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Autonomy and student-centered learning Phil Benson Hong Kong Institute of Education
 
Autonomy and student-centered learning <ul><li>What is autonomy - definitions and ‘versions’? </li></ul><ul><li>Why autono...
Sources for autonomy in language teaching and learning   Autonomy in language learning Personal autonomy Freedom in learni...
Sources for autonomy <ul><li>Political philosophy  : Immanuel Kant, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Jean-Paul Sartre, Robert Young,...
What is autonomy? Abilities, attitudes, predispositions, etc. A capacity that learners possess or acquire Student power, l...
Definitions that are not definitions <ul><li>100+ competencies associated with autonomy (Candy, 1991) </li></ul><ul><li>Au...
Control over learning <ul><li>Autonomy is “the capacity to take control of one’s own learning” Benson (2001)  </li></ul><u...
What is a ‘capacity’?   AUTONOMY Ability Freedom Desire
What is a ‘capacity’? <ul><li>…  just as the ability to drive a motor vehicle does not necessarily mean that whenever one ...
Controlling what?   AUTONOMY Learning management Learning content Cognitive processes
Controlling what? <ul><li>Learning management </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(e.g. making a study plan) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Cogn...
Versions of autonomy (Benson, 1997) <ul><li>Technical </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Positivism + focus on learning management </li...
Perspectives on autonomy Oxford (2003) <ul><li>Objected to ‘privileging the political’ </li></ul><ul><li>Added Sociocultur...
Proactive and reactive autonomy   <ul><li>Proactive  autonomy  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“…  regulates the direction of activi...
Versions of autonomy <ul><li>‘ Convergence’, ‘divergence–convergence’ and ‘convergence–divergence’ perspectives – Ribé  (2...
Strong and weak pedagogies <ul><li>Weak pedagogies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Assume that students lack autonomy </li></ul></ul...
Arguments for autonomy   AUTONOMY Economic Ideological Psychological
Arguments  for autonomy <ul><li>Ideological </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“… the individual has the right to be free to exercise h...
Why autonomy? Why now? <ul><li>Globalization and… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The expansion of second language education </li></...
The expansion of second language education <ul><li>More teachers and more learners </li></ul><ul><li>Biographical diversit...
The self as reflexive project Giddens (1991) <ul><li>Traditional vs. late modern cultures </li></ul><ul><li>The need to fo...
The self as technology <ul><li>Self-improvement culture </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“… a range of practices and text-types focus...
Autonomy and agency <ul><li>We believe that learners have to be seen as more than processing devices that convert linguist...
Conclusion <ul><li>What is autonomy? Or what kind of autonomy do we want? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Autonomy as the production...
References <ul><li>Benson, P. (1997) The philosophy and politics of learner autonomy. In P. Benson & P. Voller (eds.)  Aut...
References <ul><li>Lantolf , J. P and Pavlenko, A. (2001) (S)econd (L)anguage (A)ctivity theory: understanding second lang...
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Benson Lecture Inpla[1] Phil Benson

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  1. 1. Autonomy and student-centered learning Phil Benson Hong Kong Institute of Education
  2. 3. Autonomy and student-centered learning <ul><li>What is autonomy - definitions and ‘versions’? </li></ul><ul><li>Why autonomy, why now? </li></ul><ul><li>What kind of autonomy do we want? </li></ul>
  3. 4. Sources for autonomy in language teaching and learning Autonomy in language learning Personal autonomy Freedom in learning Self-directed learning Focus on learner Constructivism Political philosophy Educational reform Adult education Language learning Psychology of learning
  4. 5. Sources for autonomy <ul><li>Political philosophy : Immanuel Kant, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Jean-Paul Sartre, Robert Young, Joseph Raz, Anthony Giddens </li></ul><ul><li>Psychology : Lev Vygotsky, George Kelly, Bruno Bettleheim </li></ul><ul><li>Educational reform : John Dewey, William Kilpatrick, Paolo Freire, Ivan Illich, Carl Rogers </li></ul><ul><li>Adult education : Allen Tough, Malcolm Knowles, Philip Candy, Stephen Brookfield, Jack Mezirow </li></ul><ul><li>Language learning : Learner-centredness, Communicative language teaching, Individual differences, Learning strategies, Sociocultural theory </li></ul>
  5. 6. What is autonomy? Abilities, attitudes, predispositions, etc. A capacity that learners possess or acquire Student power, learner control, learner’s rights. The right to control one’s own learning Self-directed learning, planning, decision-making,etc. Learners’ responsibility Autonomous ‘events’ and ‘episodes’ Learners’ independent actions Self-instruction, use of learning strategies, etc. Methods of learning Autonomous classrooms, learning schemes, etc Teaching situations Learning without a teacher or on your own Learning situations
  6. 7. Definitions that are not definitions <ul><li>100+ competencies associated with autonomy (Candy, 1991) </li></ul><ul><li>Autonomy in learners can “take numerous different forms, depending on their age, how far they have progressed with their learning, what they perceive their immediate learning needs to be, and so on” (Little, 1991, p.4). </li></ul><ul><li>Autonomy is “a multidimensional capacity that will take different forms for different individuals, and even for the same individual in different contexts or at different times” (Benson, 2001: p.47). </li></ul>
