Free, Online Scale of Student Autonomy


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This Scale is a free online self-assessment questionnaire to evaluate a student’s sense of educational autonomy -- intellectual independence and self-directedness. With more than 650 responses, grades 7-12, we developed statistical norms and percentiles, as well as three statistically correlated sub-categories. This workshop examines the paradigm of student autonomy, reviews the research and examines practices to encourage student autonomy. We all know the magic when our students become empowered, independent learners. Here is a tool with which to assess autonomy.

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Free, Online Scale of Student Autonomy

  1. 1. “Responsibility to yourself means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking, and naming for you; it means learning to respect and use your own brains and instincts; hence, grappling with hard work.”
  2. 2. Can you think of a time when you did not have the authority to act in accordance with your deeply held beliefs? What does that feel like? Share with the person next you. Share with the group. Autonomy Activator
  3. 3. Definition of Student Autonomy Review of The Literature Oak Meadow Scale of Student Autonomy How might we support student autonomy?
  4. 4. Autonomy used in five different ways in the field. Benson & Voller, (1997) situations in which learners study entirely on their own a set of skills which can be learned and applied in self- directed learning an inborn capacity which is suppressed by institutional education the exercise of learners' responsibility for their own learning the right of learners to determine the direction of their own learning What is autonomy in education?
  5. 5. Autonomy is a capacity for detachment, critical reflection, decision-making, and independent action” (Little, 1991, p. 4). “Autonomy is recognition of the rights of learners within educational systems” (Benson, 1997). “Autonomy is the capacity to take control of one's own learning” (Benson 2001). Autonomy refers to self-governance or self-regulation and differs from independence (Ryan & Deci, 2006).
  6. 6. addresses issues of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. psychological need for a sense of both autonomy and competence.
  7. 7. “Acting in accordance with one's values.” Related to sense of well-being across cultures. Autonomous regulation is a universal psychological human need.
  8. 8. paY&feature=kp
  9. 9. Many demonstrable benefits to promoting learner autonomy. greater psychological need satisfaction greater classroom engagement more positive emotionality higher mastery motivation greater intrinsic motivation a preference for optimal challenge over easy success higher creativity enhanced psychological well-being active and deeper information processing greater conceptual understanding higher academic achievement greater persistence in school versus dropping
  10. 10. Taiwanese 8th graders Students with greater sense of autonomy are more emotionally engaged in the work.
  11. 11. Community College - online courses Demonstrated relationships: ◦ learner autonomy and course success ◦ learner autonomy and final grades
  12. 12. Student scores in classrooms increased as task autonomy increased Rural Middle School Science Classrooms
  13. 13. Important factor in the reduction of gender differences in motivation
  14. 14. Support for student autonomy reduced the intention to drop out of high school.
  15. 15. Encouraging autonomy in the first few weeks increased engagement throughout the course. Decline in engagement was demonstrated by students in other classrooms.
  16. 16. Compared autonomy and structured expectations. Equally predictive of success. Students did best with a combination of both structure and support for autonomy.
  17. 17. Compared behavioral management approaches Those that suppress autonomy negatively impact motivation to reach goals
  18. 18. Just offering choice in high school Gym improved levels of in-class physical activity.
  19. 19. On-line tool to evaluate one’s sense of Autonomy. Answer 18 questions – 3 sub-category Receive a percentile for each sub category Receive overall percentile
  20. 20. Three Sub-Categories – indicated by statistical correlations I. Self-Advocacy/Motivation II. Independent Thought III. Self Doubt
  21. 21. Six Schools Participated Compass School 38/42 The Grammar School 6/10 The Putney School 151/160 Hilltop Montessori School 25/25 MATCH Charter 37/45 Pioneer Valley High School All students required: 7 81 8 110 9 78 10 72 11 82
  22. 22. Pioneer Valley Public High 100.394595 Baseline Match Charter Public High 101.931034 +1.9% The Compass School 104.157895 +4.1% Hilltop Montessori 106.28 +6.2% The Grammar School 107.571429 +7.5% The Putney School 109.592105 +9.5% Unschool 109.225806 +9.2% Average “Total Points” by School
  23. 23. Female 104.339339 Male 104.926174 Other 82.483871 7th 93.444444 8th 99.496063 9th 105.321429 10th 103.567568 11th 105.642857 12th 109.043478
  24. 24. How can we support student autonomy?
  25. 25. Give students choice of how to manage learning environment Choice of group members, seating arrangements, rules of work What do we do?
  26. 26. Give students choice of the form their work will take How to display, materials they will use, flexible means of assessment What do we do?
  27. 27. Give students ownership of the content Choice of subject, independent problem solving, opportunity to voice opinions What do we do?
  28. 28. Encouraging Autonomy By: Katherine Robertson, PhD in Effective Teaching Strategies asking students to pick a topic from their textbook, for which they are then responsible to teach to the rest of the class soliciting input on the syllabus by allowing the class to select the topics for a few “students’ choice” lectures assigning students to write a personal statement about their experiences in the course in which they identify their own weaknesses and request exercises to help them overcome those weaknesses
  29. 29. Identify and nurture what students need and want Have students’ internal states guide their behavior Encourage active participation Encourage students to accept more responsibility for their learning Provide structured guidance Provide optimal challenges Give positive and constructive feedback Give emotional support Acknowledge students’ expressions of negative effect Give choices Direct with ‘can, may, could’ instead of ‘must, need, should’
  30. 30. Old School Teacher chooses material Teacher presents material Teacher assesses acquisition Teacher is omnipotent Autonomy Support Student defines the material Students establishes plan Student reflects on results Teacher creates structural framework
  31. 31. The role of the learning advisor: Raising awareness of the learning process Guiding learners Helping learners to identify goals Suggesting suitable materials by offering choices (rather than prescribing activities) Suggesting suitable strategies by offering choices Motivating, supporting and encouraging self-directed learners Helping learners to self-evaluate and reflect Assisting students in discovering how they best learn Actively listening to learners Helping learners to talk through their own problems
  32. 32. 1. Divide into pairs 2. Pick one person to be teacher; the other, the student. 3. Teacher asks student to come up with at least three “projects” that need attention. 4. Teacher asks student to define the “next action” to move each project forward.
  33. 33. Organizational Autonomy Support Home schooling model Student defines when to do what Student organizes self and materials Student has ownership of daily routine
  34. 34. “I would like to start off by saying that homeschooling is not the easy way out of school. It is required that I be self- motivated and self-disciplined. I learn out of books, have to problem solve, and keep myself well organized. If I don’t keep track of everything in this manner, I will fall behind …. You are your own teacher, office manager, and planner. It is challenging.”
  35. 35. Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself“ Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems, You shall possess the good of the earth and sun, (there are millions of suns left,) You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the specters in books, You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me, You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self.