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© Marina Orsini-Jones, Subject Leader for Italian/Teaching Fellow Faculty of Business, Environment and Society, Coventry University Reflecting on the languages.

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Presentation on theme: "© Marina Orsini-Jones, Subject Leader for Italian/Teaching Fellow Faculty of Business, Environment and Society, Coventry University Reflecting on the languages."— Presentation transcript:

1 © Marina Orsini-Jones, Subject Leader for Italian/Teaching Fellow Faculty of Business, Environment and Society, Coventry University Reflecting on the languages portfolio and on the reflective entries ‘discourse’. Meeting the challenge of independent learning.

2 Activity 1 : Look at the various definitions of ‘reflection’ provided in the pack and do the activity at the end of the page. Please also reflect on why reflection is important in language learning (5 more minutes in pairs/small groups).

3 REFLECTION: Jenny Moon’s summary of the 4 main theoretical perspectives (in Allen) Dewey (1933): Thinking about ‘me’ as an individual and ‘my functioning’ as an individual Kolb (1984): experiential cycle, ‘learning by doing’ Schon (1983;1987): ‘reflection in action’ + ‘reflection on action’ Habermas (1971): reflection as theory building

4 Why teach reflective practice? A heuristic, process-based approach is conducive to deep-learning and the learner ‘must make the link between theory and practice through active experimentation and through reflection on the learning process’ (Söntengs, 2001)

5 Independent learning: elements of autonomy (Candy 1991). The learner will: Think and act autonomously Have the ability to realistically appraise own shortcomings as a learner Have effective approaches to self- management as a learner

6 Independent learner in HE: gains (Candy 1991) Ability to respond to change Transferable skills Flexibility to use different learning styles - learner can use own judgment about how best to learn Self-direction: this is motivating in itself and leads to higher order thinking

7 Losses (Candy 1991) The educational system might not be designed for independent learning Only 1/3 or 1/4 of students are self-directing; Too little (as well as too much) direction can cause frustrations for the learner Students can lack the necessary knowledge in the subject matter to make a beginning Students might have very specific expectations about the degree of direction that should be provided by the teacher.

8 Module 143LAN - Academic and Professional Skills for Language Learning This module aims at raising students’ awareness about language learning processes and at encouraging them to reflect upon the ways in which they can improve their language learning skills in an academic and professional way. Students will also write a reflective portfolio of progress.

9 Academic and Professional Skills for Language Learning: 143LAN Aims at engaging students actively with the new literacies and skills required by the ‘knowledge society’ Provisional hypothesis: skills-based teaching and learning aligned with needs of language learners will raise confidence in APS and enhance language learning skills Also: belief that learning metacognitive language skills via ICT can foster independence and autonomy amongst learners

10 Rationale Module introduced to comply with national UK Higher Education recommendations – mainly QAA (skills development, Personal Development Planning, independent learning, skills benchmarks, Language Portfolio, etc.) Compliance with internal CU regulations and recommendations (code of skills development) Standardisation of practice in Languages Opportunity for collaborative research offered by the award of a £ £15000 education grant

11 Outcomes 1.Demonstrate the ability to retrieve information from a variety of sources in support of language learning and reference academic work appropriately 2.Work in teams, reflect on aspects of grammar and present their work in group 3.Show the ability to create a homepage in WebCT in the language(s) studied 4.Reflect on learning both online discussion and in the ePortfolio 5.Evaluate individual progress in terms of academic and professional skills for linguists

12 Assessment A WebCT online test on information retrieval, referencing and essay writing (40% of the module mark) - outcomes no. 1 and 4 A group presentation of a grammar project delivered both face-to-face and within WebCT (60% of the module mark) - outcomes no.1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 A pass mark in the European Language Portfolio - outcomes no. 1, 4 and 5

13 Example of expectations at CU University life is not at all what I expected, it was a huge change from the 6 th form. I do admit that I felt as though I was on my own during these past few months, because I was used to having teachers “spoon feed” me in a way (student from a local school in Coventry)

14 Example of expectations at CU The one thing that comes as a big shock first is the amount of individual studying that you take on. There are advantages to this, such as you get more control over your spare and study time, but also the disadvantages such as you have to learn to study yourself and the teacher isn’t always over your shoulder telling you the deadline. You have to go and see your lecturers and tutors instead of them coming to you. (Student who attended an international British school abroad)

15 Reflection – learning to learn (Allen) Fazey and Fazey (2001) show that while first-year students have a positive perception of their potential for autonomous learning behaviour, they are uncertain of their abilities in this area.

16 Hypothesis: independent learning as ‘troublesome’? Many students are not naturally independent and need to be taught ‘the art of learning – mathetics’ (Papert 1996) PDP and the portfolio, because of their reflective nature, make learners uncomfortable Reflection on learning could be ‘troublesome’

17 What way forward for independence? I really haven’t got a clue on what I am supposed to be doing concerning the portfolio. Could you please clarify me with this? Message posted in the portfolio help forum by a student who attended regularly. The most challenging task was probably the portfolio as I was unsure of exactly what needed to be included. It is difficult because it is supposed to be made up of anything we find relevant but it took a while to realise exactly what types of things needed to be included. Interviews

18 Unease with independence (Allen) Little is known about students’ attitudes or ability to conduct self-directed learning. Kreber (1998) presents evidence that the psychological make-up of students might to some extent determine their willingness to engage in self-directed learning. She contends that less willing students are ‘initially uncomfortable with the unwanted freedom, flexibility and responsibility’ that a self-directed approach to learning implies (Kreber, 1998, p. 84).

