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SiSAL Journal Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2014, 1-7

Contents: Volume 5, Number 1, March 2014 Special issue on Directions in Self-Access Learning Edited by Neil Curry and Jo Mynard

Editorial: Directions in Self-Access Learning by Neil Curry and Jo Mynard (1-7)

Articles

Framing the Picture: A Preliminary Investigation into Experts Beliefs about the Roles and Purposes of Self-Access Centres by Diego Navarro (8-28)

Using CBT with Anxious Language Learners: The Potential Role of the Learning Advisor by Neil Curry (29-41)

Supporting a Physical Self-Access Centre with a Virtual Presence by Troy Rubesch and Keith Barrs (42-49)

Considering Peer Support for Self-access Learning by Craig Manning (5057)

Regular Column

Introduction by column editor, Katherine Thornton (58)

Piloting and Evaluating a Redesigned Self-Directed Learning Curriculum by Satoko Watkins, Neil Curry and Jo Mynard (58-78)

Announcements

Upcoming Special Issue: Call for papers Special Issue on Self-Regulation in Foreign Language Learning. December, 2014 (Volume 5, Issue 4) edited by Paul Collett and Kristen Sullivan. DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS: May 31st, 2014.

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2014, 1-7

Editorial: Directions in Self-Access Learning Neil Curry, Kanda University of International Studies, Japan Jo Mynard, Kanda University of International Studies, Japan

This special issue accompanies the Directions in Self-Access Learning symposium held at Kanda University of International Studies in on October 19th, 2013. The purpose of the event was to explore past, present and future directions of the field of self-access learning and was aimed at newcomers and veterans alike. For a summary of the presentations and themes explored during the symposium, please refer to McLoughlin (2014). This special issue continues the dialogue by examining several related themes, which are: the role and purpose of self-access, learner support, online presence, and learner involvement. The Role and Purpose of Self-Access The role and purpose of the self-access centre has certainly changed since the first facilities appeared in the 1970s. In those early days, SACs were often designed for students working alone on language exercises which teachers did not have time to cover in class. However, on the surface at least, there appears to have been little development in the field since the 1990s, when physical centres began to focus on the development of learner autonomy and to cater for different learner preferences, and include both social and individual learning opportunities. The first article in this special issue is by Diego Navarro who shares preliminary research into the role and purpose of contemporary selfaccess centres as envisaged by those involved in their organization and running in 38 different SACs worldwide. The purpose of the investigation was to gather beliefs not only about roles, but also about how learners should be involved in running SACs. The author hopes that his investigation will initiate discussion that will help to establish a code of practice for SACs, which will no doubt be of great help in future SAC directions.

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Learner Support and Advising Learner support is a theme that has occurred frequently in recent articles in SiSAL Journal, along with the importance of the role of the learning advisor. As we have argued previously, although resources are becoming easier to access, the role of the learning advisor is more important than ever in order to help learners to locate, select and use the resources meaningfully (Mynard, 2012). In addition, we should not underestimate the emotional aspects of learning a language. In the previous issue of SiSAL Journal (edited by Carol J. Everhard), Maria Giovanna Tassinari and Maud Ciekanski emphasized the importance of the affective dimension in self-access language learning, and noted that many learning advisors do not feel at ease dealing with the psychological aspects of learning (p. 272). In the present issue, Neil Curry continues these arguments in his paper and offers some practical ways forward. While working with learners suffering from Foreign Language Anxiety (FLA), the author is adapting tools more commonly used in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) in order to help the learners overcome their anxiety and work towards their language goals. His preliminary research findings show how some of the practices associated with CBT can be applied by Learning Advisors to help students to overcome FLA. Learner support might be provided in the first instance in the classroom, and in the regular column published in this special issue Satoko Watkins and her colleagues describe the phase of an ongoing project whereby compulsory self-directed skills are introduced to students during regular class time. The authors describe how the pilot was designed, how it was evaluated and the results of the research, which will be useful for the next stage of the project. Online Presence When thinking of future directions in self-access, clearly technology is going to play an enormous part. Some SALCs may already be technologically advanced or indeed, entirely virtual spaces already ‒ especially new projects that have leapfrogged previous iterations of a self-access centre that other more established centres have transitioned through. However, many SALCs - especially well-established ones with a strong social

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2014, 1-7 function - are likely to begin to incorporate new technologies and virtual spaces gradually. Troy Rubesch and Keith Barrs argue for the need for SALCs to develop an online as well as a physical presence. Using the example of the ALC at Kanda University of International Studies, the authors demonstrate the advantages that an online SALC provides. They describe features which offer benefits to students, such as a website, social media platforms, online reservation systems and resource archives, all of which can complement physical features. As well as widening the availability of resources and learning opportunities, a virtual presence can undoubtedly increase scope for learner autonomy by enabling students to organize their studies according to their own preferences ‒ a true definition of self-access. Learner Involvement To ensure that SALCs do not become simply storage space for resources but also foster a sense of community, it is vital that students feel a sense of ownership of such centres. This ensures continual growth and development of a SALC, as well as maximizing its use. As part of this process, Craig Manning examines the importance of implementing formal peer-support networks in SALCs. He argues that such networks enhance learning experiences and opportunities for learner autonomy, but function much better if they are formally established and supported. To establish successful networks, the author argues for the need for institutions to follow certain guidelines, namely to ensure alignment with an institution s educational objectives and to provide formal training and support for peer advisors. He also provides some tips for successful network development. This paper is useful reading for those who are interested in setting up peer support networks. Future Predictions No special issue with directions in the title would be complete without some predictions for the future. We (the editors) predict that in the coming 10 years, there will be subtle shifts in the field of self-access, but it certainly will not end as others have hinted (Clarity, 2008; Reinders, 2012).

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2014, 1-7 Firstly, the community aspect will become one of the main functions of SALCs as language learning after all is a social process. SALC managers need to invest in community-building activities that provide a sense of ownership of the learning space. We also predict that in the coming years, there will be increased interest in the field of advising, along with a developing knowledge among language educators of skills that help learners deal with the emotional aspect of the experience of learning a language, as Curry suggests in his contribution. In terms of space, there are reasonable arguments for no longer needing a physical space (see Reinders, 2012) as almost anything can be done online now. However, given our first prediction related to community, this is likely to still be best achieved through a combination of online and in-person interactions that might take place in a physical space, a virtual space or a combination of the two. As Rubesch and Barrs show us in their contribution to this special issue, there will gradually be more of a blurring and overlapping of offline and online activity. We already see this, but it will increase over the next few years. We hope that the development of self-directed learning skills can become part of the mainstream language curriculum so that learners can make the most of opportunities to learn outside class. An optimistic prediction is that this area of focus is no longer the niche domain of a self-access curriculum, but something that every language teacher incorporates into his or her classroom practice. The students can then deepen their awareness how ways to learn and apply them in a SALC (or indeed, any learning situation). Of course there will be fewer physical resources in a SALC. We are already witnessing this as students find it more convenient to access material on a mobile device. Publishers are responding to this need, but distribution and access remains difficult. Within the next few years, platforms will begin to emerge which allow easier access to resources for registered users. (If such a platform already exists, we would be interested in hearing from you!). Will physical resources be necessary at all? We predict that print books and other physical resources will continue to co-exist alongside the digital resources - or become a blend of the two. This is already happening to a degree; i.e. read a book and download extra content online.

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2014, 1-7 The terminology might change; although the terms SAC and SALC are widely used and understood, the words are problematic. The term self-access implies that a learner is working alone, yet language learner and professionals working in the field know how important other people are to the language learning experience. In addition, the inclusion of the word centre is restrictive. As we move beyond the physical centre this word holds us back. A term widely used (but for broader purposes) is Learning Commons which is a learning space, but this might be too broad for what the field of self-access language learning is trying to achieve: to support learners in developing language learner autonomy and providing resources to enable them to do that. We need to establish a transparent term that represents the activities, interactions and learning rather than a place. Perhaps the term learning community is a possible alternative? Finally, we need to acknowledge that there are also enormous technological advances that will affect the field of language learning more broadly, but we will leave these for another day. Notes on the editors Neil Curry has been teaching in Japan for 8 years and is currently a learning advisor at Kanda University of International Studies. His primary interests are in Foreign Language Anxiety and language advising. Jo Mynard holds an M.Phil. in Applied Linguistics from Trinity College, Dublin (Ireland) and a Doctorate in TEFL from the University of Exeter (UK). Her research interests are in affect, advising, learner autonomy and CALL.

References Clarity, (2008). The slow death of the self access centre? Loud and Clear, 24, 2. Retrieved from http://www.clarityenglish.com/loudandclear/pdf/LoudnClear_24.pdf McLoughlin, D. (2014). Directions in self-access language learning symposium. Kanda 6


SiSAL Journal Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2014, 1-7 University of International Studies. 19th October, 2013. Tokyo, Japan. [Review]. Independence, 60, 38-41. Mynard, J. (2011). Editorial: Special issue on CALL, e-learning and m-learning. Studies in Self-Access Learning Journal, 2(3), 100-106. Retrieved from http://sisaljournal.org/archives/sep11/editorial/ Mynard, J. (2012). Does Self-Access still have life in it?: A response to Reinders (2012). ELTWorldOnline.com, 4. Retrieved from http://blog.nus.edu.sg/eltwo/2012/06/13/does-%E2%80%98selfaccess%E2%80%99-still-have-life-in-it-a-response-to-reinders-2012/ Reinders, H. (2012). The end of self-access?: From walled garden to public park. ELTWorldOnline.com, 4. Retrieved from http://blog.nus.edu.sg/eltwo/2012/06/13/the-end-of-self-access-from-walledgarden-to-public-park/ Tassinari, M. G., & Ciekanski, M. (2013). Accessing the self in self-access learning: Emotions and feelings in language advising. Studies in Self-Access Learning Journal, 4(4), 262-280. Retrieved from http://sisaljournal.org/archives/dec13/tassinari_ciekanski/

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Framing the Picture: A Preliminary Investigation into Experts’ Beliefs about the Roles and Purposes of Self-Access Centres Diego Navarro, Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand !

Abstract This paper presents results from phase one of a large-scale, two-phase research project investigating self-access centre (SAC) experts’ (Centre Directors; Centre Managers; Centre Coordinators; Learning Advisors) beliefs about the roles and purposes of SACs. The project adopts both the fundamental assumptions and approaches of learner belief studies in SLA and teacher cognition research in education. However, it examines neither learners nor teachers; instead, all the participants are SAC practitioners. Phase one of the study begins by surveying, through an online questionnaire, the different beliefs these practitioners have about self-access learning and SAC practice. This paper describes how the data was collected and analysed, as well as selecting a few interesting findings to highlight the value of conducting beliefs study on SAC experts. The findings reported in this paper need to be triangulated with follow up interviews (phase two) in order to construct a more accurate understanding of the beliefs held by the participants. Therefore, any conclusions or implications regarding the relationship between practitioners’ beliefs and SAC practice remain incomplete. Nevertheless, the findings from phase one provide an insightful preliminary picture of the diversity of both practice and practitioner from SACs across the world and open up a valuable avenue for further discussion. Keywords: Beliefs research; self-access centres; professional practice; learner involvement Background This research was originally designed to investigate learners’ contributions to selfaccess centres (SACs). More specifically, it was intended as an exploration into the different ways in which learners were actively contributing to the administrative and pedagogic development of SACs. Working as a learning advisor in a SAC in Japan, I was looking for innovative ways of promoting learner input in our own centre. We had students working with us as ‘SAC staff’, assisting with various administrative duties, such as issuing material, liaising with SAC users, and restocking shelves. Additionally, we had an independent group of students who worked closely with our team of advisors to promote resources, events, and provide direct feedback on the SAC and its various services. I was curious about the nature of learners’ contributions in other centres, hoping to find ideas that could be adopted by our own SAC. The rationale was that while language education has shifted to a more learner-centered approach (reflected in the growing interest in self-access learning and learner autonomy – "!! !


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both of which argue for increased learner involvement and control throughout the language learning process), learner input in the day-to-day and big-picture management of SACs seemed neglected, or at the very least, limited. These limits were also partly reflected in the literature on self-access. While there are numerous studies on self-access learning (e.g. Cooker, 2010; Gardner & Miller, 1999; Gremmo & Riley, 1995; Sheerin, 1991), outside of a few investigations (Aston, 1993; Malcolm, 2004), there is little research examining learner involvement in SACs. As I began my examination of both national and international centres, surveying scholarly articles, books, websites, reports, and any other sources that I could find, I almost immediately encountered complications, the first of which dealt with defining a SAC. Each institution I investigated had its own unique way of describing itself and some centres did not even refer to themselves as SACs, instead choosing labels such as independent learning centres (ILCs) or language learning resource centres (LLRCs). It became clear that in terms of SACs and SAC practice, there exists an array of mission statements, principles, descriptions of services, and outlines of goals and objectives. I was left with a highly eclectic picture of SACs from around the world. As I searched for common threads that could tie these centres together, I was struck by the variety of beliefs and personal theories that were governing the management of these centres and their approaches to language/ learning development. As a result, I made the decision to reshape and expand the project into an exploration of how experts’ beliefs about SACs affect policy and practice within the centres, including the management of learner involvement. While highly influenced by the work on learner beliefs and teacher cognition, this study is not an examination of either language learners’ or teachers’ thinking, but instead explores the beliefs and ideas of different SAC administration and practitioners. Adopting a beliefs approach helps manage some of the inherent challenges of evaluating behaviour solely from the perspective of an outside observer (Woods, 1996). In addition, foregrounding the participants’ understanding of their own practice in context will allow me to construct a more situation-specific description of the various facets involved in running a SAC. In this paper I present the results of phase one of a two-phase study. Phase one included gathering and analysing responses to an online questionnaire surveying beliefs about a variety of topics directly related to SAC practice. Responses to the questionnaire were useful in illuminating the range of beliefs held by different SAC experts and in suggesting that this variety in perception influences the diversity found within centres around the world. I will use the results of phase one to prepare for a more in-depth investigation into what SAC "!! !


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experts believe about SACs. Phase two will use semi-structured interviews (structured around the results from phase one) to create a richer and more accurate understanding of the interplay between SAC experts’ beliefs and their centres’ practice. Phase two of the study has yet to be completed. Therefore, any conclusion or implications at this stage are tentative at best. A follow-up paper will include a more detailed description of the findings. Results discussed in this paper should be viewed only as a preliminary glance at the variety of beliefs held by SAC experts. Nevertheless, I believe that this glance is a valuable first step in a project that looks to create a clearer picture of SAC practice and examine how different approaches to self-access learning can be successful in meeting learners’ needs. Survey of Belief Studies in Language Education: Origins, Evolution, and Influence The sharp rise in interest in belief studies over the last three decades across educational contexts, specifically within language education, is largely the result of two major conceptual shifts: (1) the belief of contemporary psychology that thoughts and actions are intrinsically intertwined (Nespor, 1987; Schommer, 1990), and (2) the recognition of learners and teachers as active, thinking participants playing pivotal roles in the language learning process (Borg, 2006; Kalaja & Barcelos, 2006). Belief studies focusing on learners have almost exclusively been conducted in the field of second language acquisition (SLA). Research in this area has been working toward an understanding of how beliefs about language learning influence learners’ approaches to, expectations of, and experiences with, language learning, i.e. learner behaviour (Wenden, 1986; Horowitz, 1999; Kalaja, 2006; Wenden, 1986). Although investigations of this nature remain varied, examining such phenomenon as the relationship between beliefs and anxiety (Young, 1991), proficiency (Mantle-Bromley, 1995), strategy use (Yang, 1999), and autonomy (Cotterall, 1999), they nevertheless all carry the underlying assumption that what learners believe about language and language education directly affects how they act. In foreign and second language teacher cognition research (a subset of mainstream educational research), the emphasis switches from learner beliefs to teacher cognition. Defined as “what teachers know, believe, and think” (Borg, 2003, p.81) teacher cognition research explores the dynamic interplay between teachers’ mental lives (Walberg, 1977) (including their beliefs) and their teaching behaviour. More specifically, work in this area has investigated the relationship between teacher thinking and lesson planning (Woods, 1996), extensive reading (Macalister, 2010), and grammar instruction (Canh, 2012). A significant finding of this type of research, which carries strong implications for the current study, argues "#! ! !


