Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: An ethnographic investigation into teachers' and learners' perceptions and practices in relation to learner autonomy in a secondary school in Libya
Author: Elmahjoub, Abdallah
ISNI:       0000 0004 5350 5731
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2014
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
The shift toward learner-centred approaches in language teaching and learning has resulted in greater interest in the role of the learner. The trend towards learner autonomy in this regard has occupied a wide space in the literature. One of the issues that has been hotly debated in the field of learner autonomy is its appropriateness/inappropriateness to certain cultures; more specifically, autonomy has sometimes been referred to as alien and inappropriate to non-Western cultures. This study aims to investigate the Libyan context which is categorised as one of the contexts in which autonomy is claimed to be inappropriate. However, education policy in Libya encourages learners to take responsibility for their learning and autonomy can take various manifestations and degrees. Therefore, the aim of this thesis is to see how autonomy is manifested and what impinges on it through investigating how the participants perceive and practise their roles in the teaching-learning process, and how the concept of learners being allowed to take active roles is conceived in the context of this study. The means through which I approached the context were ethnographic methods to the collection and analysis of data. These are interviews and observations. This is because the investigation requires 'living the experience and seeing a truth' - in order to abstain from claiming that there is only one truth. Findings derived from investigating the context related to the participants' general appreciation of the modes of collaboration and negotiation in learning. Teachers mostly held positive attitudes about allowing learners opportunities to be active, responsible learners, and learners themselves generally perceived themselves as adopting such roles. One of the significant modes that was particularly preferred for most of the teachers and learners was teachers providing help and encouragement and scaffolding learners to take more autonomous stances in their learning. The participants, particularly teachers, head-teachers and inspectors, emphasised the centralisation of education policy through which they were sometimes deprived of chances to turn ideas or initiative into practical work. There were other factors that impinged on the participants' practices, such as constraints placed by the materials, the exams and length of lessons. However, autonomy was seen to be realised in a contextually relevant form. Participants exhibited psychological readiness for being autonomous: for learners, they were active and showed enthusiasm for working collaboratively, while teachers demonstrated awareness of their roles as helpers for learners. On a technical level, participants complained about the layout of classes and the shortage of technology based aids such as computers that they suggested have a considerable effect on their teaching and learning. Also there was a degree of teachers controlling lessons, and learners recognising this control and their roles as active agents in learning. Sometimes teachers showed almost complete control of lessons with learners' reactions ranging from succumbing to this control to challenging it and negotiating active roles in their learning. Socio-culturally, the study gained insightful findings in terms of appreciation by the participants of collaborative and collective work, both learners with learners and learners with teachers. In this, teachers worked to bridge the gaps between learners' current situation where help and guidance are needed to stages where learners become gradually more autonomous in their learning. This study is hoped to provide insights into understanding the power relations between teachers and learners in Libya for a more effective implementation of education policy, and also to provide a theoretical contribution to the field of learner autonomy.
Supervisor: Lamb, Terry Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available