Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Language, Literature, Culture and Education 2017

Student Voices through Journals in a Japanese University STEM Project-Based Learning Class for EFL Learners

Christopher Hennessy, Wayne Malcolm

University of Fukui, Japan


From April 2014 to January 2017, language faculty from a national university, in conjunction with engineering faculty, designed and implemented three Project-Based Learning (PBL) English language courses in which 24 second-year architecture and mechanical engineering students, over one semester, collaborated in teams of four to design, build, and present two or three projects using English as the primary working language. The presenters followed students from each yearly iteration of the course through a series of yearly questionnaires, freewritings, and focused interviews using theoretical coding research methods in a grounded theory framework to track student development and understand not only the effects of this type of course on students academically and non-academically, but also to listen to student voices to create a better experience for successive iterations of the course. In this paper, the authors will briefly introduce the course design and give detailed analysis of theoretical coding data on the students’ longitudinal experience gained from qualitative research methods, with particular focus on data collected through the professional journals students kept for the class. Finally, the authors will discuss themes developed from this writing data analysis and explain possible meaning the class had for students who participated in the course, as well as significance of these emerged themes on future iterations for PBL pedagogy.


Project-Based Learning (PBL), STEM, EFL, tertiary education, collaborative learning, longitudinal, grounded theory