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that teachers’ beliefs (cognition) and practice are not only mutually informing, but also that contextual factors play a major role in facilitating teachers’ ability to put their thoughts into action (Beach, 1994; Woods, 1996). In other words, the disparity observed between belief and behavior is often largely the result of context. Phase one of this study seems to support this finding, suggesting that the range of beliefs among practitioners is largely due to differences in context (institutional; cultural; situational – including professional responsibility; etc.). However, this suggestion needs to be properly triangulated through the in-depth interviews of phase two. Belief studies connected to self-access learning have been previously conducted. Research in this particular area has examined learners’ readiness for autonomy (Cotterall, 1995), shifts in learner expectations about self-instructed learning (White, 1999) and the relationship between beliefs and action in a self-directed language learning context (Navarro & Thornton, 2011). However, up to this point there exists almost no work on how the beliefs of experts affect the practice of situation-specific institutions such as SACs. A belief study approach to SAC practice can offer valuable insight into the relationship between certain core factors, such as practitioner thinking and policy construction, or the way in which institutional context might facilitate (or inhibit) the implementation of pedagogical beliefs. However, examining the motivations behind the practices of SACs is an inherently complex project, not only because of the vast diversity of SACs, but more importantly because of the myriad of people involved in these centres – from learners, to teachers, to advisors, to managers, to centre directors, and higher up still – all of whom carry beliefs about learning, teaching, the roles and purposes of SACs and education. To a large extent these perceptions affect how the centres are run and the type of pedagogy that is implemented within them. This project offers but a glance into the world of self-access centres and the unique approaches to language learning they promote. Nevertheless, it is an important starting point. The Study Research questions This study is interested in constructing a classification of SACs through a description of role, purpose and learner involvement. The following questions were used to guide the research: 1. What do SAC experts believe about the roles and purposes of SACs? 2. How are learners involved in the running of SACs? 3. How is this involvement related to SAC experts’ beliefs?

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Research outline This is a two-phase study, with both a quantitative and qualitative component. Phase one involved constructing, piloting, and administering an online questionnaire. The questionnaire contains both closed and open-ended items. The closed-ended items provide a preliminary survey of experts’ beliefs about the roles and purposes of SACs. The open-ended items survey the nature of learner contributions to each SAC. Phase two involves interviewing the participants to get a more nuanced understanding of their responses to the questionnaire. Essentially, the interview data will help paint a more detailed picture of the relationship between SAC experts’ beliefs about self-access learning/ self-access centres and the actual practice that takes place within the various centres. This paper reports exclusively on the results of phase one of the study. While phase one of the study has produced interesting results (open and closed ended responses from an online questionnaire), the discussion remains limited in that the responses need to be triangulated with follow-up interviews to assess more accurately what the participants are communicating. Phase two of the study is underway but has yet to be completed. Instrumentation: Questionnaire construction and pilot In order to elicit (initial) responses about what the participants perceived the roles and purposes of SACs to be, and to gauge the nature of learners’ contributions across the surveyed SACs, I created a questionnaire to be administered online via SurveyMonkey. In addition to the 22 items directly related to the Roles and Purposes of SACs section, the questionnaire also contained: (a) A Background Information section where participants provide information about themselves and their various SAC-related responsibilities (e.g. number of years working in a SAC; official job title; description of SAC duties; etc.) (b) A Centre Profile section where participants describe their SAC according to logistical categories (e.g. name and location of centre; number of students visiting the centre; the extent to which students are required to visit the centre; language policy; etc.) (c) A Learner Involvement section where participants describe the nature of learner contributions to the running of their centre. This section was mainly comprised of open-ended questions (e.g. In what capacity are learners involved in the running of your SAC?; What do you consider to be the benefits of having learners involved in the running of your SAC?; What do you consider to be some of the challenges of "#! ! !


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having learners involved in the running of your SAC?; Ideally, how would you like learners to be involved in your SAC?) To construct the questionnaire, I began by examining the existing literature on self-access learning/ self-access centres. I evaluated statements and descriptions in the literature which defined and described what self-access learning was and what self-access centres do/ should do. I compiled a large list of items (over 50 statements) taken directly from the existing literature. I then looked for statements that overlapped (essentially saying the same thing) and collapsed them into single items. Finally, I took this comprehensive list of items and turned them into “SACs should…” statements, asking participants to select from Agree-Disagree responses. Once the initial draft of the questionnaire was created, I solicited feedback from colleagues in Japan and other self-access learning experts around the world. Eight individuals from five different SACs evaluated the initial items. Based on the feedback, I made revisions. Issues with the items and the corresponding revisions are described in the table below: Table 1. List of Problems with Items and Corresponding Revisions Missing key/ principle ideas about self-access

Items representing key/ principle ideas related to selfaccess learning/ centres initially overlooked were added as per direct suggestions from experts

Ambiguous items

Items were re-worded for clarification

Overlapping/ repetitive items

Items still deemed repetitive were collapsed into encompassing statements

Too many items

Item numbers were reduced

The way some items are arranged/ presented is confusing

Items were analysed for commonality (relationship between items); four categories depicting commonality were created: (1) Principles (2) Access to resources (3) Support (4) Materials; items were placed in corresponding category (all but one category contained five items)

Agree-Disagree statements (section two) lack detail; not providing sufficient information

Removed Agree-Disagree response choice; replaced with ranking activity using the following choices: • Essential • Preferable • Not necessary

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For the final part of the pilot, I asked three participants to take the online questionnaire. The three participants worked in affiliated SACs in Japan. Feedback was generally positive, as the questionnaire was deemed easy to understand and to complete. It took an average of 20 minutes to complete the online questionnaire. However, as with all closed-item questionnaires, there remained some issues with item ambiguity. This was most evident in section two, the Roles and Purposes ranking activity. In this section, participants were asked to read a total of 22 “SACs should…” statements (divided across four categories) and say whether they considered it an Essential, Preferable, or Not Necessary characteristic of a SAC (see Table 3 below). Because the participants had to choose only one response per item, and because there was no room for elaboration or any means of asking for clarification, this sometimes caused issues with accuracy (of responses) and understanding (of items). Particularly, all three of the pilot participants noted that there were instances where they wanted to add information to clarify or ‘contextualise’ their responses. They explained that some responses were very situation-specific and that this particular section of the questionnaire does not allow for a more detailed level of description. I expected this issue to arise, as it is a common problem with belief questionnaires (e.g. Sakui & Gaies, 1999). Phase two of the study is set up as a response to this problem, as participants will be given the opportunity to elaborate on their responses during the interviews, as well as to clarify any ambiguity with the items. Participants Thirty-nine responses were initially collected. However, one of the respondents failed to complete the questionnaire in its entirety. This data was not included in the final analysis. Therefore, a total of 38 responses (from 28 different institutions) were used in the phase one analysis. Appendix one describes the SACs surveyed according to ‘geographical location’ and ‘number of responses per location’. Appendix two lists all the ‘official job titles’ of the participants. In addition to ‘official job title’, participants were asked to describe their more inclusive ‘professional responsibilities’. While most of the participants were trained educators, there were also responses from ‘Centre Managers’ (Gardner & Miller, 2011, 2013) and ‘Centre Coordinators’, key figures in the day-to-day running of SACs who are not necessarily trained educators but do play pivotal roles in shaping SAC policy. Table two presents the range of ‘responsibilities’ described by each of the participants.

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Table 2. Description of Professional Responsibilities Professional Responsibility

Response Count

Teacher

53% (20)

Learning Advisor

55% (21)

Centre Director

34% (13)

Program Coordinator

11% (4)

Other (e.g. Associate Director; Centre Manager; SAC Coordinator; External Consultant; etc.)

21% (8)

The questionnaire’s participant/ SAC ‘background’ section also elicited information regarding the ‘age’ and ‘size’ of each institution, as well as the ‘student attendance policy’ at each SAC. Below is a summary of this information: • • • •

Size of institutions surveyed ranged from 400 to over 20,000 students Centres were between less than 3 months and over 15 years old 61% reported mandatory SAC attendance 39% reported voluntary SAC attendance

Data collection Phase one data was collected over a ten-month period. The first response was submitted in October 2011, the last in July 2012. I used various methods to solicit responses. I asked colleagues at my own institution, I emailed colleagues from affiliated institutions around Japan, I researched SACs in Japan and contacted the ‘Centre Directors’ as well as ‘Centre Managers’ (typically the other professionals working in SACs who may or may not be trained educators), and I sent e-mail messages out to self-access and learner autonomy special interest groups (SIGs) that I was associated with. Unfortunately, my initial attempts to garner responses proved more difficult than initially anticipated. My goal was to have at least 50 centres from around the world, but four months after my initial requests (January 19, 2012), the response count was at 19. I did not get 20 responses until June 2012. I was a year into the project and was eager to push the number of responses up, so I asked colleagues, friends, and other ‘better-connected’ people for assistance (essentially asking them if they could ask people they knew to complete the questionnaire). I even started directly contacting SACs from around the world that I had previously investigated, sending unsolicited emails, describing the project and including a link to the survey. Over the next two months I was able to collect 19 more responses, "#! ! !


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bringing the total to 39 (However, as mentioned previously only 38 are included in the analysis). Data analysis For phase one of the project, two types of data were analysed. Descriptive statistics (simple percentages) were utilised for the ranking activity where all 38 participants responded to the following question: “From the list below, which do you consider Essential/ Preferable/ Not Necessary?” (Following this are, “SACs should…” prompts). Descriptive statistics were also used to gauge the different roles learners take on across the SACs. Finally, thematic analysis was used for the open-ended responses where participants commented on: the benefits and challenges of having students contributing to SACs, ways of managing these challenges, reasons for limited student involvement in their SAC, ideal ways which students could contribute to their SAC, and restraints on the implementation of these ideas. Thematic analysis offers a flexible yet systematic approach to qualitative data analysis involving the identification of themes or patterns of meaning through coding (Braun & Clarke, 2006). Researchers adopting this approach look for “commonalities, relationships, overarching patterns, theoretical constructs, or explanatory principles” (Lapadat, 2010, p. 926) within a data set. Results and Discussion Results In this section, I first present a summary of the results from phase one. Next, I highlight some of the findings. Finally, I offer a brief discussion on the data and its implications. As mentioned above, in the Roles and Purposes section of the questionnaire, participants completed a ranking exercise based on “SACs should…” statements. Tables three to six present a summary of these results (percentages/ number of responses). Table 3. Beliefs about SAC Principles SACs should… 1. 2. 3. 4.

adhere to a principled pedagogical approach encourage the individualisation of learning aim to develop lifelong learning be voluntary (learning in SACs should not be compulsory. Orientations/tours excluded) 5. involve learners in the running of the centre "#! ! !

Essential

Preferable

Not Necessary

32% (12) 55% (21) 61% (23)

50% (19) 29% (11) 39% (15)

18% (7) 16% (6) 0% (0)

16% (6) 34% (13)

58% (22) 61% (23)

26% (10) 5% (2)


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8% (3) 45% (17)

52% (20) 50% (19)

40% (15) 5% (2)

Table 4. Beliefs about SACs and Access to Learning Resources SACs should… 1. provide access to expert educator support (e.g. learning advisors, counsellors, tutors, etc.) 2. provide access to learning opportunities independent of classroom work 3. provide access to target culture contact (e.g. through materials, staff, decor) 4. provide access to successful language users 5. provide access to up to date technology

Essential

Preferable

Not Necessary

79% (30)

21% (8)

0% (0)

84% (32)

16% (6)

0% (0)

71% (27) 39% (15) 24% (9)

26% (10) 61% (23) 68% (26)

3% (1) 0% (0) 8% (3)

Table 5. Beliefs about SAC Support Structures SACs should… 1. provide accredited classes that facilitate selfdirected learning (Instructing learners specifically on how to: Plan, Implement, Monitor and Evaluate) 2. facilitate the creation of individualised learning plans 3. introduce learners to ways of self-assessing both language and learning development 4. support learner development through out-ofclass self-directed learning courses 5. support classroom learning (SACs should be used as extensions of classroom learning)

Essential

Preferable

Not Necessary

26% (10)

58% (22)

16% (6)

50% (19)

50% (19)

0% (0)

45% (17)

55% (21)

0% (0)

13% (5)

74% (28)

13% (5)

16% (6)

52% (20)

32% (12)

Preferable

Not Necessary

58% (22)

34% (13)

8% (3)

63% (24)

32% (12)

5% (2)

47% (18)

45% (17)

8% (3)

45% (17) 37% (14)

52% (20) 47% (18)

3% (1) 16% (6)

Table 6: Beliefs about SAC Materials SACs should…

Essential

1. provide authentic materials (materials not originally designed for language learners) 2. provide commercially available graded materials written for language learners 3. provide materials developed in-house which focus on local needs and circumstances 4. provide materials specifically designed for learner training (distinct from language learning materials) 5. provide online materials

For the Learner Involvement section, participants were first asked to indicate the different ways in which learners are involved in their SAC according to a broad list of

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criteria. They were asked to answer Yes-No for the following question: Are learners at your institution involved in any of the following roles? Table seven describes the various roles and responsibilities for learners in the different SACs. Table 7. Description of Learners’ Roles and Responsibilities in SACs Learners at our centre are involved in… • • • • • • • • •

Materials development Materials selection Promotion Administration (Peer) advising Workshops Discussion groups Tutoring Social activities

36% (13) 58% (21) 57% (20) 49% (18) 34% (12) 33% (12) 43% (15) 31% (11) 74% (26)

After identifying the nature of student involvement in their SACs, participants then answered the following open-ended questions: 1. What do you consider to be the benefits of having learners involved in the running of your SAC? 2. What do you consider to be the challenges of having learners involved in the running of your SAC? 3. How has your SAC dealt with/ does your SAC deal with these challenges? 4. If learners are not involved, why do you think this is? 5. Ideally, how would your SAC like learners to be involved? 6. What constraints limit this involvement? Due partly to space constraints, in this paper I will present a limited summary of the open-ended responses, focusing on two questions which explore practitioners’ beliefs about the benefits and challenges of having learners involved in the running of SACs. Another reason why the discussion of the findings is limited is because responses still need to be properly triangulated with follow up interviews. However, the responses from the questionnaire are able to show, quite clearly, some of the most important SAC issues amongst experts. In other words, the questionnaire data has made certain SAC-related issues salient, and as a result has opened up the opportunity for a larger, yet more focused discussion. Phase two (follow-up, semi-structured interviews) will include a detailed discussion of the items, including: • •

The ways which different SACs manage the benefits and challenges of learner involvement The different factors limiting learner involvement "#! !

