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Award for ELT Masters Dissertation

The British Council is pleased to announce the new British Council ELT Masters Dissertation Award for work with the best potential for impact on ELT practice.

This award recognises and promotes the achievements of Masters students on UK universities Masters programmes. The scheme is an opportunity for institutions to promote their programmes and for recent graduates to establish themselves in the field.

About the award

2014 British Council Masters Dissertation Award with Best Potential for Impact on ELT


Introduction

For the last three years, the British Council has partnered with UK universities to find the best ELT Masters dissertations. The scheme, where universities submit the best dissertation from their ELT Masters programmes and then judge them along with a panel of British Council experts, is designed to recognise and celebrate the brightest minds in ELT at Masters level. By publishing the dissertations on the British Council website, the high quality dissertations become additions to the canon of research in ELT and accessible to practitioners around the world, thereby raising the profile of the authors and universities alike. The scheme is also an opportunity for institutions to promote their programmes and for recent graduates to establish themselves in the field.

This year’s competition has been extremely impressive with research into ELT themes such as CEFR statements, linguistic diversity, online gaming for English language learning, covering a wide range of contexts such as Belarus, Poland, Rwanda and Brazil, to name but a few.

The Judging Process

The judging process for the awards is a collaborative and thorough process. All dissertations are submitted from UK institutions, marked at distinction level.

This year the dissertations went through two rounds of evaluation. In the first round the dissertations were assessed by British Council panels who ranked the dissertations according to the potential of the research to change the attitudes, practices or policies of individuals, classrooms or institutions. The best dissertations were then evaluated by academics from the participating institutions.

Note: Institutions whose papers reached the final round were excluded from the judging process in order to ensure a fair evaluation.

The Results

The winner of the 2014 British Council Masters Dissertation Award with Best Potential for Impact on ELT is Tim Goodier from King’s College London, whose paper was entitled 'Working with CEFR can-do statements'.

Here’s what the judges thought of Tim’s research:

The study may be small scale, but it has potentially strong impact. If I were a CEFR designer, I would want to read this. The literature review and methodology components demonstrate a level of understanding I haven’t seen at master’s level.

This is a very timely study with the CEFR being currently adopted as a framework for programme design and assessment in many countries.

The dissertation is well situated in the literature of CEFR and fills a gap of teachers’ beliefs about the challenges presented by such pedagogic exploitation of the CEFR can-do statements and evaluation of the course book. … There is clearly potential impact of this research on policy making regarding CEFR, material development and developing language teachers.

Alongside the winner were special commendations to Santi Budi Lestari from the University of Warwick, Cathryn Tolon from the University of Sussex and Sanghoon Mun from the University of Bath.

The Judges said of Santi’s research, entitled 'Paraphrasing in high-scoring and low-scoring L2 integrated writing test task responses':

This is an excellent dissertation looking at an interesting area, with a great potential for impact. ... A great deal of work went into constructing the rating scales and frameworks, work which in itself should be disseminated.

This is a small scale, but none-the-less very thorough study, systematically employing a mixed methods approach. … The findings and conclusions offer insights into the process of paraphrasing and the utility of integrated writing tests.

This is an excellent study on paraphrasing in L2 integrated writing test task responses. … Findings are very well discussed and there are very well argued recommendations applicable to EAP programme design and classroom practice in all contexts. The study adds significantly to the field of EAP in its conclusions.

The Judges said of Cathryn’s work, entitled 'Teacher experiences during the shift in medium of instruction in Rwanda: voices from Kigali public schools':

This was an interesting dissertation on an important topic in a highly contentious area. … The results are interesting and provide insights into the impact of the policy on the lives of teachers.

… analysis and interpretation of interview data was sophisticated in its acknowledgement of government restrictions while managing to pick out the truth in the data and tell a fascinating story. This truth, that of the powerlessness of the teachers, lends a rare meaningfulness to the dissertation.

The novelty of this study, in detailing the experience and understandings of teachers within the unique context of a national shift in medium of instruction within a developing country, provides a singular look at the voice of the teacher. ... I think this research has added value to the current literature of teacher identity, emotion and cognition. More importantly, this research sheds lights on the role of teachers in any policy change. I enjoyed reading this work and think it has potential impact on raising awareness of policy makers in terms of language policy, educating teachers and also raising a wider discussion on the role of mother tongue and the role of English worldwide.

