ISLAMIC AZAD UNIVERSITY
AT CENTRAL TEHRAN
A THESIS IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS IN TEACHING ENGLISH AS A FORIGN LANGUAGE (TEFL)
THE COMPARATIVE IMPACT OF AUTONOMY AND CRITICAL THINKING ON EFL LEARNERS’ WRITING ACHIEVEMENT
HAMID MARASHI ZADEH
The present study was an attempt to compare the effect of critical thinking techniques, and autonomy techniques on EFL learners’ writing achievement. To fulfill the purpose of the study, ۷۴ participants of a total number of ۱۰۰ learners at intermediate level who were studying in Kish Way Language School in Karaj were selected by means of a piloted PET. At the next stage, the ۷۴ participants were divided into two experimental groups randomly so that one group would receive critical thinking techniques and the other autonomy practice as the two treatments. Prior to the start of the treatments, the scores of the writing section of the PET obtained by both groups were compared to make sure that the learners were homogeneous regarding their writing ability at the outset. At the end of the instructional period, both groups were given a writing posttest, and the comparison of their means revealed that the difference between the two groups’ writing posttest scores was non-significant , hence the null hypothesis failed to be rejected, implying that both groups benefited the treatments equally in their writing improvement.
Table of Contents
CHAPTER I: BACKGROUNG AND PURPOSE.1
۱.۲. Statement of the Problem5
۱.۳. Statement of the Research Question.6
۱.۴. Statement of the Research Hypothesis.6
۱.۵. Definition of Key Terms7
۱.۶. Significance of the Study.8
۱.۷. Limitations, Delimitations, Assumptions.9
CHAPTER II: REVIEW OF THE RELATED LITERATURE11
۲.۲.۱. Definitions of Autonomy.13
۲.۲.۲. Learner Autonomy.14
۲.۲.۳. What Does Autonomy Mean? .18
۲.۲.۴. Autonomous Learner’s Features.20
۲.۲.۵. Elements of Autonomous Learning20
۲.۲.۶. Models for Autonomy.21
۲.۲.۷. Kinds of Autonomy.22
۲.۲.۸. Autonomy in the Classroom23
۲.۲.۹. Dimensions of Autonomy25
۲.۳. Critical Thinking26
۲.۳.۱. What is Critical Thinking? ۲۹
۲.۳.۲. What Does Critical Thinking Mean? ۳۰
۲.۳.۳. A Five Step Model to Improve CT Skills31
۲.۳.۴. The Importance of Teaching CT in L2 Classrooms35
۲.۳.۵. Content-based Instructions for Improving CT Skills35
۲.۳.۶. Critical Thinker’s Features35
۲.۳.۷. Relationship Between CT and Learning36
۲.۳.۸. Strategies of Critical Thinking38
۲.۴.۱. Writing Strategies41
۲.۴.۲. Writing Modes42
۲.۴.۳. Writing Process Approach and Product Approach43
۲.۴.۴. General and Specific Components of Writing Tasks44
CHAPTER III: METHOD48
۳.۳.۱. PET for Homogenization.50
۳.۳.۲. Writing Posttest51
۳.۳.۳. Writing Scale/Rubric52
۳.۳.۵. Materials for Practicing Autonomy and Critical Thinking52
۳.۴.۱. Practicing CT Techniques.54
۳.۴.۲. Practicing AUT Techniques56
۳.۶. Statistical Analysis.58
CHAPTER IV: RESULTS AND DISCUSSION.60
۴.۲. Descriptive Statistics of the Pre-treatment Writing Scores.67
۴.۳. Descriptive Statistics of the Raters’ Scores to the CT Posttest Writing69
۴.۴. Descriptive Statistics of the Posttest Writing Scores.73
۴.۵. Testing the Null Hypothesis74
CHAPTER V: CONCLUSION AND PEDAGOGICAL IMPLICATIONS78
۵.۲. Restatement of the Hypothesis79
۵.۴. Pedagogical Implications.80
۵.۵. Implications for EFL Teachers, Learners, and Syllabus Designers81
۵.۵.۱. Implications for EFL Teachers81
۵.۵.۲. Implications for EFL Learners.82
۵.۵.۳. Implications for EFL Syllabus Designers.83
۵.۶. Suggestions for Further Studies83
Appendix A: PTE 1 (used for homogenization)124
Appendix B: PET 2 (used as post-treatment test).144
BACKGROUD AND PURPOSE
Education and learning need some special techniques to indulge learners more deeply and efficiently- techniques that involve learners to become more independent and at the same time more thoughtful. It is a rather recent issue that educators are focusing their attention to critical thinking and autonomy on different skills, although “ critical thinking is as integral part of education and training in schools of foreign and second language instruction” ( Shangarffam & Mamipour, ۲۰۱۱, p.1 ), and so is autonomy.
