Developing an experiential learning practice model for students at Otago Polytechnic Auckland International Campus (OPAIC) to make use of in their further studies (based on ESOL learning strategies)

Vera Nistor
30 June 2020

Nistor, V. (2020). Developing an experiential learning practice model for students at Otago Polytechnic Auckland International Campus (OPAIC) to make use of in their further studies (based on ESOL learning strategies. A thesis submitted in conformity with the requirements for the degree of Master of Professional Practice, Otago Polytechnic [PDF 661KB]

Executive Summary

The purpose of this advanced negotiated project was firstly, to try and help my students to learn more effectively by developing an experiential learning model, and secondly, to reflect on my professional practice, in order to be able to improve it and, ultimately, improve the practice at my institution.

The research question addressed by the change project was to find out whether a personalised learning model or process could help students learn better in their English class (NZCEL) and whether this model could be further extended to help them learn in other subjects as well. This learning model was based on a combination of general experiential learning models and more specific ESOL experiential learning strategies.

The change project used the method of action research in three cycles with three different groups of students. A triangulation approach was used to gather data from multiple sources, including surveys and focus groups. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data gathered from the surveys and focus groups, by finding common themes across students’ responses and summarising them. The second part of my project was my autoethnographic research, which helped me develop my professional framework of practice through critical reflection on the findings of my change project.

At the end of the action research, the findings proved that the use of metacognitive concepts in class was appreciated by the students, and that they started to understand the value of student autonomy and more independent learning.

Overall, the students understood and valued the learning model they practised in English class, and continued to use it in other subjects. Moreover, they appreciated the usefulness of this learning model outside of class, across other activities in their daily lives, and expressed their intention to continue using this learning model in the future, as it had become a lifelong learning habit for them.

As a conclusion regarding my own practice, I realised that this entire journey represented a process of professional growth. It made me question the definitions of ‘learning’ and ‘teaching’ and understand the true meaning and effective use of ‘facilitation’. Through the change project action research cycles, I got the opportunity to learn about my own learning process at the same time as my students through the process of ‘ako’, as we constantly learned from each other. Other than becoming a more effective facilitator for my classes, I also became a better communicator and more flexible in approaching students and class activities. At the end of this process of reflection, I eventually developed my own learning model, which, unsurprisingly, was quite similar to the students’ learning model, based on experiential learning and reflection and evaluation. Given the universal applicability of this learning model, I concluded that this was actually the same as my overall model of professional practice, as I understood that I am constantly learning while I am practising my profession.

At an institutional level, I would like to communicate more effectively with my colleagues, in order to apply this learning model not only in English classes, but also in other subjects. Through the systematic and consistent application of this model with more students, I will be able to verify its effectiveness, while continuing to develop and improve it according to the students’ needs.

Key words: Tertiary education.

Vera's academic supervisor was James Harrison.


This thesis is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives licence CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International.

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