00002420.doc - A reflexive critique of Learner Managed Learning Michael Doyle Education Development Unit University of Salford [email protected]

00002420.doc - A reflexive critique of Learner Managed...

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A reflexive critique of Learner Managed Learning Michael Doyle Education Development Unit University of Salford [email protected] This is one of a set of papers and work in progress written by research postgraduates (MPhil and PhD) at Lancaster University's Department of Educational Research . The papers are primarily offered as examples of work that others at similar stages of their research careers can refer to and engage with. 1
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Abstract ‘Learner autonomy’ and ‘learner-managed learning’ (LML) are topical educational goals and learning strategies for policy makers and practitioners, particularly in Adult Education and Life-long Learning. This paper uses a highly reflexive approach to address three issues central to these goals and strategies. Firstly, it analyses the theoretical premises of LML within emerging discourses of citizenship, progressive adult education theory and ‘autonomy’ in relation to theories of ‘risk’ and uncertainty. Secondly, it critically examines the pedagogical assumptions underpinning practices intended to develop LML: in particular, the use of learning contracts, experiential learning and reflective practice. This leads into the third issue: a critique of LML practice from an emancipatory/transformative perspective. The context of the study is a Foundation Degree prototype in which the purpose is to use LML to promote and develop learner autonomy. The paper concludes with an analysis of how LML needs to be interpreted within a less instrumental, more constructivist, relational and social theory of learning, which, through a process of reflective dialogue, engages the learner in a critically reflective construction of meaning. 2
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INTRODUCTION The purpose of this paper is to offer a critical analysis of teaching and learning strategies used increasingly in higher education, which emphasise the use of learner-managed learning (LML). The objective is not to dismiss the approach – on the contrary, as the author is an advocate and keen practitioner of the process. However, the paper represents a reflexive attempt to examine conceptual and pedagogical underpinnings of this approach to adult learning. In this respect the process represents an exercise in critical research which Alvesson and Skoldberg (2000: 144) characterize as ‘triple hermeneutic’: interpretive social science with a critical interpretation of “unconscious processes, ideologies, power relations and other expressions of dominance that entail the privileging of certain interests over others”. The context of the study is a pilot Foundation Degree, which started in October 2001. It was launched (DfEE, 2000a) within a New Labour ‘Third Way’ discursive wrapper (Fairclough, 2001), which characteristically attempts to synthesise potentially conflicting elements. In the case of the Foundation Degree the contrast is between economic and democratic agendas, as represented by a ‘return’ on learning which enhances student employability in a global economy, while widening access to higher level learning. However,
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  • Fall '08
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