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Title: THE 4TH ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL TESOL CONFERENCE Ho Chi Minh city, 29-31 August 2013


1
THE 4TH ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL TESOL
CONFERENCE Ho Chi Minh city, 29-31
August 2013
FOSTERING LEARNER AUTONOMY THROUGH FORMATIVE
ASSESSMENT ACTIVITIES IN A CRITICAL READING
CLASS
  • Tr?nh Ng?c Anh M.A
  • Banking Academy of Viet Nam
  • ngocanh1211_at_gmail.com

2
ABSTRACT
This paper ultimately aims to highlight the
interdependent bond between Learner Autonomy (LA)
and Formative Assessment (FA) activities within
the discipline of Critical Reading taught to
English-major students at Banking Academy of Viet
Nam. It commences with theoretical insights into
the notions of LA and FA on the sound basis of
related research, and subsequently deals with a
number of following tasks (1) describing the
implementation process of FA  in teaching and
learning practices within and out of classroom,
which plays as a crucial setting for the
enhancement of LA (2) exploring the facets of
LA through a set of the mentioned strategies.(3)
proposing several recommendations to create the
most fruitful conditions for LA to flourish. In
order to well address these issues, three surveys
of Pre-treatment, While-treatment and
Post-treatment were administered to 80 students
of three Critical reading classes at different
points of time within the course. The findings
suggest that students autonomous learning has
been gradually progressed during the course, in
particular when undertaking FA tasks. In turn,
the efficiency of FA could be, to certain extent,
valued by the degree of LA in learning
performances. What is more, institutional and
teacher factors that are likely to hinder the
development of LA are also clarified.
3
PRESENTATION OUTLINE
Introduction to the research context
Literature review
The bond between FA and LA
5
QA
4
I. Introduction to the research context
  • I.1. Student background
  • 80 students of
    post-intermediate level in 3 classes
  • have mastered basic and IELTS reading skills
    through 2 previous modules.
  • have possessed a team working capacity
  • have owned paragraph writing skill
  • I.2. Module introduction (see the handout 1)
  • Module aims To enable students to
  • develop their critical skills (i.e. analysis,
    synthesis and evaluation) through academic
    reading concepts (i.e. rhetorical devices, facts,
    opinions, tone, purpose, bias, argument)
  • foster their understanding of more complicated
    literature patterns
  • exercise their critical skills in the study of
    other disciplines

5
I. Introduction to the research context
  • Teaching Learning
  • Under the employment of formative
    assessment strategies
  • Alternation between lecture time and practice
    time
  • Alternation between independent and collaborative
    learning modes
  • Frequent use of questioning and discussion
  • Frequent use of mini-test

6
I. Introduction to the research context
  • Module assessment

Items and weight Description
Attendance Participation (10) Individual research on weekly theories In-class activities involvement
Mid-term test 1 (15) The average of 4 mini-tests
Mid-term test 2 (15) Group work performance reading sharing 4 paragraphs of reading reflection reading tasks fulfillment
Final Test (60) Final test
7
GUIDE TO GROUP WORK PERFORMANCE
TASKS (each group of 3) TASKS (each group of 3)
THE HOST THE READERS
- Choose a reading text from various sources, do their critical reading at home, bring the text to class and share with other groups in W6,10,14. Brainstorm several follow-up questions (2-4) based on the reading text to raise other groups critical thinking and reading skills - Discuss and do critical reading and answer questions from the host group.
MARKING CRITERIA MARKING CRITERIA
- Reading content, length (relevant, suitable to input knowledge) - Quality of question items - Quality of reading reflection - Degree and quality of task involvement
8

II. Literature
review II. 1. Learner Autonomy (LA)
  • Definitions
  • the ability to take charge of ones learning
  • to have, and to hold all the responsibility for
    all the decisions concerning all aspects of this
    learning
  • determining the objectives
  • defining the contents and progressions
  • selecting methods and techniques to be used
  • monitoring the procedure of acquisition properly
    speaking (rhythm, time, place, etc)
  • evaluating what has been acquired

  • (Holec, 1981, p.3, as cited in Nguyen, 2011)

9

II. Literature
review II. 1. Learner Autonomy (LA)
  • Definitions
  • as the capacity to take control over ones own
    learning
  • as a multidimensional capacity in different forms
    for different individuals, and for the same
    individuals this capacity may differ depending on
    the context.
  • does not mean learning in isolation without peers
    and a teacher, but develop a sense of
    interdependence towards shared goals

  • (Benson, 2001, p.
    2)

