Autonomy, assessment and guiding forces

Lisa Lane has written a blog post  – The Guiding  Force –  that has captured my interest. In her post, she asks us to identify  our ‘guiding forces’ in planning our work as teachers – or as she calls them – instructors.  (As an aside, I find the use of language here an interesting cultural (?) difference – I assume it is a cultural difference – because I interpret ‘instruct ‘differently to ‘teach’).

For me my guiding forces (as they stand now – but this has not always been the case) are informed by my involvement with MOOCs and connectivism. I cannot think of better guiding forces than autonomy, diversity, openness and connectedness – the four principles of learning in Moocs  (described by Stephen Downes ) – with for me an emphasis on autonomy. If we understand what we mean by autonomy (which Carmen Tschofen and I have discussed as ‘psychological autonomy’ – autonomy as an expression of the self – in a paper we have had accepted by IRRODL – but not yet published), then diversity, openness and connectedness all fall into place.

I think assessment would also fall into place – because it would mean that the control of assessment would be in the hands of the autonomous learners – but as yet I can’t see clearly how this would work – other than it would need to be negotiated. So, if autonomy is the ‘guiding force’  and part of that autonomy is that students want their efforts to be validated and accredited – then students will need to have much more control over their assessment. But where does this leave ‘the expert’ and will students have the skills to take control of their assessment?

I think Lisa’s question about guiding principles, highlights the changing role of the ‘teacher’, ‘educator’ ‘instructor’ in relation to their students. Lots to think about in this – thanks Lisa 🙂

6 thoughts on “Autonomy, assessment and guiding forces

  1. Lisa M Lane December 23, 2011 / 9:15 pm

    And thank you! BTW, I used the word “instructors” because that’s what we are called officially at my particular college (“professor” may or may not be used for people who have MAs only rather than a PhD, but it isn’t our job title at a community college), and because “teacher” is often translated as K-12. No pedagogical emphasis intended. 😉

  2. brainysmurf March 6, 2012 / 7:50 pm

    Thanks for this and for the highlight of Lisa’s post. Autonomy in assessment is such a fascinating idea. It reminds me of the only teacher I had in high school who allowed us to take his tests as often as we wanted until we got a score we were satisfied with. This was a senior-level class for French as a second language. I was used to having high grades and I appreciated the opportunity to be retested when my grades were a bit lower in this subject.

    There was effort involved on the teacher’s part (being available to have me take the test again) and definitely effort on my part to study and learn from my mistakes and complete the retest on my lunch hour. At the end of the day, I demonstrated mastery of the subject matter. What difference should it make whether I got it right the first time or the second time?

  3. jennymackness March 6, 2012 / 8:02 pm

    @brainysmurf – what a great story. Thanks for sharing. I wonder why this doesn’t happen more often. It makes perfect sense.

    jenny 🙂

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