Investigating independent learning among international students on a pre-sessional English course

Conduct guided interviews of pre-sessional English language students to identify their independent study practices and investigate their attitudes to in-class and out-of-class language study. Collate and analyse the results and report findings.

Department: Erasmus & Study Abroad Office

Supervised by: Gill Kendon, International Study and Language Institute

The Placement Project

Independent study is important for pre-sessional students for two key reasons. Firstly, English language entry requirements reflect the minimum level that is necessary to be able to function on the target academic course. As such it is expected that students will continue to develop their language skills during their academic studies. Good language study skills will increase their ability to do this. Secondly, language classes are necessarily general and are therefore unable to cater for the exact requirements of each individual. Independent study can meet personal learning goals and preferences, and are likely to increase overall chances of meeting and exceeding the entry requirements for their academic programme. This project seeks to understand the current independent study habits of international students studying on a pre-sessional English course in the International Study and Language Institute (ISLI). The aim is to gain insight into both the range of activities that they do to improve their language skills (aside from specific tasks set by the teacher) and the motivations for their choice of task or activity. The advantage of a student interviewer over a teacher interviewer is that the power relationship is more equal and so answers are likely to be more honest and realistic. Better understanding of these habits and comparison with the actions of successful students will facilitate the development of teaching materials to promote learner autonomy. It will also provide feedback on whether the nature of the current course reduces opportunities for independent study and on the students’ sense of ownership of their learning.


• Attend induction (Week 1, approx. 3 hours) • Familiarisation with appropriate research literature (guided) (week 1, approx. 10hrs) • Trial interview guide and provide feedback (Week 1, approx. 10 hours) • Help with revisions to interview guide (Week 1-2, approx. 10 hours) • Write short progress reports (weekly, approx. 12 hrs) • Recruit and manage participants from the ISLI pre-sessional programme, including gaining ethical consent (weeks 2-4, approx. 10 hrs) • Interview pre-sessional students (weeks 2-4, approx. 15 hours) • Transcribe interviews (weeks 2-4, approx. 30 hours) • Code and collate data from interviews (weeks 2-4, approx. 40 hours) • Summarise findings in a written report (weeks 5-6, approx. 30 hrs) • Present the project outcomes to pre-sessional staff (in the form of a power point presentation and a poster) (week 6, approx. 10hrs)

Skills, knowledge and experience required

Good intercultural communication skills. Good communication skills, especially listening skills. Ability to work independently Awareness of language learning theory and practice is desirable. Ability to speak Mandarin Chinese could be advantageous, but is not essential

Skills which will be developed during the placement

Practical experience of conducting guided interviews and analysing qualitative data. There will be the opportunity to present the results to an academic/teaching audience

Place of Work

No office space is available in ISLI and the student will be free to work where they choose. Interviews should be arranged in shared spaces such as in the library although it may be possible to book meeting rooms if this is needed.

Hours of Work

To be agreed- there is some flexibility.

Approximate Start and End Dates (not fixed)

Monday 01 July 2019 - Friday 23 August 2019

How to Apply

*The deadline for applications to this project is Friday 26th April*. Students should submit their CV and Cover Letter directly to the Project Supervisor (click on supervisor name at the top of the page for email). Successful candidates will then be invited to interview.

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