Autonomy as a predictor  of English proficiency Matthew T. Apple Nara National College of Technology
Background Participants Methods Results
Participants Methods Results Background
Autonomy = ?
Materials Learning processes Metacognitive processes
Qualitative Quantitative
“ The good learner”
Generalizability?
Hypothesis : Autonomy leads to English proficiency
Background Methods Results Participants
185 technical college Ss
M E S C I
400
J   A   B   E   E
J apan   A ccreditation   B oard   for   E ngineering   E ducation
400
315
67.5
Background Participants Results Methods
Autonomy = ?
Materials Learning processes Metacognitive processes A
“ Autonomy is a multidimensional construct.” Benson (2001)
Construct = ?
Construct = ?
Construct = ?
Construct = ?
Materials Learning processes Metacognitive processes A
Rasch item fit analysis
Factor analysis (factor scores)
Multiple regression analysis
Materials Learning processes Metacognitive processes A
English Proficiency Learning Metacognitive Materials
TOEIC Shimo (2008)
Background Participants Methods Results
Lack of item fit to intended constructs
Materials Learning processes Metacognitive processes A
Materials Metacognitive processes
Orientation towards improving learning environment Orientation towards improving learning processes
Orientation towards improving learning environment 11%  of  TOEIC
400
350  ↔  450
 
 
Generalizability
Planning  for improvement
Autonomy as a predictor of  English proficiency Matthew T. Apple NNCT [email_address]
 
 
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Autonomy and English Proficiency

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A study of 185 Japanese technical school students. Students with higher autonomy tended to have higher TOEIC scores. Large error margin in TOEIC is an issue; however, the statistics point in a positive direction for future studies into the benefits of learner autonomy.

