TIN DANG, Ph.D.
Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology and Education, Vietnam
Dr. Tin Dang is an EFL and TESOL lecturer at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels in Vietnam. He currently works as a dean of Faculty of Foreign Languages, Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology and Education. He previously worked for Vietnam National University HCMC, SEAMEO RETRAC, and PetroVietnam University. He has also been teaching postgraduate programs and supervising research students at HCMC University of Social Sciences and Humanities, HCMC Open University, HCMC University of Technology, Tra Vinh University, and BaRia-VungTau University. He completed his MA in TESOL at University of Queensland and PhD at La Trobe University. His research primarily focuses on learner autonomy, teaching methodology, curriculum development, and technology in education. He has published in TESOL in Context, The Journal of Asia TEFL, The Asian EFL Journal, The Internet Journal of Language, Culture and Society, and a few others. He has chaired Language Teaching and Learning Today Conference (LTLT) in 2017 and 2018.
Learner Autonomy Promoting Practice: Constructivist Tasks in Virtual Learning Space
Learner autonomy has been suggested to be one of the most critical capacities for personal and professional development of any individual in the dynamic development of the current world. The knowledge that learners have just acquired in the class today may no longer be applicable for their career once they complete the program. Focusing on providing knowledge to students, therefore, should not be the ultimate objective of education. It is much more important to nurture their ability to sustain effective continuous learning. This requires students to be able to identify the similarities and differences between what other people think and critically relate these ideas to their own contexts to fill in any possible gap in their knowledge. However, time in class meetings is always limited, and students do not have enough time to explore the materials of their interests and reflect on their own experience. Thus, this study attempts to bring this learning activity to the virtual space for learner autonomy to be developed ubiquitously. Three groups of postgraduate students from three different universities in the south of Vietnam are required to participate in an asynchronous discussion assignment as part of a course in their postgraduate program in TESOL. The design of this assignment is based on the constructivist approach in which students are asked to identify topics of their own interests, look for relevant ideas from prior research, and justify those ideas in relation to their own teaching and learning experience. The data collected from students’ retrospective guided reflections indicates multifaceted contributions of the discussion assignment on students’ development of learner autonomy dimensions. Despite of these, the constructivism-based task is reported to distract students from the learning focus and automatically generate an unexpectedly huge learning workload. This suggests a dilemma on the shaping of practical educational objectives for a training program and turns the teaching job to a more challenging position than ever before.