An investigation into students use of autonomy

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Some universities have established autonomy as one of their fundamental principles, but the question is if they implement this principle. If the answer is no, we know what autonomy is, or maybe we are confusing this concept with freedom. When we are students, we use to think that freedom is the same as autonomy because learning is about freedom to choose. Some schools I have visited had this problem because the majority of the teachers do not know how to handle independence. Most of students of the schools lack of autonomy because they depend all the time on the teacher's actions; if not, when teachers give them the opportunity to learn by themselves, they do not take the risk. But what surprises me the most was the fact that at university where I study students still lack of autonomy, and when teachers tried to implement it, the effort was in vain.

Due to this fact, I decided to study what is being autonomous and how students can build their own knowledge by themselves. In this research I found some studies that analyzed the role of the teacher when teaching students the way to be autonomous. Other studies focus on motivation and the effects of different activities build for the students' learning styles. Moreover, some studies looked at the importance of interaction among students. Yet, others explored the role of rewards and feedback in learners. Lastly, another group of studies analyzed the importance of self assessment in learners. Based on the review of others' research studies, I have decided to study how students can learn to build their own knowledge with teachers' help.

Motivation as a tool to build knowledge

Motivation plays a key role that influences the level in which learners are ready to learn autonomously. This factor is very important because when students experiment intrinsic motivation they start building their own knowledge. Pontón (2007) found that individuals are motivated to participate in activities in which the result will be satisfactory, additionally they avoid the bad results. Outcomes can take three forms: physical (pleasure, pain), social (approval, recognition, rejection, sanctions), and self evaluative. For this author self evaluative outcomes deal with behaviors that let students to achieve certain activities to built knowledge. This author posits that learners are motivated to participate in activities because: such activities are means to achieve specific goals, additionally those need to seek knowledge, and finally the activities should be socially gratifying with a specific goal for the learner. Egitim (2009) studied the intrinsic motivation in learners. He argues that intrinsically motivated learners search for challenges and improve competence; autonomous learners are self directed outside the classroom and decide for themselves what to learn. The author also describes that autonomous students increase motivation and self esteem; it can be reached through the encouragement of classroom.

Feedback monitors students

Constructive feedback from the teachers should be benefit for the students in order to show them their positive improvement. On the other hand, it is important to make them see their weaknesses by giving them possible solutions. Additionally, feedback is an effective way for the teacher to monitor the students' learning process.

Guo & Wills (2003) found that Feedback from students is the most effective means for students to improve, According to studies done by this author, when the teachers do feedback they are able to identify the academic achievements of their students and give them positive encouragement. Even though students are more mature they are always influenced by the result the teachers give. ChanLin (2008) studied that continuous feedback and guidance through couching help students develop their abilities in managing their own learning. In addition, this author explains that gathering information about the student is not enough if the teacher does not connect feedback's weakness of the student with meaningful activities.

Confidence as part of being autonomous

This is an important aspect which is linked with autonomy, because when students feel comfortable with themselves and with their knowledge autonomous learning takes place. Being autonomous means to be take riskers and confidence is the step to do it. Guo & Wills (2003) found that people with no confidence will generally not succeed, so the learner must be encourage taking the risk of treating teachers and classmates as ordinary humans.


Independence is an important variable because it is the capacity the learner has to make his own choices based on what benefit him. Additionally the learner needs to be in dependent when reinforcing his knowledge outside the classroom. Guo (2003) argues that students have the right to make choices with regard to their learning. In this study the author also describes why independence in learning is vital for students to function effectively. He posits that the development of metacognition skills is necessary, because this is the key point for promoting learner autonomy. In addition, he suggests that when students are capable of identifying helpful language elements and adapting the right strategies, they can more easily realize their goals. Aderinto (2003) found in his study that adults learn on their own initiative, they learn on their own initiative rather than learning by being taught. In this study he states that adults' needs for being independent and autonomous emerge with the educational activities center on the learner.