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  • Introduction – keep it short! Personal interest in autonomy since 2003, autonomy conference in HK and Zhejiang U, paper in MAYA Japanese educator's interest in autonomous learning NNCT interest in autonomy, “jishu” But does autonomy actually help students get better at English? Let's find out.
  • Four main sections, hope to spend roughly 4 minutes per section. Any questions, please keep until the end of the presentation Run out of time? Send me an email.
  • First start with the background of the study In particular, the theories about autonomy and its relationship to proficiency
  • First question: what is autonomy? Holec (1981) primarily from a “political” view i.e., who has control in the classroom David Little (1991), Leni Dam and others produced a series of small books (most of which are out of print) theorizing that autonomy as learner control of their own goals, materials, and reflections. Benson (2001) neatly summarized all the autonomy ideas to date (sheep?)
  • Benson's 2001 synthesis of learner autonomy. 3 aspects. What7s the difference between “learning processes” and “metacognitive processes”? Problem: “autonomy is a multidimensional construct.” No, not a construct, but a concept. Constructs must be unidimensional. Where they intersect is the latent variable (statistcially speaking). And we need at least three (any two constructs can correlate w/ little meaning). People and chairs = construct?
  • Benson himself noted a lack of evidence about studies connecting autonomy w/ proficiency Two main type sof studies (gross simplication!); The great qual-quan debate (perhaps a false dichotomy, but certainly true in autonomy studies.) Qual = mostly case studies, perhaps as many as 3 or 4, usually highly advanced learners in ESL universities or gradu programs. Quan = large numbers of students, again typically at universities, but relatively few studies in autonomy (Cotterall, 1997, was a learner belief study, not strictly autonomy. Yang (2006) was also beliefs.
  • “The good learner” of Naiman (1985), Wen & Johnson (1995), etc. The garden path: They were successful learners who used autonomous strategies, therefore autonomous students will become proficient. Ignores other individual differences such as language aptitude, motivation, anxiety, educational backgrounds, gender, age, socioeconomic factors, etc. Not generalizable across learner populations.
  • Generaliability needs greater numbers. Case studies can't demonstrate that most students will follow the same path. We need more quan studies to improve the generalizability that autonomy can predict proficiency for ALL ESL or EFL learners.
  • So, let7s start with the hypothesis above. Let's assume that it7s true, autronomy will lead directly to greater English proficiency. All we need now is a group of students, measuring instruments, and analytic techniques. (oy)
  • Next, participants in the study. The study mostly consisted of high school-age studnets; however, the learning context is somewhat complicated, as well as unique to Japan.
  • The participants were students at a national “technical college.” The college consisted of 7 grades. 1 through 3 grade are equivalent of the three years of hs in Japan, with a marked increase in technical classes (i.e., math, physics, engineering prep) and a corresponding decrease in general ed classes (i.e., English and japanese). 164 students in the study were in the 3 rd grade, or high sch senior equivalent. (I hesitate to say equivalent, b/c they tend to take classes at the uni sopho or junior level, at least!) 21 were in the “6th” grade, or senkoka 1 st year. This is the equivalent age of uni 3 rd yr. However, they tend to take classes close to grad school level.
  • 5 departments represented by the participants in roughly equal n umbers
  • Magic number for engineering students Why?
  • TOEIC 400 is required to receive “JABEE nintei,” or certification as an engineer
  • JABEE means... The technical college joined the JABEE program in 2005 and has been struggling to meet the English requirement, mostly due to a combination of lack of student motivation and the few number of classes... Studnets only take 5 English classes of 45 minutes in grades 1 and 2, and only 3 classes per week in 3 rd year. Sen 1 only take 2 classes per week.
  • Magic number is --
  • Participant TOEIC average was this...a bridge too far? How can they get to 400?
  • In only 67.5 hours per year? 100 points = 100 hours? 100 points = 400+ hours (Boldt & Ross, 1997) No reliable figures, but regardless, many studnets have difficulty increasing 85 points on average.
  • Methods = once more, into the breach Reasons for ethods, as opposed to actual methods Those interested in the hw of stats stick around later or send an email!
  • Let's go back... Autonomy is what?
  • Autonomy has three aspects. IOW, there are three “measured constructs” that form the concept or latent variable of autonomy
  • Again, the terminology is not entirely accurate as far as stats are concerned. Rubik's has multiple faces, but we don't consider it to be multidimensional. We do however, consider each side separately when solving the cube...and yet, all sides are obviously related. Trying to solve all faces at the same time leads to an incomoplete cube...
  • Another metaphor...weight lifting... Each part of the body can be worked on separetly, despite the fact that all part sof the body are obviously related. For example, here is somebody usig the benchpress. What's the construct? Yes, chest or pectoral muscles. And yet obviously, we need our arms and shoulders as well. But the pecs are the focus.
  • How about now? Yes. The biceps, or arm muscles. Yet we also need forearm muscles, triceps, and shoulders. Biceps are the focus.
  • Now? Yes, the shoulders. I think you see the point.
  • Now what are we working on? We don't know for sure, b/c we are using legs, back, arms, and shoulders...leading to a severe back strain eventually! And we don't develop what we want...ie., the biceps. So, it order to properly evaluate, and improve, the construct we want to measure, we need to isolate as much as possible a single costruct, BEFORE we put all the costructs together to form a related whole.
  • Thus, autonomy may consist of RELATED constructs, howver EACH construct must be measured separately/ So, how do we do this?
  • First, check the items for item fit to the intended construct. Does each iterm measure a a different level of difficulty on the contsurct? i.e., can it distinguish between participants who have more or less autonomy?)
  • Then, double check to confirm that there are separet, but related constructs in the data. FA works well here, and factor scores will make the raw data into stanardized scores for later analysis.
  • Here's the meat of the analysis: do the independent variables of autonomy predict the dependent variable of English proficneyc?
  • A quick model: here are the three proposed constructs that measure autonomy
  • And here's the model of how they predict English proficneyc
  • And here are the mesuring intsurments. Shimo (2008) has 18 items...she itended originally to find 4 factors, but she found 2 factors in one study and 3 in another. How many are there, rteally TOEIC was used for proficiecy measurement...more on that later...
  • You can see the statistical results on your handout. Table 1 shows the item fit stats for the Rasch analysis Table 2 shows the monte carlo parallel analysis to help confirm how many factors there were in the data Table 3 shows the traditional FA as another confirmation (you can see some items were mixed) Table 4 shows the final regression analysis Here7s the summary!
  • 5 items did not fit the intended constructs. 4 of the five items contained words such as “English ability,” “mistakes,” or “tests.” Students distracted by these words? Maybe another construct COULD have existed with a few more items to tease it out... But in the end the three hypothesized constructs...
  • Of Benson (2001)...turned into...
  • Asomething resembling the Minshuto symbol.. “ learning processes” and “metacognitive processes” fell into the same construct. In Shimo this was termed “Orientation toward reflective learning,” and included goal setting, plannig, and reflectig on mistakes. So, in a sense, it make sense...are “control over learning processes” different from “metacognitive processes”? In the end, the FA also bore this out: only 2 factors.
  • Asomething resembling the Minshuto symbol.. “ learning processes” and “metacognitive processes” fell into the same construct. In Shimo this was termed “Orientation toward reflective learning,” and included goal setting, plannig, and reflectig on mistakes. So, in a sense, it make sense...are “control over learning processes” different from “metacognitive processes”? In the end, the FA also bore this out: only 2 factors.
  • Autonomy predicted 14% of TOEIC differences, and 11% alone was finding materials. (3% was control over learning processes.) Increasing 1 SD of autonomy would lead to 24 points on TOEIC. Not bad, right? Uh huh...one problem...
  • Second problem: Magic number of TOEIC 400...however...
  • Error! TOEIC error margin is AT LEAST 25 points per section (some say 35). So, TOEIC 400 really is a range of scores between 350 ane 450... And this is only a 68% chance as well.. hmmm...not exactly a good measurement of English proficney perhaps...
  • So is the study fatally flawed?: 1. TOEIC-IP is only passive. 2. All students were engineering majors. 3. 92% were male. 4. Other possible causes of TOEIC differences: Language aptitude (particularly “linguistic coding”?) Multiple intelligences Motivation Field Independence Test anxiety etc.
  • Good first step. More students. Close to 300 or 400 would be ideal. Refine the constructs. Pre and post...AFTER encourahing autonomy? i.e., I am now using the language portfolio provided by the FLP SIG, will this encourage autonomy? Will this mprove English proficiency? Stayed tuned!
  • Autonomy and English Proficiency

