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2009

ELTM1 GROUP PROJECT

Group 4 – 06.1.E1
Vu Thi Kim Chi Tran Thi Huong Giang Pham Thi Hoa Le Thanh Huong Nguyen Thi Thuy Linh
3/30/2009

Vietnam National University – College of Foreign Languages English Department

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ELTM1 GROUP PROJECT
A study on

HULIS third year students’ perceptions of the application of learner-centered approach in reading classes

Supervisor: Dr. To Thu Huong Researchers: Vu Thi Kim Chi Tran Thi Huong Giang Pham Thi Hoa Le Thanh Huong Nguyen Thi Thuy Linh

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Table of Contents
Chapter 1 – Introduction …………………………………………………………………… 4 1. Statement of the problem and rationale for the study……………………... 4 2. Aims and objectives of the study ……………………………………………… 4 3. Scope of the study ……………………………………………………………….. 5 Chapter 2 – Literature review ……………………………………………………………... 6 1. Definition of learner-centered learning ………………………………………. 6 2. What to learn, how to learn, and how to be assessed …………………….. 7 3. Teacher’s role …………………………………………………………………….. 8 Chapter 3 – Methodology………………………………………………………………….. 9 1. Aims of the survey ………………………………………………………………. 9 2. Subject of the survey …………………………………………………………… 9 3. Instruments ………………………………………………………………………. 9 4. Procedure ………………………………………………………………………… 10 Chapter 4 – Results and discussion …………………………………………………….11 1. Interview …………………………………………………………………………. 11 2. Questionnaire …………………………………………………………………… 11 Chapter 5 – Recommendations ……………………………………………………….... 17 1. Recommendations ……………………………………………………………… 17 2. Sample activities ……………………………………………………………….. 17 Appendix ……………………………………………………………………………………. 24 Reference …………………………………………………………………………………….27

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Chapter 1 -

INTRODUCTION

1. Statement of the problem and the rationale for the study One of the most noticeable changes in language learning and teaching in the twentieth century is the shift from teacher-centered approach to learner-centered approach which “focuses on the needs of the students rather than those of others involved in the educational process” (Wikipedia, 2003). Many educators worldwide including

Vietnamese teachers have employed the learner-centered approach as a solution to the “increasingly criticized” (O’Neil & Mc Mahon, 2006) teacher-focused one. However, according to Lea et al (2003, p.322), “many institutions or educators claim to be putting student-centered learning into practice, but in reality they are not”. As this approach places its focus on the students’ needs, preferences and interests, it is important to investigate their evaluation of the application of this approach in reality. Although many scholars have discussed the application of learner-centered approach in teaching writing, speaking, and listening, not much attention has been paid to the application of this approach in reading classes. All these conditions, therefore, have offered the researchers a chance to conduct a study on “Perceptions of third-year students in HULIS of the application of learner-centered approach in reading classes”. 2. Aims and objectives of the study This research aimed to explore the perceptions of third-year students in HULIS of the application of learner-centered approach in reading classes. To be more specific, the students’ perceptions of their opportunities to choose what to learn, how to learn, and
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how to be assessed were taken into investigation. In short, the research aimed to answer the following questions: 1. What are the third year students’ perceptions of their opportunities to choose what to learn in reading classes? 2. What are the third year students’ perceptions of their opportunities to choose how to learn in reading classes? 3. What are the third year students’ perceptions of their opportunities to choose how to be assessed in reading classes? 3. Scope of the study

Chapter 2 –

LITERATURE REVIEW
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1. Definition of Learner-centered Learning Learner-centred Learning has been defined in different ways. In 2000, Walker and Baets regards to this as an approach which allows learners to carry out individual “discovery”. Another definition by Arizona Faculties Council (AFC) emphasizes on learner-centred learning’s beginning with “understanding the educational contexts from which a student comes”. Learner-centered learning is different from teacher-centered learning, which is characterized by the transmission of information from a knowledge expert (teacher) to a relatively passive recipient (student/learner). According to McCombs and Whisler (1997), learner-centered learning is
The perspective that couples a focus on individual learners (their heredity, experiences, perspectives, backgrounds, talents, interests, capacities and needs) with a focus on learning (the best available knowledge about learning and how it occurs and about teaching practices that are most effective in promoting the highest levels of motivation, learning and achievement for all learners). (p. 9)

In this paper, the researchers adopt the definition by Nunan (2003), cited in ELT Methodology I Coursebook (2008):
Learner-centred learning is concerned with allowing learners a greater role in the management of their own learning. This can be done firstly by providing opportunities for learner choice in terms of what to learn, how to learn, and how to be evaluated. Secondly, this can be achieved by maximizing the class time in which learners, rather than the teacher, do the work.

