transcripts of the six learners’ interviews.
• Researcher’s personal notes kept during the entire period of the research.
4.2.2 Data analysis process
The data was analysed in order to gain a better understanding of the effects of gender differences between adult male and female learners when acquiring English as a second or foreign language with regard to the differences in their cognitive processes, the strategies they employ, their motivation towards studying, as well as anxieties experienced while learning. Schurink, Fouche and De Vos (2011:403) note that researchers are obliged to observe their own processes, to analyse them and to report analytically on these processes.
For the classroom observation, the researcher used a short description of the typical features, methods and techniques used. These sets of data were then coded and analyzed and scrutinized to identify themes. This enabled the researcher to combine all the data sheets from the different classrooms, to be used during her analysis and interpretation. These classroom observations were coded (CR01 to CR05).
With regard to focus group interviews, the individual interviews with lecturers and the individual interviews with adult learners, the researcher looked for themes and subthemes. The first focus group interviews were coded FGM101 for responding males FGM201 for responding males and FGF210 for responding females. The individual interviews with lecturers were coded ILF01, ILF02 and ILM03, with the “F” indicating a lady and “M” indicating a man. The individual interviews with learners were coded ISM01 to ISM03 for male participants and ISF04 to ISF06 for female participants.
Different colour highlighters were very helpful in determining patterns, ideas and similarities.
With regard to the strategy inventory for language learning (SILL) as described in subsection 22.214.171.124, the data was categorised to determine groups they would fall in.
Sorting through all the data turned out to be lengthy, and at times exhausting, but never tedious, as the deeper the researcher delved in, the more interesting it became.
4.2.3 Validity and trustworthiness of data Numerous actions were taken to ensure validity and trustworthiness of data collected.
Salkind (2012:123) state that validity is all about: “that the test or instrument you are using actually measures what you need to have measured.” According to Salkind (2012:127) the relationship between reliability and validity is straightforward: “A test can be reliable but not valid, but a test cannot be valid without first being reliable.” This is in line with Seale (1999:266) who states that the “trustworthiness of a research report lies at the heart of issues conventionally discussed as validity and reliability.” Various research strategies were used to ensure design validity (McMillan and
Schumacher 2006:324-326) and they were:
Prolonged field work.
• Classroom observations and focus group interviews were conducted in as natural and realistic settings as possible.
• The data collection techniques, as described in section 3.4, were used.
Participant language and verbatim accounts.
• The literal language used by the participants, were transcribed.
• These descriptors were almost literally as those used and understood by the participants.
Schuring, Fouche and De Vos (2011:419) propose the following four constructs when
assessing the quality of qualitative research:
• This was achieved by ensuring that the participants were accurately identified and described.
During classroom observations, notes were kept continually. The different classrooms were coded (CR01 to CR05) and the checklist as described in Appendix A, was followed.
The checklist used was based on the research questions about gender difference in cognitive abilities, motivations towards learning, strategies employed and anxieties experienced while acquiring English as a second or foreign language in the classroom, as well as teaching practices of the particular lecturers when teaching English to adult learners.
The lecturers and learners had prior notice and were aware when they would be observed. The observations were done in a very unobtrusive manner and the lecturers assured the researcher that her presence had no influence on the normal classroom dynamics and that it would have been the same, had the researcher not been there.
• Strategic Inventory for language learning questionnaires The questionnaires were handed out to learners and served as a starting point to get their perspectives on the strategies they employ while acquiring English as a second or foreign language. The questionnaires were handed out at random, to twenty adult male and female learners who were fluent in English. This was done because the questions were quite extensive and required a more advanced knowledge of the English language.
Of the twenty questionnaires handed out, only thirteen were received back. These questionnaires were all completed anonymously and respondents were only required to indicate whether completed by a male or female learner.
• Attitude motivation test battery questionnaire Adapted questionnaires of Gardner’s attitude motivation test battery were handed out to adult male and female learners to determine their motivation towards English second language learning. These questionnaires were purposefully handed out in a classroom with five male and five females from various nationalities. The learners were all at level four of English learning and already had an adequate command of English to answer the questions.
• Focus group interviews The two focus group interviews and the participants were all coded to protect their anonymity, and also to serve as a reference for the rest of the study. The ten participants for the first focus group interviews were coded FG101 to FG110. To distinguish between male and female participants for the first focus group interview, an “M” was added for males and “F” for females, in other words FGM101 for a male and FGF110 for a female.
The same participants were used for the second focus group interviews, but with an interval between the two focus group interviews. This time the participants were coded FGM201 to FGF210, depending on the gender. The reason for using the same participants for the second focus group interviews was to get the responses of the adult learners during the beginning stages of English language acquisition and again at the end of the session, with a three week interval, to determine if learning occurred – from their own perspectives, as well as from the lecturer’s perspective.
The first focus group interview was held at the beginning of a session with ten participants, three men and seven ladies. They were all Arabic speaking and were from Egypt, Palestine, Qatar and Tunisia. All these participants all had professional qualifications in their own respective fields, but just not equipped to speak English fluently. The interviews were conducted in one of the language learning classrooms and formed part of their communicative skills development. This was done in a very relaxed atmosphere, where all participants felt at ease and comfortable to share their feelings towards English language acquisition.
The second focus group interview was held during the latter part of the session with the same participants as described above. The purpose of the second focus group interviews with the same adult learners was to collect additional data to determine how they as learners felt about English language acquisition and if they felt enough was being done for such learning to occur.
During the second focus group interviews, male and female learners were given a set of phonologically familiar words and phonologically unfamiliar words, to further test the discussion in subsection 2.2.2.