Exploring the development of learner autonomy from a postmodern and social constructivist perspective: prioritising voices

O'LEARY, Christine (2018). Exploring the development of learner autonomy from a postmodern and social constructivist perspective: prioritising voices. The Learner Development Journal, 2.

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Learner autonomy defined as the learners' ability to take charge or control of their own learning (Holec, 1981; Benson, 2011), is considered as a key to effective lifelong learning (Dam, 2011). However, the multidimensional nature of the concept combined with the need to access both individual and social constructions, from a social constructivist perspective, presents significant ontological and epistemological challenges. Although learner autonomy and its development have been explored using a range of paradigms and theoretical frameworks, none of the studies appear to have examined its development, within a formal educational context, from a postmodernist perspective. This article aims to discuss the benefits and practical implications of using a postmodernist approach to exploring the development of learner autonomy, in undergraduate specialist and non-specialist learners, studying advanced level French in an institution-wide language programme in combination with international Business or other subject areas, within a large UK higher education institution, based on its application within my own PhD study. After considering the background and examining in some detail the learner autonomy construct, the paper will discuss the rationale for the choice of methodology and its benefits in relation to the challenges presented by prioritising voices, within a multifaceted and multi-dimensional theoretical framework. It will show how it was applied in practice, using a few illustrative extracts from the PhD study's data analysis. The article will conclude with some recommendations and considerations of the limitations of such an approach, together with some reflection on the process and outcome of the PhD case study research, including some implications for practice in a formal educational context. Key words: learner autonomy, postmodernist research, Higher Education

Item Type: Article
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Centre for Pedagogic Research and Innovation
Departments - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Business School > Department of Management
Depositing User: Christine O'Leary
Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2018 09:32
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 06:31
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/22863

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