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From collaborative group work to learner autonomy:  Chinese teachers' practices and beliefs


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Since the 2001 Curriculum Reform in China, collaborative groupwork has been widely promoted as a means to develop learner autonomy in English language classrooms. However, few empirical studies in China have investigated teachers’ practices or their beliefs about this issue. Similarly, although autonomy has been studied from various theoretical perspectives in the west, language teachers’ understandings about autonomy have not received much attention (Borg and Al-Busaidi, 2012).
This presentation reports an empirical study based in a private secondary school in northern China. 22 lessons by 9 teachers’ were observed to explore classroom practices of using the school-promoted model of collaborative group work to develop student autonomy, and these observations were followed up in individual interviews to elicit these teachers’ underlying beliefs.The data were subjected to a process of grounded analysis (Charmaz, 2006) to identify and then interpret key themes.
The findings showed that although collaborative group work was used in all the observed lessons, the teachers’ reflections on their practice revealed considerable differences in their understanding of the notions of autonomy and collaboration, and in the extent of their trust in students’ability to develop autonomy through group work. The study suggests that, in the implementation of a top-down policy for an educational reform, it is necessary for teachers to be shown practical ways by which the innovation can be implemented. However, it is also essential to identify the teachers’ existing beliefs about, and understandings of, the key elements of the innovation before it is implemented.

Item Type: Paper presented at a conference, workshop, or other event which was not published in the proceedings
Uncontrolled Keywords: Learner autonomy, teaching, Chinese teachers
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1028 Education Research
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2361 Curriculum
P Language and Literature > PE English
Divisions: Schools > Centre for Languages
Depositing User: Wang Yi
Date Deposited: 16 Jun 2017 01:03
Last Modified: 21 Jul 2023 04:41

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