Group work for autonomy in china: From the perspective of

Report
1
The issue of power and control shift
in constructing learner autonomy
in Chinese language classrooms
PhD candidate: Wang Yi
Chief supervisor: Dr Roger Barnard
General and Applied Linguistics
University of Waikato, New Zealand
13-06-2014
2
Overview
 Why this research
 Research questions
 About the research setting
 Participants and methods
 Findings
 Discussions and implications
3
Why this research
For long-term personal development, one depends on
no one better than himself or herself.
4
• The <Chinese curriculum> reform (2001) aims to establish a
curriculum that
• develops students’ positive attitudes, thinking skills, practical
abilities, cultural awareness and autonomy through the language
learning process.
 Teachers should …
 provide students ample opportunities to collaborate with others
and become autonomous learners,
 give students plenty of space for self-development,
 encourage learners to develop their language skills through
experiential, practical, collaborative and inquiry-based learning,
 create conditions that allow students to explore … and solve
problems by themselves. (Chinese Ministry of Education, 2003)
5
 In the field of teacher education, it is well established that teachers’
understanding of a notion plays a crucial role in its implementation in
the classroom. (Wedell, 2009)
 With research into learner autonomy, while much has been studied
and written, teachers’ perspectives on what autonomy means have
not been awarded much attention. (Borg & Al-Busaidi, 2012)
6
Notion of learner autonomy
 “the ability to take charge of one’s own learning” (Holec, 1981, p.3)
 “the capacity to take control of one’s own learning” (Benson, 2001,
p.47)
 “not a single, easily describable behaviour” (Little, 1990, p.7)
 For effective research and classroom practice, it must be describable
in terms of observable behaviours. (Benson, 2001)
- Learning management
• Three dimensions of control
- Cognitive processing
- Learning content
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Power and control shift in classroom
 As classroom is a ‘social context’ for learning and communication
(Breen, 1986; Breen and Candlin, 1980), autonomy could be
developed by a shift in relationships of power and control within the
classroom (Benson, 2011, p. 15).
 No empirical studies have been found focusing on such control and
power shift in everyday classrooms in the Asian context, particularly
from the perspective of teacher cognition and practice.
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Research questions
1.
To what extent and in what ways was control and
power shift reflected in language learning in the given
context?
2.
To what extent were the teachers aware of such shift in
their classroom practices, and how did they perceive
this?
9
The school in study
ZB
 The study was conducted in a private secondary
school in China, which was established in 2009.
 The principal as well as the founder was a well-recognised educator
in China with overseas educational background and successful
experience in school administration.
 Student autonomous development was a key school value at ZB.
 A new director was recruited when the data collection was to start,
who the principal spoke highly of as the “sought and found” person to
realise the school vision of “Student Development No 1”.
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The participants
• The school principal
The school
as a “case”
• The new director
• 9 English teachers
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Data collection methods
• Observations
• Post-lesson discussions
• Interviews
• Documentary analysis
12
interpretative paradigm
case study
the school principal
the school director
9 English teachers
1 interview &
public talks
2 interviews &
teacher training materails
22 observations,
14 post-lesson discussions,
9 interviews,
teaching materials, &
students’ works
grounded analysis
(Charmaz, 2006)
Let data talk,
and themes
emerge.
13
Findings _ The school autonomy project
• An innovative project was in progress at ZB at the time of the study,
promoting learner autonomy with a suggested instructional model
entitled “Autonomous and Collaborative Learning Class Model”
ss self-study
ss sharing learning in groups
through discussion
group presentation
ss sharing learning in class
through presentation
peer feedback
ss self-internailisation
peer evaluation
(Summarised from Interview 1 with the school director )
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The control issues involved in the project
• For students
• Group-based learning & management
• Performance points
• For teachers
• One-week training
• Group – lesson planning (Learning Guide)
• Peer observation and peer evaluation (10-item Teaching Standards)
• Peer feedback-giving
• Teaching competition
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Findings _ The principal’s voice
• “To cultivate learner autonomy, teachers must trust students and let
them go and try. Freedom is essential, and teachers must let go
some control for students”. (Interview with the principal)
• “For autonomy, I don’t believe in any model. In fact, the forming of
any model has gone against the nature of autonomy. However,
there is valuable element in this model, and my way is to let him
(the school director as well as project leader) go and see how it
goes”. (Interview with the principal)
16
Findings
Teachers’ practices and perceptions
in relation to control and power shift
17
Overview of classroom activities
45.00
40.00
35.00
30.00
25.00
20.00
15.00
10.00
5.00
0.00
1.1
1.2
1.3
1.4
2.1
2.2
3.1
3.2
3.3
4.1
Beginning-of-class presentations
Group work
Student-fronted lessons
4.2
5.1
5.2
5.3
6.1
6.2
7.1
Self-study session
Pair work
7.2
8.1
8.2
9.1
9.2
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Overview of classroom
activities
45.00
40.00
Learning a language is like learning
playing a game. The best way to learn it
is by playing it. Coaching is helpful, but
coaching alone does not work.
