IATEFL is being held in Manchester this year, and even though I didn’t feel I had anything very concrete to say as I was in the middle of my data collection when I wrote the abstract, it seemed too good an opportunity to miss, so I submitted one away. Volha also submitted one which was accepted for the Research SIG day. Here is my abstract which will form part of the Learner Autonomy SIG day:
EAP learners developing as practitioners of learning
Teacher research is one way in which teachers can take control of their own professional development and develop understandings of what goes on in their classrooms. But what about the learners? Can they also develop as practitioners of learning in terms of their own understandings of language learning? This talk focuses on my own and my EAP learners’ journey to become practitioners of teaching and learning through engaging in Exploratory Practice (Allwright, 2003, 2005; Allwright & Hanks 2009), an inclusive form of practitioner research, during a 10-week EAP course for postgraduate students. I begin by giving the context of the project at a private Further Education institution in England and explaining how together (teacher and learners) we fostered and developed a culture of inquiry in the classroom through engaging with the principles of Exploratory Practice. I then look at the puzzles my learners chose to investigate and their reasons for focussing on those particular puzzles. I will outline the different classroom processes and activities we used and engaged with throughout the process. I will then trace their developing understandings of these puzzles using the naturalistic data produced in the classroom, and will finish by highlighting some of the challenges and benefits of this type of work for EAP learners before opening up for questions and comments.
The Research SIG holds a pre-conference event, which is very collegial affair with many practitioner researchers sharing their work through posters. This year the focus is on researcher journeys and Volha and I both submitted abstracts for that too. I’ve seen Volha’s poster (and can’t wait to see it adorning the corridors of Ellen Wilkinson), which is on ‘How I crossed the thin line from hating writing to actually loving it!’ Mine is still in my head – it hasn’t actually materialised onto paper yet, but is called ‘On wearing two hats: ‘Doctoral-researcher’ and ‘Practitioner-researcher’. I have ideas of arenas, gladiators, battles fought and lost, allegiances won and broken at present, but that might all be a bit too melodramatic, so we’ll see …