The most prevalent opinion shows a favor for learner-centred learning as an approach which fosters better study skills and understanding. In 2003, Lea, Stephenson, and Troy also reported that students in a UK University felt they were more respected with this approach and it was more interesting, exciting and effective in confidence-building. In
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Hall and Saunders’s research (1997), 94% of the students recommend learner-centred learning in replacement of traditional approach. However, this approach suffers from the main critique of its too much focus on the individual learner with the expense of the need of the whole class. In addition, there are some difficulties of implementation in terms of the resources needed, the belief system of the students and staff, and students’ lack of familiarity with the approach. 2. What to learn, how to learn, and how to be assessed In a learner-centered classroom, the learner choice is highly appreciated. Nunan (1989) argues that "no curriculum can claim to be truly learner-centered unless the learner's subjective needs and perceptions relating to the processes of learning are taken into account" (p. 177). Therefore, the learners should be provided with opportunities to choose what to learn, how to learn, and how to be evaluated (Nunan, 2003). In other words, learner-centered learning pays great attention to learner’s concern about the learning materials, methods and teacher’s assessment criteria. As mentioned above, learning process can only be valid when it meets the real desire of the learner, which likely means that the learner’s requirement is one of the most important factors distribute to the success of whole learning process. “What to learn” is what learners needs, “how to learn” relates to the learner’s styles and “how to be evaluated” reflects the learner’s goals. This triangle when being respected and chosen by learners themselves will hopefully uphold the leaner’s motivation in receiving the “input”, thus potentially leads to better outcome. 3. Teacher’s roles

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Although granting students a greater control over the learning procedure, learnercentered instruction does not exclude all the responsibilities and roles of the teachers in the classroom. Instead, it presents a new set of roles for teachers. The teachers, rather than a material and information deliverer, plays as a guide to help students create their own understandings (Suzan, 2006). In other words, teachers play the role of a coach and a facilitator. According to Withall (1975, p.261) the role of teacher as a facilitator can be specified as: “… to help learners learn, inquire, problem-solve, and cope with their own emotional needs and tensions, as well as with the needs of those around them”. It is seen that they are no longer the controllers, standing at the front of the class to keep the complete control over the students’ activities. They articulate what the students are expected to learn to design educational experience to enhance their learning and provide opportunities for them to demonstrate their success in achieving those expectations. To be more specific, in learner-centered environment, planning, managing interactions, monitoring learning, giving instructions and feedback are among the main responsibilities of teachers (Hedge, 2000).

Chapter 3 – METHODOLOGY
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1. Aims of the survey The focal point surging inside this survey is on how to observe the perception of HULIS (Hanoi University of Languages and International Studies) mainstream students on learner-centered instruction in reading. Hence, the investigation including the questionnaires and direct interviews will mainly stress on the following issues:     Attitudes of students towards learner-centered learning The situations of reading sections in HULIS mainstream classrooms The applications of learner-centered approach Some suggestions to effectively implement learner-centered learning into every lesson 2. Subjects of the survey As stated from the beginning, the aim of this study is on students’ perception, therefore, the one and only subject herein is students. There are 26 students being asked to do the questionnaire 4 students answering the interviews. All of them are HULIS students and have generally gained a good command of English. More than that, most of the students answered the questions in the survey with great consideration, thus, their information is not only informative but really helpful for the completion of the study. 3. Instruments

During the process of carrying out the research, questionnaires and interviews serve as the best medium to collect data.

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As a questionnaire is short and focused, it is quicker and more efficient to obtain great information within a short time. Plus, to make students at ease, the questionnaires are carefully translated into Vietnamese. The interviews conducted in form of small talks with students are also beneficial. In that way, students can openly share their views and attitudes towards the issues of concern. 4. Procedures First, the survey questionnaire is designed with careful discussion among the authors. Then, they are delivered to 26 HULIS mainstream students, most of whom stay in the dorm. After the questionnaires are all submitted, the direct interviews are conducted with great care. As the focus of the study is on how students view the learner-centered instruction in reading, the interviews are implemented with only those who think they are having learner-centered learning. That is the reason why, there are only 4 students participating in the interviews.

