The official website of educator & arts patron Jack C Richards

Autonomy

Question:

Submitted by Gethomil, Poland

Is autonomy an approach or a method?

Professor Richards Responds:

The notion of learner autonomy is neither an approach or a method but it really a philosophy or set of principles that can be used in association with different approaches and methods, and may influence how they are implemented in the classroom. The notion of learner autonomy means shifting the focus from the teacher to the learners. This means involving learners in decisions concerning setting objectives for learning, determining ways and means of learning, and reflecting on and evaluating what they have learned.Autonomous learning is said to make learning more personal and focused and consequently to achieve better learning outcomes since learning is based on learners’ needs and preferences . Benson has suggested five principles for achieving autonomous learning:

  1. Active involvement by students in their own learning
  2. Providing options and resources
  3. Offering choices and decision-making opportunities
  4. Supporting learners
  5. Encouraging reflection

In classes that encourage autonomous learning:

  • The teacher becomes less of an instructor and more of a facilitator.
  • Students are discouraged from relying on the teacher as the main source of knowledge.
  • Students’ capacity to learn for themselves is encouraged.
  • Students are encouraged to make decisions about what they learn.
  • Students’ awareness of their own learning styles is encouraged.
  • Students are encouraged to develop their own learning strategies.