    1. 1. Autonomy as a predictor of English proficiency Matthew T. Apple Nara National College of Technology
    2. 2. Background Participants Methods Results
    3. 3. Participants Methods Results Background
    4. 4. Autonomy = ?
    5. 5. Materials Learning processes Metacognitive processes
    6. 6. Qualitative Quantitative
    7. 7. “ The good learner”
    8. 8. Generalizability?
    9. 9. Hypothesis : Autonomy leads to English proficiency
    10. 10. Background Methods Results Participants
    11. 11. 185 technical college Ss
    12. 12. M E S C I
    13. 13. 400
    14. 14. J A B E E
    15. 15. J apan A ccreditation B oard for E ngineering E ducation
    16. 16. 400
    17. 17. 315
    18. 18. 67.5
    19. 19. Background Participants Results Methods
    20. 20. Autonomy = ?
    21. 21. Materials Learning processes Metacognitive processes A
    22. 22. “ Autonomy is a multidimensional construct.” Benson (2001)
    23. 23. Construct = ?
    24. 24. Construct = ?
    25. 25. Construct = ?
    26. 26. Construct = ?
    27. 27. Materials Learning processes Metacognitive processes A
    28. 28. Rasch item fit analysis
    29. 29. Factor analysis (factor scores)
    30. 30. Multiple regression analysis
    31. 31. Materials Learning processes Metacognitive processes A
    32. 32. English Proficiency Learning Metacognitive Materials
    33. 33. TOEIC Shimo (2008)
    34. 34. Background Participants Methods Results
    35. 35. Lack of item fit to intended constructs
    36. 36. Materials Learning processes Metacognitive processes A
    37. 37. Materials Metacognitive processes
    38. 38. Orientation towards improving learning environment Orientation towards improving learning processes
    39. 39. Orientation towards improving learning environment 11% of TOEIC
    40. 40. 400
    41. 41. 350 ↔ 450
    42. 44. Generalizability
    43. 45. Planning for improvement
    44. 46. Autonomy as a predictor of English proficiency Matthew T. Apple NNCT [email_address]

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