Updated 27 December 2023

LDJ7 was published in December 2023 and is available online here.

Original Call for Proposals for LDJ Issue 7: Challenging the Conventions of Learner Development Research

In Learner Development Journal 7, we invite contributors to challenge the conventions of research into learner development. In this issue, we would like to particularly focus on the dynamic nature of autonomy, which changes over time and across different contexts. To go beyond the conventions and gain fresh and deep insights into learner autonomy, we would like to encourage contributors to take diverse approaches, across disciplines such as psychology (Mercer & Ryan, 2016), autoethnography (Aoki, 2010) and the natural sciences (Hiver et al., 2021).

Learner autonomy – the capacity of a learner to take control of their own learning and manage it themselves (Benson, 2011; Holec, 1981; Little et al., 2017) – still seems to be of vital importance to how learners learn, both inside the classroom and out. But how do we find evidence that students are really acting autonomously rather than going through the motions to please their teacher? What makes students decide to take action in the here-and-now in a particular classroom or other context? Are there any contradictions within the current body of research and teaching practices?

We are interested in studies which shed light on the impact of sociocultural and psychological factors on learner autonomy anew and make us think about future research on learner development from a fresh angle. How has the pandemic impacted language learner autonomy? Now, who is (or should be) learning what, when, where, how, and to what extent? And why? These questions will help us to better understand learner development not only under the current and post-pandemic situation but beyond.

Starting points for researching and writing about learner autonomy in LDJ7 might include some of the following:

  • Critical learning points or critical incidents that reframe our learning and provide a positive impetus to a transition or change of direction.
  • Interventions: How can we track the impact of teaching interventions over time,
  • using qualitative methods such as learning journals and interviews or mixed methods including observation?
  • Longer-term perspectives, particularly those incorporating learners’ perspectives and narratives, and interpretative work based on drawings, photos or digitally recorded data.
  • Holistic views which investigate the interrelationship between autonomy and other aspects of learner psychology, including motivation, emotions, and self-concepts.
  • Trajectory Equifinality Modeling (TEM): This is a “methodology for depicting the diversity of the course of human life” (Sato et al., 2006). TEM is a way to visualise the process of change in individuals’ beliefs and actions.
  • Trajectories: identifying trajectories allows us to research phenomena that are changing in terms of their energy and direction. Contributors could draw on the idea of “the learning trajectory” (Kato & Mynard 2016), which shows the learner’s progress in level and depth of reflection. We take this to be different from the “TEM” but we are equally interested in both models.
  • Transitions: a transition might be a change from one state to another such as from bored to engaged, from anxious to confident. Transitions concern new behaviour which emerges in a situation or new emotional attitude or mindset, or new state of being, such as the accommodation that happens when we get used to something and gain ease or mastery with something, whether it is with language or with tools.
  • Mixed methods/qualitative and narrative accounts. We would like to make a special appeal for contributions which incorporate visual, audio or video components combined with textual reflection on them.
  • Learning spaces: the pandemic has led to the exploration of digital and alternative learning spaces. According to Benson (2020), the space can operate as a constraint or enabling factor for autonomous learning and for communities of learners.
  • Digital literacies: during the pandemic, digital literacy seems to have become a prerequisite for access to the learning community both for language learners, teachers and advisors.

Specific questions which authors work on could include but are not restricted to:

  • What interventions or chance events have affected the learning trajectory and stimulated autonomy, from language learners’ point of view?
  • What models, tools or research paradigms can be used in the exploration of autonomy and autonomous learning behaviour, particularly in longitudinal studies?
  • How have social and environmental change impacted the future opportunities of students? What influence does this have on their current decisions about learning?
  • Have learners’ and teachers’ perceptions/beliefs/identities/sense of language ownership/belonging to particular (linguistic/cultural) communities changed?
  • What are the emergent relationships and connections in the new situations in which teaching and learning take place?
  • In what ways do learners maintain and develop their autonomy, and how can language teachers and educational practitioners support this development in learners?
  • How do language learning experiences affect learners’ sense of well-being and their outlook on life and career?
  • Are there any paths that have been closed to language learners (or opened) because of the pandemic? If the path was closed, what happened to the energy of that learner or group?
  • What learning affordances are available which were not available before? How are they being used?
  • How have teachers tried to support learner development across time and space, using technology, in the pandemic situation?

One useful point of reference may be the suggestions for further research into autonomy in Chong and Reinders (2021) “Autonomy of English Language Learners: A Scoping Review Of Research and Practice”. They suggest that long-term perspectives, investigations of effective interventions, out-of-class perspectives and learners’ perspectives are not well represented in major journals (even though this may reflect the limited range of journals they looked at, it is still worth considering, and possibly problematizing).

We are interested in perspectives from classroom teachers, language learning advisors, researchers and language learners. Contributions could be written in English or Japanese, and the final draft will include a summary/abstract in both English and Japanese.

