"Language Learners - especially adults - bring a variety of beliefs to the classroom. According to Hosenfeld (1978), students form 'mini-theories' of L2 learning. There has been relatively little research into the nature of these theories and even less about how learners' beliefs affect language learning. " (Ellis, 477)
Now we get down to it. The learners I have in mind ( a group of about 30, at CEF level B1-C1 approximately) have this weekend taken an IELTS test. I'll have them do part (at least) of the placement test I've designed. Then, I'll interview several of them, with a semi-structured interview to ascertain their attitudes to test taking in particular and to language learning in general. I'll also ask the whole group to complete a straightforward questionnaire on the same subject.
What I'll then have is a whole load of cross-referable data regarding ability and attitude to tests and language learning from which I can draw inferences about the effect of learner attitudes.
"Neither Wenden's nor Horowitz's study investigated the relationship between learners' beliefs and success in language learning." (Ellis, 478) That's what I'll attempt to do.
The downside is that the placement test and the IELTS result will only produce a snapshot of their "success in language learning". But that should be enough for the MA. I can do a follow up with these same learners, though, say six months from now, and produce more significant data to perhaps be used in a paper for publication.
Ellis, R 1994 The Study of Second Language Acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hosenfeld, C. 'Students' mini-theories of second language learning'. Associated Bulletin 29:2
Wenden, A and Rubin, J (eds.) 1987 Learner Strategies in Language Learning. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall