1 The issue of power and control shift

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1 The issue of power and control shift in constructing learner autonomy in Chinese

1 The issue of power and control shift in constructing learner autonomy in Chinese language classrooms Ph. D candidate: Wang Yi Chief supervisor: Dr Roger Barnard General and Applied Linguistics University of Waikato, New Zealand 13 -06 -2014

2 Overview v Why this research v Research questions v About the research setting

2 Overview v Why this research v Research questions v About the research setting v Participants and methods v Findings v Discussions and implications

3 Why this research For long-term personal development, one depends on no one better

3 Why this research For long-term personal development, one depends on no one better than himself or herself.

4 • The <Chinese curriculum> reform (2001) aims to establish a curriculum that •

4 • The reform (2001) aims to establish a curriculum that • develops students’ positive attitudes, thinking skills, practical abilities, cultural awareness and autonomy through the language learning process. § Teachers should … § provide students ample opportunities to collaborate with others and become autonomous learners, § give students plenty of space for self-development, § encourage learners to develop their language skills through experiential, practical, collaborative and inquiry-based learning, § create conditions that allow students to explore … and solve problems by themselves. (Chinese Ministry of Education, 2003)

5 § In the field of teacher education, it is well established that teachers’

5 § In the field of teacher education, it is well established that teachers’ understanding of a notion plays a crucial role in its implementation in the classroom. (Wedell, 2009) § With research into learner autonomy, while much has been studied and written, teachers’ perspectives on what autonomy means have not been awarded much attention. (Borg & Al-Busaidi, 2012)

6 Notion of learner autonomy § “the ability to take charge of one’s own

6 Notion of learner autonomy § “the ability to take charge of one’s own learning” (Holec, 1981, p. 3) § “the capacity to take control of one’s own learning” (Benson, 2001, p. 47) § “not a single, easily describable behaviour” (Little, 1990, p. 7) § For effective research and classroom practice, it must be describable in terms of observable behaviours. (Benson, 2001) - Learning management • Three dimensions of control - Cognitive processing - Learning content

7 Power and control shift in classroom § As classroom is a ‘social context’

7 Power and control shift in classroom § As classroom is a ‘social context’ for learning and communication (Breen, 1986; Breen and Candlin, 1980), autonomy could be developed by a shift in relationships of power and control within the classroom (Benson, 2011, p. 15). § No empirical studies have been found focusing on such control and power shift in everyday classrooms in the Asian context, particularly from the perspective of teacher cognition and practice.

8 Research questions 1. To what extent and in what ways was control and

8 Research questions 1. To what extent and in what ways was control and power shift reflected in language learning in the given context? 2. To what extent were the teachers aware of such shift in their classroom practices, and how did they perceive this?

9 The school in study ZB § The study was conducted in a private

9 The school in study ZB § The study was conducted in a private secondary school in China, which was established in 2009. § The principal as well as the founder was a well-recognised educator in China with overseas educational background and successful experience in school administration. § Student autonomous development was a key school value at ZB. § A new director was recruited when the data collection was to start, who the principal spoke highly of as the “sought and found” person to realise the school vision of “Student Development No 1”.

10 The participants • The school principal The school as a “case” • The

10 The participants • The school principal The school as a “case” • The new director • 9 English teachers

11 Data collection methods • Observations • Post-lesson discussions • Interviews • Documentary analysis

11 Data collection methods • Observations • Post-lesson discussions • Interviews • Documentary analysis

12 interpretative paradigm case study the school principal the school director 9 English teachers

12 interpretative paradigm case study the school principal the school director 9 English teachers 1 interview & public talks 2 interviews & teacher training materails 22 observations, 14 post-lesson discussions, 9 interviews, teaching materials, & students’ works grounded analysis (Charmaz, 2006) Let data talk, and themes emerge.

13 Findings _ The school autonomy project • An innovative project was in progress

13 Findings _ The school autonomy project • An innovative project was in progress at ZB at the time of the study, promoting learner autonomy with a suggested instructional model entitled “Autonomous and Collaborative Learning Class Model” ss self-study ss sharing learning in groups through discussion group presentation ss sharing learning in class through presentation peer feedback ss self-internailisation peer evaluation (Summarised from Interview 1 with the school director )

14 The control issues involved in the project • For students • Group-based learning

14 The control issues involved in the project • For students • Group-based learning & management • Performance points • For teachers • One-week training • Group – lesson planning (Learning Guide) • Peer observation and peer evaluation (10 -item Teaching Standards) • Peer feedback-giving • Teaching competition

15 Findings _ The principal’s voice • “To cultivate learner autonomy, teachers must trust

15 Findings _ The principal’s voice • “To cultivate learner autonomy, teachers must trust students and let them go and try. Freedom is essential, and teachers must let go some control for students”. (Interview with the principal) • “For autonomy, I don’t believe in any model. In fact, the forming of any model has gone against the nature of autonomy. However, there is valuable element in this model, and my way is to let him (the school director as well as project leader) go and see how it goes”. (Interview with the principal)

16 Findings Teachers’ practices and perceptions in relation to control and power shift

16 Findings Teachers’ practices and perceptions in relation to control and power shift

17 Overview of classroom activities 45. 00 40. 00 35. 00 30. 00 25.

17 Overview of classroom activities 45. 00 40. 00 35. 00 30. 00 25. 00 20. 00 15. 00 10. 00 5. 00 0. 00 1. 1 1. 2 1. 3 1. 4 2. 1 2. 2 3. 1 3. 2 3. 3 4. 1 Beginning-of-class presentations Group work Student-fronted lessons 4. 2 5. 1 5. 2 5. 3 6. 1 6. 2 7. 1 Self-study session Pair work 7. 2 8. 1 8. 2 9. 1 9. 2

18 Overview of classroom activities 45. 00 40. 00 Learning a language is like

18 Overview of classroom activities 45. 00 40. 00 Learning a language is like learning playing a game. The best way to learn it is by playing it. Coaching is helpful, but coaching alone does not work. 35. 00 - It is evidenced that for a considerable amount of class time, students were “playing”, rather than listening to the teacher coaching. 30. 00 25. 00 20. 00 15. 00 - It also shows that students were “playing” both individually and collaboratively with peers. 10. 00 5. 00 0. 00 1. 1 1. 2 1. 3 1. 4 2. 1 2. 2 3. 1 3. 2 3. 3 4. 1 4. 2 5. 1 5. 2 5. 3 6. 1 6. 2 7. 1 7. 2 8. 1 8. 2 9. 1 9. 2 Beginning-of-class presentations Self-study session Group work Pair work Student-fronted lessons - Students’ “playing” time varied significantly, from less than five minutes to the whole class session.

Beginning-of-class presentations 10. 00 9. 00 8. 00 7. 00 6. 00 5. 00

Beginning-of-class presentations 10. 00 9. 00 8. 00 7. 00 6. 00 5. 00 4. 00 3. 00 2. 00 1. 00 0. 00 X 1. 1 1. 2 1. 3 1. 4 2. 1 2. 2 3. 1 3. 2 3. 3 4. 1 4. 2 About this activity - At the beginning of the class - Supposed to take 3 -5 minutes - Not a school required activity 5. 1 5. 2 5. 3 6. 1 6. 2 7. 1 7. 2 8. 1 8. 2 9. 1 9. 2 Evidence of student control - Presenters choosing their own materials (T 1, T 3, T 5, T 8) - Presenters creating their materials (T 9) - Ss negotiating with T who to present what (T 2, T 4) - Presenters teaching the class new vocabulary (T 1, T 3, T 5, T 8) - Common practice of 8/9 ts - Consistent in 3/9 ts - Presenters and ss asking and answering questions (T 1, T 3, T 5, T 8) - Ss giving presenters critical comments (T 1, T 3, T 4, T 6) - Ss-T co-evaluating the presentations (T 1, T 9) - Team presenting (T 4, T 8, T 9)

Beginning-of-class presentations 10. 00 X 5. 00 0. 00 1. 1 1. 2 1.

Beginning-of-class presentations 10. 00 X 5. 00 0. 00 1. 1 1. 2 1. 3 1. 4 2. 1 2. 2 3. 1 3. 2 3. 3 4. 1 4. 2 …I let them choose any topic freely, so they’re interested. They want to show the best of themselves, and they really put efforts in it. They come to ask questions or check pronunciation, etc. (T 1, T 3, T 8) I let you go. I know I’m doing. … I let studentswhat decide who to recite which text. They feel empowered and get excited. I trust them. They choose tough work to challenge each other. (T 2) … They are keen to do more because they earn points for the job done, and they keep checking their points. (T 4) 5. 1 5. 2 5. 3 6. 1 6. 2 7. 1 7. 2 8. 1 8. 2 9. 1 9. 2 … Students choose their own materials, but I ask them to come to me for a training before they I let you go, present, pronunciation, intonation and emotions in but… the text. They don’t know how to deal with those. I must train them first. They pass my training, then I let them go. (T 6) … Why have I invited students to mark the Well, I don’t presentation together? Well, I didn’t think much. know Just a bit fun, otherwise they are bored. (T 9) … Well, just to enlarge their vocabulary, nothing much… maybe, yeah, they want to show well, so they try to understand. Ah wellha… first… right, to get them more autonomous, actually this is a focus of mine… (T 3)

21 Teachers’ awareness of their practices Doing with explicit knowing Doing with implicit knowing

21 Teachers’ awareness of their practices Doing with explicit knowing Doing with implicit knowing Doing with casual knowing Contradictory doing and thinking

22 Doing with explicit knowing (T 2) v Episode 1: T 2 invited ss

22 Doing with explicit knowing (T 2) v Episode 1: T 2 invited ss to make decision about which student from which group to recite which lesson from which unit. Ss looked excited, called out numbers and names and negotiated for agreement. When asked about the rationale for the classroom actions, T 2 gave quick, clear and firm answers. • I: It seems it's the students who decided which part of the text to be checked, why that? • T 2: They choose the most difficult section to challenge . • I: Do you have the concern that they would choose easy stuff and may not meet your requirements? • T 2: no, they won't. I have taught them for a year. We have the connection. They are ‘upward-working’ students. I trust them.

23 Doing with implicit knowing (T 3) v Episode 2: In T 3’s lesson,

23 Doing with implicit knowing (T 3) v Episode 2: In T 3’s lesson, the presenter taught the class some new words, delivered a short speech and led an asking-and answering session. However… • • • • Initial thinking T 3: The purpose of this… one is vocabulary, and the other is listening…. That’s all. I: How do they think their engagement is affected? T 3: I think…he…should…I think, …actually I don’t know … I: As you said, it’s free talk, you won’t limit him, right? Before prompting T 3: No, I won’t. He can talk whatever he likes. I: Then is he more willing to participate, compared to you giving him a material? T 3: En, right, right. I: Is it that the student himself choose materials? T 3: Right. He, autonomous. As to problems, in the process of his preparation, if having problems, he came to ask me, before class. During prompting I: He went to you? T 3: Right. For example, some new words, how to read …he came to me for help, then he was ok, then he went to teach the class. I: He stood in the front, do you think he felt like a teacher? {laugh} T 3: I think I’m consciously developing this aspect. . . This is actually a focus of this training. After prompting

24 Doing with casual thinking (T 9) v Episode 3: When two groups of

24 Doing with casual thinking (T 9) v Episode 3: When two groups of students finished presenting their selfcreated conversations, T 9 asked the class how many points should be given to each group. Given the power she offered to students to make a judgment and the critical thinking it involved, the LA-oriented element was obvious. However… • T 9: …actually I didn’t think much, sometimes ss say, this or that’s unfair, so occasionally I interact with them a bit, get them a bit more active, sometimes I just write a mark directly, as it’s hard to get them all agree. • T 9: Maybe he felt fun to ‘mark’ others. • I: Maybe he felt quite some authoritative, yeah? • T 9: er … it’s an open lesson, thinking they might be nervous, just to relax them a bit, I didn’t think much.

25 Contradictory doing and thinking (T 6) v Episode 4: T 6 claimed she

25 Contradictory doing and thinking (T 6) v Episode 4: T 6 claimed she believed in LA and would surely give students opportunities to explore and find solutions, and she did provide such opportunities in her lessons. However … • T 6: Students have great potential, … as long as you teach him the right stuff, as long as he does it as told, he will do it very well. I surely give him the opportunity to comment, how well this student did, …let him say first, let him make an analysis, what he thinks we should do, we’ll do it, as long as it’s ok. Teaching is the same, let him say first, his feeling. . . actually in last lesson, you see, he couldn’t say much stuff, he couldn’t get the point at all.

26 Teachers’ awareness of their practices Doing with explicit knowing Doing with implicit knowing

26 Teachers’ awareness of their practices Doing with explicit knowing Doing with implicit knowing Doing with casual knowing Contradictory doing and thinking

27 Group work 25. 00 20. 00 15. 00 10. 00 5. 00 0.

27 Group work 25. 00 20. 00 15. 00 10. 00 5. 00 0. 00 1. 1 1. 2 1. 3 1. 4 2. 1 2. 2 3. 1 3. 2 3. 3 4. 1 4. 2 5. 1 5. 2 5. 3 6. 1 6. 2 7. 1 7. 2 8. 1 8. 2 9. 1 9. 2 • Doing gap-filling vocabulary / grammar exercises About this activity - Identified by the name of closed-ended, and • Finding. More information from the text less authentic • Peer-checking grammar language rules group work use points • Peer-teaching language Suggested by the school • Summarising grammar rules project leader • Discussing the given questions Common practice of 9/9 ts • Making a dialogue based on the learned ones - Consistent in 9/9 ts - Time taken ranged from more than 20 to less than 1 minute. More open-ended, and more authentic language Rewriting a paragraph use • Conducting a survey • • Peer-review of each other’s writing • Co-creating a story

28 Group work 25. 00 20. 00 15. 00 10. 00 5. 00 0.

28 Group work 25. 00 20. 00 15. 00 10. 00 5. 00 0. 00 1. 1 1. 2 1. 3 1. 4 2. 1 2. 2 3. 1 3. 2 3. 3 4. 1 4. 2 5. 1 5. 2 5. 3 6. 1 6. 2 7. 1 7. 2 8. 1 8. 2 9. 1 9. 2 Students worked in groups Students group presented by writing on the blackboard Students group presented by speaking to class Peer students gave critical/additional comments T/ss co-evaluated the presented group work T: … you can discuss in groups… SS: T: OK, let’s come back…

Group work 25. 00 20. 00 15. 00 10. 00 5. 00 0. 00

Group work 25. 00 20. 00 15. 00 10. 00 5. 00 0. 00 1. 1 1. 2 1. 3 1. 4 2. 1 2. 2 3. 1 3. 2 3. 3 4. 1 4. 2 In groups, they have a sense of group Ss taking morestudents try to honour. The more able responsibility help those less able ones. Actually they take over some of my jobs. (T 1) 5. 1 5. 2 5. 3 6. 1 6. 2 7. 1 7. 2 8. 1 8. 2 9. 1 9. 2 That boy is quite stubborn, very different. T-ss tug of war for I’ve tried all means controlbut still can’t control him… Maybe subconsciously I’m quite dominant. I just think, I must straighten They don’t just listen to me passively. Ssmoreengaged. They think They are more actively. (T 1, T 3) him out! (T 3) … well, that didn’t work well. I should T pushing ss to work have given then a push… push again if I don’t worry about their mistakes. They there was still no response… (T 6) T tolerance of trial and error learn from mistakes. (T 3)

30 Tug of war between T & SS • Episode 5: post-lesson discussion of

30 Tug of war between T & SS • Episode 5: post-lesson discussion of Lesson 1 of T 3 • My consideration is, …to develop such a teaching way…this student is relatively slow in the class, … he is very different from others. … He is quite stubborn. Actually, as the home teacher, I have been studying the way of educating him, what his mental activities are like. Whenever I talked to him, “yes, good, ok’ he would say, but he just won’t do it …I think he didn’t get it, he must be very nervous, see, so many teachers were observing … he is not that smart. … maybe he got it, but he was not confident enough, …educating him is quite a headache. I’ve talked to his mum, …probably, subconsciously, maybe because I’m quite dominating, I can’t ‘straighten’ him out. I’ve tried all sorts of ways, still I can’t ‘control’ him. In my inner heart, I just think, ‘I must …straighten you out’. I don’t know whether it’s right or not, but that’s my thinking. Actually, that’s what’s reflected in the class… actually my way of management was in there. …You know other students in the class all laugh at him, because he, anything, he is just in a different manner…nothing shaped yet, I’m still studying how to educate him.

31 T pushing ss to work collaboratively • Episode 6: post-lesson discussion of Lesson

31 T pushing ss to work collaboratively • Episode 6: post-lesson discussion of Lesson 1 of T 6 • I: when you said ‘you can discuss in your groups’, what were you • • • thinking then? T 6: I had a patrol around, seeing some slow students hadn’t finished yet. I have a same principle as the school’s, that is, not to leave one student out. I was hoping those early finishers could help the few slow ones. I: Did that happen as you expected? T 6: No, no discussion. The actual operation was not good at all. I: Reflecting on that now, what do you reckon caused that? T 6: I should have given then a push, ‘discuss quickly’; another push if no response ‘why still no discussion? ’; if still nothing happened, I would say ‘deduct your performance marks, if still not to start’. The ‘marks’ is the best weapon. {laugh}

32 Student-fronted lessons 45. 00 - Don’t want to listen to me? 40. 00

32 Student-fronted lessons 45. 00 - Don’t want to listen to me? 40. 00 - Ok, you have a go! - How is it going? 35. 00 - Not perfect, but not bad. I believe you’re fine. 30. 00 - Let’s do more! Ss have great potential. As long as you TEACH him the right stuff, as long as he acts as told, he’ ll surely do well. I certainly give them opportunity, but you see, they couldn’t say much, they couldn’t get the point at all! 25. 00 - You look bored with my lecturing. - Sth different? But are you ok? 15. 00 - Let’ s have a try, but take this guide with you in case you get lost. 10. 00 - How is it going? -5. 00 Oh, no, you’re not really fine. - What’s next? ? ? 20. 00 1. 1 1. 2 1. 3 1. 4 2. 1 2. 2 3. 1 3. 2 3. 3 4. 1 4. 2 5. 1 5. 2 5. 3 6. 1 6. 2 7. 1 7. 2 8. 1 8. 2 9. 1 9. 2

33 Self-study session T 7: I prefer ss working on their own to find

33 Self-study session T 7: I prefer ss working on their own to find out the answers. Once you get them into groups, they tend to grab an answer from others, not to think much then. 30. 00 25. 00 20. 00 T 2: I do get ss work on their own a lot. Collaboration is important of course, but independent learning first makes better collaboration. 15. 00 10. 00 5. 00 0. 00 1. 1 1. 2 1. 3 1. 4 2. 1 2. 2 3. 1 3. 2 3. 3 4. 1 4. 2 5. 1 5. 2 5. 3 6. 1 6. 2 7. 1 7. 2 8. 1 8. 2 9. 1 9. 2

34 Pair work 16 The follow-up of ss individual work, e. g. “talk to

34 Pair work 16 The follow-up of ss individual work, e. g. “talk to yourself first, and then talk to your partner”, with some authentic language use. 14 12 10 mostly ss drilling, limited space for ss control. 8 6 4 2 0 1. 1 1. 2 1. 1 1. 3 1. 2 1. 4 1. 3 2. 1 1. 4 2. 2 2. 1 2. 2 3. 1 3. 2 3. 3 4. 1 4. 2 5. 1 5. 2 5. 3 6. 1 6. 2 7. 1 7. 2 8. 1 8. 2 9. 1 9. 2

