Building on Griffith English Language Institute’s (GELI) 2012 Award for Innovation for its Independent Learning Centre Program, English Australia and Cambridge English Language Assessment have presented GELI with the 2014 Award for Action Research in ELICOS.
The Action Research initiative gives teachers the opportunity to examine and investigate the teaching practices within their own workplaces and improve student outcomes.
GELI’s project of incorporating existing student reading habits into a pedagogically-supported, extensive reading program was chosen as the award winner from among 19 other projects across Australia. The project, run by Caroline Keogh and John Smith, focused on how to improve their students’ engagement with extensive reading. Extensive reading has been shown to have a positive affect not just on reading skills, but also listening, speaking, and writing skills.
“Action Research is about reflective practice and is a way for teachers to consider their teaching in an evidentiary manner and how it affects student learning,” said John Smith, GELI Assistant Director of Studies.
The first stage of the project involved the implementation of the strategy with current GELI students in the General English (GE) course. “We surveyed our students as to their reading preferences in terms of topic and mode, and then incorporated these preferences. In short, we provided students with more choice in their reading which in turn motivated them to read more,” Mr Smith said.
Following the action research intervention, GELI students reported that the increased choice motivated them to read more and that this has also led to improvements in their reading fluency, vocabulary and academic skills.
John and Caroline both hope that more teachers at GELI will implement this project in the future. For now, the team will be partnering with other researchers in the field to continue their investigations and are hoping to present these findings at the next English Australia Conference in 2015.
Caroline and John’s research paper is set to be published in the highly regarded industry publication, The Cambridge English Language Research Notes.