Academic achievement and proficiency used to be the main attributes that determined college admission and employment success. In the 21st century, however, employers are looking for more than good grades and tech skills. They are seeking fresh graduates and prospective new hires to come ready with well-developed attitudes, attributes, and applied skills, or what we’ll refer to as success factors throughout this series.
In this issue, we will discuss autonomy, initiative, and agency; highlighting the importance of developing independent, proactive learners, with a voice in what and how they learn. Students who operate with autonomy and initiative, are more likely to turn into responsible adults who are confident, decisive, adaptable to change, and better equipped to become leaders of change.
Autonomy: refers to the choice and ability to act independently, with accountability.
Initiative: refers to proactive behavior and persistence towards goal achievement.
Autonomy and initiative in the classroom and workplace lead to heightened performance and more successful careers.
The desire for autonomy, or independence, is strong in youth as they try to create their own space or make their own way in the world. Sometimes the result is rebellion against authority. Rather than fighting this rebellious spirit in youth, why don't we harness it? Why not guide students in how to act on their impulses in a way that benefits their current school work and future careers.
Autonomy and Agency
Autonomy is first observed in a student’s:
Purposeful autonomy and initiative lead to students acting with agency. Agency is demonstrated when students take an active approach to problem-solving, have persistence in overcoming obstacles, initiate action and take ownership of goal achievement, self assess through reflection and embody a belief in their ability to succeed.
Students demonstrating autonomy come better prepared for courses and know how to maximize benefits from diverse educational settings. They also show initiative, resourcefulness, and persistence. In work life, being autonomous leads to setting goals, which in turn, gives purpose, direction, motivation, and a meaning to one’s efforts and work.
Creating Autonomy-Supportive Learning Environments - Jon Stolk - TEDxSMU
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