Grammar learning strategies in a Polish-Austrian context (working title; in planning)

Grammar learning strategies (GLSs) may be defined as the thoughts and actions undertaken by language learners with some degree of consciousness for purposes of learning grammatical structures in the target language and using them appropriately, accurately, fluently, and automatically. Given that research on GLSs is practically in its infancy, with just a handful of studies dedicated to them, a large-scale research project on GLSs in collaboration with Jakub Bielak (lead) and Anna Mystkowska-Wiertelak (AdamMickiewicz University, Poland) is currently in planning. To implement the project, we will apply for a Weave-UNISONO research grant for international Polish-Austrian research teams. In the project, we will create an instrument for measuring GLSs targeted at primary and secondary level students and university non-language majors. We would like to collect data in Poland and Austria, including migrant and international learners. We hypothesise that they employ idiosyncratic strategies given the role of L1-based strategies in grammar learning. Furthermore, the project will include a micro-scale investigation of how GLSs are used in specific language tasks, which has been investigated with respect to vocabulary learning strategies but not GLSs.

 

Learner psychology in cooperative language learning (working title; since 2019)

This mixed-methods study investigates four aspects related to psychology in foreign language learning: self-concept, learner motivation, foreign language anxiety, and strategic language learning. The aims of the study are to find out

- how students perceive these aspects in the context of cooperative learning,
- how and why the self-perception of students changes over time, and
- how learner cooperation and self-regulation affect these aspects of learner psychology.

A questionnaire was designed to capture the perceptions of teenage secondary school students and to gain a thorough understanding of the four aforementioned interrelated psychological characteristics of foreign language learners. The questionnaire had to fulfil many criteria. Firstly, it had to cover the four topics. Secondly, it had to inquire about a specific teaching methodology applied in the research environment, which potentially shapes the participants’ perception of their individual characteristics and actions in specific language learning situations. Thirdly, it had to engage the respondents in processes of realistic self-reflection and evaluation of individual learning situations. Fourthly, it had to collect quantitative data to enable statistical analyses as well as qualitative responses for an in-depth analysis of individual cases. Fifthly, the response time of the questionnaire had to be within thirty minutes to achieve an adequate response rate.
The questionnaire was issued at three points in time. The quantitative data from the first round of data collection are currently undergoing statistical analyses. The focus of the study will then shift onto the qualitative answers. Finally, the individual perceptions and experiences of five participants who provided detailed information in semi-structured interviews will be scrutinised. All in all, the research project is designed to generate a series of publications, which will ideally lead to a cumulative post-doctoral degree (Habilitation) in EFL teaching methodology.

 

Problem-based learning in teacher education (since 2012)

Foreign language teacher education provides perfect framework conditions for problem-based course designs. However, research in this area is scarce, and the body of academic literature is limited. Rather than a single research project, problem-based learning (PBL) has been a permanent topic of interest tome. My empirical research findings have so far been well-received by an international community of like-minded teachers and researchers. I intend to continue collecting (mainly qualitative) data about students’ experiences with and opinions about problem-based learning in the relevant courses. The data have so far enabled deep insights into various aspects of PBL in EFL teacher education, for instance, how PBL contributes to sustainable learning outcomes. Moreover, the obtained student feedback inspires the regular revision of the course contents and PBL materials and supports my professional development.

 

The dynamism of strategic learning (2019-2020)

This research project was a holistic investigation of strategic foreign language learning processes. It integrated numerous interconnected, flexibly-interacting influences, whose development was difficult to predict. Validated as effective in other fields of applied linguistics, this project used state-of-the-art methodological guidance for complexity research. Empirical data from a previous study was re-analysed through a complexity lens. The project examined the suitability of complex dynamic systems theory (CDST) in strategy research, explored its practical value, and demonstrated that a complexity perspective can generate new, profound information about strategic learning.

 

AIMS – Amazing images of strategies (2016-2017 & 2017-2018)

Visualisation and imagination are important aspects of foreign and second language learning. In these projects, photographs were used that express language learning strategies (LLS) to raise learner awareness about LLS and to investigate university students’ strategic language learning. The first one of these projects was conducted in cooperation with Rebecca L. Oxford and Roberta Z. Lavine.

 

Situated strategy use in cooperative learning (2012-2016)

This mixed-methods PhD project investigated the language learning strategies used by five students at an Austrian school that employs the Dalton Plan as its underlying teaching methodology in the school subject English. The outcomes of Oxford’s (1990) SILL were combined with qualitative information collected in classroom observations and semi-structured, retrospective interviews.