Horizons Reading Group meeting: 24 September

The date of the next Horizons Reading Group is Thursday, 24 September from 15:30 to 16:30 in the Caledonian Academy, Level 1, William Harley Building at Glasgow Caledonian University.

The topic of the meeting is: “Autonomous Learning”

We will discuss the following paper:

Hughes, P. (2003). Autonomous learning zones. In Proceedings of the Biannual Conference of the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction, Padova, Italy, August 26-30.


There are several overlapping themes in contemporary and classic philosophy of education, student learning and educational development literatures, relating to the educational advantages and pedagogic strategies for developing independence and autonomy in learners in higher education (HE). This paper reviews and clarifies the theoretical and philosophical meaning and justification for autonomy in learning. It introduces the concept of ‘autonomous learning zones’.  Throughout the paper, the term ‘autonomy’ is favoured over ‘independence’. ‘Independent study’ as a term has become on the one hand associated with the idea of a solitary student (Tait and Knight, 1995), but also suffers from vastly different interpretations and misconceptions in the practitioner realm, where it may be used interchangeable with other terms like ‘distance learning’, ‘resource-based learning’ and ‘self-directed study’ (Gilham, 1995), all of which may actually occur in very dependent learning environments.  The root meaning of ‘autonomy’ on the other hand, is self-government (Mele, 1995) and while not precluding individualism, it implies choice or agency that is likely to involve social aspects – a relational autonomy (Mackenzie and Stoljar, 2000).  The paper outlines a range of approaches that might help to develop autonomy in learners. It considers the structural and cultural factors of HE systems that may militate against learner autonomy.

If you would like to join the group, to book a place please contact Frieda Callaghan of the Caledonian Academy; telephone: 0141 273 1319

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