11 SES 05.5 PS, General Poster Session
General Poster Session
Globalisation has created new challenges and opportunities for the economies and society in general. “Societies are changing rapidly and profoundly” (OECD, 2018) and, therefore, to survive and prosper in the current context and in the unknown future a broad range of new skills and competences, often addressed as 21st century skills, are required.
Previous research shows that various terminology has been used to describe them: future competences 3.0 for the unknown future (Mulder, 2016), future skills for employability (CEDEFOP, 2016), employability skills (Kwok, Adams, Feng, 2012; Tesone, Ricci, 2006), survival skills (Wagner, 2008), 21st century skills (enGauge 21st century skills, 2003).
Currently, the new strategic framework “OECD Education 2030” defines such 21st century skills groups: cognitive and meta-cognitive skills (problem solving, creativity, critical thinking, analytical skills, learning, etc.), social and emotional skills (empathy, communication, collaboration, initiative taking, etc.), physical and practical skills (kinaesthetic ability and ability to use tools, e.g. ICT, etc.). It also emphasises a significant component of the learning framework – attitudes and values (motivation, trust, respect for diversity, self-confidence, responsibility, etc.) to be observed at personal, local, societal and global levels.
The purpose of this study is to research ways of developing adult learners’ 21st century skills in a culture-based language learning course applying innovative teaching/learning tools and methodologies.
Theoretical Framework is formed by adult learning and language teaching/learning theories.
In this research the term ‘adult’ is used to denote learners after compulsory learning, both formal and informal. It also refers to students acquiring post-secondary and tertiary education. Characteristics of adult learners is essential to organise learning process. First, adult learners have a “versatile spectrum of experiences, which determines the intellectual, motivational, volitional, and social dispositions of a learner” (Kraus, 2016) and which they bring to the classroom. Second, socio-cultural context (Pätzold, 2011), including cultural differences and values (Hofstede, 1986) and differences among generations (Baby Boomers, X, Y, Z generations) (Rothwell, 2008; Williams, 2018) influence learning. Consequently, Constructivist Learning Theories (the focus on how learners internalise what they have learnt), Anchored Instruction (learning experience centred on a problem-solving activity to make the learning event action oriented), Functional Context Theory (the content connected with work) are essential in adult learning (Rothwell, 2008). Knowledge acquisition through active experiencing and reflection applying problem-centred and task-centred approaches helps to solve problems encountered in the future (Aubrey, Riley, 2016; Knowles, 1984; Dewey, 1938). Furthermore, reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action, i.e., evaluating a situation and making changes required is typical to experienced learners (Schön, 1983; 1987). These premises are also used in language teaching/learning as language is best acquired in social interaction (Vygotsky, 1986; Widdowson, 1978) through experimentation based on previous learning experience, observing and reflecting, which corresponds to Kolb’s learning cycle (Kolb, 1984).
Adult learners are provided with a targeted blended-learning language course created applying CLIL methodology, the content of which relates to the rich intangible European cultural heritage presented in a form of a story, applying innovative methodologies and tools (webquests, case studies, vialogues, design thinking tools, interactive games, etc.) increasing learners’ cultural knowledge and developing relevant 21st century key skills (collaboration, communication, initiative, creativity, analytical reasoning, problem solving, etc.) and improving learners’ language competence.
Blended-learning refers to a language course which combines face-to-face classroom component with an appropriate use of technology (Sharma, Barrett, 2007) comprising 30-79% online teaching/learning (Allen, et.al, 2007).
CLIL methodology (content and language integrated learning) is associated with 4 Cs: content, communication, cognition and culture (Coyle, Hood, Marsh, 2010) which provide opportunities to study content through different perspectives, increase learners’ intercultural knowledge and understanding, and develop language competence.
Consequently, learners acquire knowledge, develop language competences and 21st century skills.
