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Higher Education and Second Language Learning

Promoting Self-Directed Learning in New Technological and Educational Contexts

Rosario Hernandez and Paul Rankin

This volume explores the challenges involved in facilitating student learning of second languages at university level. Easy access to information and communication technologies inside and outside the classroom, alongside an increasing tendency for students to play an active role in shaping their own learning, are having a significant impact on second language learning and teaching in the twenty-first century. Although several recent publications have focused on technologies in education and student-centred learning, there has been very little previous research into how second languages are learnt within universities. This book aims to support teachers of second languages in higher education by setting out practical ideas that can be implemented in everyday contexts, as well as ensuring that pedagogical practice is underpinned by relevant theoretical frameworks.
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3 Mass-Customized Second Language Modules: Adapting to a Changing Student Body by Enhancing Self-Directedness – the Example of Assessment



3  Mass-Customized Second Language Modules: Adapting to a Changing Student Body by Enhancing Self-Directedness – the Example of Assessment

Increasing diversity in the student body

‘Students nowadays just aren’t what they used to be.’ We have all heard this complaint at some point, meant in the sense that students are not as good as they were at some ideal point in the past. It is true in another sense, however, that I wish to build on in this chapter – namely, that students today, as a rule, are notably more diverse than they have been in the past.

Across the globe, there has been a step change in student numbers in higher education (Eurostat 2013a), and this has increased the diversity of the student population. This diversity not only reflects socio-economic background but also academic proficiency. As Biggs (1999: 1) put it after student numbers had doubled in the UK in the 1990s: ‘The brightest and most committed students will still be there, as they have been in the past, but they will sit alongside students of rather different academic bent’.

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