35 Summary of findings 1. To what extent and in what ways was control

35 Summary of findings 1. To what extent and in what ways was control and power shift reflected in language learning in the given context? § Sign of control and power shift from teacher to students was seen in most of the observed lessons, but the extent of such shift varied from lesson to lesson and from teacher to teacher. Sign of false empowerment was detected, in which the teacher relinquished control to students on the surface, but withdrew it in actuality. § Students were seen taking control in various activities such as giving presentations, studying by themselves, doing pair or group work, and even playing the role of the teacher. However, the extent to which these activities were autonomy-oriented varied, depending on the open-endedness of the tasks/questions involved and the degree of authentic language use.

36 Summary of findings To what extent were the teachers aware of such shift

36 Summary of findings To what extent were the teachers aware of such shift in their classroom practices, and how did they perceive this? 2. § Teachers’ awareness of the control and power shift in their practice varied considerably, ranging from fully conscious to almost unconscious. Contradictory cognitions and practices were detected in some teachers. § Teachers’ perceptions of the control and power shift in their practices also varied considerably. The most significant differences were the degree of trust that teachers held in their students’ abilities for taking such control, and accordingly the degree of teachers’ support or intervention.

37 Discussions and implications • The study provides an example of weak version of

37 Discussions and implications • The study provides an example of weak version of autonomy (Smith, 2003) in classroom, which shows that autonomy can be usable in everyday instruction without necessarily challenging the constraints of classroom and curriculum organization to which they are subject (Benson, 2007). • The findings demonstrate that teachers can relinquish a certain degree of control to students over learning management, cognitive processing and learning content (Benson, 2001) in everyday classroom. Collaborative control (White, 2003) is feasible between learners and teachers and between learners and learners. • The findings display the complexity and the uniqueness of each individual teacher’s cognitions and classroom practices, and the significant impact of the former on the latter (Borg, 2006).

38 Discussions and implications • The variety and divergences shown in teachers’ understandings and

38 Discussions and implications • The variety and divergences shown in teachers’ understandings and practices about developing learner autonomy questions the value and necessity of an instructional MODEL. The evidence of “false empowerment” implies a more urgent need for a real understanding of the notion of autonomy than a blind implementation in some superficial ‘seeming-autonomy-oriented’ forms. • The findings provide real-world pictures of teachers’ practices of developing learner autonomy, which differs to an extent from the selfreported practices reported in previous studies in this area. This resonates Borg’s (2006) warnings of the risk of teacher cognition research without observed classroom data, and calls for the methodological amendment in this respect.

39 References • Benson, P. (2001). Teaching and researching autonomy in language learning. London:

39 References • Benson, P. (2001). Teaching and researching autonomy in language learning. London: Longman. • Benson, P. (2007). Autonomy in language teaching and learning. Language Teaching, 40(1), 21 -40. • Benson, P. (2011). Teaching and Researching Autonomy (2 ed. ). London, England: Pearson. • Borg, S. (2006). Teacher cognition and language education: research and practice. London, • • England: Continuum. Borg, S. , & Al-Busaidi, S. (2012). Teachers' beliefs and practices regarding learner autonomy. ELT Journal, 66(3), 283 -292. 1093/elt/ccr 065 Breen, M. P. (1986). The social context of language learning: A neglected situation. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 7, 135 -158. Breen, M. P. , & Candlin, C. (1980). The essentials of a communicative curriculum in language teaching. Applied Linguistics, 1(2), 89 -112. Holec, H. (1981). Autonomy and foreign language learning. Oxford, England: Pergamon. Little, D. (1990). Autonomy in language learning. In I. Gathercole (Ed. ), Autonomy in language learning (pp. 7 -15). London, England: CILT. Wedell, M. (2009). Planning educational change: Putting people and their contexts first. London, England: Continuum. White, C. (2003). Language learning in distance education. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

40 Wang Yi yw 329@Waikato. ac. nz

40 Wang Yi yw [email protected] ac. nz