EFL University Teachers’ Beliefs About Learner Autonomy and the Effect of Online Learning Experience

  •  Amal Alwasidi    
  •  Lubna Alnaeem    


Learner autonomy (LA) has always been viewed as an essential component of successful language learning. It is one of the factors that contributes to creating a learning community in which learners are capable of developing their knowledge and skills. Since it plays an essential role in language learning process, it can be reflected in both students’ and teachers’ beliefs as well as practices. Despite its importance, EFL teachers’ perceptions are insufficiently explored in the Saudi context. To address this gap, this study deals with teachers’ own reflection on how they perceive learner autonomy in Saudi universities and what they do to make their students autonomous learners. It also explores their views about the effect of the online teaching experience during COVID-19 pandemic on LA. To do this, a questionnaire designed by Borg and Al-Busaidi (2012) was used in addition to semi-structured interviews to explore in more detail the teachers’ perceptions of LA. The analysis of quantitative and qualitative data showed that teachers hold a variety of perceptions of LA and have highly positive attitudes towards enhancing it. They also believe that it is theoretically desirable to promote LA among EFL students; yet, it is partially attainable in the practical ground. Additionally, the experience of online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic and the shift from face-to-face setting have created more opportunities for more practices of LA. Teachers’ role cannot be disregarded since they create adequate opportunities for LA development. Although a number of obstacles that would hinder LA can be identified, some solutions can be of great appeal in encouraging LA in EFL contexts.

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