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How practitioners would ideally like learners to be involved in their centres

Summary of question one: Benefits of learner involvement in SACs • • • • • • • •

‘Serve as role models/ near peers’ ‘Provide direct insight into learner perspectives’ ‘Can accommodate learner needs more accurately’ ‘Offer a sense of ownership’ ‘Closer to the ideal of a SAC’ ‘Cheaper than teachers’ ‘More approachable than teachers’ ‘Breaks boundaries between instructors & learners’

Summary of question two: Challenges of learner involvement in SACs • • • • • • • •

‘Getting institutional support’ (‘overcoming bureaucracy’) ‘Training learners’ (‘obvious limits to what learners can do – they are not trained educators’) ‘Motivating students to care enough to get involved’ (‘The concept of students taking control may be alien to the institution & the students.’) ‘Getting other staff (esp. native speakers) to tolerate inappropriate/ inaccurate language use’ ‘Turnover’ ‘Reliability and consistency of service’ ‘Time consuming and costly’ ‘Developing confidence and skills in the learners’ Discussion

Highlights of results Below I have selected a few points to illustrate the value of conducting a beliefs investigation into SAC practice. As this paper deals exclusively with phase one of a larger project and only introduces some of the different beliefs held by practitioners across SACs, I felt I could be selective in the points I choose to highlight. Phase two of the project will analyse the responses in more depth. A follow-up paper will provide more rigorous description not only of the responses, but also of what the practitioners believed about the items they were responding to. I selected item one because I found it interesting that of all the experts surveyed, only 32% believe it is essential for a SAC to adopt a principled approach to language learning. This number strikes me as extremely low (refer to Tables 3-6 for the full list of items). However, it is unclear if this means that SAC experts believe that a variety of pedagogical approaches may be more appropriate for SACs, or if there is yet to be a definitive approach that can encompass the complexity of self-access learning. Another possibility is that the item is itself ambiguous and participants were unsure of what exactly was being asked. This final "#! ! !


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possibility represents a major limitation of the responses and unfortunately, until follow up interviews are completed, it remains difficult to comment with more certainty. I selected item five because it deals directly with the initial, primary objective of the study. Item nine highlights an ongoing debate that has been taking place between SAC practitioners and classroom teachers. It is an issue that seems to have no definitive answer. However, I believe that the different opinions held on this topic offer all stakeholders involved valuable insights into how language learning generally, and self-access language learning specifically, is conceptualised and practiced. In addition, by raising awareness of the different beliefs regarding the relationship between self-access learning and classroom learning, we can come to a better understanding of our own beliefs, and realise that it is not necessarily a question of right and wrong, but more a question of what can work best for a particular context. I selected item 21 to discuss for similar reasons to item one. Again, I found it interesting that only 45% of SAC experts believed that it was essential to have materials specifically focused on developing learning skills as much as language skills. Section A below summarises responses to the Roles and Purposes portion of the questionnaire. Section B presents a brief commentary on the Learner Involvement section. Section A: Roles and purposes Item 1: SACs should adhere to a principled pedagogical approach. This item explored the idea of a supporting SAC practice with pedagogical principles. Only 32% of respondents said that a principled approach to language learning was essential. While much of the literature believes that SACs should aim to encourage and promote learner autonomy/ self-access learning (Benson & Voller, 1997; Gardner & Miller; 1999) this idea does not seem to be reflected in the responses. This might be due to the difficulties in defining autonomy or self-access learning (Gardner & Miller, 1999; Pemberton, Toogood, & Barfield, 2009), or it could be related to the lack of real theory in language education. It has been argued that there still exists no single theory of second language teaching (Woods, 1996) or of second language acquisition (Larsen-Freeman & Cameron, 2008). Nevertheless, having principles supporting the practices of SACs would offer both practitioners and learners some parameters with which to at least measure the effectiveness of what is taking place within the centre. This idea of a SAC’s pedagogical approach (and the principles that would assumedly underpin this approach) is an avenue worthy of further exploration. I intend to use phase two of this project to concentrate on this issue. ! "#! ! !


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Item 5: SACs should involve learners in the running of the centre. This item is directly related to learners’ contributions to SACs. Only 34% of SAC experts said it is essential to involve learners. This is a surprising number again. Particularly since the field of language education has shifted toward more learner-centred pedagogy within language learning classrooms, even teachers’ and learners’ understanding of effective language learning practice now includes the practice of having learning activities ‘centred’ around the learner (Allwright, 1981). There may be various reasons to support these responses (without the interview data this remains highly speculative), but it is clear that from the participants sampled, SAC practice has not prioritised learner involvement. SACs still seem very much top-down institutions where teachers and educators control and direct how things are structured. This supports previous criticism which maintains that SACs continue to promote a system limiting user activity to the role of consumers of products selected and presented by others (Benson, as cited in Malcolm, 2004). Undoubtedly such a system, rather than fostering pro-active learner behaviour, perpetuates passivity from learners throughout the language learning process. Item 9: SACs should provide access to learning opportunities independent of classroom work. This item examines the relationship between classroom learning and SAC activity. Eighty-two percent of respondents felt it was essential that the learning that takes place in a SAC not be (necessarily) connected with classroom language learning. This presents an interesting philosophical question that each SAC will presumably answer in its own way. It has been previously argued that to develop effective autonomy within learners, the classroom needs to play a central role (at least initially), bridging the gap between “public classroom activities and private learning activity” (Crabbe, 1993, p. 445). On the other hand, there is also a strong belief which supports the separation of self-access and classroom learning (Cooker, 2010; Dickinson, 1987). This view holds that the learning that takes place in self-access centres should be completely learner-led, whether this connects with what goes on in the classroom or not. Cases have been made for either argument, but what the responses show is that at some point, an ontological discussion about the nature of self-access learning would benefit all those involved in the running of the centre – including the learners. Item 21: SACs should provide materials specifically designed for learner training (distinct from language skill materials). This item relates to beliefs about the types of SAC resources and material that need to be (or do not need to be) promoted in SACs. "#! ! !


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Forty-five percent of respondents believe it is essential that materials be offered to learners that help them develop skills necessary to become independent learners, materials that they can use to help them develop their own language learning skills. This seems basically to be saying that SACs need to offer learners self-access resources that learners can navigate with little to no expert assistance that will introduce them to principles and activities which help foster independent learning (Gardner & Miller, 1999; Jones, 1999). While the use of authentic texts is also seen as important in facilitating independent learning behaviour, both from an affective and practical perspective (Oxford & Nyikos, 1999), it would seem that one of the most significant challenges faced by SAC educators is finding (or creating) material that motivates learners to take more control over the actual learning process. Section B: Learner involvement The top three ways in which learners are involved in SACs are… •

social activities

promotion of SAC services

material selection A cursory glance at these top three examples of learner involvement might suggest, as

has been indicated above, that while there has been an obvious shift in language education to have learners more involved in classroom activities, SACs are still looking for ways of incorporating learners into more integral aspects of their management. While social activities, promotion, and material selection are important areas of SAC practice, it could be argued that learners in SACs have yet to transcend some of the more traditional barriers extended by language education. No doubt, with the learners’ best interests at heart, ownership of SACs – the kind of ownership that controls the ‘big-picture' decisions – remains in the hands of the experts. Obviously, there are numerous challenges involved with having learners make more important contributions to the running of SACs. Issues such as learner training, learner motivation/ investment, quality-control, as well as affecting ingrained attitudes, beliefs and expectations about education and the roles of teachers and learners would require significant amount of time and effort to accomplish. What has to be discussed, then, is whether or not it is worth it in the end – for all those involved – to have learners contributing in more influential ways.

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Final Discussion and Conclusion It is important to repeat that commenting explicitly on the results at this phase of the research remains speculative. Further exploration of the responses (in a more valid/ reliable manner) is needed to find out more clearly what the respondents were trying to communicate. Phase two of the research will follow up phase one with semi-structured interviews (the structure being provided by the questionnaire responses). This will add the rigor and description that the project needs to add significant value to the discussion on self-access learning and SAC practice. As Sakui and Gaies (1999) explain, there are limits to what can be learned about beliefs from questionnaire items, and interviews are a useful way of managing these limits as they help to “reveal beliefs which are not addressed in the questionnaire and to describe the reasons, sources, behavioural outcomes, and other dimensions of their beliefs” (Sakui & Gaies, 1999, p. 486)! What is clear however is that there is a range of ideas and beliefs about the particular categories and the items within the categories reflect an inherent diversity across SACs and the people who work in them – and this diversity is what I think, at this stage of discussion, is worth addressing. It is possible to use the responses from this project as a kind of sounding board for discussion within and amongst SAC practitioners. Exploring what the practitioners in our own centres believe and why, and moving onto an exploration of what other educators working in other SACs believe, will not only help SAC stakeholders gain new insights into particular areas of interest, but these discussions can help solidify practice in light of beliefs. Finally, when a better idea of some of these beliefs is established, SAC experts might then consider delving deeper to see how the effects of their beliefs and practices contribute to learner development. This is one area I believe all experts can agree on – that what we all should be focusing on is how what we believe and what we do impacts the learning outcomes that take place in our centres.

Notes on the contributor Diego Navarro has been involved with language education for over 15 years. He holds an MA in applied linguistics from the University of Birmingham. Currently, he is working on a PhD at Victoria University of Wellington on the self-directed language learning endeavours of adult immigrants. His interests include language learning beyond the classroom, learner cognition, and language advising.

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References Allwright, R. L. (1981). What do we want teaching materials for? ELT journal, 36(1), 5-18. doi:10.1093/elt/36.1.5 Aston, G. (1993). The learner's contribution to the self-access centre. ELT Journal, 47(3), 219-227. doi:10.1093/elt/47.3.219 Beach, S. A. (1994). Teacher’s theories and classroom practice: Beliefs, knowledge, or context? Reading Psychology, 15(3), 189!96. Benson, P., & Voller, P. (Eds.). (1997). Autonomy and independence in language learning. Harlow, UK: Pearson. Borg, S. (2003). Teacher cognition in language teaching: A review of research on what language teachers think, know, believe, and do. Language Teaching, 36(2), 81-109. doi:10.1017/S0261444803001903 Borg, S. (2006). Teacher cognition and language education: Research and practice. London, UK: Continuum. Braun, V., and Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3, 77-101. doi:10.1191/1478088706qp063oa Canh, L. V. (2012). Interviews. In R. Barnard & A. Burns (Eds.), Researching language teacher cognition and practice: International case studies (pp. 90-108). Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters. Cooker, L. (2010). Some self-access principles. Studies in Self-Access Learning Journal, 1(1), 5-9. Cotterall, S. (1995) Readiness for autonomy: Investigating learner beliefs. System, 23(2), 195-205. doi:10.1016/0346-251X(95)00008-8 Cotterall, S. (1999). Key variables in language learning: What do learners believe about them? System, 27(4), 493-513. doi:10.1016/S0346-251X(99)00047-0 Crabbe, D. (1993). Fostering autonomy from within the classroom: The teacher's responsibility. System, 21(4), 443-452. doi:10.1016/0346-251X(93)90056-M Dickinson, L. (1987). Self-instruction in language learning. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Gardner, D., & Miller, L. (1999). Establishing self-access: From theory to practice. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Gardner, D., & Miller, L. (2011). Managing self-access language learning: Principles and practice. System, 39(1), 78-89. doi:10.1016/j.system.2011.01.010 Gardner, D., & Miller, L. (2013). Self-access managers: An emerging community of practice. System, 41(3), 817-828. doi:10.1016/j.system.2013.08.003 "#! ! !


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Gremmo, M.-J., & Riley, P. (1995). Autonomy, self-direction and self-access in language teaching and learning: The history of an idea. System, 23(2), 151-164. doi:10.1016/0346-251X(95)00002-2 Horowitz, E. K. (1999). Cultural and situational influences on foreign language learners' beliefs about language learning: A review of BALLI studies. System, 27(4), 557–576. doi:10.1016/S0346-251X(99)00050-0. Jones, F. R. (1993). Beyond the fringe: A framework for assessing teach-yourself materials for ab initio English-speaking learners. System, 21(4), 453-469. doi:10.1016/0346251X(93)90057-N Kalaja, P. (2006). Research on students' beliefs about SLA within a discursive approach. In P. Kalaja & A. M. F. Barcelos (Eds.), Beliefs about SLA: New research approaches (pp. 87-108). New York, NY: Springer. Kalaja, P., & Barcelos, A. M. F. (2006). Introduction. In P. Kalaja & A. M. F. Barcelos (Eds.), Beliefs about SLA: New research approaches (pp. 1-4). New York, NY: Springer. Lapadat, J. C. (2010). Thematic analysis. In A. J. Mills, G. Durepos, & E. Wiebe (Eds.), Encyclopedia of case study research (pp. 926-928). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Larsen-Freeman, D., & Cameron, L. (2008). Complex systems and applied linguistics. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Macalister, J. (2010). Investigating teacher attitudes to extensive reading practices in higher education: Why isn’t everyone doing it? RELC Journal, 41(1), 59-75. doi:10.1177/0033688210362609 Malcolm, D. (2004). Why should learners contribute to the self-access centre? ELT Journal, 58(4), 346-354. doi:10.1093/elt/58.4.346 Mantle-Bromley, C. (1995). Positive attitudes and realistic beliefs: Links to proficiency. The Modern Language Journal, 79(3), 372-386. doi:10.1111/j.1540-4781.1995.tb01114.x Navarro, D., & Thornton, K. (2011). Investigating the relationship between belief and action in self-directed language learning. System, 39(3), 290-301. doi:10.1016/j.system.2011.07.002. Nespor, J. (1987). The role of beliefs in the practice of teaching. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 19(4), 317-328. doi:10.1080/0022027870190403 Oxford, R., & Nyikos, M. (1989). Variables affecting choice of language learning strategies by university students. The Modern Language Journal, 73(3), 291-300. doi:10.1111/j.1540-4781.1989.tb06367.x Pemberton, R., Toogood, S., & Barfield, A. (Eds.). (2009). Maintaining control: Autonomy and language. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. "#! ! !


