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Project work in a Basque L2 classroom

Master Thesis presentation

Amaia Irazusta

on 8 July 2013

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Transcript of Project work in a Basque L2 classroom

Programme characteristics
This study aims at investigating the implementation of a project based programme in a post-compulsory secondary classroom of Basque as L2 in Navarre, Spain.
Aim of the study
A project can be defined as a long term activity in which students work cooperatively doing tasks that require gathering, processing, and reporting information, and in which both the process and the product are assessed (Stoller, 2006)
Research on students perceptions of project work
Eyring (1997)
Beckett (1999)
Moulton & Holmes (2000)
Kemaloglu (2006)
Sierra (2001, 2006, 2008, 2011)
Very few studies on students' perceptions
Positive aspects:enjoyed the topics, learnt a lot, participated in the management of the course, liked the collaborative assessment scheme.
Few negative comments: oral presentations as embarrassing, a lot of work.
Positive aspects: improvement of presentation, writing and researching skills, interaction with native speakers (Wilhelm)
Negative aspects: lack of teacher-centred lectures, lack of focus on forms activities, difficult, stressful, too much translation (Kemaloglu), weak teacher guidance (Kemaloglu), ........
ESL students from Asian countries taught in a Canadian secondary school:
Too difficult, in particular, oral presentations and research
Too much work
Students demanding more grammar and vocabulary teaching
Learning (Zer Ikasi)
Autonomous L.(Bakar Ikasketa)
Personal Experience
(Esperientzia Pertsonala)
Project’s assessment scheme:
Group work assessment
Oral Presentation assessment
The Notebook/Diary’s assessment scheme
Research questions
What are the positive and negative aspects of group work?
How do students evaluate the process and results of the implementation of project work?
What are the benefits of using a Notebook/Diary to foster language awareness and to assess individual work?
What are the participants’ impressions about the cooperative assessment process used throughout the programme?
What specific learning gains regarding language skills, grammar, and vocabulary do the students report about project work?
Based on Sierra’s (2001) work the Notebook/Diary was used as a means of keeping track of individual work and to foster reflection on their own learning process.
Students copied the lesson plan from the blackboard and summarized what was done in each class session
The students were asked to weekly collect what they had learnt through their projects with regard to grammar, vocabulary, content and skills (Beckett & Slater, 2005)
A weekly activity had to be completed . It could be some grammar exercises, vocabulary worksheets, watching a video and doing a summary, a writing, ......
A weekly report of group work and classroom issues or anything students wanted to comment on.
Research questions
The assessment scheme used was extracted and adapted for the study from Sierra (2008, 2011).
The scheme combines the assessment of Group Projects, the 60% of the total mark, and the Notebook/Diary, the 40% of the total mark.
Students did: Self- assessment and peer- assessment
The teacher did: assessment of individual work, and a mark to the written product
"Group Work Assessment Report" was used as a tool
Students in their groups did: Group Self-assessment, other groups' assessment
The teacher did: each group assessment
"Oral Presentation Assessment Report" was used as a tool.
Self assessment and assessment by the teacher
A document called "Notebook Assessment Report" was used as a tool
The context
Study conducted in a Secondary State school in Pamplona, Navarre, where Basque language is offered as an optional subject (A model).
First year of post-compulsory secondary (16-17 years old)
4 sessions per week during 9 months
Data collection and instruments used
Two main procedures: a questionnaire and a discussion group.
The questionnaire:
Taken from Sierra (2011) and adapted to the study.
31 close-ended items, a Likert scale of 4 options
6 open-ended items
Discussion groups:
Students divided into two groups. Two sessions of 45'.
Some questions and comments used as prompts.
Assessment process ( items 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29)
General impression about the course,
their motivation and load of work (items 1, 2, 3, 4 , 5)
General learning (items 6 and 7)
Specific learning gains: language skills, presentation skills, translation skills, grammar and vocabulary ( items 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15)
Group work ( items 19, 20)
What are the positive and negative aspects of group work?
Very positive answers to the experience of group work: almost none negative comments
The most positive aspects:
the relaxed atmosphere
the help and support given to each other
Not very positive: half of the students did not like assessing their own group and even less other groups' presentations, the opposite to opinions in all studies by Sierra (2001, 2006, 2008, and 2011):
What are the benefits of using a Notebook/Diary to foster language awareness and to assess individual work?
P.E. and L. : unanimous agreement on doing them at the end of each project; more global perspective of what had been working on.

