1. bookVolume 22 (2019): Issue 2 (December 2019)
Journal Details
First Published
11 Dec 2014
Publication timeframe
2 times per year
access type Open Access

Development of a Scale for Measuring the Learner Autonomy of Distance Education Students

Published Online: 24 Jan 2020
Volume & Issue: Volume 22 (2019) - Issue 2 (December 2019)
Page range: 133 - 144
Journal Details
First Published
11 Dec 2014
Publication timeframe
2 times per year

The purpose of this study was to develop a valid and reliable psychometric scale to measure the perceived autonomy of postgraduate students in the Hellenic Open University and similar distance education environments. Two dimensions of autonomy, namely personal and educational, were revealed from the literature review and the preliminary study. For the evaluation of each dimension, two subscales were developed. Following two pilot studies, the initial item pool led to the development of a 25-items questionnaire, which was then administered to a sample of 239 postgraduate students. The exploratory factor analysis revealed two factors for the personal autonomy subscale, with 7 items in total, and two factors for the educational autonomy subscale, with 9 items in total. The Cronbach’s alpha coefficient ranged between. 623 and .717. A statistically significant gender difference was found only for the personal autonomy subscale and, more specifically, for the factor ‘managing difficulties’, where female respondents received a lower score than males.


1. Anderson, B. (2007). Independent Learning. In M.G. Moore (Ed), Handbook of Distance Education (pp.109-122). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Search in Google Scholar

2. Andrade, M. S., & Bunker, E. I. (2009). A model for self-regulated distance language learning. Distance Education, 30(1), 47-61.10.1080/01587910902845956 Search in Google Scholar

3. Angelaki, C., & Mavroidis, I. (2013). Communication and social presence: The impact on adult learner’s emotions in distance learning. European Journal of Open Distance and e-Learning, 16(1), 78-93. Search in Google Scholar

4. Bekker, M. H. J., & van Assen, M. A. L. M. (2006). A Short Form of the Autonomy Scale: Properties of the Autonomy – Connectedness Scale (ACS-30). Journal of personality assessment, 86(1), 51-60.10.1207/s15327752jpa8601_07 Search in Google Scholar

5. Biggs, M. J. G. (2006). Comparison of student perceptions of classroom instruction: Traditional, hybrid, and distance education. Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education – TOJDE, 7(2), 46-51. Search in Google Scholar

6. Brockett, R. G., & Hiemstra, R. (1991). Self-Direction in Adult Learning: Perspectives on Theory, Research and Practice. London and New York: Routledge. Search in Google Scholar

7. Candy, P. C. (1991). Self-Direction for Lifelong Learning: A Comprehensive Guide to Theory and Practice. San-Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Search in Google Scholar

8. Chene, A. (1983). The concept of autonomy in adult education: a philosophical discussion. Adult Education Quarterly, 34(1), 38-47.10.1177/0001848183034001004 Search in Google Scholar

9. Cronbach, L. J., & Meehl, P. E. (1955). Construct validity in psychological tests. Psychological Bulletin, 52, 281-302.10.1037/h0040957 Search in Google Scholar

10. Fanariti, M., & Spanaka, A. (2010). Metacognition and Learner Autonomy during the preparation of written assignments. Open Education – The journal for Open and Distance Education and Educational Technology, 6(1-2), 138-151. Search in Google Scholar

11. Fazey, D. M., & Fazey, J. A. (2001). The potential for autonomy in learning: perceptions of competence, motivation and locus of control in first-year undergraduate students. Studies in Higher Education, 26(3), 345-361.10.1080/03075070120076309 Search in Google Scholar

12. Field, L. (1989). An investigation into the structure, validity and reliability of Guglielmino’s Self-Directed Learning Readiness Scale. Adult Education Quarterly, 39(3), 125-139.10.1177/0001848189039003001 Search in Google Scholar

13. Fisher, M., King, J., & Tague, G. (2001). Self-directed Learning Readiness Scale. Nurse Education Today, 21, 516-525.10.1054/nedt.2001.0589 Search in Google Scholar

14. Fotiadou, A., Angelaki, C., & Mavroidis, I. (2017). Learner Autonomy as a Factor of the Learning Process in Distance Education. European Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning 20(1), 95-110. Retrieved from https://www.eurodl.org/materials/contrib/2017/Fotiadou%20_et_al.pdf10.1515/eurodl-2017-0006 Search in Google Scholar

