STATE-SUPPORTED PROVINCIAL UNIVERSITY ENGLISH LANGUAGE INSTRUCTORS ATTITUDES TOWARDS LEARNER AUTONOMY. A Master s Thesis MUSTAFA ÖZDERE - PDF

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STATE-SUPPORTED PROVINCIAL UNIVERSITY ENGLISH LANGUAGE INSTRUCTORS ATTITUDES TOWARDS LEARNER AUTONOMY A Master s Thesis by MUSTAFA ÖZDERE Department Of Teaching English As A Foreign Language Bilkent University

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STATE-SUPPORTED PROVINCIAL UNIVERSITY ENGLISH LANGUAGE INSTRUCTORS ATTITUDES TOWARDS LEARNER AUTONOMY A Master s Thesis by MUSTAFA ÖZDERE Department Of Teaching English As A Foreign Language Bilkent University ANKARA July 2005 To my beloved parents, Hatice & Mükrem Özdere STATE-SUPPORTED PROVINCIAL UNIVERSITY ENGLISH LANGUAGE INSTRUCTORS ATTITUDES TOWARDS LEARNER AUTONOMY The Institute of Economics and Social Sciences of Bilkent University by MUSTAFA ÖZDERE In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of MATER OF ARTS in THE DEPARTMENT OF TEACHING ENGLISH AS A FOREING LANGUAGE BİLKENT UNİVERSİTY ANKARA July 2005 I certify that I have read this thesis and have found that it is fully adequate, in scope and in quality, as a thesis for the degree of Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language (Dr. Susan S. Johnston) Supervisor I certify that I have read this thesis and have found that it is fully adequate, in scope and in quality, as a thesis for the degree of Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language (Dr. Theodore Rodgers) Examining Committee Member I certify that I have read this thesis and have found that it is fully adequate, in scope and in quality, as a thesis for the degree of Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language Dr. Paul Nelson Examining Committee Member Approval of the Institute of Economics and Social Sciences (Prof. Dr. Erdal Erel) Director ABSTRACT STATE-SUPPORTED PROVINCIAL UNIVERSITY ENGLISH LANGUAGE INSTRUCTORS ATTITUDES TOWARDS LEARNER AUTONOMY Özdere, Mustafa M.A., Department of Teaching English as a Foreign Language Supervisor: Dr. Susan Johnston Co-Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Theodore S. Rodgers July 2005 The purpose of this study was to investigate state-supported provincial university instructors attitudes towards learner autonomy and towards sharing instructional responsibilities with learners regarding aspects of students own learning. The study was conducted with 72 English language instructors working at Afyonkarahisar Kocatepe University, Akdeniz University, Balikesir University, Mugla University, Nigde University, and Zonguldak Karaelmas University. Data were collected through a questionnaire including Likert-scale questions. The preliminary section of the questionnaire gathered data about the instructors educational background and teaching experience. The thirteen items in the iii questionnaire investigated instructors ideas about how much instructional responsibility learners should share in accordance with learner autonomy. Respondents were asked to indicate their opinions on a five-point Likert-scale, with not at all, little, partly, much, and very much for each item. Additionally, the interviews were conducted with 10 instructors from participating universities. The results of the data analysis revealed that participating instructors are neutral to slightly positive toward learner autonomy in their formal teaching environments and consider some areas of teaching and learning as more suitable than others for the implementation of learner autonomy. The outcomes also showed that the participating instructors attitudes towards learner autonomy change depending upon the facilities they are provided by their universities and the opportunities for authentic language use in their environments. Moreover, the findings highlighted that an in-service training for the instructors, and systematic and planned adjustments in the curricula might contribute to the promotion of learner autonomy in these universities. Key words: Autonomy, English language teaching, Turkish Universities iv ÖZET DEVLET DESTEKLİ BÖLGESEL ÜNİVERSİTELERDE ÇALIŞAN İNGİLİZCE OKUTMANLARININ ÖĞRENCİ ÖZERKLİĞİNE BAKIŞ AÇILARI Özdere, Mustafa Yüksek Lisans, Yabancı Dil Olarak İngilizce Öğretimi Bölümü Tez Yöneticisi: Dr. Susan Johnston Ortak Tez Yöneticisi: Prof. Dr. Theodore S. Rodgers Temmuz, 2005 Bu araştırma, devlet destekli bölgesel üniversitelerde çalışan İngilizce okutmanlarının öğrenci özerkliğine ve öğrencilerin eğitimleri ile alakalı konularda yönlerdirmesel sorumlulukların öğrencilerle paylaşımına bakış açılarını öğrenmeyi hedeflemiştir. Bu çalışma, Afyonkarahisar Kocatepe Üniversitesi, Akdeniz Üniversitesi, Balikesir Üniversitesi, Mugla Üniversitesi, Nigde Üniversitesi ve Zonguldak Karaelmas Üniversitelerinde çalışan 72 İngilizce okutmanının katılımı ile gerçekleştirilmiştir. Veri toplama işleri içerisinde Likert-Ölçeği tipinde sorular bulunan bir anketle yapılmıştır. Anketin başlangıç kısmı aracılığıyla okutmanların v eğitim durumu ve öğretmenlik tecrübeleri