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INSTRUCTIONAL THEORY FOR LANGUAGE LESSONS. A Design Study to Validate the Communities of Learners Concept in the Language Curriculum


Journal: L1 Educational Studies in Language and Literature
ISSN 1567-6617

Volume: 11;
Start page: 57;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: L1-curriculum | Communities of Learners (CoL) | pre-vocational secondary education | design study

Since the Lisbon Summit in 2000, reducing school dropout rates has a high priority in Europe, especially in pre-vocational tracks in secondary education. One policy issue is improving the match be-tween pre-vocational secondary and senior secondary vocational education and allows a stronger focus on practical work in vocational education. Therefore, more and more schools for secondary pre-vocational education in the Netherlands set out a specific language education policy relating the language arts cur-riculum to the vocational curriculum. One assumes that students will be more motivated for language lessons when they are engaged in rich contexts, in meaningful language activities which they experience as relevant, since it serves a clear communicative purpose.To guide this process of curriculum integration we set out an instructional theory for language education in the setting of pre-vocational education. In this paper we present four course design parameters that constitute our interpretation of a community of learners for secondary pre- vocational L1-learning: 1) language learning as a meaningful activity; 2) language learning as a reflective activity; 3) language learning as a shared activity and 4) language learning as a focus on transferable learning outcomes. To check explore the practicality and theoretical value, we set up a design experiment as a collaborative enterprise of teachers and researchers, in which these parameters guided the joint enterprise. We con-fronted the theoretical framework with the analysis of a single case study, the design experiment, to elab-orate and validate this set of four design parameters. Therefore, we operated at three curriculum represen-tations: the (1) intended; (2) implemented; and (3) perceived curriculum. Discriminating these three rep-resentations served as data to review and revise the designed lessons as we ran them in two classes, as well as to adjust and refine the conceptual framework. The results show that the designers incorporated all four parameters and that all four contributed to the design somehow. Furthermore, we are better informed58 ANNE TOORENAAR & GERT RIJLAARSDAMwhat kind of learning activities the four parameters can and can not generate, and how the four parame-ters interact in means-end relations.
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