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Sakui, K., & Gaies, S. J. (1999). Investigating Japanese learners' beliefs about language learning. System, 27(4), 473-492. doi:10.1016/S0346-251X(99)00046-9 Schommer, M. (1990). Effects of beliefs about the nature of knowledge on comprehension. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82(3), 498-504. doi:10.1037/0022-0663.82.3.498 Sheerin, S. (1991). Self-access. Language Teaching, 24(3), 143-157. doi:10.1017/S0261444800006315 Walberg, H. J. (1977). Decision and perception: New constructs for research on teaching effects. Cambridge Journal of Education, 7(1), 33-39. doi:10.1080/0305764770070105 Wenden, A (1986). What do second-language learners know about their language learning? A second look at retrospective accounts. Applied Linguistics, 7(2), 186-205. doi:10.1093/applin/7.2.186 White, C. (1999). Expectations and emergent beliefs of self-instructed language learners. System, 27(4), 443-457. doi:10.1016/S0346-251X(99)00044-5 Woods, D. (1996). Teacher cognition in language teaching: Beliefs, decision-making and classroom practice. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Yang, N.-D. (1999). The relationship between EFL learners’ beliefs and learning strategy use. System, 27(4), 515-535. doi:10.1016/S0346-251X(99)00048-2 Young, D. J. (1991). Creating a low anxiety environment: What does the language research suggest? Modern Language Journal, 75(4), 426-436. doi:10.1111/j.15404781.1991.tb05378.x

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Appendices Appendix A Name and Location of SAC

LOCATION

RESPONSE COUNT

Chiba, Japan Tokyo, Japan Kobe, Japan Oita, Japan Hiroshima, Japan Shizuoka, Japan Akita, Japan Nagoya, Japan Nagoya, Japan Niigata, Japan Tokushima, Japan Nagareyama, Japan Hong Kong, China Hong Kong, China Hong Kong, China Hong Kong, China Wellington, New Zealand Auckland, New Zealand Auckland, New Zealand Dublin, Ireland Helsinki, Finland Thessaloniki, Greece Berlin, Germany Aix, France Reykjavik, Iceland Salamanca, Mexico Toluca, Mexico Mexico City, Mexico

8 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

*21 responses from SACs in Japan; 5 responses from SACs in Hong Kong; 3 responses from SACs in New Zealand; 6 Responses from SACs in Europe; 3 Responses from SACs in Mexico. Cities listed multiple times mean indicate a different institution.

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Appendix B Job Description

OVERVIEW OF OFFICIAL JOB TITLE (collapsed categories) 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Centre Director/ Executive Director/ Associate Centre Director/ Head of Centre SAC Coordinator Centre Manager Associate Professor/ Professor/ Professor Emeritus Learning Advisor Senior Lecturer/Special Lecturer/Lecturer Teaching Fellow

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Using CBT with Anxious Language Learners: The Potential Role of the Learning Advisor Neil Curry, Kanda University of International Studies, Japan Abstract Foreign Language Anxiety (FLA) can be a crippling condition for many students, preventing them from taking an active part in the classroom, and also retarding their L2 use in wider communicative situations. Providing learners with the tools to overcome anxiety on an individual basis is an area which needs further investigation. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is a widespread counselling practice used to treat anxieties. It shares similarities with some techniques employed in Advising in Language Learning (ALL) for helping students with language goals, and it is worthwhile investigating and raising awareness of how it can be used for FLA. The article describes major characteristics of FLA and also CBT, and then describes four functions which CBT and ALL share: goal-setting, guided discovery, Socratic questioning and use of reflection. Preliminary research also demonstrates how some of the practices associated with CBT could be applied by Learning Advisors to help students to overcome FLA. Keywords: Language Advising, Foreign Language Anxiety, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

This paper seeks to illustrate the potential of using CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) techniques in the field of ALL (Advising in Language Learning), for assisting students experiencing Foreign Language Anxiety (FLA). I will argue that although CBT is a form of therapeutic counselling provided by specially trained professionals, some of its methods could be adapted to help students deal with specific language anxiety related issues, as some preliminary research indicates. As ALL has been “significantly influenced� by counselling (Carson & Mynard, 2012, p. 6), LAs, with their advising skills, are in a privileged position to be able to offer assistance to learners experiencing FLA. The necessity for this type of help is especially pertinent in helping students with FLA on an individual basis outside the classroom. Currently, there appears to be little information available in the existing literature related to providing this kind of support for language learners; Tassinari and Ciekanski (2013) call for the need for a greater understanding of affective issues, which would include FLA.

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The potential role of CBT in advising has been noted by McLoughlin (2012) and Mynard and Carson (2012), and it is my aim to examine this potential in greater detail. ALL is aimed at “helping students to direct their own paths so as to become more effective and more autonomous language learners” (Carson & Mynard, p. 5), which will often involve addressing affective issues such as motivation and confidence. Therefore, advisors need to be able to deal with students’ emotive output, but they may find this difficult due to most LAs having a grounding in teaching rather than counselling (Tassinari & Ciekanski, 2013). However, as the discipline of ALL is influenced by counselling, and there are many shared techniques, it is possible that CBT methods can be adapted to use in cases of FLA, thus allowing LAs to feel more secure in dealing with issues involving negative emotions. Learning Advisors (LAs) at the Self-Access Learning Centre (SALC) at Kanda University of International Studies (KUIS) in Japan provide optional courses and advice for language students which is aimed at introducing the principles of self-directed learning, and also include strategies for dealing with anxiety and motivational issues; it is hoped that CBT methods can add to the existing tools at our disposal. Additionally, advisors, who are available on request for one-to-one advising sessions, arguably have more opportunities than classroom teachers to help in the long-term with FLA. It must also be noted that classroom teachers may themselves be a source of anxiety for the student, as will be explained below, so a ‘neutral’ third party may be more approachable. Before discussing some of the ways in which CBT counselling and advising overlap, supported by some preliminary research with three freshman students, it is necessary to give some explanation of the nature of the anxieties which typically afflict students, particularly freshmen, at KUIS. Foreign Language Anxiety FLA can be defined as a fear of performing in a foreign language, and is undoubtedly a major impediment for learners, preventing full participation in and enjoyment of the language classroom. FLA is described by Horwitz, Horwitz & Cope (1986, p. 128) as a “distinct complex of self-perceptions, beliefs, feelings and behaviours” that a learner is forced to negotiate when in a communicative situation. It can be divided into three traits. The first is Communication Apprehension, or the worry that the speaker will not be able to express themselves coherently in the new language (Horwitz, 2000). Secondly is Fear of Negative Evaluation; the fear of being thought badly of by teachers and peers. The third trait is Test Anxiety. The first two are the most

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pertinent to this paper, as the fears described to me by students at KUIS during advising sessions tend to fall into these areas for various reasons that are discussed in the following paragraphs. Some learners at KUIS, including the three participating in my research, have come from a school background where they explain there was little or no communicative language practice, the focus being on studying written grammar constructs which will later be encountered in a test situation. As a result they are somewhat unused to speaking in English, and worry about whether their spoken grammar or pronunciation is good enough to be understood. Additionally, they often have classmates who have had much more speaking practice and are more confident as a result. Therefore, these anxious learners can feel inferior and self-conscious, concerned that they will appear foolish and be thought of in a negative way by teachers and peers. As such learners want to overcome these difficulties and gain the maximum benefits from their learning experiences, they require a means of overcoming their concerns and achieving some degree of control over communicative situations. This would require working towards gaining a confidence in their abilities which outweighs any negative self-perceptions or fears. This can be a challenging prospect for a young student in his or her first year of university, facing a completely new environment which is often very different to his or her school experiences. In this situation, as well as talking to friends or using personal counselling services, meeting an LA is a possible recourse. However, despite FLA being a frequent problem, and although there is much research into its causes (see for example Horwitz et al., 1986; MacIntyre & Gardner, 1989; Tsui, 1996), practical advice about how to help learners overcome it is less researched (Tsiplakides & Keramida, 2009). Researchers such as Young (1991) and Crookall and Oxford (1991) have presented ideas for managing anxiety in the classroom, but apart from the use of learner diaries, these tend to be group-oriented activities. Several students in the same class can have FLA, but they are also expressed on an individual basis and affect language use outside the classroom. The development of tools and strategies to aid students with such problems will increase the powers of LAs to help students to address FLA, and preliminary research began in May 2013 in order to try out some ideas, which will be briefly described below.

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Research Project Research is being undertaken in order to investigate these questions: 1. Which (if any) aspects of CBT can be applied for individual advising for FLA? 2. Is it possible to design and utilise resources for LAs and students to practice these techniques? The project is ongoing and more conclusive results, especially concerning the second question, will be the subject of a future paper. But there is evidence to support the first question, which will be discussed in more detail below. Firstly it is necessary to give some details of the project itself. The research subjects are three freshman students, who for this research are assigned pseudonyms; Yamagata, Chiba and Kisarazu. All either directly or indirectly indicated to be suffering from FLA; they felt unable to participate in class discussions owing to a combination of a fear of negative evaluation and communication apprehension. I offered to help them and arranged weekly recorded meetings where we could discuss their difficulties. The initial meetings involved diagnosing their problems and establishing a rapport, while also discussing what a future ideal situation would be which they could work towards. Later meetings concentrated on setting short-term goals and reflection; the significance of these is described below. Simultaneously, I have been investigating possible techniques for offering assistance from the literature on CBT. The next section will describe how CBT works, its similarities with the techniques employed in ALL, and how it has been used with the students. Using CBT in ALL CBT has become one of the most commonly used therapeutic tools for dealing with anxiety disorders which have their basis in negative thought processes (Stallard, 2002). CBT is based on the principle that thoughts and beliefs affect emotions, which subsequently influences behaviour, and which in turn reinforces beliefs. When thoughts are dysfunctional, this relationship can appear as shown in Figure 1:

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Feelings Unpleasant Anxious Depressed Angry

Behaviour Avoid Give up Inappropriate

Figure 1. Dysfunctional Cycle (Adapted from Stallard, 2002, p. 7) The premise of CBT is that sufferers become trapped in a cycle whereby their behaviour simply mirrors and reinforces their thoughts, which can become self-evident ‘facts’, and therefore are ‘true’. Such a case from an FLA perspective can be seen in the example of one of the participants involved in my research at KUIS, Kizarazu. In our first meeting she stated that she believed that her level of English was lower than the other students in class, and so felt nervous and shy. She was also worried about making mistakes, being concerned with the impression she would make on her classmates. As a result, she tended to keep silent, especially when working in groups. CBT seeks to introduce the notion that thinking negatively about a situation is merely one choice, and that more balanced and positive thoughts are possible. The client is encouraged to test their beliefs and find evidence which supports them, or to merely attempt to perceive a situation from an alternative, positive viewpoint. The therapy then is a very active process, with the client “encouraged to challenge and learn through a process of experimentation” (Stallard, 2002, p. 6). How this is conducted, and how it relates to some the principles of ALL, is outlined below.

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1. Goal-setting That goal-setting is a vital aspect of CBT, as a way of measuring progress towards solving problems, is made clear by Wilding (2012). She advocates the SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) model, with a long-term target arrived at by a series of steps, the results of which are quantifiable and measurable, and which clients set themselves in consultation with their counsellor. The achievement of the goal and the resulting boost in confidence it can give, provides the impetus towards the next step. At KUIS, both in class (through the curriculum) and outside class (through voluntary course modules aimed at engendering autonomous learning skills, see Yamaguchi et al. (2012) for details), and in advising sessions, the students are presented with the concept of goal-setting. One role of the LA is helping students set these goals; guiding the learner towards the area he or she wants or needs to focus on, and helping them think about what can be realistically achieved in the time available. The goal-setting process undertaken by LAs will often involve encouraging students to think of a ‘big’ goal which involves improving one of the four main language skills, such as reading. They then decide a ‘small’ goal which can act as a step towards achieving the ‘big’ goal (for example increasing vocabulary), and can be arrived at sooner, for example within the semester. Therefore, as both LAs and students understand the importance and procedures of goalsetting, determining specific goals for FLA students should fit existing practice. In my preliminary research, I have worked with the students to set long-term goals to work towards, whilst also helping them find short-term targets aimed at gradually building up their confidence. For an example of how this might work in an advising scenario, I draw upon the case of one of my research participants Yamagata. Yamagata is afraid of being viewed negatively if she makes mistakes and is afraid of misunderstandings, but who wants to practice with L1 speakers. She decided that her long-term goal would be to go the ‘yellow sofas’ (a practice area where students can converse informally with teachers and other students, including international students) by herself. To achieve this, we planned a series of confidence-building steps; to make a point of asking her freshman English class teacher a question every lesson, to speak out in class discussions, to go to the yellow sofas with the support of friends, to try a language exchange with an overseas students, and finally go to the yellow sofas by herself. So far, she has been going to !

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the yellow sofas in the company of classmates, and states that she feels she will be ready to go by herself in the coming first semester of her sophomore year. 2. Guided discovery Both ALL and CBT aim to produce students / clients who ultimately are able to operate autonomously, discovering their own ideal way to make progress, without having to continuously rely on expert guidance. The goal of the CBT therapist is “to make herself redundant” (Westbrook et al., 2011, p. 121), which is done by training the client in how to establish and continue his or her own coping methods. According to Stallard (2002), the therapist acts as “an educator and facilitator, who provides a framework within which the young person can explore, understand and identify new ways of thinking” (p. 21). This is not at all dissimilar to the function of the LA, who serves to promote “the ability in learners to identify language needs and personalise the learning experience” (Carson & Mynard, p. 14). Japanese students’ experiences of learning at school, with its reliance on top-down instruction, can tend to leave them reliant on the need for prescribed methods, which do not account for idiosyncratic learning styles. Hence the LA attempts to encourage the learner to explore and experiment with new ideas, which will suit his or her own particular learning styles and preferences. This is most obvious through the use of Socratic questioning, allowing the clients / students to come to their own conclusions about either the reality of their beliefs or about which mode of studying suits them best. Its use will be explained below, supported by the example of a meeting with Yamagata when it was used. 3. Socratic questioning ALL employs the use of questions, designed to make learners query and think about their own ideas about studying as one of its basic tools. Often student requests for help with their study skills can cover very broad areas, for example “I want to improve my speaking”. Such improvement could cover items such as pronunciation, fluency, use of vocabulary or grammar, and even confidence-related issues. Sometimes a student will have a stated problem which in reality might actually have at its source a different issue. Therefore to realise exactly what aspect of language learning the student wants to work on, and what strategies and resources would best suit his or her own individual learning style, questioning is a vital ‘micro-skill’; “to elicit and to stimulate learner disclosure and self-definition” (Kelly, 1996, p. 96). To be an autonomous and

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effective language learner, the students needs to discover for themselves their own best ways of studying, rather than just simply be told what to do, and even if the LA does not necessarily agree with their decisions. Ideally, the students will learn their own strengths and weaknesses themselves, and this understanding can be used again when students find themselves in a similar situation. Similarly, CBT relies on Socratic questioning, in order for clients to seek alternative perspectives for their current understanding of a situation and arrive at a balanced view (Wilding, 2012). Clients are asked questions which are designed to elicit evidence for and against their belief, and also if there is any other way in which they can view a situation based upon that evidence. They can later use these same question types to prompt themselves, when they are no longer reliant on the therapist. Westbrook, Kennerley and Kirk (2011) provide the examples of “what contradicts my conclusions?” or “what would I advise someone else?” (p. 154). As in language advising, clients are not explicitly told that their thinking is incorrect; for them to solve their own problems, it is necessary that they arrive at their own conclusions. I have used Socratic questioning with participants involved in my research in order to help them reevaluate their thoughts. Unlike when advising for the purposes of studying, questioning of this type occurs when the student is reflecting on a negative experience or thought, and therefore will not necessarily occur with any frequency. Therefore the advisor must be aware of the need to be ready to utilise these chances to help the student think more positively. One such example occurred with Yamagata, who at one meeting expressed her disappointment with finding that she could not understand a large amount of vocabulary in an email about finance. This was a class assignment, which she had hoped to read and understand without relying on her dictionary. As a result her confidence suffered, and she described herself as being ‘shocked’ at her lack of vocabulary. I used this as an opportunity to explore her negative thoughts, namely as to why she should view her lack of vocabulary as a disappointment. After she gave me a synopsis of the email, which demonstrated that she understood it, I began questioning thus: LA: Were you surprised that you found words you didn’t know? Yamagata: Surprised LA: Why? Y: I didn’t know many English words. LA: Why is that surprising for you?

