11 Jul 2018

INDEPENDENT LEARNING: STRATEGIES FOR HELPING STUDENTS BECOME SELF-MOTIVATED AND TAKE CHARGE OF THEIR LEARNING

In the quickly evolving workplace and at a time when graduates are competing for jobs and careers with others around the world, the capacity to change rapidly and apply new skills is paramount. Motivation to learn is the key to success in school, after graduation in the global job market, and for life in a world of constant changes in technology.

What Is Independent Learning?

‘Independent Learning’ is often linked with other approaches to learning such as ‘personalisation’, ‘student-centred learning’ and ‘ownership’ of learning. Discussion of independent learning frequently arises in the context of important issues such as student-teacher roles and relationships, and the role of information and communications technology (ICT) in learning. Learning was the shift of responsibility for the learning process from the teacher to the student. This involved students acquiring an understanding of their learning, being motivated to learn and collaborating with teachers to structure their learning environment. Successful independent learning part of the role of the teacher shifted from an expert transmitting knowledge to that of a ‘coach’ helping students to acquire the strategies necessary for learning. It suggested a key activity was teachers helping children to create their own representations of learning goals.

A number of studies suggested that ICT played a helpful role in independent learning because offered opportunities for the easy assessment and measurement of self-directed learning;
increased the speed of access to information provided a medium for interaction between learners and between learners and their
teachers.

Teach students how to best structure their independent learning time. Our brains did not evolve to do several hours of physics without a break. We encourage students to plan a shift in focus after every 20 minutes of independent study. At least every hour or so, they should get up and move. When learning new material, they should utilize different locations.
Teachers should encourage students to become self-disciplined learners. Support them in making a commitment to themselves to get started on achieving their goals. Assist them in affirming their commitment to organizing themselves, manage their focus over time, and limit time-wasting distractions. Help students learn to consistently define themselves as people who commit to and achieve their goals. It will probably be necessary to remind them time and again that along the learning pathway, successful people forgive themselves when they make mistakes and then continue on.

Independent learning begins by teaching students how to find the answers to questions for themselves. “Priority No. 1 is getting the right information at the right time,” November says. “If you don’t have the right information, it doesn’t matter that you’re doing critical thinking, because you’re thinking about the wrong things.”

Becoming an independent learner also requires understanding how to work with and learn from each other. Students should understand that learning isn’t restricted to books and the internet; it could be through communication; with peers and other experts in the field. Students should learn how to collaborate with others and cultivate a personal learning network of peers and experts whom they can turn to for advice and support.

Having students participate in a peer review can be an extremely rewarding endeavor. It is important for tutors or teachers to use the power of relationship i.e. their relationship with their students to show a passion for learning. When you embody a passion for learning as a teacher, students are more likely to have a powerful, positive emotional connection to learning that will inspire their motivation to continue to learn. Because they read the body language of the teacher, and body language and the attitude of a tutor constitute to the successful learning process of a student. With teachers who release their passion for learning, students across all grades are free to learn new ways of learning with motivation and joy. Over time, expect self-motivation rather than compliance.

Likewise, teachers should guide students to imagine how they will feel when they learn something new. Encourage volunteers to describe their feelings after they learned something. When appropriate, ask students to visualize what a finished project will look like.

Encourage students to tell a friend their learning goal and get their support. This allows students to verbalize their goal, which will help them internalize it. Students of all ages are inherently social, and getting support from a peer can be highly motivating.

 

 

Article by: Busayo Tomoh

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