The Promotion of Learner Autonomy in Thailand Tertiary Education: Lecturers' Perspectives and Practices
The study seeks to describe the current state of the promotion of learner autonomy in Thailand, from the perspectives and practices of university language lecturers. The study employed a mixed method approach with emphasis on the qualitative phase. The research was conducted in two sequential phases, a quantitative survey followed by qualitative cases studies. The first phase aimed to investigate the extent to which learner autonomy has been valued by lecturers. The second phase aimed to describe how learner autonomy is currently practiced among Thai lecturers. In the first phase, the survey questionnaire was completed by 297 lecturers who taught foreign languages in universities in Bangkok and the south of Thailand. The survey findings suggest an inconsistency between the lecturers’ beliefs and practices. The lecturers reported strong beliefs in learner autonomy, but moderate practices. The lecturers also reported low levels of confidence in their students’ ability to be autonomous learners. Using the survey results, five lecturers were purposely selected to be included in the second, qualitative phase. Data in the second phase were collected through interviews, class observations, follow-up discussions and document analysis. Results show that the lecturers promoted learner autonomy in their class through communication strategies, teaching pedagogy and the learning atmosphere. The link from Phase 1 to Phase 2 reveals a pathway to the promotion of learner autonomy. The pathway begins with the lecturer beliefs in learner autonomy and ends with the practices of promoting learner autonomy. Along this pathway, the lecturers may experience four main factors that might support or prevent them from promoting learner autonomy. These factors include the lecturer’s understanding of the principles of learner autonomy; the organizational climate of their university; student attributes; and the social and educational elements of Thai society. Finally, the findings of both phases are used to develop a framework for ways to promote learner autonomy in Thailand. This framework includes activities that lead to dialogic teaching, shift of responsibility, and power symmetry between lecturers and students. The framework serves as a preliminary guideline for Thai lecturers to promote learner autonomy in their classes.