EMERGENT LEADERS AND SMALL GROUPS IN THE EFL CLASSROOM
|Leeming, Ian Paul
|Small groups are integral for many activities in the foreign language classroom and their pedagogical importance is well established. Despite the widespread use of groups in foreign language education, there is a dearth of research investigating group processes and the impact of emergent leaders within these groups. This mixed-methods, longitudinal study was designed to first establish the presence of emergent leaders within an SLA context, and then to investigate the factors influencing who will emerge as the leader, and the impact they have on the views and performance of the group. First-year students majoring in science at a private university in western Japan were placed into three English Communication classes depending on their major within the school, and further randomly assigned to small groups of three to four people within each class. Students worked together in these groups for the first semester spanning 14 weeks and were required to take part in group presentations and group discussions. Measures of aural and general English ability, English communication self-efficacy, and the Big Five dimensions of personality were used to predict who would emerge as leaders within each group, and group and individual change was tracked using measures of self- and collective-efficacy. Participant and video observation, and interview data were used to provide rich description of the intra-group processes. In the second semester the students were allowed to self-select their groups, which were then fixed for the 14-week course. The first finding of the study was that leaders emerged in the small groups in this context, and proficiency in English was found to be the only consistent predictor of group leader emergence, with extroversion predicting initial perceptions of leadership only. The second finding of the study was that individuals' perceived leadership was relatively stable when in the same group, but that when the group makeup was changed there were large differences in the perceived leadership scores, suggesting that leadership behavior depends on the group in which students are in, and that group makeup influences individual student behavior. The third finding was that different types of leader were found to exist, with visible leaders who were easily identified by the teacher, and invisible leaders who were recognized by group members to be leader, but not clear to the teacher. The fourth finding was that collective-efficacy was existed as a group-level construct in this context, and growth models showed that self-efficacy increased for students in both the first and second semesters, and that the group experiences in the first semester seemed to influence rates of change in self-efficacy in the second semester, suggesting that the products of previous group experiences carry into subsequent group work and affect attitudes and behavior. The fifth finding was that students select group members based on friendship, but that students had mixed preferences with regard the choice between random group formation and self-selection into groups. Students almost universally felt that changing group members at regular intervals of several weeks was beneficial. Overall the study highlighted the importance of group makeup, and particularly leadership in this context, and showed that behavior in the language classroom was heavily influenced by group members.
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|EMERGENT LEADERS AND SMALL GROUPS IN THE EFL CLASSROOM
|Ross, Steven, 1951-
|Beglar, David J.
|Sasaki, Miyuki, 1959-
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