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1.2. Role of educators and learners

Find out about the roles of teachers and students

Heutagogy is another word describing self-determined learning. It is about a situation in which the learners exercise choice over the goals, the content and the methodology of their learning. Heutagogy is valuable when it comes to extend student’s skills and bring their work to an advanced level. Educators then are advised to stage their students’ progression to maturity.

Three steps can be identified concerning the role of educators and learners:

  1. Pedagogy – the beginning of a learning path
  2. Self-directed learning – the shared responsibility to learning
  3. Heutagogy – self-determined learning


Pedagogy – the beginning of a learning path

At the beginning, the learner depends on the teacher who has the full responsibility on what is going to be learned, where, when and how. This is frequently necessary to ensure that students develop all the required skills and knowledge, and that they claim the essential competencies that will enable them to carry on. This stage is very common in schools.

Self-directed learning

Self-directed learning – the shared responsibility to learning

At this stage, the teachers encourage students to take shared responsibility for their learning. Educators are there to support students in developing their independence, therefore, they teach them how to investigate, and they help them relate the content to their experiences and lives. The curriculum is developed according to the learners’ needs and interests and methodologically is based mainly on problem-solving.


Heutagogy – self-determined learning

At the stage of self-determined learning, the learners take even more responsibility for their learning. The instructor is there to function as a facilitator and build constructive dialogues with the learners. However, the learning path (from the learning goals down to the assessment) is customized by the learners themselves. Students are now determining their learning needs, focus on the content, carry out the research and present their results. They even negotiate the terms and criteria which are going to be used for assessing both the process and products of their learning. This means that heutagogy is not an “alternative” methodological approach but rather “a useful extension that provides a valuable and different approach to learning”