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A qualitative look at the associations between students’ learning environment perceptions and persistence: Investigation into an EFL context

Konferensbidrag (offentliggjort, men ej förlagsutgivet)
Författare Gulcin Mutlu
Ali Yildirim
Publicerad i Paper presented at 2nd International Elementary Education Congress, 2019, Bodrum
Förlag Mugla Sitki Kocman University
Förlagsort Mugla
Publiceringsår 2019
Publicerad vid Institutionen för didaktik och pedagogisk profession
Språk en
Länkar utek2019.com/en/
Ämnesord Persistence in learning, learning environment, EFL, qualitative research
Ämneskategorier Pedagogiskt arbete


The work of Lewin (1936) and Murray (1938) on environment and the effect of environment upon individuals’ behaviors has encouraged my following researchers within the discipline of education to conceptualize, evaluate and examine learning environments. Such attempts especially within four decades by many researchers have resulted in an establishment of a research venue called learning environments and now it is seen that research on learning environments has strongly linked students’ learning environment perceptions with their cognitive and affective outcomes. However, the presence of such links in secondary level mathematics and science classrooms have been investigated more compared to other discipline areas with providing comparatively less evidence for the effect of classroom characteristics upon student outcomes in other subjects and levels of schooling. That is, the literature has provided perspectives regarding the associations between students’ learning environment perceptions about science classrooms and their cognitive and affective gains but falls short in explaining the influence of such perceptions pertaining to classroom characteristics on student outcomes in foreign languages. There was also dominance of quantitative studies over qualitative and mixed research designs. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate students’ perceptions concerning the associations between their learning environment perceptions about the English language classes they attend and their levels of persistence in learning this language. The study was a type of phenomenological investigation and thus qualitative interviews were conducted to describe the English class characteristics and students’ persistence in English. The study was performed with 20 English preparatory program students who were chosen by employing maximum variation sampling to get variation in investigating how learning environment perceptions may relate to students’ persistence realized as a type of an affective outcome in this study. As there has been an established theoretical background about English as a Foreign language (EFL) classroom learning environments with six main dimensions, a) course planning and organization, b) materials environment, c) communicative approach-oriented implementation practices, d) teacher supportive behaviors, e) feedback and guidance on the assessment tasks and f) authenticity and congruency with reality, the researchers employed “ analytic induction” (Patton, 2002) in that they deductively started with a priori theoretical guiding scheme already derived from the six learning environment characteristics of EFL classrooms in order to generate codes and themes and added other codes and themes inductively as they read the qualitative data. The results from the content analysis conducted with the analytic induction method revealed that students’ perceptions about their EFL classroom characteristics were related to their levels of persistence in English. Participant students also indicated that their levels of persistence in learning English increase as they have more organized and systematic lessons, more challenging but interesting materials, more communication and speaking-based classroom practices, more real-life analogous activities and more constructive feedback from the English teachers. Moreover, the results provided more explanations for the presence of associations in that students also reported the sub-factors connected with these six main characteristics which are also influential upon their persistence levels.

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