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Issues in Applied Linguistics

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The Assumption of Participation in Small Group Work: An Investigation of L2 Teachers’ and Learners’ Expectations


This qualitative study explores the claim that second language (L2) teachers and learners believe student participation to be valuable and expected in the context of small group work. Their perspectives were analyzed within the framework of recent research on the morality of teaching, which highlights the importance of the conditions underlying effective classroom interaction. Data gathered from an exploratory, in-class forum revealed both converging and diverging beliefs. These teachers and learners shared the assumption that student participation in small groups is expected and beneficial; they also valued the participation of all group members, favorably evaluated collaborative interaction, and did not view knowing the “right” answer as a prerequisite for participation. However, though learners’ expectations regarding participation were clearly influenced by issues of personality and the composition of small groups, the teachers’ beliefs were not as flexible. These results affirm the importance of teachers’ and learners’ involvement in classroom research as well as highlight the need to incorporate learners’ perspectives into pedagogy.

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