10
II. Literature
review II. 1. Learner Autonomy (LA)
  • Definitions
  • ability and willingness to make choices
    independently (Littlewood, 1996, p. 97)
  • capacity for detachment, critical reflection,
    decision-making, and independent action (Little,
    1991, p. 4)
  • ability to learn without the involvement of a
    teacher (Dickinson, 1987, p. 11)

11
II. Literature
review II. 1. Learner Autonomy
(LA)
  • The researchers mention different
    attributes of LA but hold the same view on the
    central one which is the self- awareness,
    self-responsibility and the aptitude of
    directing, regulating and managing ones own
    learning process.
  • Multiple variations in defining LA under
    four main different perspectives psychological,
    technical, socio-cultural and political-critical
    (Benson, 1997, 2006 Healy, 2007 Sin-clair,
    2000 Oxford, 2003 as cited in Dang, 2012).

12
In the
current paper, LA is
  • defined as the faculty of self- monitoring,
    self-regulating, self-evaluating of and self-
    reflecting upon learning products, progress and
    outcomes through formative assessment practices
    in collaboration with peers as well as under
    teacher facilitation.
  • linked closely with autonomous learning
  • (since once learners exercise their autonomy
    in their learning, learning has become autonomous
    and vice versa)

13
II. Literature
review II. 1. Learner Autonomy
(LA)
  • Benefits
  • learners active participation in classroom
    activities (Benson, 2007 Dam, 1995 Dang, 2012
    Natri, 2007 Nunes, 2004 Rao, 2005 Nguyen,
    2009,)
  • increased learner motivation (Lee, 1996
    Tagaki,2003, as cited in Nguyen, 2009)
  • enhanced responsibility for learning (Cunningham
    Carlton, 2003 Mizuki, 2003 Stephenson
    Kohyama,2003, as cited in ibid)
  • advanced language proficiency (Champagne et al.,
    2001 Dam Legenhausen, 1996 Dafei, 2007
    Little, 2007)

14
II. Literature
review II. 2. Formative Assessment
(FA)
  • Definitions
  • encompasses all activities undertaken by teachers
    and/ or by students to generate feedbacks on
    performance to accelerate learning and modify
    teaching (Sadler, 1998 cited in Mwebaza, 2005).
  • What makes formative assessment formative is
    that it is immediately used to make adjustments
    so as to form new learning (Shepard , 2008, p.
    281)

15
II. Literature
review II. 2. Formative Assessment
(FA)
  • Definitions
  • a sort of AFL which is defined as the process of
    seeking and interpreting evidence for use by
    learners and their teachers to decide where the
    learners are in their learning, where they need
    to go next, and how best to get them there ( as
    cited in the booklet Assessment for Learning
    10 principles (2002) by The Assessment Reform
    Group, UK)
  • an integral part of the learning and teaching
    process, and evidence is actually used to modify
    teaching to meet students needs and improve
    learning (Black William ,1998)

16
Summative Assessment (SA) v.s Formative
Assessment (FA)
  • SA
  • FA
  • provides an overall picture of student
    competence and program effectiveness for the main
    purpose of making final judgments
  • places a stress on the end product of learning
  • allows learners to attain more opportunities for
    self-regulated learning and learning ownership
    since they are actively involved in shaping
    subsequent steps of learning (Black and William,
    1998).
  • places a stress on the process of learning and
    deals with informing the learning progress and
    teaching efficacy through evidence of feedback.

17
II. Literature
review II. 2. Formative Assessment
(FA)
  • shows more remarkable strengths in benefiting
    learners, teachers and administrative bodies.
  • functions as directions for teaching and learning
    through providing feedbacks.

18

The bond between LA and FA
  • LA and FA share a striking attribute that
    nominates learners to the spotlight and helps
    advance learning process.

  • HOWEVER,
  • Little emphasis has been placed on this bond,
    hence, quite a few studies on LA in connection
    with Assessment have been conducted. The reason
    may lie in the common assumption that LA is
    boosted through learning practices detaching from
    assessment.

19
II. Literature
review II.3. Critical Reading
  • Definitions
  • an analytic activity in which readers identify
    patterns of elements - information, values,
    assumptions, and language usage throughout the
    discussion. These elements are tied together in
    an interpretation, an assertion of an underlying
    meaning of the text as a whole (Kurlan, D.,
    2000).
  • a more active way of reading. It is a deeper and
    more complex engagement with a text. It involves
    a process of analyzing, interpreting and,
    sometimes evaluating the larger meanings of a
    text and how those meanings are created by the
    text (Duncan, J. (2004)

20
II. Literature
review II.3. Critical Reading
  • Critical Reading is closely connected
    with higher-order thinking skill and requires
    much mental power. It is not merely the task of
    reading for memorizing bits of information and
    knowledge, but the act of analyzing and
    evaluating what you are reading as you progress,
    or as you reflect back (Flemming, G., 2005)

