EFU: The Research Project

At the moment I’m teaching on our English for University (or EFU for short) course. I love teaching this course, as it provides an opportunity to look at some really interesting topics in depth and, if I’m honest, it reminds me a little of my days at university. Ah... good times.

This course is quite unique at the London School in that our course participants are required to do coursework to complete the course.  This coursework involves two elements: firstly, students have to prepare a ten minute team presentation using PowerPoint and secondly, they are required to write a 1,000 word essay.  The latter gives practice in researching, analysing, drafting and writing a thesis.  In short, they learn and hone the skills necessary when studying at university.

The essay for this month assesses the impact of different cultures on international business.  This is a deliberately broad topic, and each student is required to carry out a fair amount of research in this area before focussing on one particular aspect of the topic.  For example: the differences between international and domestic companies; the problems of intercultural communication; how different cultures negotiate and so on

As we have students from a variety of professional backgrounds and cultures across both of our London sites, my class have a perfect opportunity to gather empirical data to include in their research.  Therefore, this week we have been looking at how to write an effective questionnaire.  It’s not as easy as you think, as questions have to be phrased very carefully so that you collect reliable information.  My students prepared questionnaires yesterday and road-tested them with a dummy- run in the neighbouring classes.  We found that it to be a very useful exercise in deciding how to ask relevant questions to get useful information. 

Next week, after a bit of fine-tuning, we’re heading over to the Holland Park business centre to put into practice what we’ve learnt. I’ll let you know how we get on.

By Andy   


the latter - (n.) the second of two items mentioned in the previous sentence

thesis - (n.) a piece of writing for which the writer has done original research

to hone your skills - (fixed expression) to improve and perfect your ability to do somthing

a broad topic - (adj.+n.) a subject that has lots of information or issues

a fair amount of - (adj.+n.+.prep.) quite a lot of

and so on - (adv. phrase) a more formal way of saying etc.

to gather - (v.) to collect something, or do research

empirical data - (adj.+n.) information which is based on experience

to road-test - (v.) to try something for the first time in a real situation 

dummy-run - (n.) to practice doing an activity or performace to make sure it is successful 

fine-tuning - (v.) to make small change in order to make improvements

to put sth into practice - (fixed expression) to start to use something you have learnt

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