hakkında bilgi edinilmiştir. Anketteki 13 soru aracılığı ile okutmanların öğrenci özerkliği doğrultusunda, ders geliştirmede yönetimsel sorumlulukları öğrencilerle ne derece paylaşmaları gerektiği konusuna bakış açıları araştırılmıştır. Çalışmaya katılan okutmanlardan hiç, az, kısmen, çok, pek çok şeklindeki beş derecelik Likert-Ölçeği formatındaki sorulara cevap vermeleri istenmiştir. İlave olarak, on okutmanla görüşmeler gerçekleştirilmiştir. Sonuçlar, çalışmaya katılan okutmanların resmi öğretim atmosferi içinde öğrenci özerkliğine bakış açılarının olumluya yakın tarafsız olduklarını ve bazı alanların öğrenci özerkliği uygulamasında diğer alanlara göre daha uygun olduğunu düşündüklerini göstermiştir. Ayrıca, çalışmaya katılan okutmanların öğrenci özerkliğine bakış açıları üniversiteleri tarafından sağlanan imkânlara ve öğrencilerin çevrelerindeki otantik dil kullanabilme imkânlarına bağlı olarak değişiklikler göstermiştir. Ek olarak, bulgular göstermiştir ki okutmanlara sağlanacak profesyonel bir eğitim, müfredatta yapılacak planlı ve sistematik ayarlamalar bu üniversitelerde öğrenci özerkliğinin gelişmesine katkıda bulunabilir. Anahtar Kelimeler: Otonomi, İngiliz Dili Oğretimi, Turk Universiteler vi ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to express my appreciation to my thesis advisor and the director of the MATEFL program, Dr. Susan Johnston for her never-ending understanding, invaluable guidance, for having such a big heart full of love, encouragement throughout the program and the preparation of this thesis. I would like to thank Prof. Theodore S. Rodgers, for his continual support in my studies, invaluable guidance, patience and his endless assistance. I especially owe my special thanks to Michael Johnston whose continual support and guidance helped me to make my way out throughout the preparation of this thesis. Without him, I would never be able to come this far. I would like to thank Dr. Kamil İşeri, the head of English department at Nigde University, for his support. I am thankful to all colleagues at Afyonkarahisar Kocatepe University, Antalya University, Balikesir University, Mugla University, Nigde University and Zonguldak Karaelmas University for their willingness to participate in my research. I am grateful to Evren Köse from Zonguldak Karaelmas University, Müzeyyen Aykaç from Mugla University, my friends Pınar Tekkilik from Antalya, Sertan Çınar from Balıkesir for administering my questionnaires. I would like to thank my inmate Ramazan Alparslan Gökçen whose presence turned this program into an enjoyable experience, and made dormitory life bearable. I am also thankful to all my classmates for sharing this challenge with me and most of all, making it bearable. vii I am grateful to my family for their endless encouragement, enthusiasm, trust and emotional and financial support throughout the year. Without the help of family, my life could not have been that easy during the program. viii TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT...iii ÖZET... v ACKNOWLEDGMENTS...vii TABLE OF CONTENTS...ix TABLE OF TABLES...xiv CHAPTER I: INTRODUCTION... 1 Introduction... 1 Background of the Study... 2 Statement of the Problem... 5 Research Questions... 6 Significance of the Study... 6 Conclusion... 7 CHAPTER II: LITERATURE REVIEW... 9 Introduction... 9 Definition of Learner Autonomy... 9 A Brief History of Learner Autonomy Origins of Learner Autonomy in Foreign Language Learning Justifications Philosophical Background Pedagogical Background Summary Approaches to Learner Autonomy Learning Strategies ix Curriculum in Learner Autonomy Course Content Selecting Materials Position of Desks Seating of Students Discipline Matters Record Keeping Homework Tasks The Time, Place and Pace of the Lesson Lesson Methodology in Learner Autonomy Individual, Pair, and Group Work Use of Materials Type of Classroom Activities Assessment in Learner Autonomy Teacher Role in Learner Autonomy Learner Role in Learner Autonomy Original Study Culture and Learner Autonomy Case studies as related to the promotion of learner autonomy Japan Hong Kong Turkey Present Situation in Turkey Conclusion x CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY Introduction Participants Instruments Questionnaire Interviews Data Collection Procedures Data Analysis Conclusion CHAPTER IV: DATA ANALYSIS Introduction Quantitative Data Instructors Overall Attitudes towards Learner Autonomy Differences among Participating Universities Item Grouping in Questionnaire Overall Analysis of Instructors Views on Sharing Responsibilities with Learners Afyonkarahisar Kocatepe University Instructors' Views on Sharing Instructional Responsibilities with Students Antalya University Instructors' Views on Sharing Instructional Responsibilities with Students Balıkesir University Instructors' Views on Sharing Instructional Responsibilities with Students xi Mugla University Instructors' Views on Sharing Instructional Responsibilities with Students Nigde University Instructors' Views on Sharing Instructional Responsibilities with Students