“Who Wouldn't Want to Take Charge of their Learning?”

Student Views on Learner Autonomy, Self-Determination and Motivation


  • John Stoszkowski University of Central Lancashire
  • Liam McCarthy




heutagogy, self-determined learning, student-centered teaching


In recent years, calls have grown for the implementation of heutagogy, a form of self-determined learning, in higher education settings. Although a key tenet of the heutagogic paradigm is a belief in the notion of human agency, our recent experiences as university tutors suggest that many students might not actually desire some of the aspects inherent in the approach, instead preferring more didactic, tutor-led modes of teaching and learning geared towards successful completion of assessed work. This paper reports the extent to which undergraduate students (N=35) at two different UK institutions, about to embark jointly on a module designed using a heutagogical approach, valued learner autonomy and self-determination in their studies. It also identified students’ major motivators when undertaking the module. Results suggest learner autonomy and self-determination were indeed valued by students, with four themes describing their main motivators: (a) achievement, (b) knowledge and understanding, (c), self-improvement, and (d) peer learning and interaction.


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