UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

ESL students' academic help seeking and help avoidance : an exploratory multiple-case study in secondary classrooms Tang, Aihling


Help seeking (HS) is an important resource-management strategy in self-regulated learning (SRL). Although investigations on HS and help avoidance (HA) by first-language or fluent speakers in a single context have been plentiful, not enough is known about the impact of language and culture on second-language learners’ HS/HA across contexts. This study aimed to fill this knowledge gap by employing a case study design to produce holistic understanding about the dynamic and complex HS phenomenon in natural settings. The study was grounded in a sociocultural model of strategic HS in context within an SRL model. I adopted a comparative multiple-case design to examine the HS/HA of 9 secondary ESL students simultaneously enrolled in ESL and Humanities classes. Multiple sources of data were collected to construct rich profiles of individuals’ HS across classrooms. Cross-case patterns suggested important implications for practice and theory. For example, to facilitate student use of adaptive HS strategies, teachers need to foster students’ perceptions of HS benefits, diminish HS deterrents in classrooms, establish classroom norms favorable for HS, and provide help in ways that scaffold learning based on students’ current levels of knowledge and understanding. Theoretically, this study evidenced the potential utility of a sociocultural model that represents the complexity of factors involved in self-regulated learning and HS by students who are situated within socioculturally- and historically-delimited settings.

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