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A Sociocultural Perspective on Developing Learner Autonomy in Doctoral Writing

Wednesday 3 July: Conference day one, 3:00pm – 3:30pm parallel session



Room 1 – 302-G20, Case Room



Qiyu Sun
University of Auckland, New Zealand



International doctoral students writing in English as L2 face a double process of student learning. On the one hand, they need to learn a foreign language. On the other hand, they develop academic abilities as novice researchers. In Australasia, the British doctorate lacks classroom orientation. International doctoral students need to develop their learner autonomy to accommodate themselves to new learning and living circumstances. Learning to write in English is an interactive, social process. Language learning is a slow lengthy process. Writing proficiency is vital in determining academic achievement, and international L2 students are assessed by the same rubrics as L1 English students. Supporting them is a significant challenge.

Education research has emphasized the need for students to take control of their own learning since Holec (1981) proposed the notion of learner autonomy. Autonomy has a close relationship with L2 learners’ metacognitive skills. Moreover, doctoral writing is inextricably bound within a sociocultural context where learning is mediated by environments. Research on learner autonomy has not been well researched in relation to international doctoral students’ cultural background. Learner autonomy, socio-cultural context and metacognitive skills development provide theoretical and practical frameworks for this roundtable discussion. Asian students, for example, are normally passive learners within home educational institutions where teachers closely control learning goals and tasks. In an English-speaking country, they may be bewildered as developing writers and novice researchers.

The intended outcome of shared talk is to shed further light on improving international doctoral students’ academic writing performance when they learn to write in English.

Questions for discussion include:

From your experience, how do you think cultural background influences learning about doctoral writing?

Are there practical exercises for teaching or learning autonomy?

From your experiences, could you share some learning to write experiences?


Presentation topic

Students – Global Learning

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