19 Peters, in Allen (2002): negative attitudes amongst staff “if the (other) staff don’t value the process then why should I?” (Peters, 2002, p.9). Factors: more content time in lectures will have to be given over to supporting the process; perception that the initiative is an external imposition; feeling among tutors that there is little point in supporting the PDP process if the students are not engaging in it.

20 Attitudes amongst staff (Meyer and Land 2005:375) Educational developers who provide accreditation programmes for academics in higher education report the troublesome nature of ‘reflection’ for academic colleagues, (…), who hold quite different understandings of scientific knowledge and who initially find the now well-established discourse of professional reflection both alien, inaccessible and unnecessary, though a facility with such discourse is increasingly deemed de rigueur by various quality regimes.

21 Possible ways forward Karen Hallett: teach students discourse protocol. Encourage reflection via different types of discussions, each of which with its own ‘genre’ or ‘discourse protocol’. Teach students how to create ‘depth’ in terms of academic dialogue. Communicate expectations of students performance via a carefully constructed set of instructions in a clearer way.

22 Activity 2: fostering reflection via a VLE. Study the entries posted by students about the lecture about listening skills on your own, then discuss issues relating to reflective discourse with the person sitting next to you (5 mins): any comments?

23 Lack of motivation and portfolio anxiety: resistance to skills learning Some students perceive skills as a waste of time (“I know this already”, “It underestimates my prior knowledge”); All see the Portfolio as a challenging and ‘difficult’ assessment task; Many fail to appreciate the links of reflective practice to the world of work, even if this is highlighted with examples from real settings

24 Some positive feedback. I believe I have changed as a learner. This module has introduced new ideas, methods and programmes which was not covered as much in A-Levels and GCSEs. I heave learnt more about key skills for languages, listening, reading, writing and speaking. It has helped me for work in other subjects like coursework, presentations both group and individually and exams. I have also learnt more about grammar ideas and skills and identifying parts of speech. I fell this module has helped me very much this year.

25 Social interaction can help I found the first assessment the most challenging. This was to create a web page, breaking up the grammar of a particular sentence in one of the target languages and in English. I think that this was because it was the first assessment and the fact that I was still settling at university. I had never really studied grammar in this depth and found it quite difficult to grasp at first. However, as we worked as a group, I began to understand more….I have learnt a lot of grammar and now know all the different aspects of grammar, such as clauses, morphemes, etc. This has helped me with my two languages a lot. (Written anonymous feedback, May 2004).

26 Social interaction can help 2 My confidence was enhanced by the group presentation on grammar, because of the group work we did together for it. Also, the interactive and informal teaching approach adopted by the lecturers helped me too. The amount of support given via WebCT by students and the module leader is a great asset. (Semi-structured interviews, April 2004)

27 Confidence boosting also helps Doing fairly well in my first piece of assessment gave me more confidence. Firstly I had to perform so having done it I was more confident within the class. Secondly, my mark told me that I could do well in this module. Also, knowing that I had learnt some important skills gave me a boost. I believe that extra competence=extra confidence.

28 Further research issues Metacognitive knowledge may influence the learning process without learners being aware of it (Hauck 2003) (weakness of qualitative research based upon learners’ perspective of learning) Also, issues relating to learners’ beliefs: ‘beliefs would be held more tenaciously than knowledge’ (Wenden 1998, in Hauck 2003): students believe that the portfolio is ‘troublesome’ even if it isn’t Paradox: learners in denial of learning?

29 Final food for thought We aim to teach how to learn and create autonomous learners, but, in order to do so, we create our own rigid set of step-by-step rules on how to achieve independence: does this defy the object of teaching autonomy?

30 References Candy, P. (1991) ‘Independent learning Some ideas from the literature’ rntch/independent.htmlhttp://www.brookes.ac.uk/services/ocsd/2_lea rntch/independent.html Karen Hallett, Indiana State University /hallett.htmlhttp://education.indiana.edu/~edfolks/persons /hallett.html

31 References Hauck, M. (2003). ‘Exploring the link between metacognitive knowledge, efficient strategy use and learner autonomy in collaborative virtual language learning environments’. Paper presented at the EuroCALL conference New literacies in language learning and teaching, University of Limerick, Ireland, September 2003.

32 References Meyer, J.H.F. and Land, R. (2003) ‘Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge (1). Linkages to Ways of Thinking and Practising within the disciplines’, in C. Rust (ed.), Improving Student Learning – Ten Years On. Proceedings of the th International Symposium, The Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development. OCSLD: Oxford,

33 References Meyer, J.H.F. and Land, R. (2005) 'Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge (2): epistemological considerations and a conceptual framework for teaching and learning'. Higher Education, 49: Race, P. (1996) ‘ A Fresh Look at Independent Learning ’ ons/eff.learning/indep.html ons/eff.learning/indep.html

34 References Söntgens, K. (2001) ‘Circling the globe: fostering experiential language learning’. ReCALL 13(1):


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