Exploring the Construct of Learner Autonomy in Writing: The Roles of Motivation and the Teacher

  •  Marine Yeung    


Learner autonomy is widely recognized as a desirable educational goal in second language contexts. However, the lack of domain-specificity in research related to learner autonomy, compounded with the diverse views on its connotations, makes it difficult to either nurture or measure. This paper reports on a study that explored the construct of learner autonomy in the area of writing using quantitative data collected in the naturalistic settings of three secondary school classrooms in Hong Kong. In this study, learner autonomy was proposed as a construct consisting of autonomous attitudes including motivation, self-confidence and independence from the teacher, and autonomous skills embracing strategy use and metacognitive knowledge. A questionnaire was designed accordingly to measure changes in the participants after a writing programme that adopted the process writing approach, the potential of which in fostering traits of learner autonomy had been demonstrated in previous studies and was further explored in this study. Findings gathered through factor analysis on the questionnaire data, followed by a paired-sample t-test to investigate changes in the participants after the writing programme, suggest that a degree of independence from the teacher may possibly be a prerequisite for autonomy development in terms of writing skills, while motivation may have a more important role to play in its subsequent development.

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