This thesis explores current research on autonomy. Autonomy is defined in three categories: freedom to pose questions and encouraging student choice, trust in students to solve problems posed by those questions, and allowing student reflection on progress. Autonomy is one solution to promote intrinsic motivation in students. Autonomy supportive classrooms feature mainly language learning atmospheres in research. However, it is also pertinent to contemporary art education as it promotes an environment for student creativity. Student performance and the modes of measurement for this research project are based on common formative and summative assessment measures. Will autonomy in the classroom combat issues of poor performance? While there is significant research occurring in the field of language learning regarding student autonomy in the classroom, very little is found in the Basic Digital Photography area. This study employed an action research project in order to determine if student autonomy is an effective tool in the basic digital photography classroom. Data collected include survey results, student journals, homework completion rates, and test scores to compare the results of student performance from a teacher directed unit to a more autonomous one. A new plan of action for incorporating findings into another unit is proposed as the autonomous unit as it currently stands revealed that autonomy is not an effective tool in the manner it was utilized in this Basic Digital Photography classroom.



College and Department

Fine Arts and Communications; Visual Arts



Date Submitted


Document Type





digital photography, apathy, autonomy, curriculum instruction, action research, student choice

Included in

Art Practice Commons