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The Awareness of Independent Learning Inventory

July 27th, 2009

My PhD student Cem Balcikanli drew my attention to an inventory of questions designed to measure awareness of independent learning. This is an interesting instrument designed for general education, so not specifically for language education, although I see no reason why it could not also be useful for that. The AILI is a list of 45 statements about learning and teaching. Respondents are asked to rate how true each statement is for them on a scale of 1 to 7.

Here is some general information from the authors:
“The AILI has been designed for people from whom it can be expected that they possess substantial metacognitive qualities that are based on ample learning experiences. We use the term ‘independent learning’ to designate a type of learning and studying that is accompanied and directed by metacognition. The inventory can be used for students from all stages of higher education, regardless of their specific studies. The instrument will provide an answer to the following three questions:
1. To what extent do students, according to themselves, have declarative knowledge about learning and studying?
2. To what extent do students, according to themselves, have the skills to systematically regulate their own learning and studying?
3. To what extent do students, according to themselves, have a sensitive and inquisitive attitude towards information that is important for further development of their metacognitive knowledge and regulatory skills?
The instrument consists of 45 statements, 15 for each of the above questions. Students are asked to circle a number on a 7-point scale for each statement. The scale ranges from 1: “not true at all” to 7: “ completely true”. Optical readable forms are used for the answers. Two parallel versions of the AILI have been designed. In the A-version 23 items are presented in a positive form and 22 in a negative one (see further down). In the B-version each item that is formulated positively in the A-version is presented in a negative form and vice versa.”

The instrument is included below (apologies for the lack of formatting). A paper about this instrument was published here and
Elshout-Mohr, M., J. Meijer, M.M. van Daalen-Kapteijns, and W. Meeus. 2003. A self-report
inventory for metacognition related to academic tasks. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam,
SCO-Kohnstamm Instituut.

I know which assignments students really need to work at systematically.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

I think it’s necessary to make a conscious effort to work systematically when you are studying.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

When I’m reading something I don’t pay much attention to whether it comes alive for me.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

I don’t think it’s important to feel personally involved in what you are studying.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

I ignore feedback from tutors on my method of work.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

While working on an assignment I pay attention to whether I am carrying out all parts of it.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

While working on an assignment I keep a record of my learning aims.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

When I’ve finished an assignment I don’t check for myself whether I’ve worked at it systematically enough.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

I never get the feeling that an assignment has suddenly started to interest me.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

While studying information I never get a sudden feeling that I’m beginning to gain insight.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

I don’t think it’s necessary to make a conscious effort to gain insight when you are studying.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

I wouldn’t know how to enable students to formulate their own learning outcomes.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

When students find it difficult to gain insight into the material to be studied, I know ways to solve this.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Sometimes while working together with others on an assignment I get a sudden feeling that I’m learning a great deal from them.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

If I find an assignment pointless I try to find out why this is.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

I think it’s important that there are also personal aims linked to assignments.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

When I’ve worked together with others on an assignment I don’t think about whether the co-operation was useful for me.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

I sometimes get a sudden feeling that my method of work doesn’t suit the assignment.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Sometimes while working on an assignment I get a sudden feeling that I am learning something valuable from it.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

When I study information I don’t pay much attention to how well I understand it.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

When the co-operation between students turns out to be unproductive I don’t know any ways to solve this.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

When I start on a text I first ask myself what I will need to do in order to study the text thoroughly.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

I can’t tell whether a text to be studied will appeal to students.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

When I work together with others I regularly think about what I learn from them.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Before I begin on an assignment I don’t have a clear idea of what I want to learn from it.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

I think that feedback on my personal learning aims is unnecessary.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

I can’t tell from a text how much effort it will take for students to understand it.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

I see no reason to talk with others about the usefulness of working together on our studies.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

When I’ve finished an assignment I don’t consider whether working on it has been useful for me.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

I think that it’s important that students also learn from each other while they are studying.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

If my personal involvement in the material to be studied were to be questioned I would think about this.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

I know various ways in which students can increase their involvement in the material to be studied.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Before I begin on an assignment, I don’t ask myself whether I will learn more from it by working together with others.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

I am interested in why I sometimes get very little out of my co-operation with others.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

I am not interested in why I have an aversion to some of the texts I have to study.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

If I can’t bring any structure into an assignment, I try to find out why that is.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

When students don’t work systematically, I don’t know any ways to solve this.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

If I find information difficult to understand I don’t try to find a deeper reason for this.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

I find it helpful to talk with others about how one can gain an understanding of the texts to be studied.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

I can tell whether an assignment corresponds to students’ learning aims.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

When I’ve finished studying information I check for myself whether I’ve gone into enough depth.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

When I’ve studied obligatory material I ask myself whether it aroused my interest.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

When I have to study information I try to find out what I will find interesting about it.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Before I begin an assignment I don’t think about how I will introduce structure into it.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

I know which assignments students will learn more from by working together.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

The world’s first free online university – University of the People

July 24th, 2009

The University of the People was recently launched as the world’s first free, online university. At the moment it only offers courses in business administration and computer science (and some support courses such as English composition and computer skills), and these are not yet accredited. There are some small fees such as those for exams (from $10-$100 per exam depending on the country of origin of the student) but no tuition fees. At the moment it will only enrol 300 students but is expecting to grow to many thousands.

