Summer school 2024

Language in education research: ecological and mixed methods approaches

Louvain-la-Neuve, August 7-10, 2024

Aims of the summer school

In recent decades, mixed methods studies have emerged as valuable tools for capturing the multidimensional nature of language development. Furthermore, ecological approaches have been shown to be well suited for navigating the complexities inherent in authentic second (SL) and foreign language (FL) as well as content and language integrated learning (CLIL) classrooms. The integration of diverse research methods not only enhances the ecological validity, but also facilitates the transferability of findings into educational practice. Undertaking ecologically framed mixed methods studies is both exhilarating and demanding. In addition to incorporating various data collection instruments, such as performance assessments, questionnaires, observations and interviews, it is crucial to develop a research project that recognizes the complexity and dynamics of language learning contexts in question. In fact, this requires ecologically meaningful planning, ensuring that each method contributes to the study's objectives, and systematic analysis that properly integrates qualitative and quantitative approaches to data material.

As part of our upcoming summer school, participants will not only delve into the intricacies of planning, implementing, and analyzing ecologically framed mixed methods studies, but also explore the broader implications for research paradigms, such as design-based research for investigating language in education (SLL, FLL and CLIL). This unique aspect of our program emphasizes how such research can significantly strengthen the collaboration between teachers and researchers, amplifying the potential for impactful educational interventions and thus increasing the ecological validity of classroom-based studies. We will address questions such as:

  • In what ways can I make my classroom-based study more ecologically valid?
  • How can I integrate qualitative and quantitative methods to achieve empirical convergence or identify divergence? How can I use “a mixed methods way of thinking” to capture various voices and perspectives in my data?
  • How can I properly draw conclusions from my mixed methods dataset?
  • To what extent is teacher-researcher collaboration helpful for my study? How can I foster teacher-researcher collaboration when conducting mixed methods studies?


The summer school is designed to provide interested researchers in the field of applied linguistics, including PhD students, PostDocs, and language teachers, with a robust methodological foundation and a strong commitment to enhancing their research competencies through the exploration of more ecological research designs. To this end, the summer school's program features a combination of informative talks highlighting the latest developments in the field and hands-on sessions covering various research methods and their integration into empirical studies. These sessions will require participants to apply these methods to their own research projects actively, regardless of how far their project has already progressed.

Throughout the summer school, participants will have the invaluable opportunity to receive specialized feedback, familiarize themselves with practical examples, and actively engage in discussions. While the primary language of the program is English, practical applications for other foreign languages will be presented. Researchers working with any foreign language are strongly encouraged to participate, as the diverse linguistic contexts explored will enrich the collective learning experience.

Keynote speakers

Carlee Arnett (University of California Davis)
Fanny Meunier (Université catholique de Louvain)
Silvia Rieder-Marschallinger (KPH Vienna)
Tom Smits (Antwerpen University)

Organizing committee and speakers

Lisbeth M. Brevik (Oslo University)
Ute Smit (University of Vienna)
Ferran Suñer (Université catholique de Louvain)