Learning how to be an effective leader seems to be an important facet of group discussions and group task work. One way to attempt a bottom-up approach to applying and practicing leadership skills is through action research (AR), defined by Burns (2009) as an approach to research that involves teachers researching their own contexts. AR can serve to inform the teacher about the progress students are making in specific areas. This presentation will introduce an AR project in which the presenter endeavored to find out a. what aspects her Japanese university students focused on when reflecting on their own experiences as leaders in group work, and b. what improvements they noticed in themselves over time. Among two classes and over the period of 12 weeks, forty learners acted in the role of group leader at least four times and were asked to complete a short survey after each leadership experience in which they reflected on their own challenges and strategies. Then, the teacher (this presenter) provided both individual and whole-class feedback to share insights about leadership skills. Five major themes emerged from the qualitative analysis of the learners’ reflections: Challenges, language gaps, strategies, leadership skills, and growth/development. The presenter will share insights on each of these themes while examining the trajectories of the students’ self-reported improvements throughout the study using excerpts from the students’ reflections.
Amanda Yoshida, Kanda University of International Studies, Japan
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