Academic journal article Journal of Education and Learning

Relationship between the Level of Personal Autonomy in High School Students and the Rate of Teachers' Attention to Teaching Approaches of Personal Autonomy

Academic journal article Journal of Education and Learning

Relationship between the Level of Personal Autonomy in High School Students and the Rate of Teachers' Attention to Teaching Approaches of Personal Autonomy

Article excerpt

Abstract

The aim of this research was to study the relationship between the level of personal autonomy of students and the rate of teachers' attention to teaching approaches of personal autonomy. To this end, according to the "personal autonomy criteria" proposed by Peters and Dearden i.e., authenticity, rational reflection and strength of will - and also with regard to local conditions in the region of the study; a questionnaire was constructed by the researchers to measure the level of students personal autonomy. Also according to the teaching approaches that help promoting personal autonomy, another questionnaire was constructed by the researchers to measure rate of teachers' attention to these approaches in view of same students. This study was conducted using the correlation method. The statistical population consisted of 516 graduated students from high schools of Shiraz in the year 2009 till 2010 that were chosen by using stratified randomized sampling. The results showed that there is a significant positive relationship between the level of personal autonomy in high school students and the rate of teachers' attention to teaching approaches of personal autonomy. In addition there is a significant positive relationship among the three criteria (or conditions) of personal autonomy and rate of teachers' attention to teaching approaches of personal autonomy.

Keywords: personal autonomy, personal autonomy criteria, teaching approaches

1. Introduction

In recent decades, personal autonomy has been considered by educators all around the world and many books and articles on its theoretical and practical aspects has been wrote. Some educational experts believe that in order to achieve ideals, such as freedom and rationality, educational systems must seek to educate independent and autonomous persons. Furthermore children need to be prepared for independent life as adults and education is one of the main routes, if not the only one, for achieving it (Winch, 1999).

In order to discuss the concept of "personal autonomy", different definitions and criteria have been proposed by educators. This paper firstly presents a brief history of personal autonomy by the emphasis on the views of two famous educational philosophers i.e., R. S. Peters and R. F. Dearden, (the educators that their criteria for personal autonomy have been used for constructing the "personal autonomy questionnaire" in this study). It is noteworthy that although many newer studies of personal autonomy has been done in different parts of the world, views of R. S. Peters and R. F. Dearden forms the foundation of subsequent studies. In second part of literature Review, a number of teaching approaches that can promote the level of personal autonomy in the learning environments are listed. Following this, the paper presents the results of studies conducted to explore and examine the proposed outcomes. Finally, the paper culminates with a discussion on the research findings and general conclusions.

2. Literature Review

The core idea of autonomy is that of sovereignty over oneself, self-governance or self-determination: an agent or political entity is autonomous if it is self-governing or self-determining. The ancient Greeks applied the term to city-states. City-states had autonomy if it had authority to enact its own laws and to manage its own affairs, independently of any foreign power. In the modern period, the concept was extended to persons, in particular by Kant, who gave autonomy a central place in philosophical discourse. Thus, autonomy is often understood as the capacity to critically assess one's basic desires and values, and to act on those that one endorses on reflection. In other contexts, autonomy is understood as a right, for example as the right to act on one's life, without interference by others (Craig, 1998).

Among the criteria that are provided for personal autonomy, Peter's criteria are more famous. R.S. Peters in one of his articles titled "freedom and the development of the free man" has mentioned three criteria for calling a person "autonomous":

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