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Chapter 4 – RESULTS
1. Interviews

& DISCUSSION

In our interview we asked 4 students who believed they did not have learner-centered learning in their reading classroom as they had filled in the questionnaire. All of them stated to be using CAE Reading Skills as their course book. One of them remarked that the only activity at class was to correct the exercise. She and her classmates are supposed to do all the exercises in the course book at home beforehand and in class time the teacher calls one by one to read out their answers and then tells the correct answers. The other three interviewees reported a common pattern of teaching and learning. Besides the exercise correction activity as mentioned above, there are two other activities. One requires the students to choose one reading text at home to read beforehand, to write a summary and reflection on the text. At class they are to discuss the content of the text in pairs. Then the teacher would swap the texts for the students to read and then decide which text is the most interesting. This activity is not assessed, therefore the students do not put much effort into it. Another activity is called reflection, which requires the students to write a 400-to-500-word reflection of a 8000-word text every five weeks. Three of the students said that there were no negotiation of what to learn, how to learn and how their work is assessed in their classroom. One said her teacher did ask about students’ opinion as to what to learn, however, none of the students dared to speak out. 2. Questionnaire

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a. Research question 1: 3rd year students’ perceptions of their opportunities to choose what to learn In the first part of the questionnaire, there are three questions which primarily focus on what-to-learn factors in learner-centered learning. The 1st question stresses on whether teachers give students chance to show their own choice of learning. Then, the 2nd one turns to whether the requests from students on syllabus can be really applied. The 3rd one continues with the themes and in-class activities.

The 1st question: Most of the students agreed that they were asked about their needs and expectations by teachers right from the beginning of the semester as there are 56% strongly agreed and 40% agreed. Only one student in total responded against.

The 2nd question: In terms of changing the syllabus based on students, almost 60% agreed. However, there is a considerable 20% among students did not think their teachers ever change the syllabus based on them.

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The 3rd question: In this question, the answers vary differently. Only more than 20% strongly agreed and about 45% replied their teachers changed the themes and activities in class for them. Meanwhile, exactly 20% reported to disagree and an amount of 8% strongly disagreed.

From the first three questions on what-to-learn, it can be drawn that:  Most of the students being asked were still reserved to say whether or not their teachers gave them the choices of learning. Evidence for this is seen in the way they just chose AGREE option and hardly they moved further to choose STRONGLY DISAGREE option. Maybe, they just wanted to keep neutral.  Fortunately, the general trend is that HULIS mainstream students have chances to discuss and show their own needs, expectations towards learning reading. Sometimes the teachers make changes in not only the syllabus but the weekly themes and in-class activities as well so that they can all suit the students’ needs and requirements. For sure, it is good.

b. Research question 2: 3rd year students’ perceptions of their opportunities to choose how to learn in reading classes In the literature review, student’s opportunities to choose how to learn were confirmed to be important aspects of learner-centered approach. Hence, the students’ perceptions of their chances to choose how to learn in reading classes were investigated through five questions from 4 to 8 in the questionnaire of this research. 26 third year students of different classes in HULIS responded to these questions, the results of which are summarized in the chart below:
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Chart 2 –Perceptions of Choice of how to learn 1

It can be seen from the chart that most of the students surveyed agreed and strongly agreed with statements number 7 “I am informed about the aims and objectives of each activity in reading class” and number 8 “My peers and I often search for the reading materials and discuss among ourselves, our teachers only add some necessary information when needed”. However, for statements 4, 5, and 6, the number of students who agreed or strongly agreed is quite equivalent to the number of those who disagreed ore strongly disagreed. 15 students agreed or strongly agreed that they were given the chance to negotiate with their teachers about the choice of activities, the duration of each activity, and their team mates while 11 other students express the opposite opinions. The students’ reservation to choose “Strongly agree” or “Strongly disagree” were explained through informal interviews with the researchers. According to some of them, their opportunities to

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choose how to learn depend on different teachers, some teachers let them negotiate, some did not. In brief, it could be concluded that learner-centered approach, as perceived by the third year students, has been partly applied in reading classes in HULIS; however, some important principles of it have been neglected by some teachers. c. Research question 3: 3rd year students’ perceptions of how to be assessed
No.

