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Volume 14 Number 4, Winter 2017, Pages 587-836 PDF Download

Creating In-class Self-directed Learning through Can Do Objectives, Portfolio use, and Formative Assessment

    Jason Moser

This paper reports on the introduction of in-class self-directed learning in an intensive English program at a woman's university in Japan. This self-directed learning was organized around can do descriptors, and supported by a portfolio and formative assessment. This new curriculum emerged from our use of the CEFR. A second reason for this change stemmed from an increased lack of student engagement during teacher-directed instruction. For self-directed learning, a student determined what can do's she wanted to learn, and what activities she would study to learn these skills. This student control also involved deciding what can do's to be individually tested on and when. At the end of the academic year, students (n = 37) completed a 12-item Likert scale survey to assess the curriculum changes. The results revealed that students had mixed support for self-directed planning. Specifically, students indicated a lack of confidence in making study plans. Students did like the use of can do's, but wanted more language guidance for them. Students also strongly favored the use of the portfolio and formative assessment. An analysis of student can do test results for the year revealed that students made greater gains than were possible with the prior teacher-directed curriculum.

Keywords: CEFR, self-directed learning, process-oriented portfolio, restricted formative assessment, learner autonomy, self-handicapping, individualized learning