Lastly, the judges said of Sanghoon’s work, entitled 'A study on teachers’ item weighting and the Rasch model: summative test items’ difficulty logits calibration using the Rasch model':

The findings allowed clear interpretations of the data and clear answers to the research questions. This further led to practical implications for test design in Korea.

The area of research is important to many relevant EFL contexts. … A well-written study that has potential impact on within the country’s education system, especially policy making and teacher education. This dissertation certainly has a huge value to the understanding of testing.

The results of the study have important implications for the English language testing system in high schools in South Korea.

Please find the complete list of finalists below (in alphabetical order of universities):

  • Oliver Beddall, Aston University: Investigating reflective practice in a training course for young learner teachers
  • Hui Guo, Birkbeck, University of London: Analysing and evaluating current mobile applications for learning English speaking
  • Anne Hardy, Canterbury Christ Church University: An investigation to establish the impact of synthetic phonics on teaching children with English as an additional language to read
  • Natalia Blackman, University of Edinburgh: EFL teachers’ perceptions on the use of L1 in a primary and secondary classroom in Belarus
  • Jennefer Brown, University of Exeter: Teachers’ perceptions and uses of online gaming and virtual worlds for English language learning
  • Laura Sae Miyake Mark, University of Hull: Identity and interaction in second language acquisition: an investigation of Chinese learners’ use of ‘English’ names
  • Miroslawa Mohite, London Metropolitan University:  An investigation into the English language writing strategies used by Polish EFL secondary school learners
  • Susannah Pearson, Norwich Institute for Language Education: Reflection and continued teacher development after the storm: Writing self-study materials for newly-qualified CELTA teachers
  • Hamish Chalmers, Oxford Brookes University: Harnessing linguistic diversity in polylingual British-curriculum schools. Do L1 mediated home learning tasks improve learning outcomes for bilingual children? A randomised trial
  • Richard Spiby, University of Reading: A comparison of the performance and utilization of reading strategies on tests of expeditious and careful reading
  • Daniel Baines, Sheffield Hallam University: Reflection and improvement on the four-week intensive TEFL course
  • Ghadah Saleh Aloqaili, University of Southampton: Learning vocabulary from subtitled videos: an investigation into the effectiveness of using subtitled videos for intentional vocabulary learning in Saudi Arabia with an exploration of learners’ perspective
  • Xiaoya Zhou, University of Stirling: Learner's strategy use to guess word meanings during interactive read-aloud: a case study
  • Laís Borges, University College London: Pronunciation beliefs and other predictors of phonological performance: a study with Brazilian ESL learners   

The dissertations are available to download or read online on the '2014 winners' tab.

A huge thank you to everyone who took part this year and we look forward to continuing this successful programme into the future.

2014 winners

2014 British Council Masters Dissertation Award with Best Potential for Impact on ELT


Winner

 

Tim Goodier, King’s College London: Working with CEFR can-do statements


Special commendations


Santi Budi Lestari, University of Warwick: Paraphrasing in high-scoring and low-scoring L2 integrated writing test task responses

 

Cathryn Tolon, University of Sussex: Teacher experiences during the shift in medium of instruction in Rwanda: voices from Kigali public schools

 
 

Sanghoon Mun, University of Bath: A study on teachers’ item weighting and the Rasch model: summative test items’ difficulty logits calibration using the Rasch model


Finalists

(In alphabetical order.)

Each title links to the relevant dissertation paper:


Oliver Beddall, Aston University: Investigating reflective practice in a training course for young learner teachers

 

Hui Guo, Birkbeck, University of London: Analysing and evaluating current mobile applications for learning English speaking
 
 

Anne Hardy, Canterbury Christ Church University: An investigation to establish the impact of synthetic phonics on teaching children with English as an additional language to read
 

 

Natalia Blackman, University of Edinburgh: EFL teachers’ perceptions on the use of L1 in a primary and secondary classroom in Belarus

 


Jennefer Brown, University of Exeter: Teachers’ perceptions and uses of online gaming and virtual worlds for English language learning