Statements
I can give comments on the content of the test I will take. I can give comments on the duration of the test I will take. (Eg. 45 mins or 60 mins) Teacher let us choose how a particular task should worth. (Eg. 20% or 15%) After a presentation or facilitation (if there is), teacher only give feedbacks after peers’ comments and is willing to make changes on the grades later if there are reasonable reasons. In class, tests are often crosschecked by peers. Teacher is willing to change the grading way after receiving comments from students.

1 2 3 4 5 6

Chart3- Perceptions of how to be assessed

The bar chart shows that the majority of the students took the questionnaire have the opportunity to show their concern on the adjustment of their grades while only a minority
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may give ideas on the criteria based on which their tests would be designed. In detail, nearly 80% of the students say that their teachers are willing to make grading changes respecting student’s wishes. On the other hand, the proportions that agree to have chance giving comments on the content and duration of their upcoming tests are only around 30%. All of all, it can be seen that in reading lessons, to some extent, the lecturers are flexible in accessing the learners but the students’ choices are still limited in terms of “what to be accessed”.

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Chapter 5 – RECOMMENDATIONS

I. II. Sample activities In this study, the researchers would like to make some attempts to design some activities to best apply the learner-centered approach in a reading class on the theme “The living world” in CAE reading skill, the course book of the academic 3 rd year in HULIS. The activities include a warm-up activity, an exercise-correcting session, 2 main activities exploiting the two main texts in the unit, and a discussion. 1. Warm-up activity They are brothers and sisters! Work in group of 4 or 5, match the names of the animals with their pictures.

a. Dolphin g. Alligator

b. Toad h. Frog

c. Husky i. Turtle

d. Shark

e. Wolf

f. Indian Elephants l. Africa Elephant

j. Crocodile k. Tortoise

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Now, discuss and put them in pairs: …………. ; …………. ;…………. ;…………. ; …………. ; …………. Keys: 1.l 2.b 3.d 4.c 5.h 6.a 7.j 8.f 9.g 10.k 11.i 12. E

2. Exercise correcting session a. Passage 1  The reading passage is rather long; therefore it would be hard for students to hold all the main ideas and details right after one or two times reading. It is suggested that, teacher give students 2 times reading (if this is an in-class exercise). After the first time, teacher asks students to read and cover the main ideas. She can ask questions
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as, “What is the topic of the passage?” or “Let’s count how many people stating their points here”, etc. Then, the 2nd time reading comes and after that, teacher gets students to correct the exercises.  There are 5 exercises following and the matter is the key is also included in the course book. It is too easy for students to copy the answers. Therefore, teacher has to think out a lot of ways to correct the exercises or else students will be bored and no longer want to attend reading class.  First, divide the class into two groups. The first group is in charge of giving the answers and the 2nd one is for explaining. Of course, to be fair, the roles will be changed continually.  Among 5 exercises, teacher should go with ex. 7 first as it covers the purpose of the writer. Then, in the order from ease to difficulty, she continues with ex. 4 and stops at ex. 5.  Ex.6 and ex.8 are discussion part so that teacher can leave it till the end when she together with students can share ideas. Ex. 6 should be placed before because it relates to the content of the passage while ex. 8 asking for the readers’ view can be the follow-up part.  Teacher has to make sure that, correcting the exercises is not just reading out loud the answers and then move on from ex. To ex. But she has to ask students to explain the reasons for their choice. Don’t simply give them the clues, let discuss all together the most satisfactory answers. b. Passage 2

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 As recommended above, how to correct the exercises for reading passage 2 also follows the same steps and notes. However the difference here is, passage 1 is skillfocused so that all the exercises are more difficult. Meanwhile passage 2 is more like supplying background knowledge. Thus, the stress will be less on passage 2.  After two times reading, teacher begins with exercise no.6, then move on with ex. 4 and finally shares more time for ex.5 3. Main activities a. Text 1

Aim: - to identify the main ideas of the text - to understand the purpose of the author

