Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 4

Research Design Related Abstracts

4 Task Validity in Neuroimaging Studies: Perspectives from Applied Linguistics

Authors: L. Freeborn

Abstract:

Recent years have seen an increasing number of neuroimaging studies related to language learning as imaging techniques such as fMRI and EEG have become more widely accessible to researchers. By using a variety of structural and functional neuroimaging techniques, these studies have already made considerable progress in terms of our understanding of neural networks and processing related to first and second language acquisition. However, the methodological designs employed in neuroimaging studies to test language learning have been questioned by applied linguists working within the field of second language acquisition (SLA). One of the major criticisms is that tasks designed to measure language learning gains rarely have a communicative function, and seldom assess learners’ ability to use the language in authentic situations. This brings the validity of many neuroimaging tasks into question. The fundamental reason why people learn a language is to communicate, and it is well-known that both first and second language proficiency are developed through meaningful social interaction. With this in mind, the SLA field is in agreement that second language acquisition and proficiency should be measured through learners’ ability to communicate in authentic real-life situations. Whilst authenticity is not always possible to achieve in a classroom environment, the importance of task authenticity should be reflected in the design of language assessments, teaching materials, and curricula. Tasks that bear little relation to how language is used in real-life situations can be considered to lack construct validity. This paper first describes the typical tasks used in neuroimaging studies to measure language gains and proficiency, then analyses to what extent these tasks can validly assess these constructs.

Keywords: Second language acquisition, Research Design, neuroimaging studies, task validity

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3 Studying Second Language Development from a Complex Dynamic Systems Perspective

Authors: L. Freeborn

Abstract:

This paper discusses the application of complex dynamic system theory (DST) to the study of individual differences in second language development. This transdisciplinary framework allows researchers to view the trajectory of language development as a dynamic, non-linear process. A DST approach views language as multi-componential, consisting of multiple complex systems and nested layers. These multiple components and systems continuously interact and influence each other at both the macro- and micro-level. Dynamic systems theory aims to explain and describe the development of the language system, rather than make predictions about its trajectory. Such a holistic and ecological approach to second language development allows researchers to include various research methods from neurological, cognitive, and social perspectives. A DST perspective would involve in-depth analyses as well as mixed methods research. To illustrate, a neurobiological approach to second language development could include non-invasive neuroimaging techniques such as electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate areas of brain activation during language-related tasks. A cognitive framework would further include behavioural research methods to assess the influence of intelligence and personality traits, as well as individual differences in foreign language aptitude, such as phonetic coding ability and working memory capacity. Exploring second language development from a DST approach would also benefit from including perspectives from the field of applied linguistics, regarding the teaching context, second language input, and the role of affective factors such as motivation. In this way, applying mixed research methods from neurobiological, cognitive, and social approaches would enable researchers to have a more holistic view of the dynamic and complex processes of second language development.

Keywords: Research Design, Dynamic Systems Theory, Mixed Methods, second language development

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2 Addressing Cultural Discrimination in Research Design: The Responsibilities of Ethics Committees

Authors: Elspeth McInnes

Abstract:

Research design is central to ethical research. Discriminatory research design is a key risk for researchers examining diverse cultural groups without conscious commitment to anti-discrimination values or knowledge of their culture. Culturally discriminatory research design is defined here as research proceeding from negative assumptions about people on the basis of race, colour, ethnicity, nationality or religion. Such discrimination can be direct or indirect. Direct discrimination is the uncritical mobilization of dominant group negative stereotypes of cultural minorities. Indirect discrimination is the examination of policies or programs grounded in dominant culture negative stereotypes that have been uncritically accepted by the researchers. This paper draws on anonymized elements of planned research projects and considers both direct and indirect cultural discrimination in research design and the responsibilities of ethics committees. Human research ethics committees provide a point of scrutiny with responsibility to alert researchers to risks of basing research on negative cultural stereotypes, as well as protecting participants from being subjected to negative discourses about them. This issue has become an increasing concern in a globalizing world of human displacement and migration creating a rise in the presence of minority cultures in host countries. As a nation established through colonization and immigration Australia has a long history of negative cultural stereotypes of Indigenous Australians as well as a legacy of the White Australia policy, which still echoes in attitudes to each wave of non-European immigration. The task of eliminating cultural discrimination in research design is vital to sustaining research integrity and ensuring that research is not used to reinforce or justify cultural discrimination.

Keywords: Research Design, cultural discrimination, cultural stereotypes, participant risk

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1 Advanced Palliative Aquatics Care Multi-Device AuBento for Symptom and Pain Management by Sensorial Integration and Electromagnetic Fields: A Preliminary Design Study

Authors: J. F. Pollo Gaspary, F. Peron Gaspary, E. M. Simão, R. Concatto Beltrame, G. Orengo de Oliveira, M. S. Ristow Ferreira, J.C. Mairesse Siluk, I. F. Minello, F. dos Santos de Oliveira

Abstract:

Background: Although palliative care policies and services have been developed, research in this area continues to lag. An integrated model of palliative care is suggested, which includes complementary and alternative services aimed at improving the well-being of patients and their families. The palliative aquatics care multi-device (AuBento) uses several electromagnetic techniques to decrease pain and promote well-being through relaxation and interaction among patients, specialists, and family members. Aim: The scope of this paper is to present a preliminary design study of a device capable of exploring the various existing theories on the biomedical application of magnetic fields. This will be achieved by standardizing clinical data collection with sensory integration, and adding new therapeutic options to develop an advanced palliative aquatics care, innovating in symptom and pain management. Methods: The research methodology was based on the Work Package Methodology for the development of projects, separating the activities into seven different Work Packages. The theoretical basis was carried out through an integrative literature review according to the specific objectives of each Work Package and provided a broad analysis, which, together with the multiplicity of proposals and the interdisciplinarity of the research team involved, generated consistent and understandable complex concepts in the biomedical application of magnetic fields for palliative care. Results: Aubento ambience was idealized with restricted electromagnetic exposure (avoiding data collection bias) and sensory integration (allowing relaxation associated with hydrotherapy, music therapy, and chromotherapy or like floating tank). This device has a multipurpose configuration enabling classic or exploratory options on the use of the biomedical application of magnetic fields at the researcher's discretion. Conclusions: Several patients in diverse therapeutic contexts may benefit from the use of magnetic fields or fluids, thus validating the stimuli to clinical research in this area. A device in controlled and multipurpose environments may contribute to standardizing research and exploring new theories. Future research may demonstrate the possible benefits of the aquatics care multi-device AuBento to improve the well-being and symptom control in palliative care patients and their families.

Keywords: medical device, Research Design, advanced palliative aquatics care, magnetic field therapy

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