5 Steps to Increase Autonomy in the Classroom

It is our duty as educators to not only educate our students‭, ‬but to instill skills into them that will help them succeed in a‭ ‬life outside of education‭. ‬By encouraging our students to become autonomous learners we are preparing them for life in higher education and beyond.

1‭) ‬Stop spoon-feeding

Students have become accustomed to teachers telling them everything they need to do and the way in which they must do it to the‭ ‬extent that they are unable to think for themselves when faced with an out of school situation‭. ‬Students must learn to develop independence‭; ‬there’s always the fear that what they think will be wrong and that there is a right and wrong in regards to everything‭, ‬but if they are not given the option to think‭, ‬it will be difficult for them to differentiate between the two‭.‬

2‭) ‬Implement autonomy

Students need to learn to be independent and need to know when to use it and when to seek advice so set your students a task where a part of the assignment is to complete it through the use of their own initiative and see where that takes them‭. ‬The idea is‭ ‬not to spoon-feed but to guide‭.‬

3‭) ‬Increase responsibility

To feel truly motivated and ambitious‭, ‬and to succeed and do well‭, ‬students need to be given responsibility where they feel like‭ ‬they are placed in a position of leadership and guidance to others and doing this can increase autonomy and engagement‭. ‬The‭ ‬empowerment and confidence triggered by being held responsible for something gives the student the impression that they are trusted and this will increase their motivation.

4‭) ‬Start early

Autonomous learning cannot be taught but rather‭, ‬students can be exposed to autonomy; ‬the earlier they are exposed‭, ‬the better they will do and the faster they will learn to trust their own instincts‭. ‬Autonomy is usually presented at GCSE level where students are given coursework and revision to undergo independently‭, ‬and this is where the struggle begins‭; ‬because they have not been exposed to it earlier‭, ‬understanding the development of a revision technique can be difficult‭, ‬so the earlier the better‭.

‬Independent projects should be implemented from the beginning of secondary education‭, ‬for example‭, ‬in History‭, ‬pupils are given the task of conducting and presenting research on any topic of their choice‭. ‬This enables them to do their own research and present it their own way‭. ‬By doing this‭, ‬you as the teacher are able to see their ability and explore how you can help and guide them to do better‭.‬

5‭) ‬Encourage creativity‭ ‬

Set tasks that encourage students to think for themselves and be creative from a young age‭. ‬It allows them to expand their mind‭ ‬and method of thinking‭, ‬and as a result they become independent and autonomous‭. ‬They learn to trust themselves and their own instincts‭, ‬and this is valuable for them to understand about independent learning later on in their academic life‭.‬