For the purposes of my study, wherein I examine an intervention to potentially increase the effectiveness and overall classroom experience of the Arabic defense language course at the DLIFLC, I will be employing a qualitative methods approach. The measurements will therefore be qualitative and subjective in nature, and will have to be assessed as such.
I must first start by defining the constructs and variables that are to be measured in this study. First, since this is a qualitative study, I will be examining the attitudes and opinions of the students on the performance and efficacy, among other things, of the intervention itself. In order to create categories that will provide accurate assessments of the intervention, they must be appropriately uniform. The efficiency of the intervention can be determined qualitatively, but the concept of the paper is to study the comfort level and fundamental engagement that the student had with the material through this method, and it will be compared with the comfort level students have of the existing defense language learning course.
There are a number of ways in which the effectiveness of interventions like these have been measured and assessed. The academic preparatory course has been examined before by weighing student attrition; the lack of attrition was positively associated with a good learning experience (St. Pierre III, 2008). Husseinali (2008) investigates L2 language learners in Arabic investigated their initial motivation prior to a university level course. In Harless et al's study (1999), in which DLI Arabic speakers were interviewed as to their experiences in a multimedia intervention, the subjects were categorized into "Speaking," "Learning," and other categories for the sake of organizing results. For that reason, a similar tactic will be used in our intervention, as categories for "Comfort," "Enjoyment," and others will be utilized.
At the beginning of the intervention, interviews will be given to each participant in the new curriculum. These questions will cover issues of quality of education and comfort within a classroom setting. The overall purpose of these questions is to gauge the participants' general feelings toward the issue of second language acquisition and foreign language learning courses - what their expectations are, what they anticipate they will get out of the process, etc.
At the end of the intervention, the participants will be interviewed once more, this time to discern what elements of the process worked for them - what level of comfort they had with the material given the curriculum tested, and how well they feel they learned. Their opinions on the pace and difficulty of the curriculum will also be recorded via interview questions. The results will then be analyzed and discussed, in order to determine whether the research question (this new method of intervention for Arabic DLI courses is a more comfortable and effective curriculum than currently exists) is supported.
The interview format of the study will provide measurements weighing the potential benefits in comfort and accessibility to the Arabic language as felt by the students. As the purpose of the study is not necessarily to determine whether or not it is quantitatively a more effective learning strategy, the study aims to see whether the intervention makes for an overall better and more rewarding scenario for defense language learners.
Harless, W.G., Zier, M.A., and Duncan, R.C. (1999). Virtual dialogues with native speakers: the evolution of an interactive multimedia method. CALICO Journal 16(3): 313.
Husseinali, G. (2006). Who is studying arabic and why? A survey of arabic students' orientations at a major university. Foreign Language Annals, 39(3), 395-412. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/216014044?accountid=28180
Patton, M. Q. (2002). Qualitative research & evaluation methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Shank, G. D. (2006). Qualitative research: A personal skills approach. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall.
Schram, T. H. (2006). Conceptualizing and proposing qualitative research. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall.
St. Pierre III, C.N (2008). Foreign language learning and the efficacy of preparatory course interventions. PDF. Retrieved July 25, 2011 from Proquest.