How Are You Teaching?
Autonomous Learning through a Learner Diary
- Korean 4101.01
Yonsoo Kang-Parker, Ph.D., senior lecturer with the Department of East Asian Languages and Literature, investigated the effectiveness of learner diaries in promoting autonomous learning as part of a 2021-22 Drake Institute Research & Implementation grant.
The project was conducted during the autumn semester 2021 in Korean 4101.01. Kang-Parker assigned a weekly learner diary using Self-Determination Theory (SDT) as the main theoretical framework for the research.
The findings revealed that through keeping a learner diary, students carried out a series of self-regulated acts, such as setting goals, searching for learning resources, assessing their performance, and expressing a sense of accomplishment. These learning behaviors satisfied the three key elements of SDT, e.g., autonomy, competence, and relatedness, resulting in increased motivation to learn autonomously both in and out of the classroom regardless of individual students’ level of proficiency, Kang-Parker reported.
Most significant, according to Kang-Parker, was the change in student attitude regarding the assignment. Initially, students considered the learner diary a difficult task. Toward mid-semester, “all participants began to consider [the weekly diary] enjoyable and rewarding.” By the end of the semester, they favored writing the diary in Korean and credited the activity with their progress.
“It was also found that positive feedback and encouragement from the teacher played a crucial role in enhancing students’ self-efficacy.”
Kang-Parker examined student feedback and course evaluation data.
A learner diary was a useful tool for rebooting students’ motivation after a significant period of online learning during the pandemic. She recommends learner diaries be implemented with classes where instructors are able to provide feedback on a regular basis “since the instructor’s feedback plays a crucial role for the success of a learner diary activity.”