21
III. The bond between FA and LA
  • III. 1. FA activities - degree of
    frequency - facets of LA
  • ( Please see further in the
    handout )

FA activities Degree of Frequency Facets of LA
1. Discussion (built based on self-study activity) Very often (Every lecture time) learning responsibility and independence
2. Mini-test Often (Every 4 weeks) awareness of current learning level and the ways to better future learning
3. Critical reading interchange (sharing, questioning, answering, reflecting) Often (Every 4 -5 weeks) learning control and management (choosing and creating learning materials, interacting and collaborating with peers)
4. Portfolio Very often evaluating learning progress and process learning responsibility planning ahead
22
III. The bond between FA and
LAIII.2. Discussion from survey findings
  • LA , in the present paper , could be
    viewed under three following perspectives
  • Psychological Perspective (Benson, 2006) a
    capacity of initiating, monitoring and regularly
    evaluating their learning process (Little, 1990,
    2003, as cited in Dang, 2010, p. 3) with clear
    objectives and goals set in advance (Purdie,
    Hattie, Douglas, 1996 Schunk Zimmerman, 1994,
    as cited in ibid). Additionally, a critical
    reflection upon created materials , course, and
    quests for significant changes (Rivers, 2001, as
    cited in ibid)
  • Technical Perspective (Benson, 2006) a
    situation where learners are completely
    responsible for the performance of their learning
    activities (Dickinson, 1987, as cited in ibid)
    and free with abundant resource choices.
  • Sociocutural perspective (Benson, 2006 Oxford,
    2003) a socially-shaped variable (Smith
    Ushioda, 2009, as cited in ibid) constructed
    during students negotiation with learning
    environment in which exists the teacher and
    peers.

23
III. The bond between FA and LAIII.3.
Module students as autonomous learners
  • The students in the case are characterised as
    autonomous learners who
  • have experienced a gradual shift from reactive
    autonomy to proactive autonomy (Littlewood, 1999)
  • own a range of following characteristics being
    ready to cope with learning challenges, taking
    control of their own learning by choosing and
    creating learning materials, evaluating their
    learning progress and process, interacting and
    collaborating with peers.

24
III. The bond between FA
and LAIII.3. Module students as autonomous
learners
These attributes of autonomous learners in the
current study share some similarities with what
put forward by Boud (1988) and Nunan (1997) when
they feature autonomous learners and the
development process of LA
Level Learner Action Content Process
1 Awareness Learners are made aware of the pedagogical goals and content of the materials they are using Learners identify strategy implications of pedagogical tasks and identify their own preferred learning styles/ strategies
2 Involvement Learners are involved in selecting their own goals from a range of alternatives on offer Learners make choices among a range of options
3 Intervention Learners are involved in modifying and adapting the goals and contents of the learning program. Learners modify/ adapt tasks
4 Creation Learners create their own goals and objectives Learners create their own tasks
5 Transcendence Learners go beyond the classroom and make links between the content of classroom learning and the world. Learners become teachers and researchers
(Nunans five- level model of LA - Nunan, 1997,
p. 195, as cited in Dang, 2012, p. 54)
25
IV. Recommendations and Conclusion
  • Like any East Asian learners of English as a
    foreign language, Vietnamese learners have with
    confronted with huge challenges in developing
    their learning autonomy due to the rigid
    top-down educational and training system as
    well as the conventional approach of teacher
    authority. Hence, as Littlewood(1999) claim they
    tend to demonstrate autonomy in the private
    rather than in the public domain.
  • Creating the environment for the flourish of LA
    is not an overnight job. It needs much in
    teachers perception and practice since the
    development of LA depends on the development of
    teacher autonomy (Little, 2000, p. 45), or as
    Breen (1997, p104) states that an essential
    precondition for the teacher to be able to foster
    autonomous learning is an explicit awareness of
    the teachers own self as a learner. Once the
    gap in the teaching and learning roles has been
    bridged, there will definitely be a rise in LA.

26
IV. Recommendations and Conclusion
  • Although the subject matter of LA has
    received increasing interest from worldwide and
    Vietnamese researchers, particular study cases
    have not been much investigated. This present
    paper aims to highlight the interdependent
    relationship between LA and FA in English
    language learning through illustrating a
    formative assessment framework of a discipline
    within a tertiary context. It is suggested that
    further studies place more emphasis on LA in
    practice in such specific cases so that teachers
    and other stakeholders could promote it through
    their practical work on a regular basis.

27
V. QA
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