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How Students Seek for Realisation through Exploratory Practice: A Journey of Teaching, Learning and Growing Together

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posted on 20.03.2013, 11:09 by Po-ying Chu
In the field of language learning, advocates of learner development and learner autonomy have not generally allowed for learners to take the initiative in their own learning. This thesis investigates the possibility, and the value, of working towards “learner development”, an idea that parallels teacher development. This is done by looking at how one teacher used Exploratory Practice (EP), as proposed by Allwright and colleagues (Allwright, 2003; Slimani-Rolls, 2003) to provide learners with learning opportunities for thinking, reflection and language practice. The context was that of a normal language class taught to students specialising in arts subjects at a university in Taiwan. The aim of this research was to show how a mixed ability group of learners were able to understand their process of learning, through reflecting on positive and negative learning experiences, and thus made their learning more satisfying. In order to access the voices of learners directly, this thesis focuses on a group of learners' thoughts expressed during an EP-based course. Recordings of student group-talk in class, together with journals written for homework, were analysed in order to explore students' own understandings of learning English. Students' words in their journals were analysed at three levels: first of all through analysis of each journal entry; secondly by drawing up an over-view for each individual learner's journal; and finally by bringing together and discussing the stories, ideas and experiences of the whole group. This allowed detailed investigation of the different ways in which both high level and low level students explored their learning experiences. Their words in group talk were investigated by focusing on how they take control of their learning and undertake their own explorations. As long as sufficient opportunities for learning and reflection are provided, learners can and do develop their learning, both individually and collectively.



Gieve, Simon; Armstrong, Kevin

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University of Leicester

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