 

Laura Sae Miyake Mark, University of Hull: Identity and interaction in second language acquisition: an investigation of Chinese learners’ use of ‘English’ names

 

Miroslawa Mohite, London Metropolitan University:  An investigation into the English language writing strategies used by Polish EFL secondary school learners

 

Susannah Pearson, Norwich Institute for Language Education: Reflection and continued teacher development after the storm: Writing self-study materials for newly-qualified CELTA teachers

 

 

Hamish Chalmers, Oxford Brookes University: Harnessing linguistic diversity in polylingual British-curriculum schools. Do L1 mediated home learning tasks improve learning outcomes for bilingual children? A randomised trial
 


Richard Spiby, University of Reading: A comparison of the performance and utilization of reading strategies on tests of expeditious and careful reading


 Daniel Baines, Sheffield Hallam University: Reflection and improvement on the four-week intensive TEFL course

 


Ghadah Saleh Aloqaili, University of Southampton: Learning vocabulary from subtitled videos: an investigation into the effectiveness of using subtitled videos for intentional vocabulary learning in Saudi Arabia with an exploration of learners’ perspective
 


Xiaoya Zhou, University of Stirling: Learner's strategy use to guess word meanings during interactive read-aloud: a case study

 

Laís Borges, University College London: Pronunciation beliefs and other predictors of phonological performance: a study with Brazilian ESL learners

 

 

Previous winners

2013 Awards

Winner

 

Thomas Michael Jameson, University of Edinburgh: Attitudes Towards English in Relation to English as a Lingua Franca in the Tanzanian Context.

 

Special commendations

 

Claudia Spataro, University of Leeds: Using Moodle 2.3 to improve perception skills in EFL listening: does it work?

 
Jeremy Scott, University of Exeter: Foreign Territory: An Ethnographic Study of an “English Village” within a Japanese University.

 

Finalists

Adam Turner, Aston University:  Participant observation of the interaction in an engineering lab to improve materials design and writing support for graduate students and faculty publishing in English at a research university in Korea.

 

 
Laura Patsko, Kings College London:  Using the Lingua Franca Core to promote students’ mutual intelligibility in the multilingual classroom: Five teachers’ experiences.

 

 

Samantha Meehan, University of Lancashire: An Investigation into the Structural Errors of Arabic Learners’ Written Persuasive Discourse in English.

 

 

 
Rhona Cole, Sheffield Hallam University: An investigation into the use of a theme based on children’s literature to support the development of speaking skills and early writing skills in a bilingual preschool environment.

 

 
Samira Hazari, University of Warwick: Equipping young learners with learning to learn strategies by developing their meta-cognitive skills through reflection.

 

2012 Awards

Winning dissertation


Michelle Vyncke, King’s College: The Concept and Practice of Critical Thinking in Academic Writing: An Investigation of International Students’ Perceptions and Writing Experiences

Summary statement


Special commendation


Jo Gakonga, University of Warwick: Collaboration or Bust? An Inquiry into the Use of Differing On-line Models of Delivery for a Pre-service Grammar Course for English Teachers.

Summary statement


Finalists' summary statements

Tanya Cotter, Leeds Metropolitan University: Pre-departure Beginner Level English Course for Bangladeshi Female Migrant Domestic Workers

Tojiniso Olimnazarova, University of Birmingham: Using Students’ Linguistic Repertoires for Teaching English as a Foreign Language in Tajikistan

Tetsuya Onishi, University of Edinburgh: Pilot Cooperative Learning in Japanese Secondary School EFL Contexts: What are the Students’ Perceptions?

