Who am I?: How learning communities and reflection foster identity

Dustin Hosseini, a Teaching Fellow from Royal Holloway, University of London, summarises his talk on issues of reflection, identity and community as follows:

One way learners can transition from previous, lived experiences to the academy is through fostering the formation of communities of practice (Wenger, 1998) by embedding reflective writing within courses. Although there is some evidence of reflective writing within the field of English for academic purposes (Granville & Dison, 2005) there is still much room for research into understanding the benefits of reflective writing in EAP regarding learner identity and transition. Reflective writing can be ‘treated as part of the writing process’ (Felix, 2011:46) rather than extraneous, and reflective writing can, over time, evidence to learners and teaching staff the development of the learners’ learner identity from a course’s start to finish while developing their metacognitive abilities (Moon, 2006). Reflective writing can also help learners improve their understanding of who they are as learners by developing a consciousness of their identity through their own voices (Moon, 2006), which in the context of EAP, can empower learners in transitioning from, for example, a learner on a pre-sessional or pre-Masters course to one on an undergraduate or masters-level course. Finally, reflective writing can allow learners to construct a common ground informed by their personal, lived experiences. Some of these are likely shared with their peer ‘novice-learners’ (Wenger, 1998), and other experiences are likely to assist learners in supporting each other’s learning and transitioning. In this process, tutors act as ‘expert-learners’ (Wenger, 1998) who engage with the learners’ narratives to encourage learners to analyse their reflections to approximate a deeper understanding of themselves as learners and their feelings regarding their performance on a course (Felix, 2011:46) in order to engage better within a community of practice (the academy) and become a member thereof.

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The presentation slides can be accessed  here [PDF].

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dustin-hosseiniDustin Hosseini  has been teaching EFL/EAP for over 10 years. He is a Teaching Fellow and the CPD Co-ordinator for the Centre for the Development of Academic Skills at Royal Holloway, University of London where he works across a range of programs. His interests include learning technologies, academic literacies, coding and photography. He tweets @DustinAcEd and blogs at https://dustinhosseini.wordpress.com/ and his publications can be found on his Academia.edu site: https://royalholloway.academia.edu/DustinHosseini

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