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Exploring Learner Autonomy in a Saudi Arabian EFL Context

Halabi, Noha (2018) Exploring Learner Autonomy in a Saudi Arabian EFL Context. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

Learner autonomy has been deemed an effective channel through which learning takes place. Its significance in the context of language learning has long been studied by defining its various concepts and the roles played by teachers, learners, and institutions in advocating and promoting autonomous learning. This study explores the meanings and practices of autonomous learning in a Saudi higher education EFL context. It determines classroom activities and learner attributes that may help to enhance the development of learner autonomy and language learning in Saudi Arabia. To ascertain perceptions on learner autonomy, a survey was carried out with 44 female teachers working in an English Language Centre in a Saudi university and with 480 first-year female students. Additionally, in-depth interviews were conducted with 16 teachers and 15 students. These perceptions were then used as a point of reference for comparisons between teachers and students. The survey indicated that teachers were more positive about implementing learner autonomy in the classroom than students. However, when participants were interviewed, students revealed a high level of desirability and motivation to become autonomous. From the teachers there was general consensus on learner autonomy being beneficial, but they had limited experience on how it could be applied in the language classroom. The findings from both surveys and interviews confirmed that teachers and students have different perceptions on learner autonomy as a concept and in practice. Overall, this study presents further understanding of learner autonomy in the context of Saudi Arabia. Moreover, the study challenges the belief that young Saudi students are not interested in becoming autonomous learners. The study highlights the institutional and social barriers that both teachers and students need to overcome. One of the main contributions of this study is the insight given to the changes occurring in Saudi society and the generational gap between young female students and the older generation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > Department of Education (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.781375
Depositing User: Mrs Noha Halabi
Date Deposited: 09 Aug 2019 10:14
Last Modified: 19 Feb 2020 13:08
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/24565

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