Heutagogy in Higher Ed?

Heutagogy is essentially defined as the study of self-determined learning (Hase and Kenyon 2000), where students acquire both competencies and capabilities to determine their own learning. In heutagogy, there is the belief that “a learner should be at the centre of his or her own learning, and, hence, that ‘learning’ should not be seen as teacher- or curriculum-centric, but learner-centric.” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heutagogy.

Samantha Schroeder shared via Blaschke (2010) this figure of how heutagogy relates to other -gogies: andragogy and pedagogy (Image courtesy of: http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/1076/2087):

This figure implies that there is a progression in learner maturity and autonomy, where the more the learner matures and the more autonomous she becomes, the less instructor control and course structuring is required. Conversely, if a learner is immature and incapable of autonomy, then more instructor control and course structuring is necessary.

The Higher Education Context

What I find in the Higher Education context that I work in is that there are a variety of students at different levels of this scale (shown above). There are some students, especially some first year students, who have not developed the necessary skills for learning independently and are not very self-directed. They need a lot of course structure and instructor control, which puts them at the bottom of the pyramid in the “pedagogy” area (in fact I hear instructors and instructional designers alike talking about “pedagogy” more than any other -gogy).

In the upper year levels (3rd, 4th year students, MBA and PhD students) many students are much more autonomous and are allowed more freedom in their learning because they are more mature as learners. However there is still a fair amount of structuring involved at many levels. An MBA program will be highly structured with very specific courses students would need to take, on very specific topics that are completely instructor-controlled. Students may have leeway in determining which cases to study, for example, but beyond that the scope is clearly defined in the syllabus for what they are to study.

In reflection on this it appears that heutagogy is not a primary focus of a majority of courses taught in specific faculties, because the subject matter, focus and scope of discussion is so clearly defined by the professor or instructor. There seems to be more of a focus on pedagogy, and in the higher year levels an oscillation from pedagogy to andragogy in terms of instructor approaches to learning.

References:

Blaschke, L.M. (2012). Heutagogy and lifelong learning: A review of heutagogical practice and self-determined learning. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 13(1), 56-71. Accessed on Oct 17, 2015 from:http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/1076/2113

Canning, N. (2010). Playing with heutagogy: Exploring strategies to empower mature learners in higher education. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 34(1), 59-71.

Canning, N. & Callan, S. (2010). Heutagogy: Spirals of reflection to empower learners in higher education. Reflective Practice, 11(1), 71-82.

Hase, S. and Kenyon, C. (2000). From andragogy to heutagogy. Ultibase, RMIT. Accessed on Oct 17, 2015 from: http://ultibase.rmit.edu.au/Articles/dec00/hase2.htm

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