What do mean by autonomy of learners? By autonomy of learners, it essentially means the learner’s psychological relation to the process and content of learning. It is a recognition of the rights of learners within educational systems.
Learner autonomy is thus a student’s ability to set appropriate learning goals and take charge of his or her own learning. However, autonomous learners are dependent upon teachers to create and maintain learning environments that support the development of learner autonomy.
Here, the term autonomy may mean:
1. moving the focus from teaching to learning.
2. encouraging peer support and cooperation.
3. making use of self/peer assessment.
4. empowering students etc.
Restraints on Learners in School
Why we talk of autonomy of learners? Well, providing autonomy of learning is being accepted as a basic necessity to ensure that a learner can express his or her own potential and creativity. I will write a separate article on this. For now, it is necessary to understand the restraints on learners in schools. The following are the main constraints on learners in schools:
Lack of infrastructure: Lack of infrastructure in the school hinders the autonomy of learners.
Lack of cooperation from teachers: Teachers should try to regularly motivate learners to think about why they are learning certain things, exactly what they are learning, and how they learn most effectively.
However, sometimes some authoritarian teachers try to dominate the learners in the school and thereby affecting the students’ capacity to exercise autonomy of learning.
Corporal punishment is the biggest hindrance of the autonomy of learners. It creates an environment of fear in the students.
Lack of cooperation from peers: Cooperative learning in pairs and small groups are important in creating autonomous learning. Peer assessment that allows students to evaluate each other are important. Lack of this adversely affects the autonomy of learners.
Teachers who model reflective practices themselves find it easier to create the appropriate learning environment to foster learner autonomy. This environment is one that is positive and motivating, and encourages collaboration and social interaction. It embeds reflective practices into daily learning activities. Learners accept responsibility for their learning, review their learning, and evaluate its effectiveness. The more learners begin to think about learning, the more transparent learning will become to them.