"Edmodo" (a social learning platform for teachers, students, and parents) was considered a better option than a physical Notebook
Satisfied with the overall learning
Language skills:
improvement of:
1. writing and translation skills,
2. oral expression, presentation skills and vocabulary.

poor improvement of grammar. 1/3 of them learnt some.
What specific learning gains regarding language skills, grammar, and vocabulary do the students report about project work?
What are participants’ impressions about the cooperative assessment process used throughout the programme?
Answers to research questions
Very positive overall evaluation.They enjoyed the programme. The same as in Sierra (2001, 2008, 2011)

The most enjoyable, "Bidaia bat" (a trip) , the most useful "Gramatika azaltzen" (Grammar explanation)

Impression they worked hard

Good materials and enough support from the teacher
Pedagogical implications
With the goal of correcting some misconceptions about project work and collaborative assessment:
Suggestions for further research
The very few studies on project work deal with the teaching of English, very little or no research related to teaching a language other than English, and far less related to teaching a minority language.
Project-based instruction was introduced into second-language (L2) education to provide L2 learners with opportunities to interact and communicate with each other and with native speakers of the target language in authentic contexts (Candlin et al, 1988; Fried-Booth, 1986; Gardner, 1995; Hilton-Jones, 1988; Legutke & Thomas, 1991; Stoller, 1997).
Project Work has been acknowledged as an efficient medium for language learning for more than two decades (Stoller, 2006) according to the numerous successful applications of project-based programmes that have been reported
Second language (SL) and foreign language students (FL) who have experienced project based instruction recognised having improved language skills, learnt content, developed real life skills, as well as gained in self-confidence and motivation (Sierra, 2008, 2011; Stoller, 2006).

Research paradigm
Our investigation can be considered within the Action Research approach:
A small scaled research, carried out by teachers and for teachers and not generalizable, as it is contextualised and localised.
Aiming at discovering what works best in the classroom.
(Wallace, 2000 in Sadegui, 2012: 72)
“Projects are OK but they are too long. What I want is to learn; with projects I learn, but very little grammar” (Ainara).

“I found them too long, especially the second, and I only wanted to finish it; I was a little tired” (Lorea).

“Teachers emphasise more, and repeat explanations, you have more time to assimilate; in our case, it was only one class” (Eli).
“There are things we have learnt. Last year whenever we tried to say something in Basque we got stuck. This year, since we had to do presentations, we have improved. We haven’t improved in the knowledge of “nor-nori- nork” or “naiteke”, but we have improved a lot our oral presentation skills in Basque” (Gorka)
“Groups members have change all over the course, so you talk to everybody and relationships have got better. Besides, I help you with this and you help me with that... Within smalls groups it’s difficult to get out of the work, you have to do it! Within larger groups there is always someone who does nothing” (Eli)

“All of us had worked to carry out the project. Each of us did their part. Because if you don’t complete your part, it turns out incomplete” (Gorka).
“It is difficult because you have a very good relationship with everybody, and you don’t want to look bad giving them a low mark. The relationship you have with them interferes in your decision.” (Gorka)

“If someone deserved to fail, I wouldn’t like to be the one who gave them bad grades” (Lorea).

“I don’t like it. I like you, the teacher, to be who does the assessment“(Ainhoa)
“The Notebook/Diary has not been helpful. The A.L. section, yes... but the rest, what for? “(Ainara)

“A.L section was only important for me” ( Ines)
“At the end of the project, yes. But not every week, because there are times you don’t learn anything, and other times you learn a whole lot” (Virginia)
Limitations of the study
The small size of the sample, 12 students. Results can be considered neither representative nor generalizable.

Advisable to have control groups, that is, groups not working with projects to compare results.

Good relationship among students and the teacher might have biased the results.
In a Basque L2 classroom: students’ perceptions about group work, learning gains and assessment
Results match best with Kemaloglu’s (2006) findings:
writing and speaking skills perceived as more improved than reading and listening skills

vocabulary learning rated higher than grammar

improvement of translation skills
According to them, they are not one to judge other group’s work

