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How Learner Autonomy Helps Students Become More Capable Adults

February 12, 2019

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How Learner Autonomy Helps Students Become More Capable Adults

As scholars continue to study and reveal successful pedagogical practices, there has been no shortage of recent revelations concerning what are the most effective ways to educate students. Although the theory of learner autonomy has been pervasive in education circles for years, it has only been shown to have gained more credibility over time. In this article, we'll tell you everything you need to know about learner autonomy, as well as ways in which schools and teachers can successfully incorporate learning autonomy into their classrooms.

What is Learner Autonomy?

The theory of learner autonomy has been buzzing about foreign classrooms for some time. However, recently it has shown its applicability to other subject areas as well. Learner autonomy can be most easily defined by separating its definition into explanations of how a teacher can encourage learner autonomy, and how students can then use learner autonomy for themselves.

  • A teacher who approaches education with the theory of learner autonomy in mind aims to make their students capable of learning about any given subject on their own. In a classroom based on learner autonomy, students have access to tools with which to teach themselves, and the teacher acts as an auxiliary facilitator of student learning.

  • Students who learn autonomously are more capable than non-autonomous peers in critical thinking and problem-solving because their educational settings encourage the development of these skills.

Learner autonomy does not end in the classroom. A major principle of learner autonomy is that learners who are taught to be autonomous while in the classroom will then carry their independent critical thinking and learning capabilities with them into their lives, making them incredibly capable adults.

How Can Teachers Establish Autonomous Learning, and Why Does It Work?

There are a few things that teachers can do in their classrooms to establish autonomous learning, and a few reasons why autonomous learning is so useful. To establish learner autonomy, teachers must:

  • Distance themselves from students, so that students see teachers as facilitators of their learning, and not as personal tutors.

  • Establish learner independence, so that students understand to seek out knowledge for themselves instead of relying on teachers to spoon-feed them course material.

  • Have students take ownership and become self-aware of their learning styles. By teaching students different ways in which they can learn and take notes, teachers can give students the tools to develop their own learning styles.

  • Encourage peer-to-peer learning. Peer-to-peer learning has already proved to be as effective, if not more effective, than teacher-to-student learning in many circumstances. By creating classrooms founded in learner autonomy, teachers can create environments in which students work with peers to learn. This can then give them the springboard they need to learn in a completely autonomous way.

Learner autonomy works for a few reasons. By creating a space in the classroom for the teacher as a facilitator of knowledge, and not as a personal tutor, students will have the opportunity to learn the material and develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills on their own, but with the safety net of having a nonjudgmental and helpful mentor who will assist them if they need it.  When it comes time for students to enter higher education or job settings where learning must be done autonomously with no safety net, they are more than ready to take the "training wheels" off, so to speak.

How to Incorporate Learner Autonomy Successfully

One great way to encourage autonomous learning is through LMS implementation. Platforms such as Lambda Suite give students a way to interact with each other, as well as a database that provides them with all the necessary information they need to learn autonomously in one easily accessible location.

Are you having trouble implementing an LMS into your classroom so that you can develop autonomous learners? We can help! Lambda Solutions specializes in providing and streamlining LMS operations in the education industry.

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