Zonguldak Karaelmas University Instructors' Views on Sharing Instructional Responsibilities with Students Analysis of the Relationship of Participating Universities Instructors Attitudes toward Learner Autonomy Camilleri Study versus Present Study Qualitative Data Student Profile Teaching Environment Instructors Expectations of Students Students Expectations of Teachers from the Teachers Point Of View.100 Description of an Effective Learner According to Instructors Conclusion CHAPTER V: CONCLUSION Introduction Findings Instructors Overall Attitudes toward Learner Autonomy Instructors Opinions Regarding Learners Sharing Responsibility 108 Most Favored Items Least Favored Items xii Other Items in Which Instructors are Neutral Pedagogical Implications Suggestions for Further Studies Limitations of the Study Conclusion REFERENCES APPENDICES A. Teachers Questionnaire B. Interview Questions (English Language Instructors) C. Informed Consent Form D. Interview Form E. Sample Interview F. Analysis Of Sample Interview G. Overall results of Camilleri (1997) study xiii LIST OF TABLES 1. Characteristics of Participating State Universities Distribution of Instructors Responding to the Questionnaire Educational Degree of the Participants Teaching Experience of Participating Instructors Participant School Experience The Structure of the Questionnaire Participants in the Interviews The List of Universities Originally Contacted for the Study General Interpretations of Likert Scale Entries Mean Values for Instructors Overall Attitudes toward Learner Autonomy ANOVA Results for the Difference among the Means Item Grouping in Questionnaire Questionnaire Mean Responses to All Questionnaire Items Questionnaire Mean Responses from Afyonkarahisar Kocatepe University to All Questionnaire Items Questionnaire Mean Responses from Antalya University to All Questionnaire Items Questionnaire Mean Responses from Balıkesir University to All Questionnaire Items Questionnaire Mean Responses from Muğla University to All Questionnaire Items Questionnaire Mean Responses from Niğde University to All Questionnaire Items xiv 19. Questionnaire Mean Responses from Zonguldak Karaelmas University to All Questionnaire Items Analysis of the Relationship of Participating Universities Instructors Attitudes toward Learner Autonomy Camilleri Study Present Study xv CHAPTER I: INTRODUCTION Introduction In formal learning environments, the development of autonomy is pursued because learner autonomy supports the learners involvement in planning, monitoring and evaluating their own learning (Holec, 1981). Learner autonomy is generally associated with long-term success because it enables learners to apply the school knowledge and skills to situations in the outside world (Little, 2001). Additionally, involving learners in the management of their own learning and encouraging them to shape it in accordance with their developing and changing interests and needs will motivate learners intrinsically. Learner autonomy, in formal educational contexts, is an educational concept in which learners accept the responsibility for their own learning (Little, 1999). The growth of learner autonomy depends upon learners developing an understanding of what they are learning, how they are learning, how successful they are in learning and why they are learning (Little, 1999). Learner autonomy is based on the theory that only learners can do their own learning, that education or teachers can only guide learning, and that teachers cannot force learning (van Lier, 1996). Also, if learners are consciously aware of their learning goals and methods, learning would be more effective, and they will be able to go beyond the limitations of their own learning environment (Little, 2001). 1 The purpose of this study was to investigate the attitudes toward learner autonomy among English language instructors working at the following statesupported provincial universities: Afyonkarahisar Kocatepe University in Afyonkarahisar, Akdeniz University in Antalya, Balikesir University in Balikesir, Mugla University in Mugla, Nigde University in Nigde, and Zonguldak Karaelmas University in Zonguldak. Seventy-two English language instructors participated in this study. Background of the Study Learner autonomy is the situation in which learners accept the overall responsibility for their own learning (Holec, 1981; Little, 1991). Learner autonomy necessitates learners full involvement in planning, monitoring and evaluating their own learning (Holec, 1981; Little, 1991). Little (1994) posits that learner autonomy not only entails learning but also learning how to learn (p. 431). From these definitions it follows that autonomous learners have the capacity to determine realistic and reachable learning goals, select appropriate methods and techniques to be used, monitor their own learning process, and evaluate the progress of their own learning (Little, 1991; Holec, 1981; Benson, 2001; Scharle & Szabo, 2000; Wenden 1991). Little (1991) maintains that a number of misconceptions about learner autonomy exist. The