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Y: I think that I can… I know some English words, but actually I didn’t know… English words. So… LA: Why would you think that’s surprising? Is English your first language? Y: Ah, soka (I see). LA: How long have you studied English? How many years? Five? Y: Six. LA: And at school. Y: Yes junior high school. LA: What kind of language did you get at school? Easy language? High-level language? Y: Easy language. LA: Right. So would you be so shocked at finding lots of words you don’t know? Y: (laughs) LA: If you think about it, it’s probably normal. So you really shouldn’t feel so bad about it. Y: I’m too worried about.

The questions gave Yamagata the opportunity to think about the situation differently. Rather than viewing her unfamiliarity with the vocabulary in this case as an example of her lack of proficiency, she was encouraged to see it as quite natural considering her learning experiences. The goal as an LA will be to motivate anxious students to ask themselves such questions, in order for them to gain confidence and ultimately achieve a degree of autonomy. 4. Use of reflection Having students reflect on aspects of their learning is now very common practice in language teaching. In ALL, one role of the LA is to encourage learners to consider such matters as the effectiveness of strategies and resources they have tried, self-evaluating their own progress, and planning future studies in accordance with what they have learned. Reflection occurs in CBT as part of the process of clients gaining “new understandings of their problems” (Westbrook et al., 2011, p. 123), which subsequently influence future courses of action. This typically happens at the stage where the client is analysing critical events, for instance when examining evidence to determine whether it supports or negates their beliefs. The previous example of Yamagata shows such a case. In order to help the reflection procedure a ‘daily goals’ handout was produced (see appendix), in which the students could record the goal they had set, the degree of success they acquired, and their feelings about what they did. The above conversation was prompted by Yamagata’s use of this handout. It provides a useful way to

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monitor progress towards the student’s goal, and serves as a talking point to address critical events. Preliminary feedback from the three students collected by a short questionnaire shows that they mostly find the process of setting goals and reflecting valuable, although it does entail spending time to do. Yamagata stated that the handout “was helpful for me because I found what I have to do clearly”, and she “could find change of my feeling and progress of speaking English”. Chiba could also “make sure my progress”, and in regards to reflection “telling my feeling is important to overcome my weakness”. It also allowed her to “look back what I did for my goal”. Lastly, Kisarazu found it motivating, and she began to feel that she could accomplish her target, and that “I was able to think about my concerns deeply”. Conclusions In conclusion, there is real potential for using CBT in ALL to address language anxiety. LAs already use many of the same methods to achieve learning outcomes; the preliminary research described above shows how these methods can be used to target FLA. LAs with appropriate experience, and students to a lesser extent, will already be familiar with some of the principles such as questioning, goal-setting and reflection, and therefore training and implementation will not require a background in counselling. It would be a great help to those LAs, as mentioned by Tassinari and Ciekanski (2013) above, who may not feel so at ease dealing with affective-related issues as opposed to language learning issues. Research is continuing at KUIS to trial the methods and ideas described above, and more handouts to help students address and reflect on their anxieties are being produced, utilising Stallard’s (2002) worksheets for young people. It is hoped that they can become part of the tools available to make students’ learning experiences as positive as possible. It is also hoped that collaboration can be engendered with other institutions and the ideas presented in this article can be used on a wider basis.

Notes on the contributor Neil Curry has been teaching in Japan for 8 years and is currently a learning advisor at Kanda University of International Studies. His primary interests are in FLA and language advising.

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References Carson, L., & Mynard, J. (2012). Introduction. In J. Mynard & L. Carson (Eds.), Advising in language learning: Dialogue, tools and context (pp. 3-25). Harlow, UK. Pearson. Crookall, D., & Oxford, R. L. (1991). Dealing with anxiety: Some practical activities for language learners and teacher trainees. In E. K. Horwitz & D. J. Young (Eds.), Language anxiety: From theory and research to classroom implications (pp. 141 -150). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Horwitz, E. K., Horwitz, M. B., & Cope, J. (1986). Foreign language classroom anxiety. The Modern Language Journal, 70(2), 125-132. doi:10.111/j.1540-4781.1986.tb05256.x Horwitz, E. K. (2000). It ain't over 'til it's over: On foreign language anxiety, first language deficits, and the confounding of variables. The Modern Language Journal, 84(2), 256259. doi:10.111/0026-7902.00067 Kelly, R. (1996). Language counseling for learner autonomy: The skilled helper in self-access language learning. In R. Pemberton, E. S. L. Li, W. W. F. Or, & H. D. Pierson (Eds.), Taking control: Autonomy in language learning (pp. 93-113). Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. MacIntyre, P. D., & Gardner, R. C. (1989). Anxiety and second-language learning: Toward a theoretical clarification. Language Learning 39(2), 251-275. doi:10.1111/j.14671770.1989.tb00423.x McLoughlin, D. (2012). Attribution theory as an advising tool. In J. Mynard & L. Carson (Eds.), Advising in language learning: Dialogue, tools and context (pp.151-163). Harlow, UK: Pearson. Stallard, P. (2002). Think good – feel good: A behaviour therapy workbook for children and young people. Chichester, UK: Wiley. Tassinari, M. G., & Ciekanski, M. (2013). Accessing the self in self-access learning: Emotions and feelings in language advising. Studies in Self-Access Learning Journal, 4(4), 262-280. Retrieved from http://sisaljournal.org/archives/dec13/tassinari_ciekanski/ Tsiplakides, I., & Keramida, A. (2009). Helping students overcome foreign language speaking anxiety in the English classroom: Theoretical issues and practical recommendations. International Education Studies 2(4), 39-44. Tsui, A. B. M. (1996). Reticence and anxiety in second language learning. In K. M. Bailey & D. Nunan (Eds.), Voices in the language classroom (pp. 145-167). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Westbrook, D., Kennerley, H., & Kirk, J. (2011). An introduction to cognitive behaviour therapy: Skills and applications (2nd ed.). London, UK: Sage.

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Wilding, C. (2012). Cognitive behavioural therapy (3rd ed.). London, UK: Hodder Education. Yamaguchi, A., Hasegawa, Y., Kato, S., Lammons, E., McCarthy, T., Morrison, B. R., Mynard, J., Navarro, D., Takahashi, K., & Thornton, K. (2012). Creative tools that facilitate the advising process. In C. Ludwig & J. Mynard (Eds.), Autonomy in language learning: Advising in action (pp. 115-136). Canterbury, UK: IATEFL. Young, D. J. (1991). Creating a low-anxiety classroom environment: What does language anxiety research suggest? The Modern Language Journal 75(4), 426-439. doi:10.1111/j.1540-4781.1991.tb05378.x

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Appendix Example of Daily Goals handout used by Yamagata

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Supplementing a Physical Self-Access Learning Center with a Virtual Presence Troy Rubesch, Otemon Gakuin University, Japan Keith Barrs, Hiroshima Shudo University, Japan

Abstract This article describes the motivation and reasoning behind an ongoing project to create an online presence of a Self-Access Center (SAC). The project involves the selection and integration of a number of technologies which work to together to supplement the physical SAC. The authors argue that such projects have value both for the institutions which host them, and also for the learners they serve, such as support of individualized and independent learning, promotion of the SAC, and hosting and archiving resources. Establishing an online presence allows learners much greater freedom in when, where, what, and how they study. Keywords: online presence, technology, physical vs. virtual Self-Access Centers

Self-Access Language Learning (SALL) has come to be widely recognized as an essential component of a learner’s language development (Benson & Reinders, 2011). One of the fundamental concerns of SALL is with the promotion of learner autonomy by creating opportunities for out-of-class study, practice, and use of languages. In this sense, SALL involves expanding learners’ access to resources, services, and facilities for language study. Journals, conferences, and academic societies have been established to cater for the research conducted in this relatively new academic field. Concurrently, language learning institutions around the world have invested in the construction of Self-Access Centers (SACs). However, SALL, which occurs within the physical confines of a Self-Access Center, is in some ways paradoxical. Whilst the SAC may offer learners the physical space to pursue their autonomous learning, it is this same space which in many ways restricts the extent of autonomy. To begin with, a major concern is that the actual self-access possible in a SAC is limited by the number of resources it can hold, facilities it can offer, and hours of service it can provide. Another question arises as to how students come to enter this physical space: if they are required to go into the SAC, this may be in opposition to the very notion of self-access (see Cooker, 2010). However, if no such requirement is made, possibly only those students who already have an !

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understanding of the nature of SALL will avail themselves of the resources. If learner autonomy is to be truly realized, there needs to be a lifting of these “restrictions” imposed by the physical SAC. The nature of language learning, and SALL in particular, is changing (for a discussion of this point, see Reinders, 2012). The Internet, computers, and mobile devices have not only increased the quantity and quality of self-study materials, but have also made these resources much more widely and easily accessible. In the current age of ubiquitous digital technology (Sampson, Isaias, Ifenthaler & Spector, 2011), it has become possible to supplement the physical SAC with a virtual SAC, allowing learners much greater freedom in when, where, what, and how they study. Accordingly, the Self-Access Learning Centre (SALC) at Kanda University of International Studies (KUIS) in Chiba, Japan has been focusing on creating an online presence to augment its physical space. This was considered both timely and logical as not only was there an expansion of wireless Internet across the campus, but also a general proliferation of mobile devices and social networking services being used by the students (Barrs, 2011). Furthermore, SALC users had previously demonstrated an interest in using technology for language learning (Castellano, Mynard, & Rubesch, 2011). This article reports on the developments made over the past three years in creating an online presence for the SALC to supplement the physical center. With A Successful SAC, Why an Online Presence? Reinders and White (2011) state that “technology has the potential to not only provide access to resources for learning in a superficial sense, but also to offer increased affordances for autonomous learning” (p. 1). In this way, technology can liberate self-access learning from its physical confines by vastly opening up the volume, velocity and variety of resources available to the learner. These three concepts are commonly associated with the idea of ‘Big Data’, where the amount (volume), the speed (velocity), and the diversity (variety) of data are presenting modern society with a wide array of affordances and challenges (Zikopoulos, Eaton, deRoos, Deutsch, & Lapis, 2012). However, they are also applicable to the area of SALL, where the number of selfaccess language-related resources which can be used, the speed with which they can be accessed, and the variety in which they can be found continues to be transformed by advances in webbased technologies. !

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This increase in the volume, velocity, and variety of materials which can be accessed by the learner is especially true in the current context of an ‘always-connected’ society. More and more people are able to access the internet 24 hours a day through mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers and have access to a myriad of websites, as well as social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. In such a context it is increasingly difficult to imagine a business or institution without some sort of online presence: a primary “home” on the internet designed to provide stakeholders (be they customers, clients, or users) with, at the very least, basic information such as contact details, opening hours, and answers to frequently asked questions. Recognizing the mutually supportive and interconnected relationship between the physical and virtual worlds, the materials development group undertook an ongoing project to develop and manage an online presence for the SALC at KUIS. In general, the authors felt that such an online presence would produce several advantages for both the learners and the SALC itself. A deliberate, integrated approach was used so that each of the elements of the online presence complimented each other and supported the physical SALC. This allowed for accommodation of different learner preferences and crosspromotion of the SALC as an institution. The heart of the online presence is a student-centered website (www.elisalc.org) which acts as the online hub of the SALC, allowing users to access the center at any time from any internet-connected device. Presented in simplified English, the site is designed to be colorful and inviting. In addition to the website, a number of technologies were used to create an online presence: •

Social media sites (i.e. Twitter and Facebook);

An image sharing site

QR codes

An online reservation system

Resource archives

Support of individualized and independent learning When creating an online presence, the developers were conscious of augmenting the physical space and strove to incorporate principles of autonomous learning – not merely inundating SALC users with unguided choices. Sheerin (1997) states that “proponents of selfaccess centres put forward two main reasons for their advocacy: the pragmatic- individualization, !

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and the ideological- promotion of learner independence” (p. 55). Although Sheerin was referring to physical SACs (and was writing before the widespread use of the internet in educational contexts) we believe that the same two qualities can be enhanced by expanding the scope of SACs into the online domain. The SALC website hosts and curates several pages of external links for language learners chosen to compliment the programmatic goals of the center and the center’s host institution. These pages, which emulate and supplement the physical SALC’s subject areas, are chosen specifically to compliment and expand the materials on the shelves of the physical center (reading, grammar, pronunciation, learning with music, etc.). The pages feature several links which are vetted and recommended by SALC users and learning advisors. Each link is explained with a brief overview outlining its strengths. This provides users with essential guidance in choosing appropriate autonomous learning websites (Murray, 1999). Similar to the SALC website, online social networks (i.e. a Facebook page and Twitter feed) are used in order to connect students with external language learning opportunities. By using these two widely popular social networking services, a large number of students can be quickly and easily reached and informed about pedagogically useful resources found across the web. These external resources have been chosen to complement existing materials in the SALC, such as vocabulary level check sites, grammar quizzes, online listening activities and graded readers. Furthermore, Facebook and Twitter are used to link to websites recommended during language learning workshops run in the SALC, and in this way these two social networks act as an extension of the workshops, allowing students to access further online learning resources in their own time, wherever they choose. This also allows students who are unable to attend the workshops in person to still be able to benefit from them, again increasing the reach of the SALC’s materials, resources, and support. In terms of offering SALC users choice, flexibility, and agency in meeting their language needs, an online reservation system was established for booking appointments with learning advisors and writing center tutors, as well as reservations for the center’s regular workshops and facilities (i.e. speaking booths and multi-purpose rooms). They also directly connect the online space with the physical space by expanding the scope of the center. In order to even further extend the accessibility of materials in the SALC, mobile device-readable QR codes are posted on the shelves of the center to connect the areas to the above-mentioned links for language !

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learning, thereby encouraging students to further their study with the recommended online resources hosted on the website. Promotion of the SALC The ubiquity of Facebook and Twitter as primary online social networks around the world means that they are very effective platforms for disseminating information quickly, widely, and effectively. Not only can students who have “liked” the SALC’s Facebook page or followed the Twitter feed quickly see postings and updates, but if they interact by “liking”, commenting, or re-tweeting, there is the potential for their friends to see the postings and updates too. Furthermore, as long as students have a Facebook account, they can read the postings on the SALC’s Facebook page without being forced to actually “like” the page. With Twitter, the SALC’s feed can be seen regardless of whether or not the learner has a personal account. This allows an important privacy option if students would rather not link their own Facebook or Twitter accounts with that of social media sites managed by the university. The Facebook page and Twitter feed are used to link to useful language learning resources found elsewhere on the web, to promote SALC-related events such as parties, competitions, and workshops, and to link-in with announcements and updates on the main SALC website. It was hoped that using these sites for these purposes would help extend the reach of this information much more quickly and widely than was possible with traditional forms of promotion, such as posters and leaflets put up around the SALC. Furthermore, Twitter parties (commonly referred to as Tweet-ups) are held in the SALC to celebrate milestones in reaching a certain number of followers. These events are advertised only via Twitter and are another chance for the virtual world of Twitter to link-in directly with the physical goings on of the SALC. They are held at lunch time and include drinks, snacks, quizzes, and conversations. They have also been a very valuable time to garner opinions on how learners best like to use and interact with the Twitter feed, as well as provide an opportunity to discuss technology in the SALC in general. In a similar fashion, the main page of the website hosts promotional announcements, as well as the latest Tweets and links to the social media sites. In addition, an integrated image sharing site (in this case, Flickr) allows the center to share promotional photos of events. Such sites can also provide a platform for student visual work and further community building.

