Increasing motivation and autonomy of pre-sessional university English students through project-based integration of technology and digital literacies skills*

*I was awarded the School of Education Platt Prize 2013 for academic excellence in a Master’s degree for my coursework and dissertation.


Acknowledging the importance of English as a “lingua franca” in a globalised world, there are many English-medium universities in Turkey. As the level of English of students coming to university is often insufficient, many have to take a compulsory one-year preparatory English course before they can start their main field studies. Teaching on a preparatory course, it appeared to me that the students in my classes lacked motivation and had little autonomy and that this hindered their language learning progress. Both motivation and autonomy are deemed very important factors in language learning success (Dörnyei, 1998; Dickinson, 1995).

My interest in this matter led to the awareness of various studies on these issues carried out in Turkey. These studies, although highly informative, have focused on situations at particular universities. In bringing them together for this dissertation, besides my personal observations and investigations, a more holistic picture of the interplay of a whole set of typical issues deriving from or resulting in lack of motivation and autonomy emerged. These findings provide a basis for a more comprehensive solution that can serve as a model for preparatory courses in Turkey and other countries.

This dissertation study suggests as a solution a technology and digital literacies skills integrated project in form of an online school magazine. Project-based learning allows for the integration of all language skills and can foster student motivation and autonomy. A school magazine is a very popular extracurricular activity. By pulling it into the course, its powerful learning and motivational potential (Bass, 2012) can be exploited. This combination provides students with meaningful, real-life tasks, which, besides fostering autonomy and motivation, can prepare students for the twenty-first century workplace.

(Nergiz Kern)

At the moment, I don’t intend to upload the complete dissertation. If you are interested in reading it or would like the bibliography, contact me.

Modules I took in my MA course

I did my Master’s at the University of Manchester because they offered a combination of educational technology and TESOL (as of 2012 this course has been replaced with the MA DTCE (TESOL) course). The inclusion of EdTech was a key criterion for me. The modules I took allowed me not only to learn more about the use of educational technology for language teaching and learning purposes but also about the relevant theories underpinning learning with technology, frameworks and pedagogy, so that the technology is employed and integrated in a principled manner.

Core modules*

  • Approaches, Methods and Techniques in Language Teaching
  • Blended Learning in a Digital Age
  • Language Learning and Technology
  • Developing Researcher Competence
  • Dissertation


  • Teaching and Learning Online
  • Multimedia Design and Development
  • The Education of Language Teachers
  • Language Education as Intercultural Practice (audited)