35.00
- It is evidenced that for a
considerable amount of class time,
students were “playing”, rather than
listening to the teacher coaching.
30.00
25.00
20.00
15.00
- It also shows that students were
“playing” both individually and
collaboratively with peers.
10.00
5.00
0.00
1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 2.1 2.2 3.1 3.2 3.3 4.1 4.2 5.1 5.2 5.3 6.1 6.2 7.1 7.2 8.1 8.2 9.1 9.2
Student-fronted lessons
Pair work
Group work
Self-study session
Beginning-of-class presentations
- Students’ “playing” time varied
significantly, from less than five
minutes to the whole class session.
Beginning-of-class presentations
10.00
9.00
8.00
7.00
6.00
5.00
4.00
3.00
2.00
1.00
0.00
X
1.1
1.2
1.1
1.2
1.3
1.3
1.4
1.4
2.1
2.1
2.2
2.2
About this activity
-
At the beginning of the class
-
Supposed to take 3-5 minutes
-
Not a school required activity
3.1
3.1
3.2
3.2
3.3
3.3
4.1
4.1
4.2
4.2
5.1
5.1
5.2
5.3
5.2
5.3
6.1
6.1
6.2
6.2
7.1
7.1
7.2
7.2
8.1
8.2
8.1
9.1
8.2
9.2
9.1
9.2
Evidence of student control
- Presenters choosing their own materials (T1, T3, T5, T8)
- Presenters creating their materials (T9)
- Ss negotiating with T who to present what (T2, T4)
- Presenters teaching the class new vocabulary (T1, T3, T5, T8)
-
Common practice of 8/9 ts
-
Consistent in 3/9 ts
- Presenters and ss asking and answering questions (T1, T3, T5, T8)
- Ss giving presenters critical comments (T1, T3, T4, T6)
- Ss-T co-evaluating the presentations (T1, T9)
- Team presenting (T4, T8, T9)
Beginning-of-class presentations
10.00
X
5.00
0.00
1.1
1.2
1.1
1.2
1.3
1.3
1.4
1.4
2.1
2.1
2.2
2.2
3.1
3.1
3.2
3.2
3.3
4.1
3.3
4.1
…I let them choose any topic freely, so they’re
interested. They want to show the best of
themselves, and they really put efforts in it. They
come to me to ask questions or check
pronunciation, etc. (T1, T3, T8)
I let you go. I know
I’m
doing.
… I let studentswhat
decide
who
to recite which text.
They feel empowered and get excited. I trust them.
They choose tough work to challenge each other.
(T2)
… They are keen to do more because they earn
points for the job done, and they keep checking
their points. (T4)
4.2
5.1
4.2
5.1
5.2
5.2
5.3
5.3
6.1
6.1
6.2
6.2
7.1
7.1
7.2
7.2
8.1
8.2
8.1
9.1
8.2
9.2
9.1
9.2
… Students choose their own materials, but I ask
them to come to me for a training before they
I let you go,
present, pronunciation, intonation and emotions in
but…
the text. They don’t know how to deal with those. I
must train them first. They pass my training, then I
let them go. (T6)
… Why have I invited students to mark the
Well, I
presentation together? Well, I didn’t think much.
don’t know
Just a bit fun, otherwise they are bored. (T9)
… Well, just to enlarge their vocabulary, nothing
much… maybe, yeah, they want to show well, so
they try to understandAh
wellha…
first… right, right, to get
them more autonomous, actually this is a focus of
mine… (T3)
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Teachers’ awareness of their practices
Doing with explicit knowing
Doing with implicit knowing
Doing with casual knowing
Contradictory doing and thinking
22
Doing with explicit knowing (T2)
 Episode 1: T2 invited ss to make decision about which student from which
group to recite which lesson from which unit. Ss looked excited, called out
numbers and names and negotiated for agreement. When asked about the
rationale for the classroom actions, T2 gave quick, clear and firm answers.