Stephen Deane, University of Exeter: An Exploration into Learner Perceptions of Speaking Skills in English for Academic Purposes

Scott J. Shelton-Strong, University of Nottingham: Exploration, Analysis and Evaluation of Literature Circles in EFL: A Case Study of Higher Intermediate Young Adults in Vietnam

Phyllida Furse, Birmingham City University: “Are You Speaking Comfortably?” A Consideration of the Risk Factors, Implications and Prevention of Muscle Tension Dysphonia in Teachers

Phuong Le Hoang Ngo, University of Southampton: An Investigation into Vietnamese Teachers’ and Students’ Perception of English as a Lingua Franca

Martha Moreno Navarro, University College Plymouth St Mark and St John: Towards the Adoption of Inclusive Strategies for a Non-sighted Undergraduate Student in an EFL Classroom

Lukasz Materowski, University of Hull: The Influence of the Second Language on First Language Writing: A Case Study of a Polish-English Bilingual Child

Lesley Keast, Sheffield Hallam University: The Nature of Praise and Positive Feedback in the Young Learner ELT Classroom

Keli Ramos, Aston University: Learning from Our Mistakes: Making Students Notice

Karolina Kowalczyk, University of Central Lancashire: Research into the Level of Support Offered to Dyslexic EFL Learners in Polish Lower-Secondary Schools in Mainstream Education

Jiemin Wen, University of Lancaster: A Study of Learners' Perceptions and Uptake of Corrective Feedback in Text-chat Dyadic Interaction

Carrie Anne Thomas, University of Oxford: Living in L1, Learning in L2: Language ideologies and practices of English immersion students

Bernhard Rychetsky, Norwich Institute for Language Education: 'She teaches ill, who teaches all' - Assessing the Effects of a Discovery-based Language Awareness Approach on Learners Aged 16 to 17 at an Austrian Upper-level Secondary Academic School (Gymnasium) Through the Use of Popular Sitcoms

Ben Smart, Birkbeck, University of London: Exploring Pedagogical Reasoning Skills: How Native English Speaking Teachers and Non-native English Speaking Teachers Approach a Reading Lesson

Adam Deaner, The Open University: An Investigation into the Impact of Collaborative Practices on the Opportunities for Learning and Participation in an EFL Classroom

FAQs

Award for Masters Dissertation with best potential for impact on ELT: FAQs

 

What is the purpose of the scheme?

To recognise the potential for impact on ELT of Masters dissertation research. By impact we mean the potential of the research to change attitudes or priorities of individuals or institutions with regard to the development of policies and practices at local or regional or national levels. The scheme may also encourage students to focus on areas of research that will have impact. Publication of Masters dissertations will raise the profile of ELT related Masters courses from UK universities worldwide.
 

Who is eligible?

To be considered for the award the dissertation must have been completed in the 2011-12 academic year at a tertiary level institution in the UK recognised as an accredited degree-awarding body. Any submission will have been marked at distinction (70+) level. The dissertation can be completed in any mode (e.g. full-time, part-time or distance learning). 
 

Does eligibility depend on nationality or residence?

No, the scheme is open to all Masters students at UK universities. The nationality and residence of the student are not relevant. 
 

What is the application process?

The institution submits one dissertation that it judges to have high potential for impact along with a 2 page summary of the dissertation. This summary includes a statement of the practical potential of the ideas presented in the dissertation. The application should also include a commitment from the institution to participate in the evaluation process and permission from the author to publish the dissertation or summary online. 
 

What form should the summary take?

The summary should be written in Arial 12 and single-spaced. One side should summarise the dissertation. The other should outline the potential for impact. 
 

What is the evaluation process?

Every institution submitting an abstract will form part of the evaluation panel. The first ranking round will be based on the two page summary. The evaluators will be asked to read about ten summaries. The second round will be based on the full dissertation. The evaluators will be asked to read up to five dissertations. There will be a minimum of two raters per paper.
 

Who will make up the evaluation panel? 

The participating institutions will nominate one person to sit on the evaluation panel. The evaluators should have experience of supervising Masters dissertations on ELT related topics. The British Council will advise participating institutions on the suitability of the nominated evaluators.  
 

What is the deadline for applications?

The deadline is 12/11/2012. 
 

What about copyright?

The author agrees to the papers being used for educational purposes globally, and retains rights to publish in other formats. The British Council owns the copyright of the compilation, and the author retains the copyright of their dissertation. 
 

What will happen with the dissertations judged to be the best?

The dissertations will be published online by the British Council. 
 

Does the dissertation and summary have to be written in English?

Yes, all submitted documentation should be written in English.
 

Are dissertations which focus on English Literature eligible for the scheme?

No, this scheme focuses on English language teaching.
 

Who can I contact for more information?

Queries should be sent to ELTMasters@britishcouncil.org