Types of Contributions

Full articles will be between 5,500 and 7,000 words. We also invite proposals for practice-related book reviews (1,500-3,000 words), interviews or scholarly dialogues and multimedia combinations such as digital artwork with an interpretative commentary.

We particularly encourage writers to try exploring their writing through different approaches. This can be an opportunity to approach a topic using a methodology that is new to you. Some of the topics may lend themselves to explorations through approaches such as:

  • papers incorporating student voices
  • narrative inquiry
  • autoethnography
  • duoethnography/ collaborative autoethnography
  • papers co-authored with students
  • articles accompanied by multimedia work of students
  • action research (collaborative, participatory, emancipatory)
  • critical reflective practice
  • ethnographic observation
  • mixed methods
  • case studies

Practice-Based Book Reviews

We also invite proposals for book reviews of 1,500-2,500 words.

In the book reviews for LDJ7, we invite reviewers to relate their reading to their practice as a teacher/learner/researcher. Book reviews would ideally be a combination of a personal narrative, a reflection on practice, and a review of the book content. Writers may wish to highlight one portion of the book (i.e., one or more chapters or a particular section) that is particularly relevant to themselves and to their beliefs and practices in connection with learning beyond the classroom. In addition to books, we have included some articles which we find thought-provoking. Contributors are welcome to put forward their own suggestions regarding books which they would like to write about, in connection with the theme of challenging the conventions.

Book Reviews/ Starting Points

Aoki, N. (2010). The role of stories in teacher development. Proceedings of CaLa SIC 2010.

Benson, P. (2016). The discourse of YouTube: Multimodal text in a global context.

Benson, P. (2021). Language learning environments. Multilingual Matters.

Birfield, A., & Delgado Alvarado, N. (Eds.). (2013). Autonomy in language learning: Stories of practices. IATEFL Learner Autonomy SIG.

Chik, A., Aoki, N., & Smith, R. (Eds.). (2018). Learner autonomy in language learning and teaching: New research agendas. Multilingual Matters.

Chong, S. W., & Reinders, H. (2021). Autonomy of English language learners: A scoping review of research and practice.

Dörnyei, Z. (2022). Innovations and challenges in learning motivation (Volume 2: Stories of Successful Language Learners). (mentioned in his presentation to West Tokyo JALT this year).

Dörnyei, Z., Henry, A., & Muir, C. (2015). Motivational currents in language learning: Frameworks for focused interventions. Routledge.

Gkonou, C., Tatzl, D., & Mercer, S. (Eds.). (2016). New directions in language learning psychology. Springer International Publishing.

Hiver, P., Al-Hoorie, A. H., & Larsen-Freeman, D. (2021). Toward a transdisciplinary integration of research purposes and methods for Complex Dynamic Systems Theory: Beyond the quantitative–qualitative divide. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching.

Ludwig, C., Tassinari, M. G., & Mynard, J. (Eds.). (2020). Navigating foreign language learner autonomy. Candlin & Mynard.

Mercer, S., & Ryan, S. (2016). Stretching the boundaries: Language learning psychology. Palgrave Commun 2, 16031.

Miyahara, M. (2015). Emerging self-identities and emotion in foreign language learning. Multilingual Matters.

Miyahara, M. (2019). Methodological diversity in emotions research: Reflexivity and identities. Journal for the Psychology of Language Learning, 1(1), 83–105.

Moriya, R., & Ishizuka, A. (2019). In the midst of emotion and identity: Investigating trajectories of learners’ self-esteem from psychological and sociocultural perspectives. The Learner Development Journal, 3, 8–25.

Sampson, R., & Pinner, R. (Eds.). (2020). Complexity perspectives on researching language learner and teacher psychology. Multilingual Matters.

Sato, T. (2006). Development, change or transformation: How can psychology conceive and depict professional identity construction? European Journal of School Psychology, 4, 319–332.

Submission Process

October 2021 – February 14th 2022 Send in your proposal: provisional title and 300-500 words, explaining what you want to write about, what kind of research you are doing, and the theoretical perspective you are interested in. For submissions in Japanese, please send a 600-1000 character proposal in Japanese with a 100-200 word summary in English?

March 2022 – April 2022 You will receive acknowledgement of your proposal and start to work on developing your article, with opportunities to collaborate with the editors and other authors working on related themes. Exchange ideas by zoom/f2f meeting, shared google docs and/or email to explore puzzles, questions, outlines, plans, ideas.

June 2022 – August 2022 Peer sharing and feedback on first drafts. Re-writing and editing your own work in response to suggestions.

August 30th 2022 Submit your complete first draft by email. This draft will be sent to external reviewers.

October 2022– November 2022 * Reviewer feedback (with possible assistance from editors) on first drafts

December 2022-March 2023 Re-drafting (with possible assistance from editors reviewers; may involve multiple revised drafts)

April 30th 2023 Final draft with abstract and bio in English and Japanese

May 2023-July 2023 Proofreading; finalisation of abstracts in English and Japanese; key words

July 2023-September 2023 Finalization for publication

October- November 2023 Publication