EAL Research Priority Setting Partnership

Our partnership brings together educators, parents, and young people who are invested in the education of pupils who use English as an additional language (EAL), to decide what research on EAL should be done next. Click the big blue button to have your say ➡

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What is a Priority Setting Partnership?

People who do research are not usually the people who use research. It is important, therefore, that the people who use research tell the people who do research what kinds of questions they think those researchers should try to answer. In a priority setting partnership (PSP), research users (in our case teachers, parents of EAL learners, and EAL learners themselves) work together to identify questions about teaching EAL learners that they want answers to, then to tell researchers and research funders what those questions are.

Why is this important?

Researchers want their work to be meaningful and for it to help people. Sometimes, however, the questions that researchers think are important to answer are not the same as the questions that teachers, parents and learners think are important to answer. If EAL research is to be meaningful and helpful it should be informed by what teachers, parents and students think is important. When researchers and research funders know what is important to the people that use their research, everyone benefits. Meaningful research is conducted. and resources are not wasted on addressing questions that no one is interested in.

How does it work?

First, a steering committee consisting of teachers, parents and EAL learners is formed to oversee the PSP. The committee creates a survey that asks other research users like them to tell the PSP what sort of questions they want answers to.

Next, the survey is sent out to as many teachers, parents and students as possible so that they can contribute their questions to the PSP. They also help to spread the word about the survey and the PSP so that we can hear as many voices as possible.

Then, all the questions and comments are analysed by researchers. They look carefully at what everybody has said in the survey and create themes from the information that has been gathered. These themes are then turned into specific research questions. For example, in the survey people might say things like “I want to know what the best way to teach vocabulary to my EAL learners is”, or “I find it difficult to remember new English words and I am not sure how best to solve this”, or “My son uses an iPhone app to learn English words, does this help him?”. All of these thoughts can be combined into a research question like “What approaches to teaching English vocabulary have been shown to be effective?”.

It is important to note that the researchers on the team do not have any say in what questions get asked, they are just there to organise the data that is collected by the PSP.

Next, all of the different research questions that have been generated by the survey are organised into a new survey called a ranking survey. The ranking survey is sent to as many parents, teachers and learners as possible. They are asked to rank all of the research questions in order of how important they think each question is. When as many people as possible have ranked the questions, the responses are combined to produce a list of questions in the order that teachers, parents, and students collectively feel is the most important.

Next, teachers, parent and students are invited to a workshop where they explore the ranked list and decide together which of them should be in a Top 10 of EAL research questions.

Finally, the Top 10 is published in magazines and journals, publicised at conferences and seminars, and sent to researchers in EAL and to people who fund their research so that new research can be informed by what matters to research users.

Watch a 10-minute video about the project here.

Who is involved in the EAL PSP?

The team doing this PSP includes representatives of teachers, parents and students who are invested in teaching and learning and EAL. The partnership is being coordinated by researchers at the University of Oxford. The project is being funded by BAAL, the British Association of Applied Linguistics.

Take the Survey

Submit your unanswered questions here.

More bite size clips here

If you would like to know more about the project please send us an email using the form here.

This research project is funded by BAAL, the British Association of Applied Linguistics, and supported by the University of Oxford, Department of Education.

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