University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Exploratory Practice Module

Introduction to this Exploratory Practice Module

Five people holding images of mapsIn this module, the concept of Exploratory Practice (EP) is introduced and a model for the implementation of Exploratory Practice in the STARTALK classroom is presented. Exploratory Practice is a framework for conducting practitioner research in the field of language education developed by Richard Allwright in the early 1990’s by which teachers identify “puzzles” related to teaching and learning that are relevant to their particular classroom situations. Exploratory Practice techniques are used to explore and reflect upon those puzzles in a variety of ways. The purpose of an Exploratory Practice inquiry is not to solve a problem per se, but instead to identify a conundrum, a question, or a puzzle related to teaching and learning and to develop a deeper understanding of the issues surrounding that puzzle. Exploratory Practice offers an indefinitely sustainable way for classroom teachers and learners to develop deeper understandings of issues that are puzzling while still getting on with the business of teaching and learning. It is not an interruption of the teaching process, or an add on, but rather an integral step that occurs during the natural course of teaching and learning.

Reflection is an integral part of any Exploratory Practice inquiry. By situating reflection within one’s own classroom, teachers can discover and construct with their learners personally relevant, localized understandings. Providing space to explore personal issues related to language teaching and sharing this process with learners and peers provides a more authentic and real approach to better understanding one’s own teaching pedagogy.

This module demonstrates how Exploratory Practice can be incorporated into a STARTALK program through professional development workshops. Individual teachers can undertake Exploratory Practice projects on their own, or groups of STARTALK teachers can benefit from Exploratory Practice initiatives by participating together in cohorts.

Materials included in this module:

Instructional Resource(s): 

  • Student

Proficiency Level(s): 

  • Novice
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced

Material Type(s): 

  • Instruction

Grade Level(s): 

  • K-2
  • 3-5
  • 6-8
  • 9-12
  • Undergraduate

TELL Domain(s): 

  • Environment
  • Planning
  • The Learning Experience
  • Learning Tools

STARTALK Principle(s): 

  • Learner Centered