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Providing access to hosted and archived content A further benefit of an online presence is that of collecting promotional and archival content. The website has proven an optimal place to share copies of the SALC’s quarterly newsletter. Social image sharing sites allow the SALC to publicly archive event photos. The site also creates a repository of workshop materials and hosts independent module-course materials. Conclusion An integrated online presence allows a new dimension to be added to the term self-access. This dimension is a virtual one, where restrictions concerning learners’ access to language materials can be lifted. It allows for new and creative ways to foster a self-access learner community and to promote a center’s events, services, resources, and facilities. Furthermore, it allows for archiving and hosting in-house learning and promotional materials. This article has outlined the major technologies introduced in the development of the online presence of the SALC at KUIS and has shown the main functional areas that these technologies serve. The development of this virtual side of the SALC is very much a work in progress, and is necessarily flexible and adaptive to the changes inherent in the technologies. The authors argue that such projects have value for both the institutions they represent and the learners they serve. We agree with Mynard (2012) that “a self-access facility is much more than just a library of resources” and do not foresee (or advocate) the expanding role of an online presence as a path leading to the end of physical SACs. Indeed, learners will need guidance in selecting and using the materials offered in the virtual SAC just as they need it in the physical one. Therefore, we feel that virtual components both complement and enhance the physical SAC while adhering to the core principles of self-access.

Notes on the contributors Troy Rubesch is a senior lecturer at Otemon Gakuin University in Osaka, Japan. He earned his MA in Second Language Studies from the University of Hawaii. His professional interests include Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL), specifically language education software and distance language education. !

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Keith Barrs is an associate professor in the department of English language and literature at Hiroshima Shudo University. He is primarily interested in the analysis of language in use, specifically with what can be revealed by loanwords in a language through reference to corpora studies. His current research is concerned with the semantic behavior of English loanwords in the Japanese language. References Barrs, K. (2011). Mobility in learning: The feasibility of encouraging language learning on smartphones. Studies in Self-Access Learning Journal, 2(3), 228-233. Retrieved from http://sisaljournal.org/archives/sep11/barrs/ Benson, P., & Reinders, H. (Eds.). (2011). Beyond the language classroom. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. Castellano, J., Mynard, J., & Rubesch, T. (2011). Student technology use in a self-access center. Language Learning & Technology Journal, 15(3), 12-27. Retrieved from http://llt.msu.edu/issues/october2011/actionresearch.pdf Cooker, L. (2010). Some self-access principles. Studies in Self-Access Learning Journal, 1(1), 59. Retrieved from http://sisaljournal.org/archives/jun10/cooker/ Murray, D. E. (1999). Access to information technology: Considerations for language educators. Prospect, 14(3), 4-12. Mynard, J. (2012). Does ‘self-access’ still have life in it?: A response to Reinders (2012). ELTWorldOnline.com, 4. Retrieved from http://blog.nus.edu.sg/eltwo/2012/06/13/does‘self-access’-still-have-life-in-it-a-response-to-reinders-2012/ Reinders, H. (2012). The end of self-access?: From walled garden to public park. ELTWorldOnline.com, 4. Retrieved from http://blog.nus.edu.sg/eltwo/2012/06/13/theend-of-self-access-from-walled-garden-to-public-park/ Reinders, H., & White, C. (2011). Special issue commentary: Learner autonomy and new learning environments. Language Learning and Technology, 15(3), 1-3. Retrieved from http://llt.msu.edu/issues/october2011/commentary.pdf Sampson, D. G., Isaias, P., Ifenthaler, D., & Spector, J. M. (Eds.). (2011). Ubiquitous and mobile learning in the digital age. New York, NY: Springer.

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Sheerin, S. (1997). An exploration of the relationship between self-access and independent learning. In P. Benson & P. Voller (Eds.) Autonomy and independence in language learning (pp. 54-65). Harlow, UK: Pearson. Zikopoulos, P. C., Eaton, C., deRoos, D., Deutsch, T., & Lapis, G. (2012). Understanding big data: Analytics for enterprise class hadoop and streaming data. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. Retrieved from http://public.dhe.ibm.com/common/ssi/ecm/en/iml14296usen/IML14296USEN.PDF

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Considering Peer Support for Self-Access Learning Craig Manning, University of Shimane, Japan Abstract This paper briefly examines if and how peer support can be implemented as an appropriate means to improve self-access learning. The potential for further alignment with the higher aims common among self-access learning centers will be examined. Opportunities for increasing interdependence, purpose, and level of challenge to foster student engagement will also be explored. Finally, future directions in selfaccess learning will be discussed. Keywords: peer support, alignment, autonomy, interdependent learning, community ‘Peer support’ is a form of cooperative learning. It is a broad term used to describe a variety of more specific roles students may take on to enhance the learning of others, including, but not limited to, peer helping, facilitating, advising, instructing, aiding, assisting, and leading (Newton & Ender, 2010). Six years ago, the University of Shimane began developing a peer-support program to aid students who were struggling with English (Manning, 2013). Advanced students were trained to become peer facilitators and supported three to four lower-level students each. Positive feedback and significant improvements on tests stimulated the creation of similar programs to help incoming freshman students transition to university life more successfully. Again, these programs have yielded positive results. While these programs are much too large to be conducted within the University of Shimane’s small Language Learning Support Room, they align with the aims of the self-access learning center (SALC). If our SALC were larger, it would be an ideal place to host these small group study sessions. Recent inquiries from institutions with larger SALCs, considering the possibility of creating similar programs, led to a presentation at the Directions in Selfaccess Learning Symposium in October, 2013, and this corresponding paper. Rather than focusing on programs implemented at the University of Shimane, this paper aims to examine reasons why institutions might consider using some form of peer support to enhance student experiences and learning outcomes in their SALC.

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2014, 50-57 Alignment with Educational Objectives When considering a new educational program, alignment with larger institutional objectives is recommended as a first step (Ornstein & Hunkins, 1998). To achieve alignment with higher educational objectives, it is important that SALC services work to reach at least one desired outcome. Unsurprisingly, objectives vary with each university and their corresponding SALCs. Thus, SALC managers will need to determine what kind of peer support is most appropriate for their specific aims and context. The diversity and flexibility with which peer support can be designed and implemented make it worth considering for promoting more successful outcomes. For the sake of discussion, peer support will be considered as it aligns with some of the more common SALC aims. In a recent correspondence, typical SALC aims were summarized as follows: “From a practical perspective, self-access provides support and opportunities for learning outside normal class hours, opportunities for target language practice, and study options to suit all learners” (J. Mynard, personal communication, September 30, 2013). The phrases “provide support and opportunities” and “study options to suit all learners” are particularly relevant when considering a peer-support system to improve self-access learning. In terms of support, students may feel more comfortable asking peers simple questions, thereby increasing the chances they will actively seek help. Also, peer supporters may often be easier to understand than teachers, especially when the teacher and student do not share the same first language. Plus, peers may be in a better position to identify and understand the other student’s situation (Lockspeiser, O’Sullivan, Teherani, & Muller, 2008). These factors provide more preferable study options for some students. As for opportunities, a teacher’s time to support students is limited due to many other responsibilities. However, peer supporters can supplement more traditional means of support, thereby increasing opportunities to learn. Promoting self-directed and autonomous learning are also important aims among many SALCs. Peer support should not be overlooked as a means to help

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2014, 50-57 achieve these aims. Autonomy may be associated with the image of working alone. However, Holec (1980) suggests learner autonomy can take different forms in different contexts. He describes autonomy as an individual’s ability to make decisions when determining objectives, defining the contents and progression, selecting methods and techniques to be used, monitoring the procedure of acquisition properly, and evaluating what has been acquired. None of these categories entail working alone. As such, providing opportunities for students to study interpedently can also foster learner autonomy. Students may desire the opportunity to join a positive and supportive, student-led study group. Student supporters could even be given specific training as peer advisors to help new students use the SALC more effectively in order to facilitate further autonomous learning. Maintaining a Learning Focus and Cultivating Motivation Interdependent learning may often be more effective than independent learning for encouraging sustained SALC usage. A study conducted by Hughes, Krug, and Vye (2012) reveals that the majority of students first sought out their SALC for learning purposes, but continued visiting for social reasons. This finding is consistent with my own independent research, which included interviews with our most frequent SALC visitors. In these interviews, all of the students described social reasons for visiting our Language Learning Support Room. In some cases, these increasingly social visits remained focused on learning, while others became less productive. Introducing a peer-support system is one way to encourage a maintained focus on learning while developing social relationships at the same time. Encouraging a supportive community within the student population has a large potential to benefit students, and as Mellanby, Rees, and Tripp (2000) point out, in many situations, peer influence may be stronger than that of adults, including teachers, parents, or other experts. Providing a meaningful role of support and training students to fill it may also be a motivational stimulant. Csikszentmihalyi (1990) suggests that people are happiest working on tasks while in a state between anxiety and boredom, which he calls flow. As a person’s skills increase, the level of challenge or difficulty must also increase to maintain a state of flow. If students do not have the skills or knowledge to complete difficult tasks, they may feel overwhelmed or anxious. On the other hand, if 52


SiSAL Journal Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2014, 50-57 students have explored all a SALC has to offer, they may become bored. However, challenging advanced students to help others learn is an appropriate way to keep them in the flow state. This practice has the added benefit of reinforcing previously obtained knowledge or finding gaps in knowledge. Mynard and Almarzouqi (2006) also observed that peer tutors learned by teaching others, felt they had an opportunity to do something worthwhile, and became more responsible. Once students become skillful peer advisors, facilitators, or tutors, training and managing new supporters are further challenges to increase difficulty and protect motivation. Students are capable of fulfilling such roles. On almost every campus, students discuss which classes to take and occasionally help each other with homework. In this sense, every university already has an informal peer-support system. However, there are several reasons in favor of introducing a formal peer-support system. Trained peer educators are more effective, as untrained supporters have been shown to be less effective (Falchikov, 2001). For example, trained helpers are more likely to know how to respond to correct or incorrect answers in a manner that enhances student learning and motivation. They should also be more familiar with the learning material than someone without training. However, there are limitations to what a peer should be expected to do, and as Newton and Ender (2010) note, students can be trained to meet some needs, but others require additional support. Even formally trained peers should not be expected to be able to do everything. Creating a formal system of support, with appropriate roles and responsibilities distributed between students and teachers, can facilitate effective teamwork and help ensure that appropriate forms of support are being offered. This includes support for the trained peer helpers as well. To promote a positive experience for everyone, it is important for peer supporters to have access to help when faced with difficult questions or situations. Future Directions Universities fortunate enough to have SALCs typically start out by providing resources for students. This may include access to materials or to native English speakers. If SALCs fossilize in this state, they could fail to develop beyond providing a somewhat static environment for learning, as the SALCs would not change in response to the students’ actions. Speculatively, encouraging students to interact and collaborate with each other in a learning-centered community of support could be an

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2014, 50-57 effective approach to make a SALC environment more dynamic. This could also generate opportunities for students to take on new challenges as their skills increase. It is certainly possible to imagine a SALC in which the students have a highly increased sense of ownership, participate in a meaningful community, and contribute to enhance the learning of others. In such an environment, change would be driven by the constantly shifting demands of helping each other learn more enjoyably and effectively. This would also provide new challenges for students to overcome, thereby boosting engagement. Plus, peer support includes the social and collaborative aspects that previously mentioned SALC research (Hughes et al., 2012) has shown to be desirable. Therefore, a peer-support program should theoretically increase SALC retention rates for prolonged usage. Practical Tools and Tips Students are one of the greatest resources in any given SALC, but unfortunately this resource remains largely untapped in many cases. Some administrators may hesitate to endorse action or provide funding because there is no guarantee that a peer-support program will be successful. Without deviating from the aims of this paper, it is worth briefly mentioning a few general guiding principles and recommended tools to greatly increase the chances of success. These ideas have been selected based on personal experience and may be especially useful for those who are drafting proposals for a new peer-support program or designing a pilot study. Maintain voluntary participation. It is always possible that there will be a few students who have a strong aversion to working in groups. To avoid creating negative experiences, make participation voluntary for students giving or receiving help. Olsen and Kagan (1992) have been influential in the creation of the more successful peer-support programs at the University of Shimane. Their key elements for successfully implementing group-based cooperative learning are as follows: • positive interdependence • group formation • individual accountability • social skills • structuring of activities

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These five elements are interconnected. Ensuring that groups have a positive and productive start has a very large impact on the future of the program. Groups that begin without a clear purpose and lack of focus may have more difficulty learning effectively in later study sessions. The structuring of activities is influential because it can enable each member to have a distinct purpose and specific means to contribute to the group, which leads to positive interdependence. Creating positive interdependence can help keep the focus on learning, while allowing social elements to develop. Finally, to ensure that students are benefiting from the experience, individual accountability allows the progress of each student to be monitored for evaluation and self reflection. Each of the elements Olsen and Kagan (1992) suggest can be used together effectively to make learning more enjoyable and effective. One common problem, encountered by new participants in a peer-support program, is the lack of a clear initial image of what everyone should be doing. To overcome this problem, study sessions may be recorded and the footage used to provide examples for future participants. This form of near-peer role modeling (Murphey, 1998) can greatly clarify the roles and responsibilities for new participants, whether they will be providing or receiving help. It may also generate mutual expectations, which can prevent problems resulting from conflicting ideas about what should be done. To further develop mutual expectations and to monitor progress, parallel surveys following study sessions are recommended; one for the helper and one for the person receiving help. The surveys should include specific items describing soughtafter behaviors. For example, on the tutors’ questionnaire, agree/disagree statements like, “Today, I helped students answer their own questions.” would correspond to similar questions on the tutees’ questionnaire, such as, “Today, I tried to answer my own questions.” This parallel survey system seems to influence mutual expectations, as changes in student behaviors have been observed immediately after the addition of new survey items. An open-ended question is also recommended to identify problems and things that are going well. For example, a student might complain that her tutor was chewing gum. On the other hand, another student might share that he was able to concentrate well during the study session. Sharing these comments with tutors may encourage them improve or continue trying hard. To implement the surveys, a QR code linked to google forms may be convenient. This system allows students to access 55


SiSAL Journal Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2014, 50-57 the survey from a printed card, carried by helpers or posted in the study area, using their cell phones. Links on course websites are also a convenient means for implementing the surveys. Conclusion This paper set out to examine why institutions might consider incorporating some form of peer support to enhance student experiences and learning outcomes in their SALCs. Working towards this aim, it was argued that peer support is likely to align well with the higher educational aims of a university and SALC. The literature was reviewed to show that formalizing peer support has the potential to be highly influential, beneficial, and motivational for students. Finally, a few practical suggestions were briefly provided as a starting point for those inspired to draft a proposal or pilot a new program. SALCs are relatively new to language learning, but some may already be at risk of fossilizing in a static state. The more successful SALCs will undoubtedly be the ones that are constantly evolving and improving. Peer support is a time-tested method with a strong research base demonstrating that it can be used effectively in a wide variety of contexts. Yet, peer support, as a means to enhance SALC outcomes within the field of language learning, is still in its infancy and in need of further research and development. As the research within this area grows, so will the effectiveness of such programs, helping students to reach their full potential. Notes on the contributor Craig Manning aims to inspire and empower students to make learning more enjoyable and effective. He is a lecturer at the University of Shimane with ten years of experience as an English language teacher. He has an M.A. in TEFL from the University of Birmingham. His current research interests include peer support and student motivation. References Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). The psychology of optimal experience. New York, NY: Harper & Row.