It is a very interesting development, and one backed by a serious board of advisors. I strongly support this initiative and invite you to disseminate news about it widely.


New book: implicit and explicit knowledge

July 21st, 2009

I am very happy to announce the publication of the book below, which was a joint project with a group of former colleagues from the University of Auckland:

Reinders, H. & Ellis, R. (2009) ‘The Effects of Two Types of Positive Enhanced Input on Intake and L2 acquisition’. In: Ellis, R., Loewen, S., Erlam, R., Philp, J., Elder, C., Reinders, H. 2009. Implicit and Explicit Knowledge in a Second Language. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Implicit and Explicit Knowledge


Don’t speak the language? Just point!

July 18th, 2009

Cute idea – little picture books to take with you on your holiday. Who needs to learn the language?


Malaysia cancels English instruction in maths and science

July 15th, 2009

According to a report in the International Herald Tribune a few days ago Malaysia has cancelled all English instruction in maths and science. Apparently too many students struggled too much with the language aspect of their courses. An intriguing decision in a world that is moving more and more to instruction in English and not one that will help to put Malaysia in the long term, I’m afraid.

An update on Zotero

July 12th, 2009

Zotero is a brilliant referencing tool. It is free, lives in your browser, and is a great alternative (and often a much better one) than commercial referencing tools. It is also much more sensible than using one of the ‘referencing tools’ offered by some of the publishers, which of course have a preference for their own materials and are not open as is Zotero. I’ve created a short introductory video to explain why I think it’s a great tool and to show you a bit about how it works. You can view it here.


New book on video games in (language) education

July 9th, 2009

James Paul Gee’s What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy. Second Edition: Revised and Updated Edition is probably the most often cited in this area, and rightly so. It is a comprehensive overview and draws on learning theories to explain the potential of computer games. I always highly recommend it to my students. It was with some anticipation then that I borrowed Gee’s latest collection of essays ‘Good video games and good learning’. There is enough of interest here but it clearly is a collection of bits and pieces collected and put together in book form. It lacks the coherence of the previous book and in fact repeats most of what is said there without adding much that is new. There is also a great deal of repetition within the book. Nevertheless, for those with a particular interest in this area, it may be worthwhile. It is apparently published by Peter Lang but I could not find it on their website (!) so here is the link to Good Video Games and Good Learning: Collected Essays on Video Games, Learning and Literacy (New Literacies and Digital Epistemologies)on Amazon.


Connexions – free online courses

July 6th, 2009

I just wanted to plug Connexions, a website that aims to be a repository for open education materials as well as a platform for educators to create and distribute teaching ‘chunks’ that can be combined into larger modules on the fly, either by other educators or by students. An excellent initiative from Rice University. The subjects cover the full range from science to humanities, including a fair number of linguistics courses.


Video: the world’s English mania

July 2nd, 2009

A couple of great videos from TED, one of my favourite sites.

Jay Walker talks about why two billion people around the world are trying to learn English:

Another great talk, this one from a while back, is by Ken Robinson, who convincingly talks about school and creativity.


Using mobile phones for data collection

June 30th, 2009

Mobile phones are widely used by people, so why are researchers not making more use of them to collect data? In an upcoming project in Hong Kong I hope to get participants to record language learning experiences outside the classroom – and what better way to do this than by using a tool that each of them carries around all the time anyway?

This article talks about the technical aspects of mobile data collection and is a good read if you think you may be interested in this area. Recommended!

Please drop me a line if you are using mobile data collection – I’d love to hear about your experiences. Maybe we can exchange tips.


Bookmark and Share
Recommended reading
Transforming Teaching and Learning Through Data-Driven Decision Making

Cases on Digital Game-Based Learning: Methods, Models, and Strategies
Recent finds

What I am reading now

Language Learning with Technology: Ideas for Integrating Technology in the Classroom

Cognitive Processing in Second Language Acquisition: Inside the learner's mind

Neurolinguistic and Psycholinguistic Perspectives on SLA
© Innovation in Teaching 1998-2009. All rights reserved.
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