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Learner and Teacher Autonomy in Higher Education: Perspectives from Modern Language Teaching


Edited By Manuel Jiménez Raya, José Javier Martos Ramos and Maria Giovanna Tassinari

This volume seeks to foster the development of teacher and learner autonomy in language learning in higher education. It pools the insights and experiences of a group of international researchers who present their reflections and research on different aspects of autonomy and related issues. Although autonomy is acknowledged as one of the main goals of education, in higher education the need for accountability and standardisation of learning outcomes may constitute external limitations to its development. In order to overcome teaching traditions and mainstream academic culture, teachers may need to reorient themselves and face the challenge of a substantial change involving their own and their learners’ beliefs, their practice and their role in the institution.

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Learner and Teacher Autonomy in Higher Education (Manuel Jiménez Raya, José Javier Martos Ramos & Maria Giovanna Tassinari)


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Manuel Jiménez Raya, José Javier Martos Ramos & Maria Giovanna Tassinari

Learner and Teacher Autonomy in Higher Education

A still widely extended idea is that all that is required for teaching in higher education is knowledge of the subject matter. Teaching is somehow undervalued in higher education for several reasons. The ‘conflict’ between research and teaching is for the most part resolved in favour of research because of the pressure of international rankings and professional promotion criteria that prioritise research over teaching. Furthermore, most universities base their claims for teaching excellence and student quality learning experiences on a close connection between research, teaching and learning. Still nowadays not many universities require from their faculty a teaching qualification before they start teaching despite the centrality of teaching for the institution and the members of staff themselves. However, as research has widely demonstrated, quality teaching does make a difference in student achievement. Although quality may be a question of definition, there is nowadays a consensus regarding the educational challenges higher education faces. The evolution from the industrial to the knowledge/learning society requires new competencies characteristically associated with the concept of autonomy and lifelong learning, namely, self-awareness, critical thinking, advanced cognitive and self-regulatory competencies, tolerance of ambiguity, cooperation and dialogic communication, among others (Jiménez Raya, 2008).

In 1992, Boyer made a pervasive appeal for a new scholarship. Boyer and his colleagues at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (Boyer,...

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