Learning styles

It is important to consider that each student has a different perception of the world, as a result of that each individual learns in different ways. When the student is learning how to be autonomous, the teacher must take into account the student's metacognitive processes. As a result of that the student would be able to Set their own learning aims, Plan and organize work, Decide when best to work alone, work collaboratively and when to seek advice and assess their own progress in respect of their aims. Additionally it is important to take into account that learning styles is also linked with gender, because girls and boys have different interest that influences what they want to learn. Guo (2003) found that teachers need a clear picture of each student's learning capabilities because, they need to help them based on their learning abilities. This author suggests that language learners needs are different in terms of their personal needs, interests, strengths and weaknesses, motivations and learning styles. Additionally the educator not only accepts student's differences but help them to improve. Egitimde (2009) studied that learning styles also cope with gender because females tend to have greater integrate motivation, more positive attitude and wider range of learning strategies. Females make more effort and have a higher regard for improving.

Self assessment

Self assessment is a positive tool when identifying students' weaknesses and strengths. Additionally it allows them to monitor their own progress; as a matter of fact they become able to find solutions for improving. Guo (2003) found that this is beneficial for students because it helps them to increase their knowledge of their own learning strategies. This author suggests that if students are not able to increase their knowledge by knowing themselves, then they may stay in their original conceptive an action model so they will never become autonomous learners. Egitimde (2009) studied that adult students improve their performance through self assessment and reflection on their own learning process. Pontón (2007) found that nurturing autonomous learning tendencies help the student to choose learning over non-learning activities. In addition he suggests that educators should help the students to increase their awareness of the implications of activity choice, through active self monitoring.


Teachers are a key element when making their students autonomous learners because teachers are the model to follow. Additionally they will be the guide for thorough the students' learning process. Egitimde (2009) suggests that teachers should link autonomy with two concepts: challenge and support. The teachers should challenge the students in order to promote autonomy while supporting them in order to provide security. Setting open tasks, offering tasks with no predetermined answers, letting students choose between alternative tasks, asking them to synthesize a text, or encouraging am atmosphere of peer correction in pairs or group are some challenges. Miyuki (2001) found that posits that teachers are not only helpers or facilitators of learning, but also part of learning. Taking into account the study made by Usiki he posits that learner training is not just to train the students, but teachers learn from students by interacting with their process of learning. Pontón (2007) found that an adult most often choose other activities based on a multitude responsibilities which should be careful chosen by the teacher. Chan (2004) stays that teachers are not only helpers or facilitators of learning, but also participants of learning. Kalin (2007) found that how teachers perceive the main goal of a reform is important because it greatly influences their motivation to change their own professional practice and achieve the goals of the reform.


Being autonomous does not mean students have to work isolate or individual, in a way this is necessary sometimes, but autonomous students need to interact with other individuals to exchange ideas and provide feedback among them. Additionally they are able to learn from each other by helping them. Guo (2003) found students become more active constructor of knowledge through experience and opportunities with other individuals.


Human's nature always waits for something in return, in this case perhaps autonomous students do not wait for a grade, but they want to see that teacher's activities are really useful for them. They want to improve with a positive feedback. Pontón (2007) found Adult's persistence in autonomous learning is more related to the anticipation of future rewards of present learning.


Autonomy is not an easy choice for most of students when they are used to have teachers doing everything for them. Even though it provides students a tool for academic skills but for life. As teachers, it is our responsibility to help them to know how to use it and to understand that autonomy goes beyond of freedom. Teachers can encourage students to reach dependence by attending their needs taking into account learner styles. The goal of this research study was to find ways in which teachers and students can build autonomy together. Effective components are important because when the teachers need to know how to motivate students meanly at the beginning of the process. The next variable focused on the importance of self assessment as a tool for students and teachers to monitor the student's progress accompanied of feedback. Recognizing all these factors, students and teachers can work together to become lifelong learners. Other studies looked at the importance of learning styles to guide learner to autonomy. Learning styles play an important role because teachers need a clear picture of each student's learning capabilities, because they need to help them based on their learning abilities. Based on the review of others' research studies, I have decided to study how teachers can help students to build their own knowledge by showing them the need of being autonomous.


Your topic is interesting; I can see your effort! However you need to check the following:

You are missing in all your studies the description (what, when, why, where) and the purpose of the studies. That's important information to contextualize your reader and it makes your paper strong in terms of arguments

In your introduction I could not find the following variables. Confidence as part of being autonomous and Independence If you included them in the body you need to include them in you intro where you stated all your variables. I saw that when you stated them in the intro you began with … the role of the teacher when teaching students the way to be autonomous. But actually the first variable you explained in the body is Motivation as a tool to build knowledge . I think you need to follow the order, so that your reader keeps focused.