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2014, 50-57 Falchikov, N. (2001). Learning together: Peer tutoring in higher education. New York, NY: Routledge Falmer. Holec, H. (1980). Autonomy in foreign language learning. Strasbourg, France: Council of Europe. Hughes, L. S., Krug, N. P., & Vye, S. L. (2012). Advising practices: A survey of selfaccess learner motivations and preferences. Studies in Self-Access Learning Journal, 3(2), 163-181. http://sisaljournal.org/archives/jun12/hughes_krug_vye/ Lockspeiser, T. M., O’Sullivan, P., Teherani, A., & Muller, J. (2008). Understanding the experience of being taught by peers: The value of social and cognitive congruence. Advances in Health Sciences Education, 13(3), 361-372. doi:10.1007/s10459-006-9049-8 Manning, C. (2013). Making an impact with peer tutoring. In N. Sonda & A. Krause (Eds.), JALT2012 conference proceedings (pp. 186-193). Tokyo, Japan: JALT. Mellanby, A. R., Rees, J. B., & Tripp, J. H. (2000). Peer-led and adult-led school health education: a critical review of available comparative research. Health Education Research: Theory & Practice,15, 533–545. doi:10.1093/her/15.5.533 Murphey, T. (1998). Motivating with near peer role models. In B. Visgatis (Ed.), On JALT ’97: Trends and traditions: Proceedings of the JALT 1997 international conference on language teaching and learning (pp. 201–206). Tokyo, Japan: JALT. Mynard J., & Almarzouqi, I. (2006). Investigating peer tutoring. ELT Journal. 60(1), 13-22. doi:10.1093/elt/cci077 Newton, F., & Ender, S. (2010). Students helping students: A guide for peer educators on college campuses. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Olsen, R., & Kagan, S. (1992). About cooperative learning. In C. Kessler (Ed.), Cooperative language learning: A teacher’s resource book (pp. 1-30). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. Ornstein, A., & Hunkins, F. (1998). Curriculum foundations, principles, and issues (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2014, 58-78 !

Introduction to the Column Katherine Thornton, Otemon Gakuin University, Osaka, Japan In the fourth installment of the column following the self-directed learning curriculum development project at Kanda University of International Studies, Japan, Satoko Watkins, Neil Curry and Jo Mynard detail the process of conducting a pilot of a possible self-directed learning curriculum for freshmen students, that would meet the needs and principles established in the previous two installments. This pilot represents quite a shift for the learning advisors (LAs), as it would bring what has up until now been a largely self-study course into the mainstream classroom environment, taught by LAs. The installment offers an insight into the strengths and potential weaknesses of such a course, and how students responded to it.

Piloting and Evaluating a Redesigned Self-Directed Learning Curriculum Satoko Watkins, Kanda University of International Studies, Japan Neil Curry, Kanda University of International Studies, Japan Jo Mynard, Kanda University of International Studies, Japan

In the previous three column installments, the Self-Access Learning Centre (SALC) curriculum development project, delivered by the Learning Advisor (LA) team at Kanda University of International Studies (KUIS), was introduced. The installments covered: framework and environment analysis (Thornton, 2013), needs analysis (Takahashi et al., 2013), and principles and evaluation of the existing curriculum (Lammons, 2013). The curriculum development project was undertaken systematically, based on an adaptation of a curriculum design model originally intended for language curriculum design (Nation & Macalister, 2010). The present and fourth installment documents Phase 3 of the process illustrated in Figure 1: Design & Piloting. This phase included the following: ! Re-designing the delivery format, content, sequencing, and assessment ready to pilot ! Piloting the new curriculum with one freshman class ! Evaluating the pilot ! Analyzing the results ! Conclusions

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2014, 58-78 !

Figure 1. The Curriculum Modification Framework (adapted from Nation and Macalister, 2010 by Thornton, 2013)

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2014, 58-78 ! Re-designing the Format, Content and Sequencing, and Assessment Format Format refers to how the curriculum would actually be delivered to the students i.e. as an optional outside class self-study course, as classroom-based content etc. and was the first item that needed to be decided. It was decided that the curriculum should be piloted with one Freshman English class over the course of the first semester, which involved firstly compulsory in-class input sessions taught by LAs, and secondly an optional outside class self-study supported by LAs. There could have been other delivery formats; piloting a new optional learner training course which would replace the existing First Steps Module (FSM), asking teachers to pilot the material in class without the assistance of LAs, or offering a series of optional workshops to instruct students on self-access learning, but classroom delivery by LAs was chosen for three main reasons. Firstly, offering SALC curriculum content during class time would be a more practical way to reach all freshman English students in the future, as opposed to offering only an optional course. Secondly, this format enabled the LA team to adhere to the established principles of format and presentation for a self-directed language learning course (see appendix A). For instance, the principles suggest ensuring that the course caters for different learning styles and students preferences, the input and experimental learning are balanced, and the students are provided with opportunities to interact with peers. These principles were established based upon the results of the environment analysis (see Thornton, 2013), the needs analysis (see Takahashi et al., 2013), focus groups (Hasegawa & Thornton, forthcoming), consulting literature, and established learning outcomes in the previous stage of the curriculum design project (see Lammons, 2013). In particular, the format allowed for numerous opportunities for students to work with peers and for different kinds of reflection and interaction (written, face to face, peer, etc.). Finally, as this was part of a research project, the LAs could work closely with the students and the teacher in order to make observations and gather information that would be important for later decision making. Thus, the pilot course outline was developed as identified in Table 1 and consisted of two phases. First, there was a compulsory phase where the Core Course Content (CCC) would provide the self-directed learning (SDL) training that was identified as being crucial during the needs analysis phase of the project (see Takahashi et al., 2013). The CCC was followed by an optional period where students could implement their individualised SDL plans. This second 60


SiSAL Journal Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2014, 58-78 ! phase was optional and took place outside the classroom because of the LA team s belief in learner autonomy, and the idea that students need to have some choice in and control over their own learning. It was thought that students who completed the initial CCC would have the tools with which to create an SDL plan anytime in the future. Table 1. Pilot Course Outline Week

Content

Format

Week 1

- SALC Orientation - Goal-setting (CCC)

In class input session and outside class reflection writing

Week 2

Learning Resources (CCC)

In class input session and outside class reflection writing

Week 3

Learning Strategies (CCC)

In class input session and outside class reflection writing

Week 4

Create a Learning Plan (CCC)

In class input session and outside class reflection writing

Weeks 5 - 7

Implementation of Learning Plan

Outside class (optional)

Week 8

Final Report

Outside class

Content and sequencing The CCC material used was a mixture of new and existing materials; many of the activities were similar to those that had featured in previous SALC modules, workshops and courses. However, the materials selected were deemed to adequately introduce the learning outcomes (see Takahashi et al., 2013 for details of the learning outcomes). In addition, every attempt was made to ensure that the content adhered to the established principles for content and sequencing for self-directed language learning courses (see appendix A for details). For example, these principles assured the content coverage, opportunities for personalisation, and learnability of the materials. The sequencing was determined based on experience gained by administering the FSM course. It was carefully monitored during the pilot phase by the LAs reflecting on such matters as the use of the materials and the reactions of the students, using a shared document and also in

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2014, 58-78 ! weekly meetings, in case changes would be necessary for future courses. The CCC (in order) was: ! Using the SALC and the English Language Institute services (Writing Centre, Practice

Centre and the Yellow Sofas (a free conversation practice area) ! Analyzing needs, setting and reviewing goals ! Selecting, using and evaluating resources ! Selecting, using and evaluating strategies ! Making, implementing and evaluating a learning plan ! Evaluating linguistic gains

Optional Course Content (OCC) is content which was deemed important, but best introduced organically within the CCC and also made available in a more tailored way to students when relevant, rather than introduced to all module or course-takers at the same time (Lammons, 2013). The two OCC concepts were “Time Management” and “Affective Strategies” and these were introduced to the students through two extra classroom workshops in the second semester at the request of the teacher. In addition, these concepts were introduced to individual students at appropriate times during the piloting phase. Assessment The approach to assessment was guided by the principles for the self-directed languagelearning course (see appendix A for details). These ensure that the students are assessed on the core learning outcomes and not language proficiency, that the assessment is consistent between LAs, and that the assessment procedure is practical and realistic for LAs. For the pilot, the students work during the first four content sections was not assessed as these were input sessions, and students were not required to provide the evidence of learning at this point; however, students had to complete a minimal amount of work each week in order to receive the extra credits for the course. For those students who had continued with the implementation of the learning plan, additional credits were given based on a simple descriptive rubric relating to the learning outcomes, indicating that students had approached the standard , met the standard or exceeded the standard in each of the learning outcome areas (see Takahashi et al., 2013 (appendix) for details). Further aspects of assessment will be discussed in the next installment of this column, which includes an overview of assessment of SDL, previous assessment tools and 62


SiSAL Journal Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2014, 58-78 ! methods used, and how these have contributed to the evolution of the assessment procedures of the SALC SDL curriculum. Piloting the New Curriculum with One Freshman Class A new advanced-track Freshman English curriculum was being implemented in 2013, so the team took the opportunity to pilot the material in one class of this new course. One Freshman English teacher kindly agreed to participate and made four 90-minute class periods available in May and June 2013. The pilot class consisted of 20 students who all agreed to participate in the study. Three LAs (the authors of this paper) used the four class periods to introduce the pilot versions of the CCC activities during the four weeks. Even though this advantageous ratio of LAs to students could not be sustained during a full implementation version (which needs to reach around 900 students), there were benefits to having three LAs involved in the piloting. The main purpose was so that the implementation phase could be observed by three researchers, which proved useful for subsequent evaluation of the pilot. The class was split into three groups of six or seven students with one advisor assuming responsibility for that same group for the remainder of the course. This enabled the LAs to establish close relationships with those students and to become more aware of their particular needs, goals, strengths and weaknesses in order to observe more easily whether the activities were meeting the students needs. Evaluating the Pilot Focus and tools for evaluation The pilot phase (Phase 3 in the curriculum modification process shown in Figure 1) was evaluated using various tools that feature in Nation and Macalister's (2010) "Focus and tools for evaluation of teaching and learning (p. 129). Five focus areas were chosen from the original list and six tools were identified as the most relevant to the context (shown in Table 2). In the interests of space, three tools (student self-evaluation, student survey, and course evaluation checklist) are discussed below as these have covered all five focus areas.

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2014, 58-78 ! Table 2. Focus and Tools for the Pilot Phase Evaluation (adapted from Nation and Macalister, 2010) Focus

Tools

Amount of learning

Student self-evaluation Student survey Student SDL course work

Quality of learning

Student survey Student SDL course work Researcher notes Teacher observations

Quality of teaching

Student survey Researcher notes

Quality of curriculum design

Course evaluation checklist

LA and learner satisfaction

Student survey Researcher notes Teacher observations

Analyzing the Results Student self-evaluation At the beginning of the pilot phase, students completed a short self-evaluation questionnaire for the purpose of initially evaluating their perceived knowledge of the CCC and subsequently their amount of learning (see appendix B for the questionnaire and the results). This questionnaire comprised two parts: evaluation of existing knowledge of the SALC and LAs, and evaluation of students previous knowledge and experience of the CCC areas. It also served to raise awareness among the students of the types of skills involved in SDL and reminded students of the opportunities for learning outside the classroom. As a result, it was found that the majority of students (around 70%), although being somewhat familiar with the SALC, were not aware of the CCC areas.

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2014, 58-78 ! One of the ways in which to gauge whether the content delivery had been successful was to administer the questionnaire again in week 4 at the end of the input sessions to provide a comparison. The results showed that around 80% of students stated that they knew how to utilise the skills, compared to about the same number not knowing previously. Student survey Also in week 4, a student survey was conducted in order to evaluate the amount of learning, the quality of learning and teaching, and student satisfaction (see Table 2). However, it must be taken into account that one potential weakness of using a survey, especially after working so closely with the students, was that they may have been inclined to respond with answers that they thought would be favourable to the LAs and the teacher. To allow for this weakness, all questionnaires were completed anonymously. The survey was created based on following three research questions: •

How useful and interesting did students perceive the SALC activities to be?

What were student views on the activities themselves?

Why did students choose / choose not to implement their learning plans? 1) How useful and interesting did the students perceive the SALC activities to be? In the first section of the survey, the students were asked to rate whether twelve SALC

activities were useful according to the scale: Very useful , Useful , Somewhat useful , Not useful . The students perceived most activities to be either Very useful or Useful . The items that were perceived to be the most useful by the majority of the students were: •

Getting written comments from a learning advisor

Setting big and small goals

Evaluating language gain

Making a learning plan In addition to the usefulness of the activities, the students indicated their interest in all

twelve SALC activities. The students rated most of the activities as “interesting”, but overall, in comparison to “usefulness”, the figure was lower (see appendix C for the results of the student survey section one). As previous research has indicated (Hasegawa & Thornton, forthcoming; 65


SiSAL Journal Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2014, 58-78 ! Mynard, Takahashi, & Yamaguchi, 2011), students have mixed views on the role of written reflections due to the lack of clear understanding of the purpose and rated “writing reflections each week” as least interesting. However, the results indicated that students value written advising from learning advisors, and it was rated the highest factor for both interest and usefulness in this survey 2) What were students’ views on the activities themselves? In the second section, the students were asked to rate 17 statements related to the SALC activities by level of difficulty and amount of time spent, preference, and effectiveness and learning gains. Four scales were used: Strongly agree , Agree , Disagree , and Strongly disagree . 1. Difficulty level and time spent: ! More than 90% of students felt that the level was adequate and the time spent on the

activities in class was sufficient 2. Preference: ● All students enjoyed working with learning advisors ● All except one student wanted to continue working with a learning advisor ● 90% said they want to take an optional SALC module in the future ● 50% would prefer to write reflections electronically

3. Effectiveness and learning gains: ● All students found that studying content through in-class workshops was effective ● 85% believed that they benefitted from discussing ideas with other students ● 95% believed that they were able to apply the concepts to their own learning ● 84% thought that the SALC activities made them think more deeply about how they learn

English

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2014, 58-78 ! 3) Why did students choose / choose not to implement their learning plans? In the last section, 85% said they chose to implement their learning plans and 15% chose not to. Those who decided to continue found their learning plan useful for achieving their language learning goals and believed that the experience would be beneficial. Those who decided not to implement their plans expressed their desire to continue, but explained that their schedule would not allow them to do so. Pilot evaluation checklist Evaluation of the pilot design was achieved using the same checklists from Phase 2 when it was used to evaluate the existing First Steps Module (see Lammons, 2013 for details of how the checklists were created). The CCC (orientation and goal-setting, learning resources, learning strategies, learning plan, implementation of learning plan) were evaluated separately using the checklists. This was in order to ensure that all content fulfilled all principles, for instance whether socio-effective, cognitive and metacognitive skills were covered, if students were able to utilise prior knowledge and skills, and whether the amount of content was suitable in terms of workload. The evaluation revealed that the course generally satisfied all principles, but some points need to be addressed as identified in Table 3. Table 3. Strengths and Weaknesses Identified in the Pilot Course Content Pilot Course Content Orientation and Goal-setting

Strengths

Weaknesses

The unit satisfies most principles on the checklist

More scope for peer-sharing activities should be provided

Content allows learners to inform LAs about how they have previously learned languages

Goal-setting should comprise total lesson time and the SALC orientation should occur at a different time

Some guidance and training for reflection is needed (it could be embedded into the main freshman course, but this would need consultation with teachers)

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2014, 58-78 !

