04 SES 00 PS, General Poster Exhibition - NW 04
Posters can be viewed in the General Poster Exhibition throughout the ECER week.
Based on technological and scientific development the profile of students has changed radically. Academic literature provides different conceptions of students' academic and personal development, such as self-regulated (Zimmerman 2002), self-directed (Brookfield 1985; Van der Walt 2019), self-governed (Niemi and Jahnukainen 2020) and other notions of self- learning. Whatever conception we follow, they are all connected with the characteristic of an expert learner. An expert learner is a learner who is self-directed, self-governed, motivated, resourceful, knowledgeable, and able to learn effectively and efficiently, approaches academic tasks with diligence and confidence, as well as employs appropriate strategies to reach the desired academic goals. In its broadest sense, an expert learner is the one, who is able to learn effectively in the learning process. As Novak (2019) states, an expert learner does not mean the best student, yet he/she demonstrates interest, motivation and willingness to assume responsibility for his/her own choices, as well as keeps on trying new strategies until goals are achieved. However, students differ in their social experience, abilities, physical and emotional development, and skills. And in their aspirations to become expert learners they encounter with different barriers to learning. Barriers to learning refer to difficulties that arise within the education system as a whole, the learning site and/or within the learner him/herself, and which prevent access to learning and development (McManus, Dryer, & Henning 2017). As far as barriers to learning are concerned, we assent to the position of Booth and Ainscow (2002) that learning barriers are faced not only by students with special needs, but also by any students, including those with high abilities or giftedness. When a student receives support in overcoming challenges and barriers, opportunities are created to formulate individual goals and achieve learning success (Meyer, Rose & Gordon 2014). Only having identified the barriers, can the teacher scaffold different techniques in helping students in their learning process (CAST 2018). In this case, the learner receives a package of knowledge, skills, behaviour, and values important for socialization from the teacher, whereas the teacher acquires confirmation of the quality of his/her activity through pedagogical interaction.
In this respect, the present research poses the following research question: what barriers to learning do secondary school students face when becoming expert learners? The aim of the research is to identify the barriers to learning experienced by sixth-seventh-grade students developing into expert learners. For this purpose, we employed an open-ended questionnaire for students; students interview; observation of lessons; and teacher reflections.
This paper draws on some results from a larger study. The analysis builds on collaborative action research (Burns 1999) and field notes carried out in one Lithuanian secondary school in the academic years of 2018/2019-2019/2020 . The study includes sixth-seventh-grade students (27 students: 15 boys and 12 girls; 2 students with SEN; 12 year-olds) and teachers (2 females). There are 2 SEN students (hearing impairment (cochlear apparatus); specific learning (reading, writing) disorders). Three students have experienced physical, social and / or psychological trauma. There are several students of Slavic origin in the class. Five students are classified as gifted and four are less motivated to learn. The data collection methods used for this paper are an open-ended questionnaire for students (N=47), students interviews (n=12); observation of lessons (N=25), and teacher reflections (N=5). The aim of the students questionnaire was to identify the areas of learning difficulties in the learning process. The total 13 open-ended questions (e.g. what did you find easy/difficult to learn in this lesson? What was the most difficult way for you to account for your learning in the lesson? What aids used in the lesson made learning easier for you?, etc.) were applied. The interviews with students were focusing on the development of strategic and goal-directed skills, e.g. what is the best way for you to learn? Do you have a chance to reflect on what you have learned in the lesson? In what way is it easiest / most acceptable for you to demonstrate what you have learned? Do you have a few learning goals for yourself? How often do you reflect on your learning process? etc. The interviews with students allowed for a more accurate interpretation of observation data in the process of becoming an expert learner. The developed observation tool was applied to observe the teacher-designed setting in the educational process. The reflections of teachers largely focused on their experience in developing expert learners, their own growth as expert teachers able to create favourable settings for students to develop their expertise, as well as the opportunities and challenges that they faced while organising the educational process while developing an expert learner. The inductive thematic analysis was employed for data analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006). The six-phased method was selected for thematic analysis: transcription, reading and familiarization, coding, searching for themes, reviewing themes, defining and naming themes.
The research results reveal that in becoming expert learners secondary school students encounter barriers as two-fold: barriers in the learning process organized by the teacher, and individual barriers to learning. The analysis of the student surveys and the teachers’ reflections demonstrate that the students experience barriers to learning in all areas of the educational process organized by the teachers: teaching methods; setting and achieving learning goals; materials; assessment; and the context, i.e. learning environment. In this regard, the students most often report that the barriers they experience are mostly related to teaching/learning and assessment methods. Somewhat different trends emerged from the teachers’ perspective. As the analysis of the teachers’ reflections demonstrates, the students most often encounter barriers to learning in learning materials. Learning barriers in the context / learning environment are least frequently indicated by the teachers. Contrary to the students, the teachers also see barriers in learning goals. Moreover, it is noteworthy that the students’ becoming expert learners is limited by different barriers at the individual level, too. Both students and teachers identify such barriers as unawareness of different strategies fostering own learning process; avoidance of challenges and innovations; inability to recognise own learning; lack of possibility to choose; unawareness of self-assessment strategies; anxiety of public speaking/presentation, etc. Other findings will be presented at the conference.
Booth, T., Ainscow, M. (2002). Index for inclusion: developing learning and participation in schools. Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education. Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77–101. Brookfield, S. D. (1985). Self-Directed Learning: A Conceptual and Methodological Exploration. Studies in the Education of Adults, 17(1), 19-32. Burns, A. (1999). Collaborative action research for English language teachers. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. CAST (2018). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.2. Retrieved from http://udlguidelines.cast.org McManus, D., Dryer, R., & Henning, M. (2017). Barriers to learning online experienced by students with a mental health disability. Distance Education, 38(3), 336-352. Meyer, A., Rose, D., Gordon, D. (2014). Universal Design for Learning: Theory and practice. Wakefield: CAST Professional Publishing Niemi, A. M., Jahnukainen, M. (2020). Educating self-governing learners and employees: studying, learning and pedagogical practices in the context of vocational education and its reform. Journal of Youth Studies, 23(9), 1143-1160. Novak, K. (2019). UDL: An Introduction from Pizza Parlor to the World. In What Really Works with Universal Design for Learning. Edit. W.W. Murawski, K. L. Scott. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin. Van der Walt, J. L. (2019). The Term “Self-Directed Learning”—Back to Knowles, or Another Way to Forge Ahead? Journal of Research on Christian Education, 28(1), 1-20. Zimmerman, B. J. (2002). Becoming a self-regulated learner. An overview. Theory into Practice, 41(2), 64–71.
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