• I: It seems it's the students who decided which part of the text to be
checked, why that?
• T2: They choose the most difficult section to challenge <their fellow
classmates>.
• I: Do you have the concern that they would choose easy stuff and may not
meet your requirements?
• T2: no, they won't. I have taught them for a year. We have the
connection. They are ‘upward-working’ students. I trust them.
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Doing with implicit knowing (T3)
 Episode 2: In T3’s lesson, the presenter taught the class some new words, delivered a short
speech and led an asking-and answering session. However…
Initial thinking
• T3: The purpose of this… one is vocabulary, and the other is listening…. That’s all.
• I:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
How do they think their engagement is affected?
T3: I think…he…should…I think, …actually I don’t know …
I: As you said, it’s free talk, you won’t limit him, right?
Before prompting
T3: No, I won’t. He can talk whatever he likes.
I: Then is he more willing to participate, compared to you giving him a material?
T3: En, right, right, right, right. right, right, right, right.
I: Is it that the student himself choose materials?
T3: Right. He, autonomous. As to problems, in the process of his preparation, if having
problems, he came to ask me, before class.
During prompting
I: He went to you?
T3: Right. For example, some new words, how to read …he came to me for help, then he
was ok, then he went to teach the class.
I: He stood in the front, do you think he felt like a teacher? {laugh}
T3: I think I’m consciously developing this aspect... This is actually a focus of this
training.
After prompting
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Doing with casual thinking (T9)
 Episode 3: When two groups of students finished presenting their self-
created conversations, T9 asked the class how many points should be given
to each group. Given the power she offered to students to make a judgment
and the critical thinking it involved, the LA-oriented element was obvious.
However…
• T9: …actually I didn’t think much, sometimes ss say, this or that’s unfair,
so occasionally I interact with them a bit, get them a bit more active,
sometimes I just write a mark directly, as it’s hard to get them all agree.
• T9: Maybe he felt fun to ‘mark’ others.
• I: Maybe he felt quite some authoritative, yeah?
• T9: er … it’s an open lesson, thinking they might be nervous, just to
relax them a bit, I didn’t think much.
25
Contradictory doing and thinking (T6)
 Episode 4: T6 claimed she believed in LA and would surely give students
opportunities to explore and find solutions, and she did provide such
opportunities in her lessons. However …
• T6: Students have great potential, … as long as you teach him the
right stuff, as long as he does it as told, he will do it very well. I surely
give him the opportunity to comment, how well this student did, …let
him say first, let him make an analysis, what he thinks we should do,
we’ll do it, as long as it’s ok. Teaching is the same, let him say first, his
feeling... actually in last lesson, you see, he couldn’t say much stuff, he
couldn’t get the point at all.
26
Teachers’ awareness of their practices
Doing with explicit knowing
Doing with implicit knowing
Doing with casual knowing
Contradictory doing and thinking
27
Group work
25.00
20.00
15.00
10.00
5.00
0.00
1.1
1.2
1.1
1.2
1.3
1.3
1.4
1.4
2.1
2.1
2.2
2.2
3.1
3.1
3.2
3.2
3.3
3.3
4.1
4.1
4.2
4.2
5.1
5.1
5.2
5.2
5.3
5.3
6.1
6.1
6.2
6.2
7.1
7.1
7.2
7.2
8.1
8.1
8.2
8.2
9.1
9.1
9.2
9.2
• Doing gap-filling vocabulary / grammar exercises
About this activity
closed-ended,
and
• FindingMore
information
from the text
-
Identified by the name of
less authentic
• Peer-checking
grammar language
rules
group work
use points
• Peer-teaching language
Suggested by the school
• Summarising grammar rules
project leader
• Discussing the given questions
Common practice of 9/9 ts
• Making a dialogue based on the learned ones
-
Consistent in 9/9 ts
• Conducting a survey
-
Time taken ranged from more
-
-
than 20 to less than 1 minute.
