Journal of Formative Design in Learning

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 69–81 | Cite as

Everyone Designs: Learner Autonomy through Creative, Reflective, and Iterative Practice Mindsets

  • Danah HenriksenEmail author
  • William Cain
  • Punya Mishra


Developing learner autonomy—or the ability to take charge of one’s learning—is a crucial element of teaching and learning and of design work. In this article, we argue that developing learner autonomy in students requires instructors to adopt a two-fold approach through a mindset rooted in creativity and reflective practice. We discuss the theoretical grounding for this mindset, and then situate our discussion by examining an award-winning hybrid-blended course about design thinking in an educational psychology and educational technology doctoral program. The course outcomes qualitatively demonstrated the ways in which students developed a perception of learner autonomy through their work in creating and implementing context-specific educational technology design solutions. We present and discuss evidence from our own formative reflective practice as instructors, along with evidence from students’ reflections, on how themes of learner autonomy emerged via our proposed pedagogical mindset.


Education Teaching Learning Hybrid course designs Design thinking Creativity Reflective practice Educational technology Blended learning 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications & Technology 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mary Lou Fulton Teachers CollegeArizona State UniversityPhoenixUSA
  2. 2.Michigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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