In the chapter intitled Theory and Research: Autonomy in Language Learning, Deborah Healey starts out by outlining a general definition of "autonomy", following-according to her sayings (p. 391)- the term "self-direction" used by Dickinson (1987). She then discusses more in detail some important factors which affect the degree of autonomy: issues regarding the learner, which include: "1. degree of self-motivation, 2. preference for an independent style, 3. knowledge of how one learns best, 4. knowledge of what one needs to learn" (pp. 394-395), and issues regarding the content, which include three conditions: "1. The path to the goal is relatively unambiguous. 2. What is to be learned can be explained clearly. 3. Appropriate resources exist for self-directed language learning." (p. 396). Healey then gears her discussion towards building autonomy in CALL environments and starts out from the five preconditions for motivation suggested by Good and Brophy (1987): "1. an appropriate level of challenge or difficulty 2. learning objectives that are meaningful to the learner 3. variation in the teaching methods used 4. intrinsic and extrinsic feedback about success 5. no barriers to learning" (p. 397-398).
I agree that the level of students' autonomy depends on so many factors like: the proficiency and age of students, their goal in learning the language or addressing different learning styles, and I think that even in cases where it seems like students should mainly depend on their teacher for any of such reasons, there still can be solutions for encouraging their autonomy through, more control over the pace, for instance, or giving more attention to their learning styles. I have to admit I had not thought of self-assessment as a way to built students' autonomy, which proves that the issue of autonomy is more complex than one might think at first. I liked this chapter also because it includes a nice review of other important topics we touched upon in our course, like differenciation or building students' motivation.