Learner Autonomy- Monarchy or Anarchy

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Transcript of Learner Autonomy- Monarchy or Anarchy

  • Learner AutonomyMonarchy or Anarchy

    Zolfaghar Aaj

    Zahra Pourniksefat

    MA TEFL Students

    Islamic Azad University-Science and Research Branch

  • Nothing can be taught to people but its

    possible to help them find the answers

    within themselves.

    Galileo Galilei

  • Agenda

  • Seating Arrangements in Classroom

    Jeremy Harmer:

    The Round Table in the British and French legends about King Arthur was specially designed so that there would not be arguments about who was more important than who and that included the king himself when they were in a meeting.

    So it is in classrooms !!!!

    With all the people in the room sitting in a circle, there is a far greater feeling of equality than when the teacher stays out at the front.


    orderly rows


    separate tables


  • Learner Autonomy

    With the advent of Communicative Language Teaching and its emphasis on the learning process, the role of learners as active participants in the process of their learning was highlighted. In this regard, learners were not considered as empty vessels to be filled with knowledge, but as active constructors of Knowledge. (Brown, Collins, & Duguid, 1989; Richards & Rodgers, 2001).

    Perhaps the most quoted definition of autonomy is by Holec(1981, p. 3; cited in Little, 2007), who simply defines learner autonomy as the ability to take charge of ones own learning.

    Scharle and Szabo (2000) define autonomy as the learners freedom and ability to manage ones own affairs, which requires making decisions and acting independently of the teacher.

  • What is learner autonomy?

    Monarchy Anarchy


  • Little (2007, p.26) defines Learner Autonomy as: the product of an interactive process in which the teacher gradually enlarges the scope of her learners autonomy by gradually allowing them more control of the process and content of their learning. Autonomy in language learning and autonomy in language use are two sides of the same coin.

    According to Littlewood (1999), definitions of autonomy have varied, but they have usually included these central features:

    1. Students should take responsibility for their own learning. This is both because all learning can in any case only be carried out by the students themselves and because they need to develop the ability to continue learning after the end of their formal education.

    2. Taking responsibility involves learners in taking ownership (partial or total) of many processes which have traditionally belonged to the teacher, such as deciding on learning objectives, selecting learning methods and evaluating progress.

  • The Importance of Learner Autonomy

    Considering this paradigm shift in language teaching the importance of learner autonomy, which expects students to assume a greater responsibility for their own learning, will be in the foreground.

    The influencing goal of teaching is to produce learners who can act and think moreindependently, i.e. more autonomously, and a strategy for developing autonomy is the main target of language teaching (Littlewood, 1996).

    Scharle & Szabo (2000) believe that learner autonomy is a positive relationship between present and future learning:

    Responsible learners are more likely to Achieve their learning targets By achieving their learning goals they are more likely to Maintain a positive attitude toward learning

  • Characteristics of Autonomous Learners

    we do not think of responsible learners as role models (or teachers pets), but as learners who accept the idea that their own efforts are crucial to progress in learning, and behave accordingly.

    Autonomous learners characteristics by Little (1995)

    understanding the purpose of their learning program accepting responsibility for their learning sharing in the setting of learning goals, taking initiatives in planning

    and executing learning activities reviewing their learning and evaluating its effectiveness regularly

  • Levels of autonomy by Nunan (1997)

    1. Awareness: Learner awareness about the pedagogical goals and content of the materials, identifying strategyimplications of pedagogical tasks, their preferred learningstyles and strategies.

    2. Involvement: is the intermediate stage between simple awareness and subsequent stage in which learners become involved in modifying materials. They involve in making choices from a range of goals, selection of content and a variety of tasks.

    3. Intervention: learners involve in modifying and adapting goals, content and learning tasks.

    4. Creation: (penultimate stage) they create their own goals, content, and tasks (partly developed to student-generated).

    5. Transcendence: learner become truly autonomous in utilizingwhat they have learned in formal learning context in everyday life

  • Motivation & Autonomy

    Ushioda (2010) believed that there is a strong relationship between motivationand autonomy.

    Scharle and Szabo (2000) pointed, we need to encourage intrinsic motivation, the source of which is some inner drive or interest of the learner. Intrinsically motivated learners are more able to identify the goals of learning and that makes them more willing to take responsibility for the outcome. In turn, a larger scope for student self-determination and autonomy generates intrinsic motivation.

    Spratt et al ,and Littlewood as well, considered motivation as a key factor that influences the extent to which learners are ready to learn autonomously and that teachers therefore might try to ensure motivation before they train students to become autonomous (Spratt, 2002).

  • Autonomy and Culture

    Pennycook (1997) believed that autonomy and the autonomous individual are purely a construct of Western cultures and that the notion has limited applicability to other cultural contexts.

    Chan et al. (2002) supported this view by indicating that in Asian cultures students perceived the teacher as a dominant figure, and their preference was for the teacher to take responsibility for their learning.

    Hart in 2002 raised this question that whether autonomy is an appropriate approach in non- Western contexts where it has been observed that students might have had fewer opportunities for collaborative and other learner-centered approaches.

  • Research Questions

  • Research Hypotheses

    H0 : There is no significant relationship between teachers and learners perceptions regarding responsibility.

    H0 : There is no significant difference between learners and teachers perceptions regarding learners ability.

    H0 : There is no significant difference between learners and teachers perceptions regarding learners activities.

    H0 : there is no significant difference between learners perceptions of autonomy and their level of motivation.

  • Preliminary Limitation of the Study

    A. First, learner autonomy is an internal construct, so it is difficult to isolate and study it by means of objective instruments. One potential problem with research when participants rate themselves might be the extent to which individuals objectively rate themselves; some participant may inflate or underestimate their autonomy.

    B. Second, socio-cultural factors and educational backgroundof the participant are not controlled.

    C. Third, regarding the age factor, this study is limited to young adult and adult students as participants.

  • Methodology


    1. 14 Iranian EFL Teachers

    2. 98 English Language Learners

    Data Collections

    1. Learner Autonomy Questionnaire

    2. Interview

    Data Analysis1. Interview: Thematic Analysis is used in order for the themes to emerge

    from data2. Questionnaire: analyzed with SPSS 20

    Autonomy and Motivation: One Way Anova Section One: Chi Square (Mann Whitney U Test) Section Two: Independent Sample t-test Section Three: Independent Sample t-test

  • Learner Autonomy Questionnaireby Chan, Spratt and Humphreys (2002)

    Ability and Responsibility operate in 5 main areas. (Holec: 1981)

    1) Determining objectives

    2) Defining contents and progressions

    3) Selecting methods and techniques to be used

    4) Monitoring the procedure of acquisition

    5) Evaluating what has happened

  • Learner Autonomy Questionnaireby Chan, Spratt and Humphreys


    Level of Motivation



  • Preliminary Data Analysis

    Quantitative Data

    Skewness and Normality Test were both checked

    Independent sample t-test was run for comparing the means

    Comparing the means, learners perceptions of their abilities is significantly higher than those of teachers which means that teachers have got less positive attitude about learners ability regarding autonomous learning than learners themselves.

    Qualitative Data

    Most of the teachers believed that students cannot hold the responsibilitiesthemselves because they are not trained enough for taking the control.

    The majority of learners preferred their teachers to take the responsibilities since they are not aware of their own needs and their teachers know the best.

    For both teachers and learners it was the teacher who is responsible for evaluating learning progress.

  • Next Steps in Ongoing Research

    1) Analyzing qualitative data as well as quantitative data


    2) Finalizing results and discussing it in detail

    3) Framing the conclusion based on existing literature on

    learner autonomy