In many ways, ‘Independent learning’ is the crowning glory of education. It is regarded as the key to effective learning as students transform the way they take in and apply what they are taught. A lot of students may find this unnerving as they are used to relying on teacher help, and the transition can prove hard. Nevertheless, with the right guidance and nurturing, students will gain an understanding to take their learning into their own hands and advance on the path to success by becoming a diligent Independent Learner.
What exactly is ‘Independent Learning’?
Simply put, independent learning is when pupils set goals, monitor and evaluate their own academic development so that they can manage their own motivation towards learning.
In other words, an independent learner is the one who can take the responsibility for their own learning. These are students who can take initiative and make good decisions without requiring help from teachers. Developing independent learners is important in order to help students progress in their academic performance and stay continually motivated.
When students take recourse to independent learning, they often have more control over their time. They can decide when and where to spend their time and, with the right support, they will decide on their own to spend it efficiently. When one becomes an independent learner, they simultaneously gain an increased sense of responsibility and accountability for their own personal success and failure. This can be truly motivating as students may feel a strong sense of pride when they see positive progress in their academics.
Some Useful Tips for Students to Become Independent Learners
- Avail opportunities to self-monitor yourself
Self-monitoring depends on the twin processes of establishing goals and receiving feedback from others and from oneself. Students should avail the opportunities to self-monitor themselves by using their self and peer assessment to ascertain whether the strategies they were using were effective for achieving learning goals.
- Answer questions as scaffolding to independent learning
The aim here should be a gradual, step-by-step acceptance of responsibility from the teacher to the student. While the teacher must develop effective classroom discourse, asking higher order, open-ended questions, students must reciprocate by enthusiastic responses to lessons on how to promote thinking, problem-solving skills and deeper understanding.
- Ponder over the models of behaviour
While the teacher encourages the students to model their behavior – for example, by showing them how categorizing information can make it easier to remember – students must pay heed to them and strive to do the needful.
- Develop a communication that covers language focused on learning
This skill helps students to become more mindful of the steps involved in learning, to know their own individual learning style and helps them share their thinking.
- Take seriously the written and/or oral feedback on your classwork and homework
This can be a good way to improve one’s confidence in working independently.
- Encourage collaboration
Students must take advantage of the opportunities to complete quality, small group tasks that their teachers may give them and they should learn from each other and develop their own ideas, rather than always looking to their teachers for answers.
- Set your own learning goals
While your teachers may give several choices, students must reflect on their own interests and preferences and take ownership of their learning. This will make them feel empowered and in control of their own learning.
- Go for reflective thinking
Students must keep a ‘learning diary’ that can enable them to keep track of their learning and monitor their progress. Hopefully, their confidence will improve as they look back and become conscious of how far they have come throughout the college year.