STUDY ON THE TECHNIQUES IN PROMOTING LEARNER AUTONOMY

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To study the results of student's responsibility for their own learning and techniques in promoting learner autonomy at South East European University is the interest of this undertaking. It will focus on the techniques that teachers use to foster learner autonomy and how well students control their own learning. The research will be done through a questionnaire where students will be participating, by interviewing teachers and students, and participating in learner records.

This study will attempt to answer the following research questions:

What strategies students use when learning independently?

What techniques are used by teachers of English to promote learner autonomy?

Are there any differences in the use of techniques that teachers of South East European University apply?

Qualitative and quantitative methods will be used for analyzing the data. The methods will be used to establish the way students organize their own learning and the effective techniques in promoting learner autonomy. The study will also compare the results of this research.

1.0 Introduction

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Learner Autonomy is one of the most important elements in learning a foreign language. However, many EFL learners with different beliefs, attitudes, and motivations, or they do not want to take responsibility for their own learning. Teachers should deal with these issues by engaging students with effective activities, or find successful ways in promoting learner autonomy.

There are many techniques and strategies that would help learners become autonomous. Students should be able to identify their strategies and become responsible for their own learning.

The reason for choosing this topic is that learners need to feel free in their own learning, to take charge of what they do, and not to depend always on the teacher concerning learning. Autonomous learners are motivated and they are good language learners. The knowledge that learners acquire in the classroom, can be freely applied outside the classroom. The purpose of this study is to analyze several techniques that teachers at South East European University use in promoting learner autonomy. Also, to figure out how well students manage their own learning and their attitude towards autonomy. Nevertheless, the results will be discussed and analyzed in detail.

Research Aims

The general aim of this research is to explore effective techniques in promoting learner autonomy and how well students control their own learning at South East European University. At the same time, the research will try to examine the level of the autonomy that students posses. The investigation of this research will be done through a questionnaire, interviews and learner report.

The major objectives of this study are:

To identify the techniques that teachers use in promoting learner autonomy.

To analyze the learning strategies the students use.

To have a clear picture of the effective techniques, and to compare them.

To recommend the most appropriate techniques of how to foster learner autonomy and to assess the most useful learning strategies for people of different English levels.

2.0 Literature Review

According to Jeremy Harmer (2007), it is possible that some learners will be keen to take the responsibility for what they do. When teachers train the learners to be autonomous, they need to offer them choices in learning strategies. This author states that "What may feel appropriate from the teacher's point of view may not seem so appropriate for students. What is appropriate for one student may not be appropriate for all" (Harmer, 2007: 396). Therefore, teachers should be patient enough when they help their students become autonomous, because they cannot become independent learners immediately.

Jeremy Harmer (2007: 100-104) suggests five distinct stages that teachers should take into consideration if they want their learners to be autonomous, such as:

Affect- is concerned with students' feelings.

Achievement- nothing motivates like success.

Attitude- students need to have confidence in their professional abilities.

Activities- students' motivation is when they enjoy doing things.

Agency- when students have agency, they take some responsibility for their learning.

Leaver, Ehrman, and Shekhtman (2005:210) indicate that among the most important figures in the growth of learning autonomy is the teacher. They believe that "Just as good parenting allows dependence when it is appropriate for a child but encourages independence when the child is ready, so a good teacher provides support as it is needed and lets go when the student is ready to "fly solo". The authors also consider the research conducted by Oxford (1990), one of the most widely used taxonomies. Their research led to dividing the learning strategies into six categories: Cognitive, Metacognitive, Affective, Social, Compensation, and Memory (Leaver, Ehrman, & Shekhtman, 2005: 246-247).

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Rod Ellis (1997) shares some of the same learning strategies. This author also suggests that students can be behavioral (for example repeating new words aloud to help the learners remember them) or they can be mental (for example by using the linguistic context to infer the meaning of a new word). Additionally, Ellis has pointed out that teachers have to investigate the students to find out the strategies that worked for them (Ellis, 1997: 77).

Scharle and Szabo (2000) offer some activities in order to help learners realize new ways of learning. The first group of activities 'Finding out about your students' outlines several techniques of gathering data about the student's knowledge and attitude. Activities in the second group 'Motivation' aim to motivate the students by emphasizing skills and knowledge they already possess. Next, 'learning strategies' can help learners in their learning, to think in their choice of strategies, and to realize what works best for them. 'Community building' consists of activities that will help learners cooperate with others in pair and group work. Last but not least, in 'Self-monitoring' teachers can find some examples of how to get the students think about their learning styles, and make them aware that not everyone has the same preferences of strategies (Scharle & Szabo, 2000: 15-47).

3.0 Previous Studies and Research

Many studies have been done on learner autonomy. Researchers have applied the techniques and the results of the studies concerning learner autonomy.

Balcikanli (2008) in his study focused on fostering learner autonomy in EFL classrooms. The study was conducted with two classes, as experimental and control group, each of which consists of twenty EFL learners from Ankara. A questionnaire, made up of three parts, was distributed to both groups so as to find out the level of the autonomy they possessed. The results from both groups were gathered and analyzed by the use of students and paired sample t-test to reveal whether any change would exist between the two groups. Then, statistical results were analyzed and interpreted. The results showed that the learners in the experimental group showed a stronger attitude towards autonomy than the control group did.

Wei (2008) conducted a study with second year EFL students from Guangdong Pharmaceutical University. The participants were 64 students as the experimental group and 64 students as the control group. The researcher of this study investigated the effect that metacognitive awareness training has on the development of learner autonomy. In order to find out how well students control their own learning behavior, the researcher designed a questionnaire administered to both groups of students. The questionnaire is made up of 30 items concerning different factors of language learning and learner autonomy. The results of the study showed that in the experimental group most students have a responsible attitude towards their own learning. Comparatively, the control group shows little responsibility in their learning.

