PROMOTING AUTONOMY IN A FIRST SEMESTER MEIF GROUP AT THE LANGUAGE CENTER IN POZA RICA
Universidad Veracruzana (MEXICO)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN11 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Conference name: 3rd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2011
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:This study explores the process that a group of students experienced at the Language Center of the University of Veracruz in Poza Rica, Veracruz, Mexico while doing autonomous work in a Self-Access Center (SAC). The study focused on aspects such as students’s ideas and feelings about autonomy and independent work; students’s perceptions about SAC activities, problems and solutions; the role of learning styles and the use of metacognitive strategies, as well as teacher’s and students’s roles during the process. The study is an action research project which was carried out in an English as a Second Language group of beginners at the University of Veracruz who used the SAC for their autonomous work. It describes students’s perceptions of their process towards autonomy as well as their perceptions of themselves as more independent students and of their teacher’s role. The teacher trained them to become more independent through practice in the Self Access Center which is also known as CAA (Centro de Auto Acceso) and considering aspects such as learning styles and metacognitive strategies, as well as students’s needs, strengths and weaknesses. Students were given five tasks designed to help them achieve a higher level of autonomy. Information was gathered through a diary of field notes for the teacher as well as a questionnaire and interviews for students at the end of each task. The results show that the teacher’s intervention was essential in order to raise students’ awareness of the use of learning styles and metacognitive strategies, and as a scaffolding process that allowed students to work from basic to more complicated tasks. The process helped students to modify their own concept of autonomy and learn how to reach a higher level of independence. Full autonomy is a desirable but unrealistic ideal due to the fact that students do not become autonomous in a few weeks or even some months. Many students may have certain level of autonomy and become more autonomous by means of different elements in the process such as awareness of their capacities, skills and needs. Autonomy is a process in which students need to be active participants, but also a process which requires support from the teacher because at a certain stage they need some guidance, orientation and assessment.
Keywords: Autonomous work, Self Access Center (SAC), Learning styles, Metacognitive Strategies, teacher´s roles, students's roles, scaffolding process.