FOSTERING STUDENTS’ AUTONOMY: PROJECT- BASED LEARNING AS AN INSTRUCTIONAL STRATEGY
Dr. Meryem ROSTOM. University Mohamed V, Morocco, email: email@example.com
Independent of discipline or year of study, learner autonomy has become a topic of great interest in SL and FL pedagogy over the last decades. It is seen as the ability of learners to be responsible for the process of their own learning. In higher educational contexts, where students have long been accustomed to instruction through lecturing, their under-involvement generally leads to boredom, loss of concentration and limited learning. In light of the literature, the present paper explores the impact of project-based learning- as a non- conventional teaching strategy- on the autonomous learning of a group of 30 ESP Moroccan university students. Accordingly, the study employs an experiential practice design, which aims at engaging students in a paired project assignment to be eventually presented and discussed in class. Drawing on a reflective practice approach, the study reveals interesting findings. Specifically, project-based instruction enhances students’ autonomy and self-commitment, stimulates their understanding of the topic presented and increases their motivation for language learning and speaking skills. The results also show that students enjoy using technology and multimedia aids while preparing for and delivering their final presentations. Finally, the paper concludes by stressing the limitations of teacher-centered pedagogies and strengthening the need for practitioners to incorporate autonomy-promoting strategies into classrooms.
Keywords: project-based learning (PBL), autonomous learning, Kolb’s experiential learning, student- centered learning, class presentations
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