Chuk (2004) in her study examined effective ways in promoting learner autonomy in the EFL classroom. The participants were 18 EFL students of Diploma One Drama. Data was collected through group discussions, oral presentations in class, learner diary records, and the teacher-researcher's diary. The researcher used several classroom activities to investigate the learners' potential. The results of this study showed that the students developed their metacognitive awareness. Both the learners and the teacher became more autonomous. The researcher believes that learner autonomy and teacher autonomy can be promoted through Exploratory Practice.

Research Hypotheses

H1. Raising students' awareness of effective learning strategies will help them monitor their own learning.

H2. Students who are motivated tend to more willingly manage their own learning than those who are not motivated.

H3. If teachers offer the appropriate techniques in promoting learner autonomy, then students will become autonomous in their learning.

4.0 Research Design and Methodology

Data Gathering Procedure

This present study will make use of implementing procedures to achieve the purpose of this study:

4.1 Participants

The participants in this study are EFL students from South East European University. The total number of SEEU students that will be involved in this study is 100. The age of the participants is from 19 to 23. They belong to different ethnic group such as: Albanians, Macedonians, and Turkish. The participants are both males and females.

4.2 Methods

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The first method for collecting data is interview. Using student interviews in order to find out more information related to learner autonomy, student's attitudes, and feelings of being an independent learner. Using teacher interviews to find out their position concerning learner autonomy as well as the techniques they use to promote learner autonomy.

The second method is a student questionnaire in order to identify areas of concern or approach regarding learner autonomy. The instructions will be given to the participants in order to understand the purpose of the questionnaire.

The third method is learner record. Learner record is an individual activity for personal development and it will serve as a record for students to analyze their progress as they proceed through the course.

Tables, charts, and figures will be included in the research paper along with questionnaire information, learner record data, and interviews obtained from students and teachers.

4.3 Procedure

Students will be interviewed in order to obtain general information related to learner autonomy. Also, teachers will be interviewed so that we find out their attitude towards learner autonomy. We will explain to the participants the purpose of the interview.

Afterwards, questionnaires will be distributed to the participants and everything will be explained in detail.

Finally, there will be a learner record and the students will share ideas of what they have learnt. It will be explained to them the purpose of this activity.

Analysis of Data

In the process of investigation there will be the use of some methods, which will help in the data collection. Data analysis will hopefully show the use of techniques that teachers use to promote learner autonomy and to help students manage their own learning. This research project is a combination of both methods of research, qualitative and quantitative. Since the research is generally descriptive, there is unlikely to be too much information that will require statistical analysis. The qualitative method explains the information obtained from the interviews, questionnaires, or learner records. Moreover, the quantitative method will be used to analyze statistically the data obtained from the participants.

Interpretation of Findings / Results

The study will reveal the learners' responsibility for their learning, and show different ways that would help students become autonomous. Also, a description of the techniques that teachers use to promote learner autonomy will be presented in the study. Another part of the study will contain the answers from learners' and teachers' interviews and questionnaire results. The final comparison will be made in order to establish whether there are similarities or differences in techniques that teachers use to promote learner autonomy.

Master Thesis Content:

TABLE OF CONTENTS………………………………………………………………………….

LIST OF FIGURES………………………………………………………………………………..

LIST OF TABLES…………………………………………………………………………………

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS………………………………………………………………………….

ABSTRACT………………………………………………………………………………………...

Chapter I: INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW………………………………………………

Background of the Study……………………………………………………..

Significance and Purpose of the Study…………………………………….

Aims and Objectives of the Study…………………………………………...

Research Question……………………………………………………………

Description of Thesis Organization………………………………………..

Conclusion…………………………………………………………………….

Chapter II: REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE………………………………………………....

Learner Training and Learner Autonomy…………………………………

Promoting Autonomy…..................................................... .

Motivation…………………………………………………………………….

The Motivation Angel …………………………………………

Teacher's Roles in Promoting Learner Autonomy……………………..

Learning Strategies…………………………………………………………

Raising Awareness………………………………………………………….

Conclusion…………………………………………………………………….

Chapter III: RECENT STUDIES ON TEACHING/LEARNING VOCABULARY………….

3.1 Cem Balcikanli (2008)…………………………………………..........

3.2 Chen Wei (2008)………………………………………………………

3.3 Joanne Yim Ping Chuk (2004)………………………………………………

Chapter IV: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

4.1 Purpose of Study……………………………………………………………..

4.2 Research Questions………………………………………………….

4.3 Research Hypothesis...……………………………………………………..

4.4 Research Design and Methodology……………………………………….

4.4.1 Participants……………………………………………...

4.4.2 Materials………………………………………………...

4.4.3 Procedures………………………………………………

4.4.4 Instruments……………………………………………...

Chapter V: ANALYSIS OF RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS……………………………..

5.1 Students' Questionnaire……………………………………………..

5.1.1 Analysis of the Results of Students' Questionnaire…….

5.2 Teachers' Questionnaire……………………………………………..

5.2.1 Analysis of the Results of Teachers' Questionnaire at South East

European University (SEEU)……………………………..

5.3 Learner Record………………………………………………………...

5.3.1 Analysis of the Results Obtained from Learner Record.….

5.4 Comparison of Results…………………………………………………

Chapter VI: CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS………………………………….

Chapter VII: LIMITATIONS OF STUDY……………………………………………...

REFERENCES………………………………………………………………………………………..

APPENDICES………………………………………………………………………………………...