Session 3D
Title: Exploratory Practices on Independent Learning

This study aims to expand the understanding of learners in relation to the concept of "Independent Learning" by encouraging students to initiate new thoughts, word associations and implementation of new actions. The study is based on exploratory practice methodology; both the learners and the teachers work together to find new and effective ways of developing independent learning strategies inside and outside the classroom.

In this study, two teachers conducted two exploratory practice initiatives in their classrooms. One teacher taught General English and the other an Academic English course, where students had different proficiency levels. Both teachers incorporated their own creativity and teaching methodologies, to motivate and encourage learners to think and act outside the box and develop a deeper understanding of their own learning strategies. Some of the teaching and learning approaches used in this study were keeping a journal, mind mapping, group discussions, interviewing, video recording and role playing. After the implementations, students reflected upon their learning experiences and teachers compared their views, observations, experiences and outcomes.

In a nutshell, this study aimed to initiate teacher creativity to empower learners to take on a more autonomous approach in their own learning methodology by encouraging them to look at challenges as growth points. Furthermore, this study aimed to create an inspiring atmosphere where learning and teaching happens in stimulating environments and becomes an authentic experience. Finally, through continuous reflection and retrospection (teacher/student, student/student and teacher/teacher) groups took further actions to enhance the overall quality of their own learning/teaching experiences.

MaryAnn Chehade has been teaching English as a Second Language, at Macquarie University English Language Centre and learning about learner autonomy through exploratory practice. She has taught on a variety of English language programs and facilitated workshops for learners with specific language learning needs. MaryAnn has a background in Primary School teaching, recently refocusing her professional direction to gain experience in working with adults. She has a specific interest in teacher professional development, second language acquisition, learner motivation and autonomy, bilingualism and cultural linguistics.

Gamze A. Sayram has a background in TESOL, applied linguistics program management and research. Her research interests include second language acquisition, bilingualism, learner autonomy, creativity, critical thinking, feedback and assessment, research methodologies, curriculum development, teacher and professional development. She has been teaching various English language courses at the Macquarie University English Language Centre, coordinated programs and mentored practicum teachers.