Research at CESL


The Center for English as a Second Language offers numerous research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students, UA faculty, and scholars to conduct research for CESL.  A variety of research approaches and topics are possible at CESL. At the current time, CESL is especially interested in research that examines the following topics: 

  • ESL student proficiency achievement and assessment
  • University student retention and success after IEP studies
  • Curriculum articulation
  • Learner autonomy
  • Content area teaching and ESP developments


CESL site authorization must always be completed before you begin to recruit participants or collect any kind of data at CESL. In every case, if you want to collect data of any kind at CESL, you are required to obtain a site authorization from CESL before you begin.

Your application to the UA Institutional Review Board for Human Subjects Research is a separate process from your application for CESL site authorization. Requirements for IRB approval depend on the nature of the project. CESL cannot answer questions regarding the UA IRB approval requirements or process. For assistance with your IRB application, please contact the UA Human Subjects Protection Program at , or  consult the website: .


There are several kinds of research projects and researchers who collect data at CESL. Each project type has its own set of requirements, so it is important for you to determine the kind of project you will be doing, and apply in the correct way.

  • Undergraduate/graduate students doing a project only for a university course or independent study
  • Undergraduate/graduate students observing CESL classes only for a university course or independent study
  • Graduate students doing a thesis/dissertation or academic research for publication/presentation
  • UA faculty members doing academic research
  • Visiting scholars from other universities doing academic research


1.UA student research for course project (no public presentation or publication)

If you are gathering any type of data at CESL that is exclusively for an assigned project in a UA course, a copy of the course syllabus that describes the assignment must be submitted to CESL, and it is not necessary for you to complete the full CESL site authorization process. Research that is approved by CESL as part of a course assignment may not be used for publication. If you believe that your project falls into this category, then you may submit your course syllabus with assignment description to Dr. Sumayya Granger at, or Julianne Hammink at .

If you intend only to observe one or more CESL classes, please consult the classroom observer page for details and application form. . Up to 9 hours of CESL classes may be observed as a courtesy. Class observations beyond the 9-hour limit will require you to register for a practicum.

2.Thesis/dissertation research or other academic research for presentation/publication (UA students and UA faculty)

If you intend to use the data that you collect at CESL for research that will be published or presented in any way, then you are required to apply for both CESL site authorization and IRB approval. Proof of the approval or exemption of your project by Human Subjects/IRB is required as a part of final CESL site authorization.

3.Visiting scholars doing academic research for presentation/publication

Requirements for researchers not affiliated with the UA may be more involved, especially if you are not a U.S. citizen. Please read CESL’s visiting scholars page for details on the required materials and application procedures.

Graduate Student Research

UA students wishing to conduct research at CESL may do so as part of an Internship/Practicum (which has additional components) or an Independent Study. Ideally, applicants will submit materials at least one month prior to desired start date.

Qualified graduate students selected to conduct research for CESL will receive graduate credit for research experience, mentoring, potential publication opportunities, and an opportunity to work closely with leaders in the field of ESL teaching and leadership.

  • 45 hours of work must be done for each credit earned.
  • Dates of the Independent Study should align with UA term dates. Please see the UA Academic Calendar.
  • Interested student researchers should review the general UA policies for Internships/Practica and Independent Studies as well as the CESL Research Protocol, above.
  • Upon acceptance, student may register for units under HUMS 599, or possibly under his/her home department with approval.
  • Students should check with their advisors about the applicability of their credits.
  • Please send a current CV and letter of interest in research topic above or other suggested topic, via email, to the Associate Director of Program Administration, Dr. Sumayya Granger at to apply for approval to register. Ideally applicants will submit these materials at least one month prior to desired start date.

Students enrolled in the PAH Language Program Administration certificate may earn their internship credits through PAH 593 at CESL. Please see PAH website for more information: 

Student researchers are responsible for enrolling in UA credits and covering all financial tuition and fees during the research project.


Your application for CESL site authorization will require you to submit a number of documents, in addition to responses to the application questions. To complete your application quickly and efficiently, you should prepare these materials beforehand. You will notice that materials and responses for the CESL site authorization application are often the same as those requested by the Human Subjects IRB application, so the amount of additional work required to complete this application is minimal.

For your convenience, here is a list of materials and information required for the CESL site authorization application:

  1. Your contact information
  2. The title of your proposed study (a working title is fine)
  3. Your hypotheses or research question(s)
  4. Reasons for choosing CESL as your research site
  5. Data to be collected
  6. Proposed dates of data collection, and length of data collection
  7. Planned observations
  8. CESL student involvement in your research
  9. Number of students involved
  10. CESL instructor involvement in your research
  11. A short separate paragraph of the study’s objectives including researchers contact information to be emailed to all participating teachers
  12. How your research is connected to themes of second language acquisition
  13. Proposed timeline and planned activities
  14. Status of your University of Arizona IRB Human Subjects Protection Program (Institutional Review Board) application
  15. Human Subjects approval or exemption notification (file)*
  16. Course syllabus (if doing research for a university class) (file)
  17. Student consent form (file)
  18. Data collection instrument(s) and a description of data collection methods (file)
  19. Citation or document that explains your theoretical approach (file)
  20. Agreement to share research results with CESL
  21. Read the Expectations and Protocols
  22. Additional comments or files  


To complete the online application, visit this link:

Please submit your application and materials to CESL at least a month beforehand, to guarantee that your review and authorization are complete before you plan to begin research.

Conducting One's Own Research at CESL

If you are interested in conducting your own research on topics other than those requested above, please follow the CESL Research Protocol and Expectations for Researchers at CESL (explained below). 


In order to ensure that research does not disrupt teaching and learning at CESL, we ask you to please read the CESL research protocol before beginning your research at CESL, and observe the following courtesies:

1. All recruitment of study candidates must be done by the researcher and not CESL teachers.

2. Once you have IRB approval for your study, the CESL Directors will notify CESL faculty. Teachers who wish to participate will contact the researcher. If not a classroom based project, the researcher may arrange to meet with the students outside of class to recruit subjects for the study.

3. Contact teachers who respond and arrange how to contact their students.

4. Sign the visitors’ book in CESL room 100 or 101 and plan to arrive at the classroom a few minutes before the class begins and stay until the end.

5. Introduce yourself to the teacher and re-explain the purpose of your visit to him/her before the class begins.

6. Ask about where to sit and how/when it is best to distribute any necessary handouts or forms.

7. In general, minimize your class disruptions.

8. Submit a summary of your findings to both the Director and all participating teachers upon completion of your project.

9. During the project, it is expected that all procedures (data collection, collecting forms, etc.) shall be completed by the researcher and not fall to our teachers or staff.


As a part of your research process, CESL requests that you share your findings with CESL faculty and administration. There are a number of ways to do this. For example, you might present to CESL faculty or write a précis of your findings.

Thank you for your interest in conducting research at CESL.  We look forward to seeing you soon!

For questions about the site authorization process, don’t hesitate to contact Associate Director of Program Administration Dr. Sumayya Granger at , or Julianne Hammink at .


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From the CESL Mission Statement: “[S]erve the linguistic and professional development needs of the University of Arizona and the greater global community by offering high-quality professional development and mentoring for teachers, supporting research in language learning, providing program evaluation services, and providing networking opportunities for educational professionals in order to help teachers and programs succeed in a wide variety of educational contexts.”

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"If you come to study here at CESL, I guarantee that you will never regret it."