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Approaches to Learning for Preservice EFL Teachers: A Summary

Dipublikasikan pada : 24 April 2018.

Approaches to Learning for Preservice EFL Teachers

Leyla Tercanliouglu – Ataturk University, Erzurum, Turkey


This paper is a report of a research entitled “Approaches to learning for Preservice EFL Teachers” It is conducted by Leyla Terconlioglu from Ataturk University, Turkey in 2001 which is available at (online). This report is aimed to inform the educators, especially English Department community, for both preservice EFL teachers and those who teach preservice EFL techers. This paper will begin with the introduction of this study, followed by theoretical background or review of this study literature, method used in this study, the result of the study, conclusion, and it will be ended with the recommendation.

The research is conducted since it is essential to get a clear view into how preservice EFL teachers learn in order to understand how best to deign curricula that develop their skills and abilities as future teachers. As what the researcher mentions in her writing that according to Ramsden (1992), in learning context, the value of preservice teacher learning is determined by their approach and perception, the learning task, and it is also decided by their previous learning experiences. Thus, the aim of this study is to measure preservice EFL teachers’ approaches to learning in a higher education context:

  • to identify approaches to learning,
  • to examine the correlation between scales,
  • to evaluate the relationship between preservice EFL teachers’ gender and academic year, and their approaches to learning.

In the theoretical background, the researcher has selected the literature that focuses mainly on the approaches to learning proposed to explain differences in preservice EFL teachers’ learning behavior. She begins this part with an examination of the studies which have contributed to the literature on approaches to learning followed by links to gender, academic year differences, and the relevance of the approaches to learning for foreign language learning.

In approaches to learning, the researcher start with two meanings of the term “approaches to learning” observed by Biggs (1993). First, it defines the processes adopted prior to learning which directly determine the outcome of learning; second, it also means the predispotions to adopt particular processes. Next, she comes up with the five approaches to learning and their characteristics which have been identified in previous research by Entwistle and Ramsden, 19983; Marton, Hounsell and Entwistle, 1984. These are the Deep Approach (characterized by preservice teachers who 1. seek to understand and interact critically with the content of particular teaching materials, 2. relate ideas to previous knowledge and experience, and 3. examine the logic of the arguments), Surface Approach (characterized by preservice teachers who focus on the facts rather than arguments, memorization of information and procedures, and an unreflective acceptance of materials), Strategic Approach (relates to determination to excel, effort and organization in studying, and time management), Clarity of Direction in Studying (relates on what courses and subjects they want to study and choosing subjects in which they can succeed), and Academic Self-Confidence towards Studying (relates to understanding the subjects, finding the set work easy, making sense of new information and ideas, learning course material easily, and achieving high standards).

In the next part, Links to Gender, the researcher mentions several result studies concerning gender differences in approaches to learning which are, according to the researcher, unclear. In the end of this part, the researcher states the reason of the unclearness which is according to Wilson et al (1996) there were report methodological problems with the previous research. These were a number of studies reporting less than satisfactory response rates; many studies do not provide any specification of sample characteristics in terms of gender; and finally, the use of inappropriate statistical procedures.

Within Academic Year Differences, the researcher states several result studies concern on preservice teachers’ learning at different stages during their development. In general, reviews of literature indicate that there is still a shortage of empirical studies that focus on stage differences in approaches to learning among preservice EFL teacher education students.

Inside the last part of theoretical background, Relevance of The Approaches to Learning for Foreign Language Learning, the researcher mentions the basic theories that provide insights and understanding of language learning differences. However, there is no study has been conducted on preservice teachers’ approaches to learning a foreign language. That is why this research is conducted. The researcher expects that her study will contribute to a better understanding of the goals of this group, as well as assessing the usefulness of the approaches to learning in studying language learners’ learning more generally.

In Method session, the researcher divides into three parts: Sample and Administration, Measuring Approaches to Learning, and Data Analysis.

The sample of this study consisted of 146 preservice EFL teachers Female  : 96 and Male: 50, the specification see Table 1. The mean age was 21.2 years with a range from 18 to 24 years. All the participants are native speakers of Turkish but the medium of instruction in the program in English.

 The way to measure approaches to learning for preservice EFL teachers was used the questionnaire from the RASI (Revised Approaches to Studying Inventory), the most appropriate instrument for assessing approaches to foreign language learning in a Turkish context.