•
More open-ended, and
more authentic language
Rewriting a paragraph
use
• Peer-review of each other’s writing
• Co-creating a story
28
Group work
25.00
20.00
15.00
10.00
5.00
0.00
1.1
1.1
1.2
1.2
1.3
1.3
1.4
1.4
2.1
2.1
2.2
2.2
3.1
3.1
3.2
3.2
3.3
3.3
4.1
4.1
4.2
4.2
5.1
5.1
5.2
5.2
5.3
5.3
6.1
6.1
6.2
6.2
7.1
7.1
7.2
7.2
8.1
8.1
8.2
8.2
9.1
9.1
9.2
9.2
Students worked in groups
Students group presented by writing
on the blackboard
Students group presented by speaking to class
Peer students gave critical/additional
comments
T/ss co-evaluated the presented group work
T: … you can discuss in groups…
SS: <silence for 30’’>
T: OK, let’s come back…
Group work
25.00
20.00
15.00
10.00
5.00
0.00
1.1
1.1
1.2
1.2
1.3
1.3
1.4
1.4
2.1
2.1
2.2
2.2
3.1
3.1
3.2
3.2
3.3
3.3
4.1
4.1
In groups, they have a sense of group
Ss taking
morestudents try to
honour. The
more able
responsibility
help those less able ones. Actually they
take over some of my jobs. (T1)
4.2
4.2
5.1
5.1
5.2
5.2
5.3
5.3
6.1
6.1
6.2
6.2
7.1
7.1
7.2
7.2
8.1
8.1
8.2
8.2
9.1
9.1
9.2
9.2
That boy is quite stubborn, very different.
T-ss tug of war for
I’ve tried all means but still can’t control
control
him… Maybe subconsciously I’m quite
dominant. I just think, I must straighten
They don’t just listen to me passively.
Ssmore
moreengaged.
engagedThey think
They are
more actively. (T1, T3)
him out! (T3)
… well, that didn’t work well. I should
T pushing ss to work
have given then a push… push again if
I don’t worry
about their
mistakes. They there was still no response… (T6)
T tolerance
of trial
learn from mistakes.
(T3)
and error
30
Tug of war between T & SS
• Episode 5: post-lesson discussion of Lesson 1 of T3
• My consideration is, …to develop such a teaching way…this student is relatively slow
in the class, … he is very different from others. … He is quite stubborn. Actually, as the
home teacher, I have been studying the way of educating him, what his mental
activities are like. Whenever I talked to him, “yes, good, ok’ he would say, but he just
won’t do it …I think he didn’t get it, he must be very nervous, see, so many teachers
were observing … he is not that smart. … maybe he got it, but he was not confident
enough, …educating him is quite a headache. I’ve talked to his mum, …probably,
subconsciously, maybe because I’m quite dominating, I can’t ‘straighten’ him out.
I’ve tried all sorts of ways, still I can’t ‘control’ him. In my inner heart, I just think,
‘I must …straighten you out’. I don’t know whether it’s right or not, but that’s my
thinking. Actually, that’s what’s reflected in the class… actually my way of
management was in there. …You know other students in the class all laugh at him,
because he, anything, he is just in a different manner…nothing shaped yet, I’m still
studying how to educate him.
31
T pushing ss to work collaboratively
• Episode 6: post-lesson discussion of Lesson 1 of T6
• I: when you said ‘you can discuss in your groups’, what were you
•
•
•
•
•
thinking then?
T6: I had a patrol around, seeing some slow students hadn’t finished
yet. I have a same principle as the school’s, that is, not to leave one
student out. I was hoping those early finishers could help the few slow
ones.
I: Did that happen as you expected?
T6: No, no discussion. The actual operation was not good at all.
I: Reflecting on that now, what do you reckon caused that?
T6: I should have given then a push, ‘discuss quickly’; another push if
no response ‘why still no discussion?’; if still nothing happened, I
would say ‘deduct your performance marks, if still not to start’. The
‘marks’ is the best weapon. {laugh}
32
Student-fronted lessons
45.00
- Don’t want to listen to me?
40.00
- Ok, you have a go!
- How is it going?
35.00
- Not perfect, but not bad. I believe
you’re fine.
30.00
- Let’s do more!
Ss have great potential. As long as
you TEACH him the right stuff, as
long as he acts as told, he’ ll surely
do well.
I certainly give them opportunity,
but you see, they couldn’t say
much, they couldn’t get the point at
all!
25.00
- You look bored with my lecturing.
- Sth different? But are you ok?
15.00
- Let’ s have a try, but take this
guide with you in case you get lost.
10.00
- How is it going?
-5.00
Oh, no, you’re not really fine.
- What’s next? ? ?