  7. 8. Control over learning <ul><li>Autonomy is “the capacity to take control of one’s own learning” Benson (2001) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What is a ‘capacity’? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What do we mean by ‘control of learning’? </li></ul></ul>
  8. 9. What is a ‘capacity’? AUTONOMY Ability Freedom Desire
  9. 10. What is a ‘capacity’? <ul><li>… just as the ability to drive a motor vehicle does not necessarily mean that whenever one gets into a car one is obliged to take the wheel, similarly the autonomous learner is not automatically obliged to self-direct his learning either totally or even partially. The learner will make use of his ability to do this only if he so wishes and if he is permitted to do so by the material, social and psychological constraints to which he is subjected. </li></ul><ul><li>(Holec, 1988: p.8) </li></ul>
  10. 11. Controlling what? AUTONOMY Learning management Learning content Cognitive processes
  11. 12. Controlling what? <ul><li>Learning management </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(e.g. making a study plan) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Cognitive processes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(e.g. attention/noticing input) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Learning content </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(e.g. choosing what you learn) </li></ul></ul>
  12. 13. Versions of autonomy (Benson, 1997) <ul><li>Technical </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Positivism + focus on learning management </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Psychological </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Constructivism + focus on cognitive processes </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Political </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Critical theory + focus on learning content </li></ul></ul>
  13. 14. Perspectives on autonomy Oxford (2003) <ul><li>Objected to ‘privileging the political’ </li></ul><ul><li>Added Sociocultural I (Vygotskyan) & Sociocultural II (SCT, ‘investment’, situated learning, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>All perspectives are valid </li></ul>
  14. 15. Proactive and reactive autonomy <ul><li>Proactive autonomy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“… regulates the direction of activity as well as the activity itself….The key words are action words: learners are able to take charge of their own learning, determine their objectives, select methods and techniques and evaluate what has been acquired…” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Reactive autonomy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ ...regulates the activity once the direction has been set…the kind of autonomy which does not create its own directions but, once a direction has been initiated, enables learners to organize their resources autonomously in order to reach their goal.” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Littlewood (1999) </li></ul>
  15. 16. Versions of autonomy <ul><li>‘ Convergence’, ‘divergence–convergence’ and ‘convergence–divergence’ perspectives – Ribé (2003) </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Individual–cognitive’, ‘social–interactive’ and ‘exploratory–participatory’ perspectives - O’Rourke & Schwienhorst’s (2003) </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Native–speakerist’, ‘cultural–relativist’ and ‘social’ approaches – Holliday (2003) </li></ul>
  16. 17. Strong and weak pedagogies <ul><li>Weak pedagogies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Assume that students lack autonomy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“… autonomy is seen as a deferred goal and as a product of instruction rather than as something which students are currently ready to exercise directly.” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Strong pedagogies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Assume that students are already autonomous </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Focus on “co-creating with students optimal conditions for the exercise of their autonomy” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(Smith, 2003, 130-132) </li></ul></ul>
  17. 18. Arguments for autonomy AUTONOMY Economic Ideological Psychological
  18. 19. Arguments for autonomy <ul><li>Ideological </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“… the individual has the right to be free to exercise his or her own choices, in learning as in other areas, and not become a victim (even an unwitting one) of choices made by social institutions”. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Psychological </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Learning is more meaningful, more permanent, more focussed on the processes and schemata of the individual when the individual is in charge.” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Economic </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“… society does not have the resources to provide the level of personal instruction needed by all its members in every area of learning…individuals must be able to provide for their own learning needs, either individually or cooperatively, if they are to acquire the knowledge and skill they want. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Crabbe, D. (1993, p.443) </li></ul></ul>
  19. 20. Why autonomy? Why now? <ul><li>Globalization and… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The expansion of second language education </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The self as a reflexive project </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The self as technology </li></ul></ul>
