We Have Plenty of Anecdotal Evidence

Mary Beth asked:

Why can’t these little snippets of success count as “data”?

Because one thing we do have is plenty of happy customers and lots of anecdotal evidence. Robert’s response to Mary Beth’s question is worth noting and worth reading a few times at least:

They can and should. The problem is that they are “anecdotal” rather than “quantifiable”, and our society tends to discount anecdotal evidence in its reverence for “statistical data”. However, you should adduce these incidents as evidence (data) that students are meeting the Standard of “communities” by using the language outside the classroom and also conforming to the ACTFL policy statement on use of the target language. ACTFL therefore recommends that language educators and their students use the target language as exclusively as possible (90% plus) at all levels of instruction during instructional time and, when feasible, beyond the classroom. (Emphases mine)


You are on especially solid ground when you compare what “average” students did with the language in previous years with what they currently do. Even though it remains anecdotal, you can argue that it is “random sampling”.



4 thoughts on “We Have Plenty of Anecdotal Evidence”

  1. Our school is becoming increasingly “data-driven” as well. But sometimes anecdotal evidence concurs with data.

    Kids feel like they are learning more with CI classes. I could give anecdotes about this parent and that parent who are quite pleased that their children are starting to freely use Spanish at home.

    Hard data would show that for the first time in a very long time (decades, possibly) enough students at our school have signed up to take Spanish IV that it will be offered as a real class rather than an independent study by 1-3 students. My students made this happen. I was just a bystander as they recruited enough students (at our school, you need 15 students to have a class listed) to make it happen.

    Numbers are data, right? Data is acceptable evidence, right? CI is right, right?

  2. Lori, you are so right. Isn’t anecdotal evidence used quite a bit in qualitative research?
    Someone needs to do some action research on the successes associated with CI in comparison with grammar driven teaching. May be one day , when we have time…..

    1. My Master’s Project, which I’ll be doing this spring, is going to be a comparison of TPRS with traditional instruction.

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