Teacher reflections on implementing a learning cycle in EFL writing classes
An action research study
Keywords:action research, reflective practice, learning cycles, process writing, teacher reflections, can do statements, illustrative descriptors
This action research study began with classroom observations of a learning cycle informed English as a Foreign Language writing class (referred to as the first learning context) for the purposes of creating a general how-to guide for implementing a learning cycle within a writing course. The guide was then implemented in a writing skills class in a different educational context (referred to as the second learning context). A learning cycle was introduced to help learners become more accustomed to peer-editing, giving peer feedback, performing self-assessments and being more critical of their own work. It was found that the learning cycle functioned very differently in the second learning context and not entirely as intended, despite modifications that were made to account for differences between the two learning contexts. Teacher reflections revealed that differences between the reasons for using a learning cycle, assumptions about the similarities between learning contexts (the two courses and their content), decisions regarding changes to the second contexts’ learning materials, differences in student population and other unforeseen differences affected how the learning cycle operated. Critical interactions with sample performance writing texts, the provision or collaborative development of assessment criteria and feedback prompts for peer-editing, materials which support reflection on each task and at the end of the course, and additional class time spent on reflective discussion are all identified as key components of a learning cycle when used in an EFL writing class. The reflections also revealed that learning cycles can have utility when applied to contexts vastly different to those from where they were developed. Recommendations and suggested supporting resources for teachers interested in implementing learning cycles within their own contexts are provided.
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