  20. 21. The expansion of second language education <ul><li>More teachers and more learners </li></ul><ul><li>Biographical diversity </li></ul><ul><li>Diversity of purposes </li></ul><ul><li>Migration of learners </li></ul><ul><li>Migration of teachers </li></ul><ul><li>Diversity within classrooms </li></ul><ul><li>Diversity of situations and practices </li></ul><ul><li>Autonomy as: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sensitivity to diversity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A practical solution to the problems posed by the complexity of mass education </li></ul></ul>
  21. 22. The self as reflexive project Giddens (1991) <ul><li>Traditional vs. late modern cultures </li></ul><ul><li>The need to form one’s own identity in late modern society </li></ul><ul><li>The self as a ‘reflexive project’ – ‘narrative identity’ </li></ul><ul><li>The role of second language learning in the formation of ‘new’ identities </li></ul><ul><li>Identities are fragmented, contradictory and dynamic – but ‘falling to pieces’ is pathological… </li></ul><ul><li>What holds our identities together?? </li></ul>
  22. 23. The self as technology <ul><li>Self-improvement culture </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“… a range of practices and text-types focusing on the individual and her or his relationships with others, and particularly on the problems of modern personal life. Among the most accessible expressions of this culture are self-help and popular psychology books, and broadcast talk shows of the ‘confessional’ type where people talk about their experiences, problems and feeling, sometimes receiving advice from an expert (a therapist, counsellor or psychologist).” (Cameron, 2002, p.75) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Emphasis on ‘self-training’ workforce and the importance of ‘communication skills’ in the ‘new economy’. </li></ul>
  23. 24. Autonomy and agency <ul><li>We believe that learners have to be seen as more than processing devices that convert linguistic input into well-formed (or not so well-formed) outputs. They need to be understood as people, which in turn means we need to appreciate their human agency. As agents, learners actively engage in constructing the terms and conditions of their learning. (Lantolf & Pavlenko, 2001: p. 145) </li></ul>
  24. 25. Conclusion <ul><li>What is autonomy? Or what kind of autonomy do we want? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Autonomy as the production of ‘responsible’, ‘active’, ‘flexible’ and ‘adaptable’ worker-learners? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Autonomy as ‘agency’ – learners as critically aware individuals capable of authoring the world in which they live? </li></ul></ul>
  25. 26. References <ul><li>Benson, P. (1997) The philosophy and politics of learner autonomy. In P. Benson & P. Voller (eds.) Autonomy and Independence in Language Learning . London: Longman, pp. 18-34. </li></ul><ul><li>Benson, P. (2001) Teaching and Researching Autonomy in Language Learning . London: Longman. </li></ul><ul><li>Benson, P. (2007) Autonomy in language teaching and learning. State of the Art article. Language Teaching , 42:1. </li></ul><ul><li>Cameron, D. (2002) ‘Globalization and the teaching of communication skills’. In D. Block & D. Cameron (eds.) Globalizaton and Language Teaching . London: Routledge, pp.67-82. </li></ul><ul><li>Candy, P.C. (1991) Self-direction for Lifelong Learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. </li></ul><ul><li>Crabbe, D. (1993) 'Fostering autonomy from within the classroom: the teacher's responsibility'. System , 21:4, 443-452. </li></ul><ul><li>Giddens, A. (1991) Modernity and Self-identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age . Cambridge: Polity. </li></ul><ul><li>Holec, H. (1988) 'General presentation, Prospects / Présentation Génerale. Perspectives'. In H. Holec (ed.) Autonomy and Self-directed Learning: Present Fields of Application . Strasbourg: Council of Europe, pp. 5-18. </li></ul><ul><li>Holliday, A. (2003) Social autonomy: addressing the dangers of culturism in TESOL. In D. Palfreyman & R.C. Smith (eds.) Learner Autonomy across Cultures: Language Education Perspectives , Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 110-126. </li></ul>
  26. 27. References <ul><li>Lantolf , J. P and Pavlenko, A. (2001) (S)econd (L)anguage (A)ctivity theory: understanding second language learners as people. In Breen, M. (ed.), Learner contributions to language learning: New directions in research . London: Pearson Education (pp. 141-158). </li></ul><ul><li>Little, D. (1991) Learner Autonomy. 1: Definitions, Issues and Problems. Dublin: Authentik. </li></ul><ul><li>Littlewood, W. (1999) 'Defining and developing autonomy in East Asian contexts'. Applied Linguistics, 20:1, 71-94. </li></ul><ul><li>Oxford, R.L. (2003) Toward a more systematic model of L2 learner autonomy. In D. Palfreyman & R.C. Smith (eds.) Learner Autonomy across Cultures: Language Education Perspectives , Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 75-91. </li></ul><ul><li>O’Rourke, B. & K. Schwienhorst (2003). Talking text: Reflections on reflection in computer–mediated communication. In Little, Ridley & Ushioda (eds.), Learner autonomy in foreign language classrooms: Teacher, learner, curriculum and assessment . Dublin: Authentik, pp. 47–62. </li></ul><ul><li>Ribé, R. (2003). Tramas in the foreign language classroom: Autopoietic networks for learner growth. In D. Little, J. Ridley & E. Ushioda (eds.), Learner autonomy in foreign language classrooms: Teacher, learner, curriculum and assessment . Dublin: Authentik, pp. 11–28. </li></ul><ul><li>Smith, R. C. (2003). Pedagogy for autonomy as (becoming–)appropriate methodology. In D. Palfreyman & R.C. Smith (eds.) Learner Autonomy across Cultures: Language Education Perspectives , Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 129–146. </li></ul>
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