An Evaluation of a Program for Intentional Learning: A Hybrid Approach to Fostering Learner Autonomy
AuthorWilliams, Veronika A.
support for ESL learners
Second Language Acquisition & Teaching
autonomous learning program
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
EmbargoRelease after 15-May-2017
AbstractThe concept of learner autonomy (LA) in second/foreign language education has been the central focus for many researchers (Benson, 2007, 2011, 2013; Holec, 1981; Gu & Nguyen, 2013; Little, 2007, 2009 and others) and has become a part of mainstream practice of language education in some educational contexts; however, there is still a high interest in researching language learner autonomy and ways to foster it. Partially, this renewed interest is due to advances in technology and pedagogy such as self-access centers, distance learning, blended learning and Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) in general and changes in educational policies (Benson 2011, 2013). Modern language learners are exposed to various choices in their language education such as numerous learning modes and a variety of language learning resources. However, this change means that learners must be capable of making informed decisions about their language education and taking some control over it in order to become successful and maximize their learning experience. There are examples of autonomous learning programs which place autonomy at the center, worldwide. Recently, the Center of English as a Second Language (CESL) at the University of Arizona (UA) created and implemented a new educational practice, Program for Intentional Learning (PIL). The goal of this program is to foster LA as well as equip CESL students with knowledge, skills, tools, and resources to be successful in both language learning and their future American college education. PIL is a hybrid program in terms of combining different approaches to fostering LA: resource-based, technology-based, curriculum-based, learner-based, and teacher-based (Benson, 2011).Responding to Benson's (2011) and Nguyen's (2012) call for more rigor in research on LA and educational interventions to promote LA, this dissertation follows the guidelines proposed by Nguyen (2012): a) having a clear operationalized definition of LA, (b) implementing both quantitative and qualitative research methods, and (c) piloting and validating tools. This dissertation examines the effectiveness of the PIL program in terms of its capacity to foster LA and to help CESL students to become more successful in learning English. The evaluation of the program was conducted as a multiple-case study of four participants with a mixed-method research design. The present study draws upon a main survey which measures a degree of LA as pre- and post-test, interviews with case study participants and their instructors, learning diary, and action plan comparison. Even though the comparison of pre- and post-survey scores revealed that only two case study participants had a significant change towards greater LA, all four participants reported changes in their learning behaviors. These changes point to a higher degree of LA, and all participants shared a positive overall evaluation of the PIL workshops. The study suggests that this type of educational intervention to promote LA can be effective, especially in developing metacognitive knowledge and skills, increasing participants' motivation and changing their attitude towards language learning and their teachers.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Second Language Acquisition & Teaching