Learning resources

Learning Strategies

Learning Plan

Implementation of Learning Plan

The unit satisfies all principles on the checklist

Content allows learners to spend some time exploring and raising awareness of resources before narrowing their focus

The unit satisfies most principles on the checklist

Content covers training / activities that suit learners’ current level of readiness

The unit satisfies all principles on the checklist

Content provides guidance • and opportunities for learners to draw on their preferences and individual differences to personalise the content

A sample learning plan should be added

The unit satisfies most principles on the checklist

Socio-affective skills were not covered

Content provides learners with opportunities to implement and reflect on what they have studied during learner training

Learning burden (e.g. workload) needs discussing with freshman English teachers

An extra session (e.g. a one-to-one meeting) is needed for monitoring the implementation process

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No weaknesses were found

Socio-affective skills were not covered

Some scaffolding for activities may be needed


SiSAL Journal Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2014, 58-78 ! Conclusions Based on the evaluation analysis of the five foci, it is fair to say that the pilot course produced positive results and provided both students and LAs with valuable experiences. Although some conditions were privileged in this pilot course (such as having three LAs in one class room, working with a teacher who values SDL skills, and advanced level students), it was an opportunity to see how the curriculum might work in a different format. After reviewing the obtained results, some changes need to be made in order to adequately address students’ needs. Particularly, the fact that there were many students who were not able to continue SDL training with LAs due to time constraints, despite their own willingness, indicates that further collaboration is necessary with freshman English teachers and the university administration, in order to increase opportunities to do so. What is clear, based on the research, is that in-class SDL training gave all of the students the opportunity to learn crucial SDL skills. Further possibilities for integration of SALC SDL training within freshman English courses still needs discussion not only in the SALC team but also with teachers and course coordinators. Through the pilot experience, the SALC team has developed a better understanding of what a successful program could look like, and will continue searching the ways to promote and develop SDL skills among students across the wider university community. Notes on the contributors Satoko Watkins holds an MA in TESOL from Hawai'i Pacific University, USA. Her research interests include learner development and empowerment. Neil Curry has been teaching in Japan for 8 years and is currently a learning advisor at Kanda University of International Studies. His primary interests are in Foreign Language Anxiety and language advising. Jo Mynard holds an M.Phil. in Applied Linguistics from Trinity College, Dublin (Ireland) and a Doctorate in TEFL from the University of Exeter (UK). Her research interests are in affect, advising, learner autonomy and CALL.

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2014, 58-78 ! Acknowledgements At various stages, the following people have been key members of the project described in this case study: Neil Curry, Yuki Hasegawa, Elizabeth Lammons, Tanya McCarthy, Brian R. Morrison, Jo Mynard, Diego Navarro, Junko Noguchi, Akiyuki Sakai, Keiko Takahashi, Katherine Thornton, Satoko Watkins, and Atsumi Yamaguchi. References Hasegawa, Y., & Thornton, K. (Forthcoming). Examining the perspectives of students on a selfdirected learning module. In J. Mynard & C. Ludwig (Eds.), Autonomy in language learning: Tools, tasks and environments. Faversham, UK: IATEFL. Lammons, E. (2013). Principles: Establishing the foundation for a self-access curriculum. Studies in Self-Access Learning Journal, 4(4), 353-366. Retrieved from http://sisaljournal.org/archives/dec13/lammons/ Mynard, J., Takahashi, K., & Yamaguchi, A. (2011). Learning how to learn / Sophomore modules group report. Studies in Linguistics and Language Teaching, 22, 260-262. Nation, I.S.P., & Macalister, J. (2010). Language curriculum design. London, UK: Routledge. Takahashi, K., Mynard, J., Noguchi, J., Sakai, A., Thornton, K., & Yamaguchi, A. (2013). Needs analysis: Investigating students’ self-directed learning needs using multiple data sources. Studies in Self-Access Learning Journal, 4(3), 208-218. Retrieved from http://sisaljournal.org/archives/sep13/takahashi_et_al/ Thornton, K. (2013). A framework for curriculum reform: Re-designing a curriculum for selfdirected language learning. Studies in Self-Access Learning Journal, 4(2), 142-153. Retrieved from http://sisaljournal.org/archives/june13/thornton/

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2014, 58-78 ! Appendices !""#$%&'(!!"#$%#&'()$'!*#&+!,-++&./0!12345! Principles for Format and Presentation, Content and Sequencing and Assessment Principles – Format and Presentation Flexibility: 1. Each course/module should have three kinds of content: (1) Core Course Content (CCC) which is deemed essential for all students (2) Optional Course Content (OCC) which students are provided access to, but are

not required to do, and (3) Resources and Materials (R&M) which are chosen by the learners and relate to

their needs and goals 2. Students should be free to choose their own R&M within the context of the course. 3. Learners should decide how to apply the CCC and OCC to their own learning 4. Syllabuses should cater for different learning styles and preferences 5. Learners should reflect on their learning in both written form and face to face Compulsory/optional: 6. Any course involving the writing of a learning plan should also include a certain time of implementation (the length of time may vary according to the individual course) 7. Learners should have optional opportunities to continue implementing a plan after a course has been completed. Input & Experience: 8. Learners should have opportunities to experiment with all of the core content or optional content that they learn about. (No content should be introduced without including such “experimentation� activities.) Integration with language classes: 9. Some learner training should occur as part of regular language courses (essential concepts to be decided on the basis of our needs analysis and with teachers) Interaction 10. Learners should be provided with opportunities to interact with other learners and have opportunities to share and learn from each other, in all courses, either face-to-face or online (or both).

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2014, 58-78 ! Presentation: 11. All input should be comprehensible for the learners 12. Some bilingual support for technical terms should be made available for students who want to use it (glossary etc). 13. The workload for students should be equal each week 14. The workload for each course should be realistic given other requirements on students’ time, and credit awarded (if applicable) Principles – Content & Sequencing Content: 1. Students should learn the following four different kinds of skills to optimise their learning. a. Socio-Affective Skills b. Cognitive Skills c. Metacognitive Skills d. Self-Management Skills Objectives: 2. Students should have a clear understanding of the aims and objectives of any course at the beginning (for example by sharing Learning Plans, as well as explaining them in course literature/orientation sessions). Awareness & Control: 3. Students should spend some time exploring and raising their awareness before narrowing down their focus and practicing taking control of their learning. Learning history: 4. The course should help learners explore and make the most effective use of previous learning experiences and inform LAs about how they have learned languages previously Implementation: 5. Students should have opportunities to implement what they have learned about in the learner training and reflect on it (combination of input & experience) in a single course Implementing an outside class plan: 6. Learners should have the opportunity to implement further optional learning plans outside class.

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2014, 58-78 ! Personalization: 7. The course should provide guidance in and opportunities for personalization of learning (Students should understand how to draw on their preferences and individual differences to personalise the content & have chances to exercise that personalization.) Teach- & learnability: 8. The teaching of content (input) should take account of when the learners are most ready to learn them (most likely different for different learners so needs to be flexible) Learning Burden: 9. The amount of content covered (whether as input or implementation of learning plans) should be realistic for a freshman student given their obligations to classes and extracurricular activities Learning Burden: 10. Some content (e.g. learning strategies, time management strategies – others) should be spread over several weeks rather than delivered in one unit/lesson/chapter/workshop Spaced retrieval: 11. Students should have increasingly spaced, repeated opportunities to retrieve and give attention to wanted items from learner training in a variety of contexts Reflection: 12. Students should reflect on each stage of the learning process. 13. Students should receive guidance and training about how to reflect/monitor their work. Principles-Assessment Grading/Assessment Content to be assessed: 1. Students should be assessed on the core learning outcomes introduced in a module/course 2. The core learning outcomes should be identified clearly for each course/module 3. Language proficiency (grammatical accuracy etc) should not be included in assessment 4. Students’ overall assessment should incorporate a participation element, i.e. that they completed a minimum amount of work each week

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2014, 58-78 ! Evidence: 5. Student assessment should incorporate artifacts (i.e. evidence in the form of written reflections / documentation / portfolio / completed activities) 6. Other assessable evidence will vary depending on the course or module, but could include: written reports, interviews/advising sessions, document analysis of written work or activities, LHL-style learning pack, class/online participation, attendance, and self-assessment Workload: 7. Any assessment should be practical and realistic for the learning advisor (time-wise) Consistency: 8. Assessment should be consistent between advisors (using grading rubrics, doing norming sessions, using consistent approaches to penalties for missed work). Transparency: 9. Clear definitions of terms / metalanguage should be used to assess students, and shared with them 10. Each course should have clear policies about minimum requirements, attendance, late submissions and missing/incomplete work, which should be shared with students and adhered to by all advisors 11. Grading procedures (rubrics, learning plans etc.) should be shared with students at the start of the course or during the orientation, and made clear to them with as much detail as possible. 12. Course outcomes should be clear to students and they should know that the focus is on learning skills rather than linguistic skills Level of metacognition: 13. For each learning outcome, a level of metacognition should be identified, i.e. “Largely unaware”, “Becoming aware” “Largely aware” “In control” or similar 14. Descriptions of target behaviours and examples will be included on a rubric for assessment purposes 15. A simplified version of the rubric (or a translation) should be made available to students and referred to when giving feedback Feedback 16. Students should receive ongoing written feedback (written advising) on a regular basis from a learning advisor (at least once every 2 weeks) 17. Students should receive feedback both during and at the end of a course or module 18. Students should receive feedback on their SDLL skills appropriate the stage they are at 19. Non-credit bearing content should still include feedback (even if there is no “grade” or formal assessment)

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2014, 58-78 ! 20. Students should not receive feedback from their learning advisors on their linguistic skills, but will be advised on how they can get this kind of feedback (PC / WC / SALC materials) Course Evaluation 21. Student surveys should be conducted at the end of each course 22. Student grades should be used to determine whether each course is achieving its objectives for the students who take it 23. LAs and teachers should be invited to give their assessment of course effectiveness on a regular basis 24. A small group of LAs should be in charge of monitoring and modifying each unit of work (course/module) each year

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2014, 58-78 ! Appendix B Students Self-evaluation Result: Evaluation of Existing Knowledge of the SALC and the CCC Areas Number of total answers: Pre-test 19, Post-test 18 Huh? I don’t know what this is!

No, I don’t know how to do this

Yes, I know how to do this

Pre

Post

Pre

Post

Pre

Post

Do you know how to borrow materials from the SALC?

0

0

26% (5)

0

74% (14)

100% (18)

Do you know how to use the SALC website?

21% (4)

0

68% (13)

0

11% (2)

100% (18)

Knowledge Do you know how to have a of the meeting with a learning SALC advisor?

5% (1)

0

68% (13)

0

26% (5)/

100% (18)

Do you know how to find your weak points in English?

5% (1)

0

74% (14)

28% (5)

21% (4)

72% (13)

Do you know how to set a good goal for learning English? One blank reply for pre-test*

11% (2)

0

68% (13)

6% (1)

16% (3)

83% (15)

Do you know how to choose materials that match your goal?

0

0

68% (13)

17% (3)

32% (6)

83% (15)

0

0

84% (16)

22% (4)

16% (3)

78% (14)

16% (3)

6% (1)

68% (13)

17% (3)

16% (3)

78% (14)

Re:

Re: Knowledge of the CCC Do you know how to choose areas good strategies for learning? Do you know how to see if your English to see if is getting better?

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2014, 58-78 ! Appendix C Result of Student Survey Section One: How useful and interesting did the students perceived the SALC activities to be? Number of total answers: 21 How useful and interesting were the following SALC activities? Useful Activities Very useful Useful Somewhat useful 1. Thinking about Wants, 33.3% (7) 57.1% (12) 9.5% (2) Interests, and Needs 2. Thinking about previous 14.3% (3) 38.1% (8) 42.9% (9) learning experiences 3. Setting a big goal 57.1% (12) 28.6% (6) 14.3% (3)

Not useful 0.0% (0) 4.8% (1) 0.0% (0)

4. Setting a small goal

57.1% (12)

33.3% (7)

9.5% (2)

0.0% (0)

5. Trying different resources

33.3% (7)

38.1% (8)

23.8% (5)

4.8% (1)

6. Trying different strategies

38.1% (8)

33.3% (7)

19.0% (4)

4.8% (1)

7. Learning about SURE

47.6% (10)

28.6% (6)

19.0% (4)

4.8% (1)

8. Learning about how to evaluate 52.4% (11) to see if my English is improving 9. Making a learning plan 52.4% (11)

28.6% (6)

14.3% (3)

0.0% (0)

33.3% (7)

4.8% (1)

9.5% (2)

10. Writing reflections each week

28.6% (6)

42.9% (9)

19.0% (4)

9.5% (2)

11. Getting written comments from my learning advisor 12. Getting input in class from a Learning Advisor

61.9% (13)

33.3% (7)

4.8% (1)

0.0% (0)

47.6% (10)

42.9% (9)

9.5% (2)

0.0% (0)

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2014, 58-78 ! Interesting Activities

Very useful

Useful

1. Thinking about Wants, Interests, and Needs 2. Thinking about previous learning experiences 3. Setting a big goal

14.3% (3)

71.4% (15)

Somewhat useful 9.5% (2)

4.8% (1)

42.9% (9)

47.6%(10) 4.8% (1)

28.6% (6)

57.1% (12)

14.3% (3)

0.0% (0)

4. Setting a small goal

23.8% (5)

57.1% (12)

19.0% (4)

0.0% (0)

5. Trying different resources

33.3% (7)

47.6% (10)

14.3% (3)

4.8% (1)

6. Trying different strategies

23.8% (5)

52.4% (11)

9.5% (2)

9.5% (2)

7. Learning about SURE

33.3% (7)

47.6% (10)

9.5% (2)

9.5% (2)

8. Learning about how to evaluate 28.6% (6) to see if my English is improving 9. Making a learning plan 28.6% (6)

42.9% (9)

19.0% (4)

9.5% (2)

38.1% (8)

23.8% (5)

9.5% (2)

10. Writing reflections each week

14.3% (3)

28.6% (6)

28.6% (6)

28.6%(6)

11. Getting written comments from my learning advisor 12. Getting input in class from a Learning Advisor

52.4% (11)

38.1% (8)

9.5% (2)

0.0% (0)

33.3% (7)

42.9% (9)

23.8% (5)

0.0% (0)

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Not useful 4.8% (1)

Studies in Self-Access Learning Journal 5(1)  

Special Issue on Directions in Self-Access Learning. Edited by Neil Curry and Jo Mynard.

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