15. Furnborough, C. (2012). Making the most of others: autonomous interdependence in adult beginner distance language learners. Distance Education, 33(1), 99-116.10.1080/01587919.2012.667962 Search in Google Scholar

16. Gall, M. Borg, W., & Gall, J. (2014). Educational research. Basic Principles. (Karteroliotis, K). Cyprus: Broken Hill. Search in Google Scholar

17. Garrison, D. R. (1997). Self-directed learning: Toward a comprehensive model. Adult Education Quarterly, 48(1), 15–31.10.1177/074171369704800103 Search in Google Scholar

18. Garrison, R. (2000). Theoretical challenges for distance education in the 21st century: A shift from structural to transactional issues. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 1(1), 1-17. Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/viewFile/2/2210.19173/irrodl.v1i1.2 Search in Google Scholar

19. Garrison, D. R. (2003). Self-directed learning and distance education. In M.G. Moore, & W.G. Anderson (Eds.), Handbook of distance education (pp.161-168). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Search in Google Scholar

20. Giagli, S., Giaglis, G., & Koutsouba, M. (2010). Learning Autonomy in Distance Education. Open Education – The Journal for Open and Distance Education and Educational Technology, 6(1-2), 92-105. Search in Google Scholar

21. Giossos, I., Koutsouba, M., & Mavroidis, I. (2016). Development of an Instrument for Measuring Learner – Teacher Transactional Distance. American Journal of Distance Education, 30(2), 98-108. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08923647.2016.115637410.1080/08923647.2016.1156374 Search in Google Scholar

22. Guglielmino, L. M. (1977). Development of the Self-directed Learning Readiness Scale. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Dissertation Abstracts International, 38, 64-67. University of Georgia. Search in Google Scholar

23. Güven, Z., & Sünbül, A. M. (2007). The Relation between the Learner’s Autonomy Level and Their Learning Styles. Search in Google Scholar

24. Hurd, S., Beaven, T., & Ortega, A. (2001). Developing autonomy in distance language learning context: Issues and dilemmas for course writers. System, 29(3), 341-355.10.1016/S0346-251X(01)00024-0 Search in Google Scholar

25. Kaiser, J. M. (1974). An index of factorial simplicity. Psychometrika, 39(1), 31-36. doi:10.1007/BF02291575.10.1007/BF02291575 Search in Google Scholar

26. Kassandrinou, Α., Angelaki, C., & Mavroidis, I. (2014). Transactional Distance among Open University Students: How does it affect the learning process? European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, 17(1), 26-42.10.2478/eurodl-2014-0002 Search in Google Scholar

27. Keegan, D. (1996). Foundation of distance education (3rd ed.). London: Routledge Search in Google Scholar

28. Lemone, K. (2005). Analyzing Cultural Influences on E-Learning transactional issues. Proceedings of the E-Learn: World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education, 2637-2644. Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Search in Google Scholar

29. Leonard, N. H., & Harvey, J. (2007). The trait of curiosity as a predictor of emotional intelligence. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 37, 1545-1561.10.1111/j.1559-1816.2007.00226.x Search in Google Scholar

30. Lionarakis, A. (2001): For which ‘Distance Education’ are we talking about? In A. Lionarakis (Ed.), Proceedings of the 1st International Conference for Open & Distance Education (Vol. A, pp.185-194). Athens: Propompos. Search in Google Scholar

31. Little, D. (1995). Learning as dialogue: The dependence of learner autonomy on teacher autonomy. System, 23(2), 175-181.10.1016/0346-251X(95)00006-6 Search in Google Scholar

32. Little, D. (2004). Learner autonomy, teacher autonomy and the European Language Portfolio. Paper presented at the UNTELE, Université de Compiègne, 17-20 March 2004. Retrieved from http://www.utc.fr/~untele/2004ppt/handouts/little.pdf Search in Google Scholar

33. Macaskill, A., & Denovan, A. (2011). Developing autonomous learning in first-year university students using perspectives from positive psychology. Studies in Higher Education, 39(1), 124-142. Retrieved from http://orcid.org/0000-0001-9972-8699 Search in Google Scholar

34. Macaskill, A., & Taylor, E. (2010). The development of a brief measure of learner autonomy in university students. Studies in Higher Education, 35(3), 351-359.10.1080/03075070903502703 Search in Google Scholar

35. Merriam, S. B., & Caffarella, R. S. (1999). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Search in Google Scholar

