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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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Teacher Autonomy and Agency: The Space of Possibility in Overcoming External Obstacles and Internal Resistances (Manuel Jiménez Raya)


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Manuel Jiménez Raya

(Universidad de Granada, Spain)

Teacher Autonomy and Agency: The Space of Possibility in Overcoming External Obstacles and Internal Resistances

1.    Introduction

The notion of autonomy is not new at all. For over two hundred years, the ideal of the ‘autonomous individual’ has been associated with the liberal tradition in political theory and with various moral philosophical frameworks. In fact, autonomy has been widely recognized as a central value in moral and political philosophy (Callan, 1988; Guyer, 2003; Lindley, 1986). It also occupies a relevant position in theoretical accounts of persons, conceptions of moral obligation and responsibility, social policies and many other areas of political theory and philosophy. For many scholars, developing and cultivating autonomy is an important component of living a good life. Recent socio-political changes originating particularly in the decade of 1970s have manifested in better living conditions in the western world. This progress has been a decisive factor in the development of a greater respect for the individual in society as well as a greater economic and political freedom that resulted in a higher degree of personal autonomy in all areas, including, to a certain extent, education. Thus, one of the most important outcomes of educational research over the last three decades has been the enhancement of the role of the learner in the learning process as well as a growing awareness of the need to develop the learner’s capacity to learn...

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