This research introduces Erasmus+ project “Cultural knowledge and language competences as a means to develop 21st century skills” conducted in 6 EU countries Croatia, Latvia, Slovenia, Romania, Poland, Czech Republic (Project No.2018-1-HR-01-KA204-047430; 2018-2020). Its overall aim: develop adult learners’ relevant 21st century skills (problem solving, communication, collaboration, creativity, innovation, digital skills, etc.), language and intercultural competences, foster learners’ knowledge of the rich European cultural heritage and its values by applying innovative learning approaches and materials consequently increasing learners’ education level and bringing them closer to cultural heritage, history and the common European values, enhancing their overall development and employability. The target audience: adult learners, including with certain barriers to learning (geographic, economic, cultural, social, educational). Interpretivism paradigm is applied, involving ideographic methodology “to describe and understand what is unique and distinctive about a particular context, individual” (Waring,2017). Naturalistic research design has been selected as it is “primarily based on participant observation an informal interviewing” (Walker, 2017). Research sample: 14 teachers from the six project countries teaching adult learners, 90 adult learners (15 per country) piloting the course. Teachers’ profile: teaching experience 4-27 years, 12 teach languages and 3 also other disciplines (pedagogy, ICT, geography, logistics). Learners’ profile: aged 17-72, 50 students, 17 unemployed, 23 seniors. According to Thomas (2009), such data collection tools may be applied to collect data using words: interviews (structured, semi-structured, unstructured), accounts, diaries, group interviews, focus groups, document interrogation. Data collection tools: 1) teachers’ accounts - reflective essays reflecting on their experience working with adult learners (challenges, influences, process, etc.) 2) observation sheets containing observation records of learners done by teachers participating in the course piloting, 3) learners’ structured interviews evaluating the course, various teaching/learning tools and methodologies applied, 4) learners’ accounts (reflective essays). Research methods: data collection (accounts, unstructured observation, structured interviews), data analysis and interpretation – for qualitative data constant comparative method – the basic analytic method of interpretivism to elicit themes or categories (Thomas, 2009), followed by construct mapping to make connections between ideas and themes; for quantitative data descriptive and inferential statistics by SPSS to find similarities and significant differences among various groups of learners, countries, etc. Research process: teachers’ accounts on reflective practice; unstructured observations of learners; learners’ unstructured interviews and essays. Research period: November 2018-April 2019. Research question: Which of the innovative tools and methodologies created in the course do learners and teachers find successful in developing 21st century skills?
Currently, teachers’ data have been collected and analysed. Course piloting will be held from February – April 2018, when learners’ data will be obtained and analysed. At the conference a full set of data and all research results will be presented. Analysis of teachers’ accounts – reflections on their pedagogical experience resulted in eliciting 4 main categories: 1) challenges working with adult learners, 2) adult learning styles and strategies, 3) organisation of pedagogical process, 4) cultural influence on adult learning. Next, construct mapping was created. For the first category the following constructs were derived: group compositions (with 3 branches), motivation (9), language learning (3), competing interests (4), expectations (4), personal traits (4), content (4), age factor (4). Sustaining motivation is challenge. Mixed level language groups, various ages require individual attitude to sustain the existing extrinsic attitude in the given time period. Additional preventing factors are family and work commitments. Relevant material, adequate level of difficulty are helpful. The constructs for the second category: preferences (9), strategies applied (13), learning styles (13). The most overlapping construct. Learning styles determine strategies. The impact of different pace, unwillingness to do standard tasks, lots of contradiction among selecting strategies, prevailing individualism in learning, exact explanations needed. The constructs for the third category: support required (9), teacher’s learning (2), teaching process (7), teaching strategies (6), tasks used (11). Teachers have to learn. From needs analysis to content and methodologies, employing cooperation among learners, including intergenerational learning, especially in interactive and culture-based tasks. The constructs for the fourth category: influences (8), learners’ interests (2), cultural backgrounds (2), generational differences (2), cultural issues (5). Social media, globalisation, cultural background, different generations, learners’ interest shall be employed in intergenerational dialogues. The fourth construct is linked with all others. The second and third constructs are close, influence each other.
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