A Balanced Review of Strengths and Weaknesses of Learning in the Panic Zone: Strategies for Managing Learner Anxiety

Topics: Scientific method, Quantitative research, Research Pages: 8 (2440 words) Published: November 23, 2012
Review of Learning in the Panic Zone: Strategies for Managing Learner Anxiety


It is generally agreed that research can be divided from different perspectives, such as being grouped into empirical and philosophical research according to whether collecting data or not (Allison, 2012). So does “social research”, which features “focusing on people in a social setting” (Robson, 2011, p.5) and aims at achieving research purposes of “action, change and emancipation” (Robson, 2011, p.39). In terms of research paradigms, “social research” can be divided into “quantitative research” and “qualitative research”, usually the former focusing on collecting numerical data and the latter focusing on collecting data of words (Robson, 2011, p.5). Thus being aware of different theoretical approaches, researchers become reflexive, creative, and capable of reinvention and evolution (Robson, 2011, p.41). Also according to Robson, the kind of research “refers to applied research projects which are typically small in scale and modest in scope”, is termed as “real world research” (Robson, 2011, p.3). It usually solves “problems and issues of direct relevance to people’s lives” (Robson, 2011, p.4). And the research under review, which applies strategies into real programs (Palethorpe & Wilson, 2011, p.420), seems to be this kind of research.

In this assignment, I am going to evaluate the article under review from the aspects of strengths and weaknesses, and relate the analysis to the broader issues of research.


Firstly, to some extent, this article is formally logical and well-organized by using subheadings and questions like “How do trainers support learners who undertake challenging tasks?” (Palethorpe & Wilson, 2011, p.427). Realizing the “GAP” (Shon, 2012, p.3) in literature that few attention has been paid to positive effect of stress in real cases (Palethorpe & Wilson, 2011, p.420), the researchers formed their research questions, presented their “RAT” (Shon, 2012, p.3) and then came the research design and research method, “multi-strategy design” (Robson, 2011, p.6) and “triangulation” (Cohen, 2007, p.141) respectively. Seen from the perspective of the research design, it is closely related to previous literature and theory, and tries to answer research questions by adopting certain research methods. Finally, with the conclusion indicating that the theoretical strategies are in accordance with the comfort-stretch-panic model in previous literature and recommending further studies (Palethorpe & Wilson, 2011, p.435).

Secondly, as a social research, it is of great value to have a “scientific attitude”: “systematically, sceptically and ethically” (Robson, 2011, p.15). Specifically, by saying “systematically”, I mean this research is well prepared and arranged by two experienced trainer and consultant, with “over six years’ experience of providing consultancy in training” (Palethorpe & Wilson, 2011, p. 438) and “more than 30 years’ experience in education and training” (Palethorpe & Wilson, 2011, p. 420) separately. So they both have a clear understanding of what, how and why they are doing in the research. They made a detailed exposition of literature, including “theoretical solutions to debilitating learner anxiety” (Palethorpe & Wilson, 2011, p. 421) and “practical measures that a trainer can take to prepare learners for challenging tasks” (Palethorpe & Wilson, 2011, p.427) and designed the questionnaires in research utilizing the strategies in literature. Such a coherent process of research design is sufficient for the first aspect of “scientific attitude”. And by saying “sceptically”, I mean the researchers have recognized its limitations of using a small sample of 30 potential participants and the absence of trainees’ feedback and thus recommended future work of considering the “individual personal differences and how these impact differential responses to stressful situations” (Palethorpe & Wilson,...
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