The administration of collecting data in this study was conducted at a four-year full-time preservice EFL teacher education program at a Turkish university for those who wish to teach in secondary level. The questionnaire from the RASI was administered during the course of a normal class in Week 2 of Term 2, 2002. Then, the questionnaires were managed at the beginning of end of a lecture, with the permission of the lecturers. The purpose of the questionnaire and the study was explained briefly to the preservice EFL teachers. It was indicated that the questionnaires were anonymous and only group data would be reported. In general, the preservice teachers took about 15 minutes to complete the questionnaire. The research was also administered by trained research assistants.

In this study the researcher analyzed the data by using statistical analyses. It conducted on all 146 preservice EFL teachers. Non-parametric, two-independent samples, and non-parametric, K independent samples evaluated the effect of gender and academic year respectively. Relations among all variables included in this study were explored using Pearson product-moment correlations.

During the next section, the result of this study are presented and discussed. The researcher divides this section into four frames of discussion. These are 1).Preservice EFL teachers’ differing approaches to learning a foreign language, 2). Relations among approaches to learning, 3). Gender differences, and 4). Academic year differences.

Preservice EFL teachers’ differing approaches to learning a foreign language. Here the researcher found the high mean scores for the Deep Approach followed by the Strategic Approach and for the Surface Approach the preservice EFL teachers reported lower scores. However, they rated Academic Self-Confidence towards Studying and Direction in Studying as low, as shown in Table 2. The result is clear that these preservice EFL teachers are determined to understand the issues and interact critically. In addition, they seem to have a well-developed strategic sense of what is needed to be successful. The lower scores for Surface Approach is positive since they reported lower scores for concentrating on memorizing facts without distinguishing any underlying principles or patterns and for being influenced by assessment requirements. However, the result which disappoint researcher is the scores for two last scales is low, means the preservice EFL teachers are not clear what course and subjects they want to study and choose subjects in which they can succeed. Moreover, they are not confident about understanding the subjects, making sense of new information and ideas, learning course material easily, and achieving high standards


Relations among approaches to learning. In this frame the researcher found that there are fairly strong relations among some variables:

  • The Deep Approach was related positively to both the Strategic Approach and Academic Self-Confidence. It means the preservice EFL teachers who were oriented towards wanting to learn and understand were more likely to report using strategies related to setting goals, working hard and being well organized, and also to feeling academically competent in studying their courses.
  • The Strategic Approach was related positively to the Surface Approach and Academic Self-confidence. It shows that the preservice EFL teachers who rely on memory and learn without understanding were more likely to report that they would think about their desire to involve setting goals, working hard and being well organized.
  • Direction in Studying is correlated with Academic Self-Confidence. It indicates that generally, the preservice EFL teachers who agree that they choose their own course would feel they can learn course material easily, achieve high standards and make sense of new information and ideas.

Gender differences. The researcher observed a statistically significant gender effect on Surface Approach, Direction in Studying and Academic Self-confidence, also in subscales of the Surface approach: ‘relying on memorizing’ and ‘concern about coping’ in this frame. The result can be seen in Table 3. From the data, we can see that female preservice EFL teachers had a consistency higher mean score for the Surface Approach. They had higher scores on ‘relying on memorizing’ and ‘concern about coping’. Male preservice EFL teachers also had a higher mean score for Direction in Studying and Academic Self-confidence towards Studying scales. It can be concluded that male preservice EFL teachers show higher Direction in Studying and perceived confidence in their skill and abilities.

In the last frame, Academic year differences, the researcher found a statistically significant academic year effect on Deep Approach, Strategic Approach, Direction in Studying, and Academic Self-confidence towards Studying. From the Data as shown in Table 4, it is clear that the third-year preservice EFL teachers had a consistency higher mean score for the all variables measured in this field. They appear to be improving in confidence and clarity of direction in studying as they report higher academic self-concern in the third year. These preservice EFL teachers are more likely to fulfill their potential.

 Finally, in conclusion session, the researcher sums up the result of her study. The content is similar with the discussion above, she states the all main points that she can find in this study, but in the last of this session she talk about the recommendation which can be a good input for all educators. She suggests that the educators need to understand how preservice teachers set about their learning tasks, their intentions and approaches and how these impact on the quality of their learning outcomes In other words, educators need to become more sensitive to preservice teachers’ learning style preferences, and differences that may exist, in order to maximize preservice teacher in learning.

In brief, after all the discussion above, it is clear enough that approaches to Learning for Preservice EFL teacher is significant. Since it has great impact on their learning outcome and their performance in the real teaching-learning situations later, it is also recommended to have this kind of study in Indonesia context. This contribution will be a value for learning institutions, such as State University of Jakarta which is labeled as the ‘producer’ of teachers, and their teaching staff in order to produce the better, or even the best, EFL teachers.