Writing is one of the most effective ways of conveying ideas and thoughts to others, so learning to write is important because without it education, and more important, communications will be defective and will face problems.
According to Pemberton and Nix (۲۰۱۲), writing, autonomy, and critical thinking seem to be linked to each other, and proficiency in writing can be a sign of students’ autonomy, critical thinking ,and reasoning skills on the other hand. Critical thinking and autonomy are both considered desirable educational goals. Raya, Lamb, and Vieira (۲۰۰۷), mention that “The competence to think critically is coextensive with the notion of autonomy and self-sufficiency” (p.43). And in the same way, Little (۱۹۹۱) explains autonomy as an ability “for detachment, critical reflection, decision making, and independent action”(p.4). Therefore, it is important that teachers help students develop exploring ways for autonomy and critical thinking (Pemberton & Nix, ۲۰۱۲). Consequently, it seems that teaching learners to become autonomous and at the same time critical thinkers is probably a vital factor in their progress.
In line with the ongoing development in communication and definitely writing, the methods that teachers use to help foster learners’ autonomy, and make a “paradigm shift from teacher-centered to learner-centered instruction” (Jacobs & Farrell, ۲۰۰۲, ۱۲) are considered very important ,and as Wu Li-li (۲۰۰۸) mentions with the growing need of language teaching in communication-oriented way nowadays, language teaching is facing a challenge and is being substituted by the learner-centered one. As a result, the learner-centered approach made the concept of learners’ autonomy emerge (Bagheri & Aeen, ۲۰۱۱).
Nowadays, learner autonomy is considered as “an unquestionable goal and integral part of language learning methodologies throughout the world. Large amounts of time, energy, and money are spent on its promotion and implementation” (Reinders, ۲۰۰۰, p.2). In fact learner autonomy seems to become important because of the motive that it creates in learners. Learning autonomy emphasizes language learners’ role as an active participant in his/her learning who has “a choice as what and how of the curriculum can be used in learning”, and also, “has a responsible feeling for his/her own learning” (Jacobs & Farrell, ۲۰۰۱, p.7).
According to Bagheri and Aeen (۲۰۱۱), although there are very trivial differences in the way that scholars and language teachers express their understanding of learners’ autonomy, they all agree with the importance of autonomy in motivating learners, and the result is better and effective work of autonomous learners. They added that autonomous learners are more initiative and creative in learning, and this leads to more useful classroom instruction. When learners have the freedom to choose the kind of curriculum and instruction, the result is choosing the best that matches their learning styles and preferences and finally more effective learning happens. According to Benson (۲۰۱۰), “When we talk about autonomy, we refer more to a certain kind of relationship between the student and the learning process.” (p.79). To be autonomous means “to be directed by considerations, desires, conditions, and characteristics that are not simply imposed externally upon one, but are part of what can somehow be considered one’s authentic self” (Christman, ۲۰۰۸, p.1).
Autonomy has been considered an important factor in educational settings during recent years.“The development of autonomy as an educational aim is the development of a kind of person whose thought and action in important areas of his life are to be explained by reference to his own choices, decisions, reflections, deliberations – in short, his own activity of mind” (Dearden, as cited in Cuypers, ۲۰۰۴, p.1). According to Candy, (1991, as cited in Thanasoulas, ۲۰۰۲), autonomy is a dynamic process that is considered as educational interventions, so it helps learners to gain more control over their own learning, and at the same time it motivates learners’ thinking critically about different issues during learning; however, learners differ in their learning strategies, interests, needs, ideas, and the way of thinking, therefore they develop varying degrees of autonomous and critical thinking throughout their learning processes. In this regard, instructing autonomy and critical thinking may help students to take charge of their own learning more efficiently.
