VII. Internetional Eurasian Educational Research Congress , Eskişehir, Turkey, 10 - 12 September 2020, pp.1410-1411
In the Turkish higher education context, universities offer English preparatory programs to the students who will get English medium instruction during their major field of education in their departments. These classes might be regarded as the first step of the professional learning and development of students where they learn English as a part of their academic career. In most of those classes, English is taught as an academic language in the context of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) where students learn English in a non-native environment. During English preparatory programs, most language schools at universities offer skill-based courses that aim to develop the English proficiency level of students in all four receptive and productive skills of the language. As one of the productive skills, writing skill is a relatively more focused skill of language in those programs as students are expected to use writing skill more frequently during their academic life and in their workplace settings (Tuan, 2010). However, as Nunan (1999) states that writing a coherent and fluent piece is likely to be the most challen- ging task for students as the reader is left without clarification of writer or the writer’s tone of voice and expres- sion. Despite the difficulty of writing in EFL, students attending English preparatory programs, regardless of their beginning level of English proficiency, are expected to have remarkable progress from writing short sentences to writing essays in various modes and on various topics. However, the experiences and challenges of the students during such a long term have been under-examined by teachers who primarily focus on the final written product. In addition, although the role of narratives and reflection to make sense of students’ own learning experiences have been clearly emphasized in the literature (Casanave, 2005; Clandinin & Connelly, 2000; Schön, 1983), little attention is given by the writing teachers to the learning to write experiences of the students.
Regarding academic writing as a professional learning activity in the context of EFL preparatory programs, this study aims to inquire into the experiences of students in the process of learning to write in an EFL writing class- room by employing narrative inquiry. The study is conducted in an EFL writing classroom within the context of one of the Turkish state universities’ School of Foreign Language where extensive English preparatory programs are offered to EFL students for one academic year. The data is drawn from the narrations of six sample students out of 22 B1 level of students by employing a purposeful sampling method. The criterion for selection is deter- mined as the students’ consent for participation in the study, their regular submission of their writing drafts, and narrations during one academic year. At the beginning of the writing classes, it is first aimed to explore the writing background of the students, and thus they are asked to fill in an open-ended questionnaire about their writing histories. This preliminary data was analyzed through descriptive statistics on SPSS for Windows 20.0 software program. The main data sources of the study are students’ narrations submitted by each draft of the writing, and the unstructured interviews with the students. Following Braun and Clarke’s (2006) phases of thematic analysis, the qualitative thematic analysis will be used to analyze the data.
The descriptive analysis of the data collected to explore the writing background of the students has revealed that the students had little or no experience in writing texts in English at the beginning of the writing classes. Some of the students also reported that they had little experience in writing coherent and long texts even in their native language. These results indicated that the learning to write experiences of the students in a foreign lan- guage during their education in EFL preparatory programs would be a new experience for most of the students who participated in this study. Taking the writing background of the students into account, the thematic analysis of the qualitative data is expected to display the experiences and challenges of the students in learning to write in a foreign language as well as the interwoven connection between their emotion and cognition. In addition, the results are expected to show how narrative inquiry is an effective educational tool for teachers to understand the experiences, feelings, and needs of the students to provide necessary help at the exact time. Above all, nar- rative inquiry is expected to enhance students’ professional development in academic writing by creating opportunities for critical reflection.