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Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

Beyond Individual Learning Plans - exploring goal setting with adult learners

Lewandowski, Marcin (2021) Beyond Individual Learning Plans - exploring goal setting with adult learners. Doctoral thesis, University of Sunderland.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)


The ability to direct learning independently of the teacher and outside of the classroom is considered essential to successful language learning. This is particularly important for migrant ESOL learners in the UK. It is a sad irony that these learners, despite living in an English speaking country, far from being immersed in the language, often find themselves isolated from a wider linguistic community and have very few opportunities to use or practise their language skills.
This study, which takes place in community settings in London, builds on the research by the likes of Locke and Latham (2002), Oettingen (2014) and Golwitzer (2011) and investigates strategies that can help learners develop the ability to self-direct learning of English outside of the classroom. In particular, it looks at the Individual Learning Plan (ILP) and the goal setting methodology underlying this document and seeks to establish if it can be re-engineered and ‘de-institutionalised’ to foster learner autonomy and promote out-of-classroom learning. Specifically, learners are asked to keep a goal diary where they themselves write and review their course and weekly goals. The goal setting and the review of progress is shared in the classroom.
The research study is placed within the interpretivist paradigm which argues that direct observation is not the only way of knowing about the world and allows us to delve deeper into the object of our inquiry and gain a more profound understanding of it. Where positivism concerns itself with large datasets in pursuit of statistical significance, interpretivism endeavours to understand the subjective world of the human experience.
Due to its unique context the study also employs action research methodology which in addition to bridging the doing (practice), learning (study), and reflection (inquiry), gives the practitioner researcher the tools required to carry out the research in an ongoing, systematic and recursive way. It uses surveys, questionnaires and interviews to collect predominantly qualitative data.
Participants are empowered through the use of narrative inquiry which creates opportunities both for researchers and the researched to work collaboratively, constructing narrative as a caring community (Connelly and Clandinin, 1990). This not only captures and tells their stories but also gives voice to this underrepresented community.
The results reveal that keeping a goals diary and setting weekly goals can lead to an increase in language use outside of the classroom, an increase in confidence, greater autonomy and improved language skills.
This study also contributes to the discussion around the use of Individual Learning Plans – an area that is largely underrepresented in the literature – and provides details of a working model which could be used by teachers as an alternative to the standard ILP model and process.

Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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Depositing User: Leah Maughan


Item ID: 14255

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Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2021 14:34
Last Modified: 25 Jan 2022 08:48


Author: Marcin Lewandowski

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