Complexity, L2 Learner Psychology, and Practitioner Research

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Submission Summary

This presentation will act as an introduction to what a complexity approach can offer practitioner researchers in investigating the psychologies of second language learners. Through 'complexity thinking' tasks and consideration of a range of introspective and audio data, the session will scaffold participants to think about the L2 learners in their classrooms and research contexts from new angles.

Submission ID :
AILA1723
Submission Type
Abstract :

Complexity perspectives offer great promise for understanding the interrelated, co-adapting, and emergent nature of social psychodynamics among the actors in learning. Amidst questions as to appropriate forms of research (MacIntyre, Dörnyei, & Henry, 2015), this presentation will argue that practitioner inquiries such as action research are uniquely positioned to do justice to the complexity of L2 learning. Setting the stage for the symposium as a whole, this presentation will begin with an interactive review of differences between simplicity (the dominant scientific tradition) and complexity. The presenter will encourage attendees to participate in a series of novel 'complexity thinking' tasks to understand phenomena as part of a fabric of dynamic relations. Building on this footing, the presentation will then review Ema Ushioda's (2016) push for a 'small lens' approach to focus on significant events and phenomena in context. Drawing on the presenter's own examples from past action research, attendees will be introduced to a selection of introspective and audio data to consider how complexity thinking can foster deeper exploration and revised representations of the feelings, identities and motivations of L2 learners. The presentation will also draw attention to the benefits of looking historically at data collected through practitioner research in order to gain deeper and more nuanced understandings. Rather than offering a particular set of empirical tools, the session will scaffold participants to think about the L2 learners in their classrooms and research contexts from new angles – as real people with real experiences, dynamically located in and forming the social learning context.

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Rikkyo University

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