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Title: Understanding students' learner autonomy through practitioner research
Author: Wei, Yi-Chun Sherri
ISNI:       0000 0004 2709 5070
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis reports on practitioner research I conducted over two semesters teaching online listening courses to three different groups of students in Fu-Jen Catholic University in Taiwan. Instead of a typical three-cycle Action Research model starting with a specific target area to improve, I adopted a more flexible exploratory approach allowing a longer evaluative phase before deciding on a focal area. Originally, my interest was to investigate how CSCL (Computer Supported Collaborative Learning) could help students in counteracting the relative isolation of online learning. However, after the first phase, I directed my attention more to the role of reflection as students neglected the online interactions and preferred communicating their ideas with me through reflective accounts and listening diaries. My research questions focused on three areas: the roles of collaboration and reflection, the online modality and issues related to researching learner autonomy. With the aim of exploring development over time, I gathered three kinds of data: pedagogically motivated data including online interactions and student assignments (listening diaries, reflective accounts); additional student interview and evaluation data; my fieldnotes and observation data documenting how I managed the three courses. Therefore, all the data collected was textual and qualitative in nature. Different approaches to data analysis were applied to different datasets. Grounded theory was applied to the interview data to allow themes and codes to emerge, whereas I-statement analysis and some predetermined coding categories were applied to the diaries and reflective accounts. The findings are structured according to the three areas of investigation. First of all, regarding collaboration and reflection, the success/failure of collaborative tasks depends greatly on task design configuration, while diarykeeping indeed serves as an effective pedagogical tool to raise students’ awareness of their learning processes and heighten their sense of ownership. Based on this understanding, teachers can create a space for reflection by marking regular opportunities for reflection and offering guiding questions. Secondly, regarding the online modality, the success of the online interactions contributed to students’ sense of ownership, which is closely related to their perception of what a listening course should be like and their identity as college students. Lastly, regarding issues related to researching learner autonomy, combining both Action Research and Exploratory Practice principles is beneficial to ensure that the teacher-researcher does not impose the research agenda onto learners. When data elicitation tools and data analysis techniques are also pedagogically motivated, the findings can authentically represent the picture of students’ learning. In viewing the development of learner autonomy as a learning process, considering cognitive, affective and behavioural domains can help us to understand learners’ perceptions and metacognitive strategies which are not easily observable from their learning behaviours. Furthermore, the data reveals that motivation and strategies interplay with learner autonomy throughout the process of learning.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: LC Special aspects of education