Ecclestone they are ‘working at’ or the

(2002) suggested that feedback in that classroom should be more than just dialogue and argumentation between the teacher and pupil,
that to utilise AfL to the maximum potential is by the promotion of pupil
autonomy. Within the Sociocultural Theory of learning autonomy
is defined as how much control you have over your life, with the opportunities
you have for full social engagement and rich participation been crucial for
wellbeing, health and longevity (Marmot, 2004). In term of pupils’ education, autonomy
is defined as a child’s independence, proactive engagement and critical inquiry
in the classroom, the individual’s capacity for self-directed learning and
meta-learning in their lives (Hargreaves, 2012). Promoting pupils’ autonomy can
allow the pupil to act independently of external factors such as authority,
judgement and traditional notions, taking initiative and acting accordingly,
therefore the pupil becomes proactive and independent with a sense of critical enquiry and develops self-directed
learning (Pryor and Crossouard, 2008).

Autonomy should not however, be misunderstood with the
understanding a pupil acquires regarding the educational framework where they
can describe the level they are ‘working at’ or the level they are ‘working
towards’. In such assessment focused educational settings students are trained
in such procedures which include ‘independent’ thinking which help attain
imposed goals but this does not include autonomy in learning (Hargreaves,

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 Research suggests that the
promoting children’s autonomy benefits children’s learning attainments and
general development which is found in educational setting (Ecclestone 2002:
Marmot 2004: Hargreaves 2014).

and Crossouard (2008) state that the aim of AfL is:

… an explicit aim of raising students’ critical awareness both of the discourses of the educational
setting, and also of the wider social construction of these discourses … The pedagogic texts and the teaching context therefore become
the object of critique, rather than functioning to ‘deliver’ knowledge.

 When giving feedback the teacher is in a position to respond
to the pupil in a way which can provoke the pupils thought processes, by
confirming or rejecting ideas and elaborating or questioning the pupils
response the teacher allows the pupils to independently considers concepts with
critical enquiry whilst promoting pupils’ autonomy. However, whilst promoting
independent considerations and critical enquiry from the pupil  feedback can have effects entirely set out by
the teacher who remains the facilitator of the learning process.


Torrance (2012, 325) suggested all assessment is formative,
depending on the learners dispositions and own identity, as well as their own
knowledge and understanding, which may not always a positive way, that
Sociocultural theory perceives learning as an apprenticeship not learning
through direct interaction. As the pupil learns it is not only the teachers
skills and knowledge that is transferred but also their attitudes, their
approach to work and the social setting, the transference of these skills and
attitudes helps to form the pupils own dispositions and identity. This idea of
how feedback influences the pupil challenges traditional concepts of feedback,
Bibby (2009) referencing the fact that primary school children tend to look up
to teachers a role model figures, who influence and commitment goes much
further than simply delivering the national curriculum. Which is consistent
with observations by Steinschott and Dobson’s (2011), finding that whilst some teacher feedback
facilitates immediate learning, other feedback remains useful in the long term,
with that said some feedback could therefore, make an impact on a pupils’ which
influences them in later life, especially when the teacher places high value on
a pupil autonomy.


Little (1991) suggests that pupil autonomy is
interdependent with teacher autonomy, whilst a teacher desires to promote pupil
autonomy them must also develop their own autonomy, reflect on their own
personal development, beliefs, expectations and experiences of the teaching/
learning environment. This does not however, imply the teacher has less control
in the learning environment, or less control over what educational experience
is been conveyed (Thanasoulas, 2000), the teachers role in the learning process
is vital in order to promote the autonomy of the pupil. Zimmerman (1998) states
that pupils’ who are able to develop autonomy are strategic learners, they can
learn through experiences of good performance, through the experiences of
peers, teachers and mentors, through verbal feedback and persuasion and through
positive physiological state until they have the capacity to gain full control
of their own learning to become self-regulated learners (Ustunlouglu, 2009).


Hargreaves (2014) conducted a study observing teachers giving
feedback to promote autonomy in primary school pupils. The teacher used a range
of autonomy promoting feedback which encouraged the pupil to stand out from the
crowd and to become independent, proactive learning and critical inquiry into
rules of life, social relationships and the learning process. The results
illustrated that the teacher facilitated the pupils in managing both immediate
and long term learning, the targets of the classroom learning were met as well
as nurturing the pupils identity (Steinschott and Dobson 2011), the pupils
appeared to take on board  the messages
the teacher was conveying regardless of whether or not the teacher knew if the
pupils understood them (Torrance 2012). Although this study is based in just
one classroom it illustrates the potential that feedback and pupil autonomy can
have, highlighting that more research need to be conducted into verbal feedback
and how pupils perceive and respond to it.

Kuaravadivelu (2003,
cited in Kumaravadivelu, 2006, p. 176) states that there are two types of pupil
autonomy one where by the pupil learns to learn and the other whereby the pupil
develops the capacity to develop the ability to take control of their own
learning. This ability according to Holec (1981, cited in Kumaravadivelu, 2006,
p. 176) is the ability to determine objectives, select methods and techniques,
monitor their own progress and evaluate their own learning. Whilst this
definition may then suggest the teacher becomes redundant Little (1991)
clarifies the misconception by commenting what autonomy is not: autonomy is not
self-instruction and learning without a teacher, autonomy does not abdicate the
teacher of responsibility, autonomy is