Enhancing Learner Autonomy through Reciprocal Approach to Curriculum Development

  •  Mohammad Zohrabi    


This study reports on how a heterogeneous mixed-ability large class (63 students) turned into a cohesive and functioning class. To promote learner autonomy, students were made responsible to identify their own needs and objectives. The participants of this study consisted of undergraduate chemistry students who had taken the English for General Purposes (EGP) course at the University of Tabriz, Iran. A learning-centered approach was opted for to fulfill both course goals (i.e. reading skill) and different students’ needs, objectives, expectations, and preferences. The theoretical decisions about goals and needs were contextualized and taken to the next level, i.e. implementation stage. The students’ views, syllabus, and the institution’s goals were translated into practical and actual classroom activities and exercises. Useful textbooks, tasks, and projects were presented and practiced. The new syllabus acted as a mediator to raise the students’ awareness to language learning, their needs, lacks, and goals. The syllabus went beyond the planning stage and content specification to the level in which the students were made to use and produce language through communicative activities within meaningful context. There were some constraints and limitations which were obviated. The important benefits of this course were as follows: selection of effective materials and methods, learner autonomy, teacher self-development, and face-value of the course.

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