Self-reliance & Autonomy

Developing the ability to think, feel, and make decisions on one's own and to guide one's own learning through a variety of learning strategies that put students in the center of their learning and their lives.
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About this Micro-credential

Key Method

Learning strategies such as personal autonomy charts, values journals, student-designed projects focused on a strong personal interest or passion, entrepreneurship programs, solo outdoor experiences, and mindfulness practices help students be more intentional about developing their self-reliance and autonomy.

Method Components

As students undertake an activity, the educator leads through them through a series of learning strategies that can help them consciously work toward increasing their autonomy as their ability to manage more independence increases and their capacity for self-reliance grows. This can be done individually, in small groups, or in whole-group instruction.

Examples of autonomy-developing strategies

  • Personal autonomy charts: Students create a chart with three columns - High, Medium, and Low Autonomy and rows with categories of everyday life activities such as waking up, eating meals, choosing clothes, transportation, schoolwork, after-school activities, entertainment choices, technology choices, and so on. Students fill in examples of everyday activities in each category under the autonomy column that best represents their level then discuss their thoughts and reflections on their current levels of autonomy, where they’d like to see changes, and what it would take to make these changes happen.
  • Personal values journals: Students create a list of the values that are most important to them with at least one example of how each value has affected something they’ve done in the past; they then rank their values list in order of importance. Have students revisit this list every few months and make changes that reflect their current set of values and their priority rankings.
  • Personal interest project: Students design and develop a project based on a strong interest or passion, which can include a mentor that has expertise in the area of interest; at the conclusion of the project, students present the results of the project, the process they went through, and their key lessons learned from the project.
  • Entrepreneurship programs: Students learn how to be entrepreneurial and develop an idea into a detailed business plan and strategy through an entrepreneurship development program.
  • Personal outdoor experiences: Being more self-reliant in a natural outdoor setting, such as camping and hiking experiences where students set up shelters for themselves, cook for themselves, experience a solo nature hike, and complete other activities, can be a valuable experience that builds a sense of independence and self-reliance.
  • Personal mindfulness practices: Having a regular time to quietly tune into one’s thoughts and feelings, fully relax, and be more aware of oneself can provide a more solid foundation for developing self-reliance and autonomy (see the Mindfulness micro-credential).

Suggested preparation

  • Students identify the parts of their lives where they have more independence and autonomy and areas where they are more dependent on, or more directed by, others, and decide whether they are satisfied with these levels of autonomy and self-reliance; students share and discuss their observations with other students.

Suggested review

  • Students reflect on and discuss lessons learned from the self-reliance strategies they experienced and how their views of autonomy have changed from those experiences.

Research & Resources

Supporting Research

Self-reliance and autonomy in students is a dynamic developmental process that can be enhanced by increased awareness and experiencing of supportive strategies that help develop students' mindsets about the levels of autonomy they are capable of and comfortable having.


Submission Requirements

Submission Guidelines & Evaluation Criteria

Following are the items you must submit to earn the micro-credential and the criteria by which they will be evaluated. To earn this micro-credential, you must receive a passing evaluation for Parts 1, 3, and 4 and a “Yes” for Part 2.

Part 1. Overview questions

(200-word limit for each response)

  • Activity Description: What kind of project activities did you and your students engage in to become more proficient in applying self-reliance and autonomy development strategies to improve learning? Please describe the learning activities and strategies you used.
  • Activity Evaluation: How do you know your students increased their proficiency by engaging in the self-reliance and autonomy activities and what evidence did you collect that demonstrates these learning gains?

Part 2. Evidence/artifacts

Please submit work examples from two students (such as links to writing, audio, images, video, or other media) that demonstrate progress toward the self-reliance and autonomy competency, including such items as evidence of student discussions on their levels of autonomy, examples and demonstrations of the autonomy-building strategies students engaged in, evidence of increases in students’ levels of self-reliance and autonomy, discussions of lessons learned from the strategies, and other relevant items.

Part 3. Student reflection

For the two students whose work examples were included above, submit student-created reflections on their experience of the self-reliance and autonomy activities. Use the following questions as a guide (200-word limit for each reflection):

  • How did the activities help you become more independent and self-reliant?
  • How did the self-reliance strategies change your views of the amount of autonomy that is best for you and the benefits of being a more self-directed learner?

Part 4. Teacher reflection

Provide a reflection on what you learned, using the following questions as a guide (200-word limit for each response):

  • What was the impact of engaging your students in the self-reliance and autonomy activity?
  • How will experiencing these project activities shape your daily teaching practice in the future?

Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under:
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


Download to access the requirements and scoring guide for this micro-credential.
Requirements for Self-reliance & Autonomy
How to prepare for and earn this micro-credential - in a downloadable PDF document

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