36. Moore, M. G. (1972). Learner autonomy: The second dimension of independent learning. Convergence, 5(2), 76–88. Search in Google Scholar

37. Moore, M. G. (1980). Independent study. In R. Boyd, & J. Apps, (Eds.), Redefining the discipline of Adult Education, 5 (pp.16-31). San Francisco: Josei-Bass. Search in Google Scholar

38. Moore, G. M. (1993). Theory of transactional distance. In D. Keegan (Ed.), Theoretical principles of distance education (pp.22-38). New York: Routledge. Search in Google Scholar

39. Moore, G. M. (2007). Theory of transactional distance. In M. G. Moore (Ed.), Handbook of distance Education (pp.89-103). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Search in Google Scholar

40. Oxford, R. L. (2008). Hero with a thousand faces: Learning autonomy, learning strategies and learning tactics in independent language learning. In S. Hurd, & T. Lewis (Eds.), Language learning strategies in independent settings (pp.41-63). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. Search in Google Scholar

41. Peters, O. (1998). Learning and teaching in distance education: Analyses and interpretations from an international perspective. London: Kogan Page. Search in Google Scholar

42. Peters, O. (2000). Learning and teaching in distance education. Pedagogical analysis and interpretations in an international perspective. London and New York: Routledge. Search in Google Scholar

43. Santos, R., & Camara, M. (2010). Autonomy in Distance Learning: Reflections over the learner’s role. Retrieved April 28, 2017, from http://www.abed.org.bt/congresso2010/cd/ing/252010174412.pdf Search in Google Scholar

44. Sawilowsky, S. S. (2000). Psychometrics versus datametrics: Comment on Vacha-Haase’s “reliability generalization” method and some EPM editorial policies. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 60(2), 157-173.10.1177/00131640021970439 Search in Google Scholar

45. Scott, G. W., Furnell, J., Murphy, C. M., & Goulder, R. (2014). Teacher and student perceptions of the development of learner autonomy: a case study in the biological sciences. Studies in Higher Education, 40(6), 945-956. doi: 10.1080./03075079.2013.84221610.1080/03075079.2013.842216 Search in Google Scholar

46. Sherril, C., & O’Connor, J. (1999). Guidelines for improving adapted physical activity research. Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly, 16(1), 1-8.10.1123/apaq.16.1.1 Search in Google Scholar

47. Straka, G. A., & Hinz, I. M. (1996). The original Self-Directed Learning Readiness Scale reconsidered. Conference proceedings 10th International Self-Directed Learning Symposium, 6-10 March, 18. Florida: West Palm Beach. Search in Google Scholar

48. Tassinari, M. G. (2012). Evaluating learner autonomy: A dynamic model with descriptors. Studies in Self-Access Learning Journal, 3(1), 24-40.10.37237/030103 Search in Google Scholar

49. Thanasoulas, D. (2000). What is learner autonomy and how can it be fostered? The internet ETESL Journal, 6(11), 1-11. Search in Google Scholar

50. Thomas, J., & Nelson, J. (1996). Research methods in Physical Activity. Champaign IL: Human Kinetics. Search in Google Scholar

51. Thompson, B. (2004). Exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis: Understanding concepts and applications. Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association. Search in Google Scholar

52. Walker, S. L., & Fraser, B. J. (2005). Development and Validation of an Instrument for Assessing Distance Education Learning Environments in Higher Education: The Distance Education Learning Environments Survey (DELES). Learning Environments Research, 8(3), 289-308. doi:10.1007/s10984-005-1568-310.1007/s10984-005-1568-3 Search in Google Scholar

53. Wedemeyer, C. (1977). Independent study. In A. S. Knowles (Ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Higher Education. Boston: Northeastern University. Search in Google Scholar

54. White, C. (1995). Autonomy and Strategy use in distance foreign language learning: research findings. System, 23(2), 207-221.10.1016/0346-251X(95)00009-9 Search in Google Scholar

55. Yun, J. K., & Ulrich, D. A. (2002). Estimating measurement validity: A tutorial. Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly, 19, 32-47.10.1123/apaq.19.1.32 Search in Google Scholar

56. Zimmerman, B. J. (2000). Self – Efficacy: An Essential Motive to Learn. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25, 82-91.10.1006/ceps.1999.1016 Search in Google Scholar

Recommended articles from Trend MD

Plan your remote conference with Sciendo