Mohan, B., Y. Gao, G. Huxur, C. Kanada, K. Kudo, X. Liang, A. Wu
University of British Columbia

Dr Bernard A. Mohan
Department of Language Education
Faculty of Education
University of British Columbia
2125 Main Mall
Vancouver, B.C., Canada, V6T 1Z4

FAX NO:(604) 822-3154 (Work)
PHONE: (604) 822-2353 (Work) (604) 822-5788 (Work -Messages)

STRAND: Educational

Title: Activities: discourse analysis and qualitative research.

The concept of activity or sociocultural practice is central to language socialisation theory (Ochs 1988). Research studies of activities and socialisation use discourse analysis methods to study the discourses of the activity and use qualitative methods to study the context of the activity. (Similarly, SFL studies of text use qualitative methods to study context).

In the "research methodology" section of these studies, this raises the problem: what is the relation between discourse analysis and qualitative methods? Is discourse analysis one kind of qualitative method, or are all qualitative methods - because they use verbal data - some kind of discourse analysis?

Using research examples from a variety of educational activities such as cooperative learning tasks, school projects, examinations, this paper will argue that there are some natural relations between the facets of an activity and discourse analysis, and between the facets of an activity and qualitative methods.

The paper will suggest that these natural relations illuminate the nature of qualitative research, clarify the options open to the researcher, and pose problems for further investigation.