Willing to comment and give their opinions, but not grading

Peer-pressure the main obstacle

Teacher’s mark should have more weight in the final mark
Most of them considered as a difficult task assessing presentations. In line with Sierra's (2008) findings
Group work should be promoted as much as possible, not only in the Basque language classroom, which is an optional subject, but also in compulsory subjects
Students training in a cooperative assessment scheme is needed to show it as an opportunity to get constructive feedback
It is crucial to put forward the benefits of project work to students at the beginning of the course (Beckett 1999), so that they can realize they learn the language along with content, thinking and researching skills.
Bear in mind differences in status and resources among English and state languages and a minority language
Differentiated research is needed
Thank you very much
Eskerrik asko
The focus is on the students’ perceptions of learning gains, the collaborative assessment process, and the students’ overall evaluations of the implementation of project work
Aim of the study and Literature review
Method, research questions and programme characteristics
Results and discussion
Conclusions and pedagogical implications
Limitations of the study and further research
The mean of the marks given
The mean of the marks given
The mean of the marks given
How do students evaluate the process and results of the implementation of project work?
Negative aspects: too long, little teacher-centred grammar instruction. In line with Eyring's finding (1997)
Only the "Personal Experience" section, and especially, the "Autonomous Learning" section were rated as really useful:
P.E: a place to give opinions and detect problems. Improvement of writing skills
A.L.: the most useful although quite demanding; they learnt very much doing this section
Found only some sections of the Notebook/Diary useful:
Beckett, G.H. (1999). Project-based instruction in a Canadian school’s ESL classes: Goals and evaluations. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of British Columbia, Canada. Accessed 10 July 2011. http://hdl.handle.net/2429/9937
Beckett, G.H., & Slater, T. (2005). The project framework: A tool for language, content, and skills integration. ELT Journal, 59(2), 108-116.
Candlin, C, Carter, G., Legutke, M., Semuda, V., & Hanson, S. (1988, March). Experiential learning: Theory into practice. Paper presented to the TESOL Colloquium, Chicago.
Eyring, J. L. (1997). Is project work worth it? EricDigest. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED407838).Fried-Booth, D. L. (1986). Project Work. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Gardner, D. (1995). Student-produced video documentary provides a real reason for using the target language. Language Learning Journal 12: 54–56.Hilton-Jones, U. (1988). Project-based learning for foreign students in an English- speaking environment (Report No. FL017682). Washington DC: US Department of Education. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 301054).
Hymes, D. (1972) On communicative competence. Sociolinguistics. In Pride, J.B. and J.(Eds.) (pp.269-293). Holmes. London: Penguin Books.
Kemaloglu, E. (2006) Project work: How well does it work? Assessments of students and teachers about main course project work at Yıldız Technical University School of Foreign Language Basic English Department. Bilkent University, Turkey. Accessed 20 July 2011. http://www.belgeler.com/blg/pb4/project-work-how-well-does-it-work-
Legutke, M., & Thomas, H. (1991). Process and experience in the language classroom. New York: Longman.
Moulton, M.R. & Holmes, V.L. (2000). An ESL capstone course: Integrating research tools, techniques and technology. TESOL Journal, 9(2), 23-29.Richards, J.C., & Rodgers T.S. (2001). Approaches and methods in language teaching. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Richards, J.C., & Rodgers T.S. (2001). Approaches and methods in language teaching. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Sadegui, R.Z. (2012). Action research in reflective teaching. Basic Research Journal of Social and Political Sciences Vol. 1(4) pp. 71-76 December 2012.
Sierra, J.M. (2001). Project Work and Language Awareness: Insights from the Classroom. In D. Lasagabaster y J.M. Sierra (Eds.) Language Awareness in the Foreign Language Classroom (pp. 181-202). Zarautz: Universidad del País Vasco- Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea.
Sierra, J.M. (2006). Lankidetzako Ebaluazioa Unibertsitatean: Ikasleek zer diote? In Cenoz, Jasone/Lasagabaster, David (Eds.) Hizkuntzak Ikasten eta Erabiltzen (pp. 109- 136). Zarautz: Universidad del País Vasco/ Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea.
Sierra, J.M. (2008) Una programación por proyectos en un aula universitaria: aportaciones a los diseños curriculares de lengua inglesa basados en tareas. Bilbao: Universidad del País Vasco/Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea
Sierra, J.M. (2011). CLIL and Project Work. Contributions from the Classroom. In Y. Ruiz de Zarobe, J.M. Sierra and F. Gallardo del Puerto (Eds.) Content and Foreign Language Integrated Learning (pp. 211-239). Bern. Peter Lang.Stoller, F.L. (1997). Project work: A means to promote language content. EnglishTeaching Forum, 35: 2-9, 37.
Stoller, F.L. (2002). Promoting the acquisition of knowledge in a content-based course. In J. Crandall & D. Kaufman (Eds.) Content-based instruction in higher education settings (pp. 109-123). Alexandria, VA: TESOL
Stoller, F. L. (2006). Establishing a theoretical foundation for project-based learning in second and foreign language contexts. In G. H. Beckett & P.C. Miller (Eds.) Project- based second and foreign language education: Past, present, and future (pp.19-40). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.
Wilhelm, K. H. (1999). Collaborative Dos and Don’ts. TESOL Journal 8 (2): 14 – 19.
Groups of 3/4 students
3 sessions per week for projects;
one session for speaking activities
Frequent feedback from the teacher (formative assessment) before the writing product was turned in.
Then, time to prepare the O.Presentations
In "tuenti", a social network
Four sections
Basque Language and Literature I
Liked and enjoyed project work
Learnt: writing, presentation and translation skills, along with significant content and other useful skills.
Demanded more teacher-fronted grammar instruction and shorter projects
Cooperative assessment: found it difficult and mediated by good relationships and peer-pressure
The Notebook/Diary: only some sections were found useful. The use of "Edmodo" as a better option

Mixed evaluations
Mostly negative perceptions
Mostly positive perceptions
Wilhelm (1999)
Amaia Irazusta
June 2013

Content-driven extended task in which students work cooperatively to produce an outcome (Richards & Rodgers, 2001)
What is Project based learning or project work?
“Mostly in writing skills. At the beginning of the course, you gave us a sheet
with a questionnaire I wasn’t able to fill out. Yes, mostly at writing” (Inés)
Students working in groups
Students presenting their projects
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