This study explored the challenges of conducting qualitative research encountered by Iranian Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) graduate students and their solutions for them. To delve into the issue, 20 TEFL graduate students who had passed a research methodology course were selected based on their availability from among the participants of the study who were selected based on purposive sampling from various universities. The participants thus selected sat a semi-structured interview based on the results of which, a researcher-made five-point Likert-scale questionnaire was developed and validated. Next, one hundred TEFL graduate students who had passed the research methodology course were selected based on purposive sampling from different universities across the country to respond to the questionnaire developed as mentioned above. The results of descriptive statistics revealed that the most important aspect of qualitative research from the students’ viewpoint was data analysis; likewise, the most challenging part was data analysis. Moreover, the participants described how educational systems’ overemphasis on quantitative research frameworks left little space or time for learning sophisticated qualitative research approaches. Finally, the majority of the participants deemed the introduction and presentation of an independent course on qualitative research methodology in the M.A. and Ph.D. programs in TEFL highly necessary.


qualitative research, TEFL graduate students, challenge, solution, data analysis, data interpretation, data collection

Author Bio(s)

Hassan Soodmand Afshar, (the corresponding author), is Professor of Applied Linguistics at Bu-Ali Sina University, Hamedan. He is also one of the main members of the Board of Directors of Teaching English Language and Literature Society of Iran (TELLSI) since 2012. He has published extensively in both accredited international journals (e.g., System Reflective Practice, Journal of English for Academic Purposes, Thinking Skills and Creativity, Research Papers in Education, The Language Learning Journal, Journal of Intercultural Communication Research, Issues in Educational Research, e-FLT, etc.) and local journals. His research interests include research methodology, teacher education, ESP/EAP, critical thinking and pedagogy, and psychology of language education. Please direct correspondence to soodmand@basu.ac.ir.

Fatemeh Hafez is a Ph.D. candidate in TEFL at Bu-Ali Sina University, Hamedan. Her main field of interest is research methodology. She has published in some local journals on her field of interest.


We would like to acknowledge all the participants of the study who kindly accepted our invitation to participate in the study.

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