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CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY

3.1 Introduction

This study aims to explore and examine the practice of code switching among teachers
and students in secondary level Malaysian ESL classrooms. This chapter will first describe
the context of the study and its participants followed by a discussion of the research design
and conceptual framework underpinning it, the data collection procedures and data analyses
techniques. The research criteria and ethical issues concerning this study will be outlined in
the final section.

3.2 Research Design

Researchers employ a variety of methods depending on the research topic, theoretical


approaches and the types of data they wish to work with. The choice of data collection
methods is contingent on the research questions and aspects of the research which are of
interest to the researcher. Therefore, the method of data collection is determined by the types
of data that need to be collected in order to answer the research questions (Matthews & Ross,
2010). In this study, the mixed methods approach was chosen, combining quantitative and
qualitative approaches. Data was collected from multiple sources in order to obtain a better
understanding of the code-switching practices in ESL classrooms and to allow for triangulation
of data.

According to Tracy (2012), much research involves both inductive and deductive
approaches. The following definitions illustrate the differences between both approaches:
Quantitative research methods are primarily concerned with gathering and working with data
that is structured and can be represented numerically. Quantitative data are typically gathered
when a positivist epistemological approach is taken and data is collected that can be
statistically analysed. Qualitative research methods are primarily concerned with stories and
accounts including subjective understandings, feelings, opinions and beliefs. Qualitative data
are typically gathered when an interpretivist epistemological approach is taken and when the
data collected is the words or expressions of the research participant themselves. (Matthews
and Ross, 2010)

In this study, quantitative and qualitative methods are used alongside each other, ‘with
each type of data contributing to answering the same or different research questions’
(Matthews & Ross, 2010). The data for this study was obtained through the administration of
questionnaires, interviews and classroom observations.

3.3 Participants of the Study

3.3.1 Pupils

The study was aimed at 60 pupils to participate as my observant. The participants were
pupils aged between 9 and 11 at the time of data collection. The pupils were in two classes
which I have observe their teachers during my 3-month experience as a teacher trainee in my
assigned school

3.3.2 The Teachers

The teacher participants who I have recruit for this study were teachers who hold either
education diplomas or education degrees from teacher training institutions and universities.
All of the teachers are English teachers with at least two years of teaching experience.

3.4 Data Gathering Instruments and Procedure

3.4.1 Observation

Observation is ‘the act of watching social phenomena in the real world and recording
events as they happen’ (Matthews and Ross, 2010). The primary focus of classroom
observations is to gain access to the ‘social practices’ of teachers and students in the ESL
classroom (Silverman, 2001). In the context of this study, the ‘social practices’ refer to the
teachers’ and pupils’ use of code switching when interacting with one another during lessons.
The phrase ‘focused participant observer’ is used to describe an observer ‘who enters the
scene with an explicit researcher status and a clear agenda of what data to gather from the
scene’ (Tracy, 2012). During classroom observations, I assumed the role of the ‘focused
participant observer’ (Tracy, 2012) because I was mainly interested in observing and
documenting how code switching was used by both teachers and pupils in a typical ESL
classroom.

3.4.2 Interview
Interviews are one of the four major data collection methods used by qualitative
researchers (Silverman, 2001) and enable researchers to elicit and construct the opinions,
attitudes, perspectives and experiences of individuals. There is a range of interviews formats
or structures, which are used depending on the purpose of the interviews (Tracy, 2012). This
study employed semi-structured interviews where a common set of topics and questions were
used for all teacher participants. Semi-structured interviews were chosen for this study
because they focus on obtaining answers for main themes and questions an also allows room
for flexibility in the forms and sequences of questions (Kvale, 2008). This means that the
interviewer is able to structure the interview according to its progression and adapt questioning
as the interview progresses without adhering to the rigidity of structured interviews.

3.5 Pilot Study

According to Hulley (2007), she referred to pilot study as “a small scale preliminary
study conducted in order to evaluate feasibility, time, cost, adverse events, and improve upon
the study design prior to performance of a full-scale research project”. Therefore, it can be
surmised that pilot study is used to reduce time and money wasted on poorly designed concept
or project as through pilot study, researchers can see how well the project will be carried out
in the real run. form part of the final sample. The pilot study will be carried out on a general
population but not on the intended samples so that they would not be biased or influenced by
the pilot study during the research itself. Therefore, in my pilot study, I have carried out a
small-scale research on several TESL students in IPGKIK where I would gather the necessary
data through my research instrument to see if my project is adequately designed and ready
for my real research later.

3.6 Validity and Reliability

According to Heale and Twycross (2015), they stated that validity refers to “the extent
to which a concept is accurately measured in a quantitative study. For example, a survey
designed to explore depression but which actually measures anxiety would not be considered
valid” while reliability as “the consistency of a measure where, for an example, a participant
completing an instrument meant to measure motivation should have approximately the same
responses each time the test is completed”. In my research, I will be able to see whether my
research would actually be valid or reliable through the pilot study that I had planned to carry
out. My research would be valid if my research instrument would be able to answer my
research questions and my research would be reliable if my research instrument able to elicit
the same responses from different samplings every time.

3.7 Data Collection Procedure

For my data collection, I have used all of my research instruments that I have
mentioned earlier in this proposal. The research instruments would be observation and
interview. First, I have observed and video-taped two classrooms so that I can see where and
when the teachers would code-switch with the pupils in a realistic situation. Secondly, I have
interviewed select candidates from both teachers and pupils so that I can see their personal
reasoning for participating in code-switching and extrapolate the data for my research.

3.8 Data Analysis Procedure

For my data analysis, I have used thematic content analysis as my main procedure for
my data analysis as it is suitable and quite manageable for my intended research. Firstly, I
would get familiar with the data collected through my research instruments by reading and re-
reading my data. After that, I would start coding or labeling the whole text for relevant points.
Then, I would search for themes with a broader pattern of meaning in order to reduce the
amount of coding that I have done previously. After that, I would review my themes to make
sure they actually fit the data that I have. Next, I will define and name all the themes that I
have found where finally, I would create a write-up of a coherent narrative that would include
quotes from the interviewees.