At Illinois State University, we chose to focus on promoting learner autonomy as part of our work in the last two phases of CASTL (Carnegie Academy of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning). See also the links under CASTL Leadership Program and Final Phase of CASTL.
Autonomous learners are those who explicitly accept responsibility for their own learning (e.g., Little, 1991). The autonomous learner shows initiative regarding learning, and shares in monitoring progress and evaluating the extent to which learning is achieved (Schunk, 2005). Fostering the development of learner autonomy rests on the pedagogical claim that in formal educational contexts, reflectivity and self-awareness produce better learning (Pintrich, 2000). Autonomous learners willingly partner with faculty and peers in learning, and are reflective about their own learning. Autonomous learners are intrinsically motivated to learn and evidence life-long learning.
The term stems from self-regulated or self-directed learning. Benson and Voller (1997) defined leaner autonomy as the ability to take personal or “self regulated” responsibility for learning and it is widely theorized to predict academic performance (Salisbury et al., 2001). It is also theorized that student achievement motivation expectancies regarding academic confidence, achievement goals, and learning strategies forecasts learner autonomy (Eccles & Roeser, 2003; Thanasoulas, 2000). For example, it is unlikely a student with poor academic confidence would easily become an autonomous learner.
View the complete bibliography on learner autonomy and research on learner autonomy.
See a full list of web snapshots of Learner Autonomy projects by Illinois State University faculty, staff, and students. The snapshots are made using the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching KEEP Tool Kit.