Assessing Translation Students' Reflective and Autonomous Learning

Assessing Translation Students' Reflective and Autonomous Learning

Ya-Yun Chen (Newcastle University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5225-3.ch013
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As an essential soft skill in life-long learning, reflective and autonomous learning has been an integral part of many translator training programs today. However, how it could be assessed systematically and what factors might influence its acquisition is still much under-researched. To help bridge this gap, this chapter aims at reporting the findings of an empirical study, which used diary, think-aloud and small-group discussion as reflective learning methods to investigate translation students' reflective learning. It first provides an overview of relevant theory and then reports how students' reflective levels were assessed and analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively. Based on the empirical findings, it discusses the factors influencing the success of a reflection-encouraging learning environment, followed by a provisional model of translation students' reflective and autonomous learning process.
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Nowadays, with the professional landscape developing rapidly, translation students must meet the changing requirements of translation markets. To facilitate students’ professional development beyond their immediate training setting and in the long run, concepts such as lifelong learning and learner autonomy have been upheld and integrated in translator training through a variety of pedagogical strategies to help students develop problem-solving and other transferrable skills (Washbourne, 2014). Amongst them is reflective thinking, which is regarded as essential for professional development (Moon, 1999).

Over the years, and most notably since the 1990s, with the incorporation of contemporary learning theories, translator training has been through a major pedagogical shift, from teacher-centered, translation-focused approaches to more learner-centered, process-oriented ones (Kelly, 2005). The latter often upholds reflective learning activities, ranging widely from group learning to individual learning. Group-based activities are usually justified on the benefits of learning through peer interaction, such as group discussion and collaborative translation projects (e.g. Chen, 2010; Kiraly, 2000, 2003, 2005). Individual-based learning activities, such as learning diary (Fox, 2000; Orlando, 2011), think-aloud techniques (Wakabayashi, 2003) and portfolio (Galán-Mañas, 2016; Johnson, 2003), usually stress how self-assessment and self-awareness help students improve translation quality and their learning skills. Some scholars have proposed a combination of both group and individual learning activities to accommodate a wider range of learning needs and styles (González Davies, 2004; Kelly, 2005).

However, although reflective learning has been integrated into many translator training programs, there is no sufficient empirical research into students’ experience with reflection-promoting approaches. It is also unclear how translation students reflect, how their reflective ability can be assessed, and whether reflective learning is conducive to their translation skills and, as a result, translation quality.

This chapter will report on the results of an empirical study specifically designed to investigate students’ perception of three selected reflective learning environments, namely, diary, think-aloud (TA), and small-group discussion (SGD), through both quantitative and qualitative methods aiming at understanding students’ reflection, how it can be assessed, and the factors influencing their reflective and autonomous learning.

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