20.00
0.00
1.1
1.1
1.2
1.2
1.3
1.3
1.4
1.4
2.1
2.1
2.2
2.2
3.1
3.1
3.2
3.2
3.3
3.3
4.1
4.1
4.2
5.1
5.2
5.3
6.1
6.2
7.1
7.2
4.2
5.1
5.2
5.3
6.1
6.2
7.1
7.2
8.1
8.1
8.2
8.2
9.1
9.1
9.2
9.2
33
Self-study session
T7: I prefer ss working
on their own to find out
the answers. Once you
get them into groups,
they tend to grab an
answer from others,
not to think much then.
30.00
25.00
20.00
T2: I do get ss work on their
own a lot. Collaboration is
important of course, but
independent learning first
makes better collaboration.
15.00
10.00
5.00
0.00
1.1
1.1
1.2
1.2
1.3
1.3
1.4
1.4
2.1
2.1
2.2
2.2
3.1
3.1
3.2
3.2
3.3
3.3
4.1
4.1
4.2
4.2
5.1
5.1
5.2
5.2
5.3
5.3
6.1
6.1
6.2
6.2
7.1
7.1
7.2
7.2
8.1
8.1
8.2
8.2
9.1
9.1
9.2
9.2
34
Pair work
16
The follow-up of ss
individual work, e.g.
“talk to yourself first,
and then talk to your
partner”, with some
authentic language use.
14
12
10
mostly ss
drilling, limited
space for ss
control.
8
6
4
2
0
1.1
1.2
1.3
1.1
1.4
1.2
1.3
2.1
1.4
2.2
2.1
3.1
2.2
3.2
3.1
3.3
3.2
3.3
4.1
4.1
4.2
4.2
5.1
5.1
5.2
5.2
5.3
5.3
6.1
6.1
6.2
6.2
7.1
7.1
7.2
7.2
8.1
8.1
8.2
9.1
8.2
9.2
9.1
9.2
35
Summary of findings
1.
To what extent and in what ways was control and
power shift reflected in language learning in the given
context?
 Sign of control and power shift from teacher to students was
seen in most of the observed lessons, but the extent of such
shift varied from lesson to lesson and from teacher to teacher.
Sign of false empowerment was detected, in which the teacher
relinquished control to students on the surface, but withdrew it
in actuality.
 Students were seen taking control in various activities such as
giving presentations, studying by themselves, doing pair or
group work, and even playing the role of the teacher. However,
the extent to which these activities were autonomy-oriented
varied, depending on the open-endedness of the
tasks/questions involved and the degree of authentic language
use.
36
Summary of findings
To what extent were the teachers aware of such shift
in their classroom practices, and how did they
perceive this?
2.

Teachers’ awareness of the control and power shift in their
practice varied considerably, ranging from fully conscious to
almost unconscious. Contradictory cognitions and practices
were detected in some teachers.

Teachers’ perceptions of the control and power shift in their
practices also varied considerably. The most significant
differences were the degree of trust that teachers held in their
students’ abilities for taking such control, and accordingly the
degree of teachers’ support or intervention.
37
Discussions and implications
• The study provides an example of weak version of autonomy (Smith,
2003) in classroom, which shows that autonomy can be usable in
everyday instruction without necessarily challenging the constraints of
classroom and curriculum organization to which they are subject
(Benson, 2007).
• The findings demonstrate that teachers can relinquish a certain
degree of control to students over learning management, cognitive
processing and learning content (Benson, 2001) in everyday
classroom. Collaborative control (White, 2003) is feasible between
learners and teachers and between learners and learners.
• The findings display the complexity and the uniqueness of each
individual teacher’s cognitions and classroom practices, and the
significant impact of the former on the latter (Borg, 2006).
38
Discussions and implications
• The variety and divergences shown in teachers’ understandings and
practices about developing learner autonomy questions the value and
necessity of an instructional MODEL. The evidence of “false
empowerment” implies a more urgent need for a real understanding
of the notion of autonomy than a blind implementation in some
superficial ‘seeming-autonomy-oriented’ forms.
• The findings provide real-world pictures of teachers’ practices of
developing learner autonomy, which differs to an extent from the selfreported practices reported in previous studies in this area. This
resonates Borg’s (2006) warnings of the risk of teacher cognition
research without observed classroom data, and calls for the
methodological amendment in this respect.
39
References
• Benson, P. (2001). Teaching and researching autonomy in language learning. London: Longman.
• Benson, P. (2007). Autonomy in language teaching and learning. Language Teaching, 40(1), 21-40.
• Benson, P. (2011). Teaching and Researching Autonomy (2ed.). London, England: Pearson.
• Borg, S. (2006). Teacher cognition and language education: research and practice. London,
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
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Wang Yi
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