On the other hand, writing is a means of developing and conveying ideas to others. Therefore, it needs creating meanings, doing it autonomously, and thinking critically about it. Wade ( as cited in Al-Hazmi, ۲۰۰۶) mentions that writing plays an essential role in critical thinking instruction, because it improves more self-reflection. White and McGovern (as cited in Bagheri & Aeen, ۲۰۱۱) believe that process approach of writing creates self-critical ones because it makes students reflect on their understanding, to communicate their feelings about what they know, and how they are experiencing their learning.
According to Siegel (as cited in Cuypers, ۲۰۰۴, p.4), critical thinking is a highly significant educational notion. An investigation done by Alsagoff (۲۰۰۸, as cited in Jimenez, Ramos, Rosales, & Soraya, ۲۰۱۰, p.18) characterizes “ critical thinking as the intellectual disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action”. And all the mentioned factors plus autonomy are necessary factors in writing effectively.
Simpson and Courtney (۲۰۰۲) state that in critical thinking one tries to determine what to do or what to believe, and to apply critical thinking skills to one another. It means, one analyzes one’s own inferences, explains one’s own interpretation or evaluates one’s own analysis. On the other hand, Holec (۱۹۸۱) defines autonomy as the “ability to take charge of one’s own learning”(p.3) that can be in line with one’s critical thinking and maybe with the same impact on one’s learning. Critical thinking is also considered as a cognitive ability that is affected by multiple skills such as identifying, understanding, and analyzing an issue by using inferences through top-down and bottom-up strategies to validate the reliability of claims and arguments(Pithers & Soden, ۲۰۰۰). This suggests that critical thinking is a complex concept that can be used to support assumptions, information, and claims in EFL writing ( Barnawi, ۲۰۱۰, p.2). As a result, all factors affecting writing are considered important, and autonomy and critical thinking are two variables that can be in relation to writing.
۱.۲. Statement of the Problem
There is a great lack in researches on the comparative impact of autonomy and critical thinking , although studies on the impact of two of the variables separately – autonomy on writing ( Bagheri & Aeen, ۲۰۱۱), or critical thinking on writing (Mamipour & Shangarffam, ۲۰۱۱) – showed a significantly positive impact .
Learning is considered as a long process of gaining knowledge which needs great effort, and traditionally all the time students were asked to gain knowledge by listening to their teachers and following their instructions (Zhang & Wu, ۲۰۰۴, as cited in Li Yahong, ۲۰۰۹, p.1), and also teachers traditionally controlled everything in the classroom and they believed transmitting knowledge to students as their main duty (Zhang, ۲۰۰۶). As a result, they spoke most of the classroom time while students were expected to listen to them, take notes, and memorize their notes (Zhang, ۲۰۰۶), rather than thinking critically about what they are taught and developing their own ideas by talking to their classmates and teachers or even raising some novel questions about different issues.
It seems that teachers are usually in a higher position to encourage their students to do what they think is the best for their students’ learning ; whilst students’ abilities to take charge of their own learning alongside their teachers’ guidance, and think critically about different issues are ignored. It seems that it does not create much sense of satisfactory in students in their learning, because there are a lot of groans about the language teaching system in Iran and to the researcher’s knowledge, a lot of them believe they could have better performance if they were allowed to have more freedom in choosing learning strategies and discuss issues critically. .
Several studies have been done to check the effects of critical thinking on language learning, such as Naeini (۲۰۰۵) in which she found that the experimental group (group with critical thinking technique) outperformed the control group. On the other hand, according to some contemporary researches such as the one conducted by Bagheri and Aeen (۲۰۱۱), autonomy can also prepare a chance for learners to set their learning goals, and try to achieve them. Marashi and Jafari (۲۰۱۲), also found that critical thinking positively affects learners’ writing.
The researcher as a teacher has observed that students who use autonomy and critical thinking techniques during learning are more successful than those who do not use these two techniques in learning all the four skills especially writing. The researcher observed that the students with the two mentioned techniques think deeply about the conveyed information and believe themselves more responsible for their own learning; therefore, they try to follow the same procedure in their writing. The observation stimulated this study to investigate which of the two procedures, critical thinking or autonomous learning, could improve EFL learners’ writing achievement more.
تعداد صفحه : ۱۳۱
قیمت : ۱۴۷۰۰ تومان