first misconception is that autonomy is synonymous with selfaccess learning, self-instruction, distance learning, individualized instruction, flexible learning or self-directed learning. The second misconception is that learner autonomy means absolute freedom for learners. As a matter of fact, freedom within learner autonomy is limited and conditioned (Little, 2001). The third misconception 2 is that control is handed over totally to learners. The fourth misconception is that learner autonomy entails the isolation of learners. The fifth misconception is that learner autonomy is absolute. Another misconception is that learner autonomy is a new method, teaching technique or approach. A final misconception is that learner autonomy is a fixed state, and that once acquired, can be applied to all areas of learning (Little, 1991; Dam, 1995; Finch, 2001; Benson, 2001; Scharle & Szabo, 2000; Wenden, 1991). In the literature, there are different approaches to the development of learner autonomy: resource-based, technology-based, learner-based, classroom-based, curriculum-based, and teacher based approaches. Each of these approaches has been developed to promote learner autonomy by applying different methods, techniques and materials (Benson, 2001). Learner autonomy is based on the idea of the individuality of learners because students interests, preferences, capacities, and competencies in learning are not all the same. Students learn at different speeds with varying media. They learn differently at different times, in different places and with different teachers. They respond and perform differently with varied forms of feedback, reinforcement, and reward. Additionally, they perform differently in various group arrangements with different styles of content and process organization (Little, 1991; Dam, 1995; Wenden, 1991; Benson, 2001; Brown, 200). In other words, learner autonomy encourages teachers to focus on the uniqueness of the individual learner (Little, 1994, p. 433). Learner autonomy requires learners to plan, monitor and evaluate their own learning (Little, 2001). In order for learners to become more autonomous, they first 3 should be involved in the management of their own learning inside the classroom (Little, 2001). Through active involvement, learners will go through a change from a position of being teacher-dependent to a position of an independent learner. For that reason, teachers should be ready and willing to share instructional responsibilities with learners on the basis of negotiation and interaction (Finch, 2001; Benson, 2001; Wenden, 1991). Teachers in an educational system that promotes learner autonomy act as catalysts, discussants, consultants, observers, analysts, facilitators and counselors to stimulate learning processes in various ways. Additionally, teachers, by being supportive, patient, tolerant, empathetic, open and non-judgmental, can assist learners in setting objectives, planning works, selecting materials, evaluating themselves, acquiring the skills and knowledge needed and overcoming obstacles (Dam, 1995; Scharle& Szabo, 2000; Wenden, 1991). In other words, learner autonomy demands continuous awareness and discourse expertise from teachers (Little, 2004). Learner autonomy necessitates active learner involvement, learner reflection and appropriate target language use (Little, 2004). Learners therefore should develop a capacity for reflection and evaluation that they can also apply to other aspects of their own learning (Little, 1998). Learners first must be ready to accept responsibility for their own learning and its outcomes. They should use target language as much as possible. Above all, learners must develop the capacity that enables them to reflect on the process of planning, monitoring, and evaluating their own learning (Little, 2001; Dam, 1995; Sheerin 1997). Little (2001) states that 4 learners cannot reasonably be expected to manage independent learning if they are not first involved in the management of classroom learning (p.36). Statement of the Problem In order for learners to accept the responsibility for their own learning, they must be provided with a share in the control regarding certain aspects of their learning processes (Little, 2001; Dam, 1995; Wenden, 1991; Benson, 2001). For the promotion of learner autonomy in formal environments, teachers first should be willing and ready to involve learners in decision-making processes. In other words, teachers play an important role in the promotion of learner autonomy. Yumuk (2002) states that in the Turkish educational system, teachers are the main authority in the classroom and it might be difficult for them to change their teaching (p.152). However, in Turkey, little research has been done to investigate English language instructors attitudes toward learner autonomy. The purpose of this study was to investigate the attitudes toward learner autonomy among English language instructors working at Afyonkarahisar Kocatepe University, Antalya University, Ba
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