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Figure 1. Cyclical AR model based on Kemmis and McTaggart (1988)
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teaching in Vietnam is still a new area which inspires the researcher to carry out
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In the previous chapter, a review on literature was briefly presented. In
this chapter, the researcher will detail the methodological approach in the study.
Specifically, the participants, the instruments as well as the procedures of data
collection and analysis will be discussed in details as follows:
1. Objectives of the study
The study was conducted to seek the answer to the following question:
What are the students’ perspectives on the use of Socratic Seminar in
The research study was carried out in the second semester of the 2019
academic year. The subjects of the research were twenty-five second-year
students, comprising of two boys and twenty-three girls, aged between eighteen
and nineteen years old. The majority of the students’ speaking skills do not meet
3. Data collection
In this study, the research outcome based on the students’ self-assessment
on their speaking skills and development of the students, so several instruments
were used to increase the reliability and validity of the data. The instruments
were listed as follows:
1. Questionnaire: Using the questionnaire is a popular practice nowadays
to obtain opinions from a large number of respondents about a certain topic
(Fowler, 2009; McDonough & McDonough, 1997). Questionnaire could be
delivered to a large number of respondents over large areas. It is more
economical to use questionnaires, compared with doing interviews, when the
number of subjects is large for instance (Bryman, 2008; Walliman, 2011).
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Responses from questionnaire can be easily measured and processed with the
assistance of certain software, making it possible for the researcher to present
Two questionnaires were delivered to the students. The former was given
to the students on 19th March 2019 while the latter was distributed to them on
16th April 2019. The first questionnaire was used to find out the cause of the
students’ low level of speaking performance. The second questionnaire was used
to explore their perspectives towards the technique after trying-out strategies.
2. Interview: The interview is a good way to obtain subjects’ opinions
and/or feelings about a certain topic, event or action in a highly personal and
detailed level (Kvale and Brinkmann, 2009; McDonough & McDonough, 1997;
Punch, 2009). A group interview was conducted after the completion of each
cycle. The interview questions aimed to find what students thought about the
technique, what changes they would like to be made in the next cycle. The data
from the interview would be treated through a process called “inductive
coding”. The researcher would scan the data to see what categories suggest
3. Observation: Observation provides direct information rather than selfreport accounts (Dörnyei, 2007, p. 178). According to Borg (2006), observation
is a valuable strategy in the study of language teacher cognition because it
provides evidence of what happens in the classrooms. In this research, the
researcher video-taped all the lessons to describe what had happened in the
classroom. However, it was, sometimes, really difficult to record all the
classroom interaction in the class because some students spoke English too
softly and the class size was large.
4. Action Research Design
There are four main stages (Planning, Action, Observation, and
Reflection) in this action research, which are detailed below:
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4.1 The first cycle:
4.1.1 Planning stage
In this stage, the researcher decided to identify why the majority of
students possess a low level of speaking English. The assessment of students’
speaking performance was obtained by the results of their end-term test in the
previous term to evaluate their abilities to speak. A questionnaire was given to
the students to find out the cause of the problem. After having identified the
problem and causes, the researcher made a plan to implement the new
1. Choosing suitable and interesting texts to use in the speaking class.
2. Apply the use of Socratic Seminars in the speaking class.
3. Changing the classroom’s atmosphere in a positive way.
4. Paying more attention to students who hesitate to speak or do not want
to engage in the conversation and encouraging them to speak.
4.1.2 Action stage
At the implementation stage, the researcher had issued guidelines on the
procedure of Socratic Seminar. Students were carefully instructed how to ask
the right questions and how to proactively participate in the discussion. After the
preparation phase, the researcher chose the topics which were considered to be
familiar with the students at the upper-intermediate level. The texts used in the
class were about 800- 1000 words, which were adapted from reliable articles.
Students were required to read the text and raised at least 3 questions about the
text before going to the class. The class would be divided into two cycles (inner
and outer cycles). After a 30-minute discussion, participants in the inner cycle
and outer cycle exchange their roles and keep the discussion going on.
The articles were used in the first cycle:
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Week 1: Half of teens think that they are addicted to their smartphones.
(Kelly Wallace, CNN, 2016)
The aim of the article is to provide students with opportunities to expand
their technology-related vocabulary. Moreover, students can share with their
peers about their opinions towards the advantages and disadvantages of teens
Week 2: Yes, sitting too long can kill you, even if you exercise (Susan
Scutti, CNN, 2017)
This health-related article in week 2 aims to encourage students to raise
questions about sedentary jobs, which are popular in the world. Students will
discuss the drawbacks of sitting too long, and then they have to argue to give the
final solutions to the problem.
