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Volume 16 Number 1, Spring 2019, Pages 1-447 PDF Download

An Investigation of Responsibility and Learner Autonomy in a Sino-British EAP Program in China

    Wen-Cheng Hsu, Ling Xia & Xuelian Xu

Learner autonomy has become a universally acknowledged benign notion and exercised in all levels of education, especially in tertiary settings, although some doubts have been cast on its suitability in teacher-dependent contexts. Learner autonomy entails capacity to take on responsibility for ones' own learning. This study aims to investigate students' perceptions of their own responsibility and their teachers', and then evaluate students' autonomy in English learning in an EAP curriculum in a Sino-British university in China. To these aims, a 30-item questionnaire was compiled to administer to 276 year 1 and year 2 students, and T-test and one-way ANOVA were used to analyze the data. It was found that students in this Sino-British context perceived themselves to assume more responsibility for their own learning compared to their Chinese counterparts, but teachers had more responsibility to stimulate their learning inside the classroom. The degree of autonomy increased accordingly by students' language proficiency level. Female students assumed more responsibility than male students while the latter were more autonomous than the former. Although students had a good understanding of course aims, they had low awareness of setting goals and plans. These findings have implications for promoting autonomy in tertiary settings in this specific context, as well as in other tertiary settings.

Keywords: Learner autonomy, perception of responsibility, EAP, questionnaire design