K. Mullamaa

Tartu University (ESTONIA)
The presentation sums up some results of my recent case-study on student-centred learning and motivation. The goal of the study was to better understand what kind of teaching and cooperation model could enhance student motivation in our groups, with the goal of applying the results in our teaching (action research). Our research analyses the following aspects: What is the preferred learning model for the students in the respective groups ( students studying at the course Advanced English at our university) like? What motivates the students in the learning process? In which areas of learning and curriculum planning would students rather be autonomous and where do they expect teacher support? What are the capacities our youngsters see as essential in a modern teacher?

Methodology: The broader methodological framework is ethnographic research combined with the principles of action research. The study was carried out in the form of analysing student entries posted in our web-based discussion on the given topic. The official university e-learning platform( Moodle), and the tool Forum were used for receiving the student answers. The procedures for using this tool is familiar for students, as this is a standard routine for us when discussing some articles. They were informed of the fact that the article serves as just a prompt for their discussion, and that their answers on student- vs teacher-led teaching will be ( anonymously) used for research and the ensuing teaching-learning cooperation processes. All students participating gave their consent for this. After reading the article, students entered their comments on the topic in the Forum.Their task was to analyse their preferred learning pattern concerning student-centred and teacher-centred learning. Students entered their comments on the issue. Altogether 36 students ( out of 39) responded. The results were documented in the form of diachronically listed entries. The standpoints were labelled and divided into different categories . The qualitative data was analysed using the method of thematic patterning, the results were quantified. Students also participated in the live discussions, making the research three staged: a) preliminary live discussion in the classroom; b) on-line discussion; c) sum-up discussion in the classroom.The results of the case-study showed that although there were students who explicitly favoured only student-centred teaching, their number was surprisingly small. There were also students who explicitly favoured teacher-led classrooms. The vast majority, however, obtained a “middle stance”, stating there should be a good teacher planned and run framework, yet students individuality and freedom should be respected. Their further comments raise interesting points of discussion concerning the teacher-student roles, and student expectations on teachers.

As a theoretical background we resort to theories of motivation and research results on student-centred learning. Areas we focus on include: motivation, educational strategies to increase motivation, student-teacher roles, student autonomy. In the analysis of student-teacher cooperation we analyse the potential of educators to create a positive supportive climate for the learning ( affect and motivation, student emotions and teachers´ roles). The focus is on creating a positive cooperation model that encourages student initiative and responsibility for their life long learning.