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What risks can we take when researching our own students?

Dr Sal Consoli event
October 22, 2021 - October 23, 2021
Microsoft Teams
10:00 - 12:00

Centre for Language Education Research

Queen's University Belfast

Seminar Series

"What risks can we take when researching our own students? A reflexive journey from 'superb' data to 'good enough' data."

Speaker: Dr Sal Consoli, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

 Date: 22nd October 2021

Time: 10.00 (GMT)

Microsoft Teams

To register: https//

All welcome!

Abstract: Doing classroom-based research (e.g., Action Research, Exploratory Practice) means doing research on, about, for and with people, and this kind of research is 'messy' (McKinley, 2019).  This is because people's lives are complex, rich, and unpredictable, and investigating people entails dealing with their 'life capital' (Consoli, 2021).  Crucially, this type of research leads to the researcher's life and identity (or identities) becoming interwoven with the lives of their participants, thereby pointing to the need to revisit the researcher's 'role, relationship and ethical responsibilities' (Kubanyiova, 2008).  These last three concepts are at the heart of this talk.  Drawing upon a project which combined the methodological traditions of Exploratory Practice and Narrative Inquiry, I will share critical incidents of my story as a teacher researching my own students during a pre-sessional course in the UK and, after the end of this programme, in a more traditional researcher capacity.  The overarching aim of the study was to understand these students' motivation(s) to study at a UK university.  Coming from what they defined as 'a formal and serious' educational context in China, these studens found themselves being taught by a 'friendly' teacher in the UK.  This may have positively influenced their motivation; however, through ethical, reflexive and reflective considerations, I will discuss several tensions, challenges and compromises which raise the question of what risks a teacher(-researcher), investigating their own students, can take in order to obtain 'good' research data.


Speaker Bio: Sal Consoli is (Research) Assistant Professor in the Department of English at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU).  He obtained his ESRC-funded PhD from the University of Warwick where he investigated the motivational psychology of Chinese students in the UK higher education system.  Before joining PolyU, Sal taught and researched Applied Linguistics and TESOL at the University of Warwick and Newcastle University.  His research focuses on the psychology of language learning and teaching with specific emphasis on student learning motivation and learner engagement as well as language teacher well-being.  He also has an active interest in research ethics and reflexivity in applied linguistics.  His inquiry has been largely influenced by the epistemological and methodological traditions of narrative approaches and practitioner research.  Recently, Sal has developed the concept of 'life capital' which offers a heuristic to account for language learners' and teachers' life stories and understand how these interact with learning and teaching experiences.  Sal serves on the Executive Committee of the British Association of Applied Linguistics (BAAL).


Questions related to this seminar should be directed to Dr Sin Wang Chong:

School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work
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Dr Sal Consoli event