Home | Background | Respondents | Discussion | Submit Question | Comments
Design-Centered Issues

Effectiveness Issues

Learner-Centered Issues

Research-Centered Issues

A Survey of Unanswered Questions in CALL: Survey & Respondents

This section reviews the questions in the survey and provides some demographics of the respondents.

The first part of the survey asked for some details about the respondent's CALL experience, as follows.

1. How long have you been involved with CALL?  _______ years

2. Do you consider CALL your primary research or development area?  __Yes __No

3. What language(s) do you work with in CALL activities (list no more than five)?

4. What do you consider your PRIMARY specialization in CALL (check only one)?
___ CALL Researcher
___ CALL Practitioner (language teacher, lab support, etc.)
___ CALL Software Developer

5. In addition to the role checked in (4), what other areas of CALL have you been significantly involved in?
___ CALL Researcher
___ CALL Practitioner (language teacher, lab support, etc.)
___ CALL Software Developer
___ Other __________________________________________

I was particularly interested in self-identification as primarily a researcher, practitioner, or developer since it seemed that people coming from those different perspectives could have different ideas about what constituted an important unanswered research question.

The main section consisted of the required research question and two optional sections: one for background or rationale and one for suggested methodology or other comments. While it would obviously have been helpful to have the optional sections for all submissions, I was concerned that making them a requirement would have decreased the response rate.


What is ONE important research question in CALL that you would like to see studied? It can be a broad or narrow question, and it can be a deeper study of a question already addressed in the field. It should, however, be answerable in principle. In responding, please stick to the requested word limits. Note that only (2) below will constitute the core of the study. The material in (1) and (3) is optional but will be placed on the study website if provided as an aid to researchers interested in pursuing the question.

1) Background/rationale (optional): 100 word limit.

2) The research question (required): 100 word limit.

3) Suggested methodology or other comments (optional): 200 word limit.

The survey was sent along with a cover letter explaining the purposes of the study and a consent form. Even though this was a survey of professional peers, informed consent was required under human subject guidelines. The consent form included the following unusual option:

Your individual privacy will be maintained in all published and written data resulting from the study with the following exception: your name and email address will be listed on the website along with your research question submission if you indicate that you want to be contacted by other researchers regarding it.

The initial protocol called for surveying a group of over 100 CALL professionals. Ultimately, 120 were solicited.  The respondents were chosen from among those considered professionally active in the field on the basis of one or more of the following criteria:

  • Published authors in recent CALL-oriented journals or edited volumes

  • Presenters at CALL conferences in 2002

  • Members of editorial boards of CALL journals: ReCALL, CALICO, Language Learning and Technology, CALL Journal

  • Officers in CALL organizations: EuroCALL, CALICO, the CALL Interest Section of TESOL, and APACALL

In addition, requests went out to a couple of practitioners with recognized, long-term service to the field regardless of whether they met the preceding criteria.

It is important to recognize that many who met these criteria were not solicited. In fact, when I began looking for candidates I was impressed at how large the field has become. I could easily have doubled or tripled the pool, but I decided it would be prudent to keep the submissions at a level I could handle in the time allowed. The goal was to achieve international and multi-lingual representation so that no single group would dominate too strongly.

I sent the surveys in early July with a requested return date two weeks later. 33 usable responses arrived by that first deadline. I sent a reminder to those who had not responded requesting a submission within the next week. An additional 27 arrived by the second deadline and four others came in subsequently for a total of 64 by August 14. Since I had to present at the CALL Conference in Antwerp on the 19th, any coming in after that were not part of this initial study. Given that many of those solicited were on a summer break and away from their institutions, the 53% response rate was gratifying. 

Based on email addresses and known institutional affiliations, the respondents represented at least 12 different countries. However, some of the respondents were foreign nationals residing in other countries, in particular the US, the UK, and Australia, so the international scope of the study is actually larger. The years of CALL experience ranged from 3 to 33 with a median of 15 and a mean of 15.22. A significant 81% of respondents identified CALL as their primary research or development area. 

In terms of languages represented, respondents could specify up to five that they worked with in their CALL activities. English (37 respondents), French (24), German (21), and Spanish (19) were the top four. Chinese, Japanese, and Italian tied for fifth position with eight respondents each. 24 languages were represented overall.

In responding to the question about primary specialization within CALL, 29 identified themselves as researchers, 22 as practitioners, and 12 as developers. One claimed not to have a primary CALL specialization, regarding his work as peripheral to the field. Looking at secondary specializations, with more than one possible, 22 identified themselves as researchers, 26 as practitioners, and 32 as developers. Under the category "Other", 21 respondents wrote in some other secondary specialization, and eight of these involved "trainer" in some form.

Of the 64 returned surveys, 53 respondents agreed to be identified on the website, eight wished to remain anonymous and three did not fill out that portion of the survey and so will remain anonymous by default.

The following section presents the results of the survey along with a brief discussion.