Procedure: • the class will be divided into 5 groups of 5 (this number can vary according to the number of students in a class) • each group will be given 6 pieces of paper, each piece containing a main idea of the text 1 2 3 4 5 6 The bright current situation of Italian wolves The contrasting situation of wolves elsewhere in Europe The different features of wolves in long isolation The successful wolf protection program in Italy The wolf protection program in other places in Europe Suggestions to broaden the awareness of the issue

• each group will have at most 3 minutes to put the pieces in the order as the correlative ideas appear in the text

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• any time after finishing the work, a representative from each group will have to run to the board to write down their order. • The fastest group will get 10 bonus points. • Each correct answer will gain 10 points for the group(s). No point for the wrong ones. • The teacher will then discuss with the whole class to find the correct order of the ideas in the text. • Also, while/or after discussing the correct order of the ideas in the text, the teacher may ask students to find out the reasons why the author employs that organization and what his specific purpose of putting this/that idea here and there is. (this part can be skipped to set as homework in case of time limit)

Duration: at most 20 minutes b. Text 2

Task 1: Each student draws a table to summarize the “intelligent actions” of each animal that is mentioned in the text. Task 2: Work in pair, discuss to choose the action that is most obvious as an evidence to prove animals’ intelligence. Task 3: Discuss in the class: Do you believe that the animals are conscious and intelligent? Give your reasons and your own experience.

4. Discussion
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Discussion session would be made a news sharing session instead of articles summarizing. In addition, the students’ work should be assessed by peers and teachers. a. The aims of the activity are to: • • • • Help the students broaden their background knowledge Help the students practice designing exercises and tasks Help the students enhance their understanding of the skills focused Help the students practice team work

b. The tasks of the students are:  In pairs (students themselves decide the pairs), students search for an article or a piece of news about a topic in the theme of the week.  They should inform their topic to their classmate some days before the reading class.  At home, they are to design questions or activities to help their friends practice the focused skills. Adding to that, they are to hold a discussion about the topic they chose.  Other members of the class are to search for articles of the informed topic to take part in the discussion held by their friends. 3. Sample activity (10-15 mins)

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Seal killing concern at fish farm
Scotland's leading fish farm operator has been accused of recklessly shooting seals near one of its sites at Kyle of Lochalsh in the west Highlands. Since the 1970s, seals have been a protected species but can be shot, under licence, to protect fish farms. There are concerns about the way Marine Harvest is carrying out the killings. However, the company said it had to shoot the seals to stop them attacking the salmon cages and denied it was responsible for causing any woundings. Marine Harvest, part of the multinational company Nutreco, owns fish farms up and down the west coast. Humane killing The concerns have been raised at its farm at Loch Alsh. Local tour boat operator Nigel Smith said he had evidence that seals were not being shot cleanly, with animals left to die of their wounds. He added that the killings were adversely affecting his wildlife tourist business. The Salmon Farm Protest Group said the company should be employing marksmen to ensure the animals were killed as humanely as possible.
Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/4458414.stm

Questions
1. What is the general purpose of the writer in this article? a. to express his strong objection to the seal killings b. to inform the readers about the seal killings and some concerns about it c. to raise people’s concerns about the seal killings 2. What is the author’s attitude towards seal killings? (support your ideas with clues from the text) a. he’s objected to it b. he’s neutral c. he supports it 3. What is the purpose of the second part (Humane Killing)? a. to present some objections to seal killing b. to suggest a solution c. to inform the readers of some concerns about seal killing

Discussion 1. What do you know about the seals? Share with the class 2. Can you share any information about shooting seals? (in which country do people often shoot the seals, in which country does shooting seal become a favourite sport)
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Appendix
Đại Học Ngoại Ngữ - Đại Học Quốc Gia Hà Nội Khoa Ngôn Ngữ và Văn Hóa Anh – Mỹ
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PHIẾU THĂM DÒ Ý KIẾN
Chào các bạn, Nhóm chúng tôi gồm 5 sinh viên lớp K40 A1, trường ĐHNN – ĐHQGHN. Chúng tôi đang tiến hành một nghiên cứu khoa học về việc áp dụng phương pháp lấy người học làm trung tâm (learner-centered learning) trong giờ học môn reading. Ý kiến của bạn về những câu hỏi dưới đây sẽ đóng góp rất lớn cho thành công của nghiên cứu này. Tất cả các câu hỏi đều chỉ nhằm xin ý kiến của cá nhân bạn, do đó không có câu trả lời nào đúng hoặc sai. Mọi thông tin cá nhân của bạn cũng sẽ được giữ kín và tôn trọng. Vì vậy, chúng tôi rất mong nhận được những câu trả lời chân thực nhất từ phía các bạn. Xin chân thành cảm ơn. Với những câu hỏi dưới đây, hãy tick vào lựa chọn đúng nhất với bạn. 1: Hoàn toàn đồng ý 2: Đồng ý 3: Không đồng ý 4: Hoàn toàn không đồng ý * Nếu bạn muốn bổ sung những ý kiến khác, hãy ghi vào ô Ghi chú Nội dung dạy và học
STT

