Student-Centered Methodology in English Language Learning: Students' and Teachers' Perceptions in ESL Higher Education Program Context in OmanFocus of the study (research question)/goals/objective
From time immemorial, schools have been believed to be accountable for students' success and achievement. Since the future of the students plays major roles in the development of their countries, it becomes paramount to ensure that they do not only go to school, but indeed receive qualitative education during their course in school. Hence, in recent past, there is an increasing need to effectively support students in the learning process. One of the practices that is related to offer qualitative student learning is the implementation of student-centered methodology (SCM). It is a teaching method that seeks to empower students by allowing them to take an active part in their learning and realizing learning outcomes. This study seeks to elucidate from teachers and students their perceptions as to how to achieve the learning objectives of the English language program using a SCM. The particular objectives of the study are:
- Identify and analyze the existing perceptions that the teacher and student has in relation to using SCM;
- Identify the main hindrances to the implementation of using SCM in the classroom.
- Suggest ways to effective use of SCM.
Four research question to be explored throughout the study which then will form the basis of data collection and analysis:
- What are the teachers' perceptions of using SCM?
- What are the students' perceptions of using SCM?
- What are the main hindrances to SCM implementation?
- To what extent both students and teachers can overcome the raised hindrances and use SCM effectively?
Teaching English as a language program using SCM is a more challenging process, in its practicality theme, for both students and teachers. In this sense, Hatipoglu Kavanoz (2006) mentions that teaching a foreign language, in most cases, mostly focuses on three dimensions: the teacher who is the main source of knowledge and take all the responsibilities in the classroom and considered as active person, the textbooks that provided all the information needed in the teaching-learning processes and the individual work that is done by a student who considered as a passive person depending on his/her teacher for any type of information. Unlike the traditional rote learning method, as stated by Lloyd (2001), SCM can offer a more viable learning atmosphere in which a student brings a vast array of interests and concerns to subject matter and classroom activities where he/she can challenge his/her teacher and his/her peers to negotiate their various perspectives to question the poignancy of his/her investigations and to consider unanticipated insights. This may lead to the need to have well trained teachers who can manage and facilitate the use of SCM.
In depth, learners, as discussed by Nunan (1988), are mostly decision makers in relation to the teaching-learning processes in terms of content and curriculum. Therefore, as pointed out by Jurmo (1998), there are three various levels of learner involvement: the learner is always being there, the learner is always taking a part in taking initiatives of course setting up, and the learner is having considerable control and responsibility for the different classroom activities.
Referring back to SCM in terms of its records, it is a concept that is being used in language learning and teaching practices. According to O'Sullivan (2004), SCM is credited to Hayward (1905) and later to Dewey (1965). In somehow, it is connected to the term experimental learning (Burnard, 1999), and the notion of flexible learning (Taylor, 2000). Burnard (1999) mentions that SCM is also associated with the work of Piaget and most recently with the work of Malcolm Knowles. It is derived from the work of Froebel where the teacher should not hinder the maturation process; however, the teacher should act as a guide and it is connected to the development process which promotes that the learner will learn when s/he is ready to do so (Simon, 1999). Barr and Tagg (1995) state that this methodology shifts away from the emphasis on learning rather than on teaching where it encourages the give the power from the teacher's hand to the student's hand. This is because the use of teacher-centered is criticized by many linguists who strongly encourage the idea of LCM.
In this sense, Burnad (1999, p.244) emphasizes learning more than teaching when he says claims that "students might not only choose what to study, but how and why that topic might be an interesting one to study". He also states that students' knowledge and visions of the world are significant, relevant and appropriate where they have a choice in their learning. Accordingly, Harden and Crosby (2000) mention that teacher-centered is focusing mostly on teaching and teacher's knowledge and what teacher does while LCM is focusing on learning and what student does to achieve that.
LSM, as viewed by Lea et al. (2003), refers to the ease of having active learning rather than passive learning, the focus on full-meaning learning and comprehension, the idea that student is more responsible, the availability of learner autonomy, the teacher-learner interdependence, the teacher-learner trustful relationship and the implementation of the reflexive approach regarding both teachers and learners.
In SCM, students are decision-makers in terms of their learning outcomes, their course content and how they are going to learn while the teacher, according to McCombs and Whisler (1997), support the students setting up challenging, meaningful, personally and culturally appropriate learning activities that encourage conceptual, analytic and critical thinking, offer students with chances to work together with their classmates by using varied supportive learning groups that enhance teamwork, shared responsibility, and a sense of belonging, assign students ongoing responsibilities towards their learning to encourage their autonomy and self-development, value students in terms of their opinions and arguments, effectively use both formative and summative evaluation approaches in terms of feedback, growth and progress to achieve the desired learning outcomes.Methodology
This study shall use a mixed-method approach through a triangulation system. A survey method will be used to gauge teacher and student perceptions regarding the use of SCM in English language program (ELP). A questionnaire will be developed and administered to a pilot group of students belonging to an English class and a group of teachers who are part of the ELP. Also, video-taped classroom observation will be conducted to see to what extent teachers are using SCM. Faculty member who are the subjects of the questionnaire and the observation will also be asked to make a brief narrative and essay which will also be supplemented by an interview.Outcomes and Significance
The outcome of this study shall contribute to professional development of teaching design and lesson plans that incorporates the principles of SCM. The study also helps to identify particular challenges or problems that hinder the application of SCM focusing on student and teacher beliefs concerning the autonomy of the learner. This study shall provide a rich source of information regarding teacher and student perspectives concerning SCM and its application in ELP teaching-learning practices.