Week 3: How much exercise do I really need? (Jordan Metzi, CNN, 2017)
Another article related to health is discussed in the week 3. Students will
continue to engage in the conversation to give their points of view about the
amount of exercise they really need. Students could be able to use the new
words they have learnt in the previous lesson in week 2 to apply in this lesson.
A video camera was used to record every lesson in the cycle. The
researcher used videos to film what happened in the class as the evidence for the
research. Students’ observable response can be seen from the videos. The
researcher also assigned students to write their thinking about every lesson and
describe the class atmosphere in the student’s diary form. After finishing the
first cycle, a group of three students were invited to express their opinions
towards the techniques, whether they felt that the technique could help them to
improve their speaking skills and then they were asked to suggest
recommendations to the technique for the next cycle.
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At this stage, the researcher would watch the video recordings again and
again to reflect on the teaching and learning process after finishing the first
cycle. Moreover, the researcher will use the students’ comments from the
interview to figure out how the technique is perceived by students.
4.2 The second cycle
4.2.1 Planning stage
After reviewing the first cycle carefully to reformulate the plan for the
second cycle, the researcher continued to implement the Socratic Seminar into
the classroom with two learning topics. These learning topics aimed at providing
students with more opportunities to speak and help them feel less anxious when
4.2.2 Action stage
The articles were used in the second cycles:
Week 4: Attention students! Put your laptop away! (CNN news)
The aim of the article is to help students to understand the issue of having
a laptop. Students can discuss the topic with each other to find out the use of
laptop, how important it is, and what problems it may cause to them.
Week 5: Are celebrities bad for you? (British Council)
The article aims to provide students more chances to practice speaking.
The topic can be seen as popular to students. Students could use textual ideas to
express their own opinions to the topic.
4.2.3 Observation stage
The researcher continued to record the two lessons to observe students’
response. The researcher also assigned students to write their thinking about
every lesson and describe the class atmosphere in the student’s diary form. A
group of three students joined the interview with the same questions as the
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group in the first interview to express their opinions about changes made in the
4.2.4 Reflection stage
At this point, the researcher would re-evaluate the effects of changes
thanks to the students’ criticism and suggestion and data from observation stage.
There was a total of two cycles in this action research. Each cycle was
prepared and implemented carefully to encourage students to promote their
autonomy in language learning process in the hope that they can improve their
speaking skills. Specifically, students are required to read the selected text
carefully before class and then they are encouraged to share their ideas, opinions
and experiences on the text with their classmates, which could help them to
speak English confidently and competently. In conclusion, the study provided
opportunities for the researcher and students to experience a totally new
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ACTION AND OUTCOMES OF RESEARCH CYCLE ONE
In this chapter, the researcher details the stages and what happened in the
first cycle. Also, students’ opinions obtained from the first interview were also
1. Planning stage
1.1 Identify the problem
The research was conducted to solve the problem: The second-year
students have a relatively low level of speaking skills.
In order to prove that the students possess a relatively low level of
speaking skills, the results of the final exam that they took in the preceding term
have been presented as evidence in the following table:
Table 1.1 Students’ scores in the preceding term
7, 7.5, 8.5, 7, 6.5, 6, 7, 7.5, 6.3, 7, 6.7, 7, 8, 6, 7.5,
8.5, 8, 7, 7.5, 6.5, 6, 5, 7, 5.5, 6
As can be seen from the table, the mean score of the students’ scores from
the final exam was 6.7, which can be seen as relatively low. Only seven students
got scores higher than 7, accounting for 28% while there were 18 students got
scores lower than 7, representing 72% of the scores.
The researcher decided to find out why the majority of students do not
meet the expectation by conducting a survey to gain information from students.
These were the results of the survey:
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Table 1.2 The content in the textbook “Speak Out, Upper- Intermediate” is
difficult for me
The table 1.2 shows that the majority of the students agreed that the
difficulty of the textbook “Speak Out- Upper Intermediate” makes them
disinterested in learning speaking in the class. In other words, the results
revealed that the use of the textbook might demotivate students to improve their
Table 1.3 The speaking activities in the textbook “Speak Out, UpperIntermediate” are boring
When asked about their opinions of the statement “The speaking
activities in the textbook “Speak Out, Upper- Intermediate” are boring”, only
20% (5 students) were neutral while 80% (20 students) agreed that the activities
in the textbook “Speak Out – Upper Intermediate” did not interest them. It is
implied that the speaking activities are not interesting to the majority of
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