Câu hỏi
Đầu mỗi học kỳ, giáo viên thường trao đổi, thảo luận với học sinh về những nguyện vọng, cũng như yêu cầu cho môn đọc. Trong quá trình học tập, học sinh có thể đề xuất với giáo viên thay đổi chương trình sao cho phù hợp nhất với mục đích và điều kiện học tập của học sinh.

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Ghi chú

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Ngoài thay đổi về chương trình, học sinh còn có thể yêu cầu thay đổi về theme và các hoạt động trên lớp.

Phương pháp dạy và học STT Câu hỏi Tôi được thỏa thuận với các thầy cô giáo phụ 1
trách môn reading để lựa chọn những hoạt động sẽ diễn ra trên lớp (chẳng hạn như luyện tập CAE reading, facilitation, trò chơi, etc). Tôi được đưa ý kiến về thời lượng dành cho mỗi hoạt động. VD: cho ý kiến để tăng hay giảm thời lượng dành cho hoạt động mà tôi thấy có ích/ không có ích. Tôi được lựa chọn nhóm làm việc của mình, các thầy cô không phân chia nhóm cho chúng tôi. Tôi được cung cấp đầy đủ thông tin về mục đích, ý nghĩa của mỗi hoạt động học tập. VD: facilitation chủ yếu để luyện tập kĩ năng thiết kế bài giảng và kĩ năng giảng dạy. Tôi và các bạn thường tự tìm hiểu các tài liệu và thảo luận trao đổi với nhau, các thầy cô chỉ cung cấp thông tin, bài giảng khi cần thiết. Ví dụ: Chúng tôi thường tự tìm hiểu về các tasks trong CAE reading, các techniques và các thông tin liên quan, các thầy cô chỉ giúp đỡ, sửa chữa, bổ sung khi những thông tin của chúng tôi chưa chính xác.

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Phương thức đánh giá STT Câu hỏi 1 Tôi được nêu ý kiến về nội dung giới hạn của
các bài kiểm tra.

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Tôi được nêu ý kiến về thời gian làm bài kiểm tra (ví dụ: 45 phút hay 60 phút) Giáo viên cho phép chúng tôi lựa chọn giá trị của bài kiểm tra đó đối với tổng số điểm của cả kì (Ví dụ: Bài kiểm tra chiếm 20% hay 15% tổng số điểm của cả kì) Sau mỗi bài thuyết trình trên lớp (nếu có hoạt động này), giáo viên thường hỏi ý kiến của các sinh viên khác trong lớp rồi mới cho điểm và có thể đưa ra những sửa đổi hợp lí về điểm nếu có kiến nghị về sau. Trong lớp, giáo viên thường thực hiện cách chấm chéo để tự sinh viên đánh giá kết quả của các bạn học cùng trong lớp. Giáo viên có thể thay đổi cách chẩm điểm phù hợp dựa trên sự góp ý của các sinh viên trong lớp học.

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Rất cám ơn sự hợp tác của các bạn!!!

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Reference
Lea, S. J., D. Stephenson, and J. Troy (2003). Higher Education Students’ Attitudes to Student Centred Learning: Beyond ‘educational bulimia’. Studies in Higher Education 28(3) O'Neil G & Mc Mahon T. (2006). AISHE reading. Retrieved March 28th, 2009, from Student-centered learning: what does it mean for students and lecturers?: http://www.aishe.org/readings/2005-1/oneill-mcmahon-Tues_19th_Oct_SCL.html WikiPedia, the free encyclopedia. (2003). Retrieved March 27th , 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Student-centered_learning

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