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Project proposal by SUYI, Liu Yan and Dave Jordan for students at Shandong Agricultural University

Dr Christina Preston

Project proposal by SUYI, Liu Yan and Dave Jordan for students at Shandong Agricultural University



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Shandong Agricultural University is situated to the south of Beijing and caters for students studying all aspects of Agriculture.

The target group of students will be those studying English at a high level as part of their degree course.

Both Su Yi and Liu Yan work in the English department and deal with English majors where the focus of the teaching for SuYi is Extensive Reading for English Majors and Intensive reading for all students whilst for Liu Yan it is Writing as the key focus.


The students are involved in a lot of self study and much of the work done by the teachers is developing and creating materials for the students to work on individually.


Currently SUYI has 4 different classes who each receive two 90 minute lessons per week.

Liu Yan will begin her Project work in the second semester, which begins in September, after her return to China following her UK Research work at Southampton University

The University uses language labs, which are the responsibility of SuYi, and it has its own radio station.


A room has been selected and is being prepared (82.5M2) for the whiteboard.


** Term starts on the 20th February for staff and the 28th for students **

Author: Su Yi




Publication Date: 2005

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Aims of the Research


The main aim will be to investigate the effectiveness of whole class teaching for developing shared understandings using a range of material: this will be divided into two parts

  1. A) looking at teaching methods used by teachers and the changes brought about through the use of an Interactive Whiteboard.

The two main areas for research will focus on:-

which techniques improve the students’ level of oral comprehension


whether class and group discussions improve written work.

(Initially this will be with SUYI’s students but from June also with Liu Yan’s students, after her return from her study in the UK)


Currently the methodology used is that of students working individually, at their own pace using a range of structured materials, this includes work in the language labs and with prepared materials on computers. Collaborative work is little used as a strategy and the opportunities for developing speaking and listening skills are limited due to class size of more than 50 and limited lesson times: it is hoped to develop strategies that will increase these.

  • It is hoped to introduce more multimedia using the projector an whiteboard and the opportunity to freeze frame video and annotate
  • The concept of using writing frameworks will be examined to see whether it improves students’ performance or closes down the options of creative work and leads to generalised formulaic writing.


  1. B) developing group projects, related to international citizenship ideas, ( see more details in Liu Yan’s ideas attachment) for the students to work on – the themes will those being developed by the schools in Mexico and SA. The idea being that the University students provide material that can be used by the other participating schools in their classroom, thereby extending their knowledge and understanding of the whiteboard in action and at the same time developing their language skills in English by a close consideration of audience and purpose. It is expected that there will be a Chinese dimension where possibleg. the SA theme “endangered species” will allow research and the creation of material on Chinese wildlife including the Giant panda



How the research will help to improve teaching and learning


As stated above it is hoped that there will be a significant improvement in both the students oral and written abilities: tests and marks from previous tests and of parallel classes will be used in order to test the hypotheses.

It is proposed to examine and analyse the current work of the students to find the key areas that the targeted group are finding difficult and then to develop and look at alternative strategies


The expected outcomes or findings of the research?


The expected outcomes are twofold:

  • A change in the teaching methodology used by teachers, through the adoption and integration of new approaches
  • An improvement in the oral and written skills of the students


How the research process will be helpful to the students?


It is hoped that through collaborative work, both as a class and by working in small groups, the less able students will be able to learn from the more able whilst  the more able will be stretched by the teacher where role modelling and framework are a key part of the teaching and learning strategy


How the relevant data will be identified. How it will be collected, analysed and evaluated. Links to aims and what is known already?


The data will consist of a number of key areas:

results from past and current tests and interviews, observations and records of lessons using Action Research techniques including the reflective practitioner diaries and interchanges with the UK adviser as well as surveys and interviews of student attitudes.

Evidence from students’ work will be analysed on a regular basis to enable targeting of future planning whilst key numeric score data will be tracked and recorded on a spreadsheet where possible to enable graphic representation at a later date

(see SUYI Ideas attachment with information on this term – tests are held at the end of every 4 lessons and a final test at the end of the term and Liu Yan ideas attachment for Stage 2)


Data collection

– creating teacher observation records for classroom interactions

– creating a framework for Action Research Diaries

– creating students self evaluation sheets

– collecting and recording students marks ad grades for each piece of work
– making video or sound recordings of pupil and teacher interactions;
– collecting pupil learning logs or pupil commentaries to identify their perspective on lessons/activities
– using questionnaires with pupils or interviewing them to explore their thinking and understanding;


Validity checks


By ensuring that the data collected answers the questions asked

By cross referencing data from a number of sources

By comparison of statistical data from past and present

By statistical analysis – analysing changes in patterns and interpreting results


Data analysis & conclusions


This will be both summative and interpretive, using both linguistic and numeric data – it may well be verbal, written or diagrammatic and the end product in a number of forms for publication with the audience being local, national and international, in the school, locally and for the MNet website


Organisation of  time during the research.


Stage 1            Semester 1 March to June


Baseline data collection

Creation of record sheets for self and students

Development of key lessons for the whiteboard

Delivery of key lessons, with observations and records of students’ learning

Collection of marks and scores (see attachment of current term’s outline)

Analysis of initial data and feedback in order to aid future planning

Weekly emails to UK adviser & Liu Yan on progress

By end of June a written report on the initial findings for the SA meeting in Cape Town

July – Presentation of findings in Cape Town and discussions with SA and Mexican groups on topic ideas that can be adopted and developed


Stage 2            Semester 2 September – December


Development of key lessons for the whiteboard

Introduction of the students projects for the other schools

Delivery of key lessons, with observations and records of students’ learning

Collection of marks and scores

Analysis of initial data and feedback in order to aid future planning


Dec –  Collation of all data collected + an overview report with statistics and pictures

Jan –    Full report for London Conference


Monitoring learning and professional development during the research.


A 3 way approach will be used

Self evaluation –using action Research and feedback from students

Pupil evaluation – regular checking of progress and attitudes

Tutor monitoring – regular contact with UK tutor to comment on all aspects of the project


Finally it is hoped that the participating schools will be able to give feedback – certainly in part two of the project when they will be using material created by the Chinese students


Evaluating the research.


Evaluation will be at regular intervals, as detailed above, with a final examination of the outcomes relating both methodology and ideology to practice, in order to see what has been achieved and what has not and why, and to see how and where the next steps will be.


Dissemination of research findings to other teachers.


Stage one will be internal  with the co teacher and then with other interested staff in the university

Stage two will be with he Project group in Cape Town and London

Stage three will be via the MNet website and then perhaps to other Universities in China running similar courses

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References & Contacts

None available

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