Is There a Place for Quantitative LOA Research?

So far, this chapter has shown that qualitative research approaches can comprehensively capture the complexity of LOA in L2 classrooms. But what about quantitative research approaches? Regrettably, it is questionable that a purely quantitative study can adequately grasp the nuances of classroom-based LOA. Specifically, it would be a great challenge to properly document how, why, and when learning transpires in planned and unplanned assessment episodes using a purely quantitative approach.

Nevertheless, quantitative data analysis does have a place in classroom- based LOA research. Given the complexity of LOA, some researchers have sought to establish patterns through the quantification of qualitative data. For example, Perrone (2011) observed an EFL classroom, coded his transcribed data into pre-determined categories, and quantified the data by calculating the students’ accuracy of noticing, the accuracy of noticing with repeated practice, speed of noticing, and speed of noticing with repeated practice. The quantification of the data allowed him to coherently compare the performance between a high-achieving student and a low-achieving student. As Mackey and Gass (2005) suggested, quantification can bring several benefits to a qualitative study: it allows patterns in qualitative data to be easily detected, it can facilitate the generation of hypotheses, it helps researchers communicate the findings clearly, and it makes research results more accessible and easily understandable to other researchers.

In conclusion, this chapter examined how LOA research has been conducted in L2 contexts, identified several common data collection and analysis approaches, analyzed the types of evidence in relation to learning that had been provided, and explored the LOA dimensions that have been addressed. Based on the findings, recommendations on how to conduct quality LOA research in L2 classrooms were provided. While LOA is not a new research agenda in L2 contexts, its complexity and multidimensionality always leave more to explore. It is hoped that this chapter provides a starting ground for discussions of how classroom-based LOA can be conducted to comprehensively capture the dynamics of learning, teaching, and assessment in L2 classrooms.

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