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

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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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Enhancing Teacher Research for Autonomy in Postgraduate Teacher Education (Flávia Vieira)

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Flávia Vieira

(University of Minho, Centre for Research in Education, Portugal)

Enhancing Teacher Research for Autonomy in Postgraduate Teacher Education

1.    Introduction

The promotion of pedagogy for autonomy in language education is dependent on social, political and institutional circumstances. However, it also rests on teachers’ willingness and ability to understand and transform educational experience. If “the pursuit of learner autonomy and the pursuit of democracy in education are one and the same” (Little, 2004: 124), then we need to envisage pedagogy for autonomy as a cultural and political project where resistance, critique and subversion become crucial components of teachers’ professional competence, especially in settings dominated by a technical view of teaching and teachers. Teacher agency is integral to empowering pedagogical approaches that enhance self-determination, social responsibility and critical awareness within a democratic educational framework (Jiménez Raya, Lamb & Vieira, 2007). Therefore, teacher education programmes should play a decisive role in promoting teacher agency towards pedagogy for autonomy in schools. In other words, teacher education needs to become a powerful space for enhancing democratic educational change that integrates teacher and learner development (Jiménez Raya & Vieira, 2015).

Research has been advocated as a professional development strategy that can foster teachers’ competence to question and reframe pedagogical practices, and many teachers have been involved in research all over the world, particularly within postgraduate programmes in higher education institutions. However, teacher research in those contexts is...

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