Learning Log 15

Independent learning: some ideas from the literature
Independent study is a process, a method and a philosophy of education whereby a learner acquires knowledge by his or her own efforts and develops the ability for enquiry and critical evaluation
Terms:

Independent learning
Self-directed learning
Autonomous learning
A goal and a process
Independent learning can be both a goal and a process: a method of learning and a characteristic of learners (present in varying degrees)
Educators can adapt strategies to different levels of independence or self-directedness
Includes freedom of choice in determining objectives within the limits of a given project
Gains for the learner
Ability to respond to change
Transferrable skills
Allows for different learning styles - learner can use own judgment about how best to learn
Self-direction is motivating and leads to higher order thinking
The excitement and pleasure of independent learning will carry over to the subject itself
Mirrors ‘natural’ learning in the rest of life
Losses for the learner
The educational system might not be designed for independent learning
Carl Rogers said that only 1/3 or 1/4 of students are self-directing; the rest do just what they are supposed to do
Too little (as well as too much) direction can cause frustrations for the learner
Students can lack the necessary knowledge in the subject matter to make a beginning
Students might have very specific expectations about the degree of direction that should be provided by the teacher
Challenge for the educator
It is a challenge to provide the correct amount of guidance without providing too much direction. Direction is needed to help learners identify areas of difficulty but too much direction detracts from their sense of ownership of the learning project.
Success at university is associated with:

Personal confidence and feelings of competence as a learner
Hopeful, realistic view of future occupational and social roles
Emotional stability
Tendency to introversion
Relative independence from teachers
Tacit acceptance of extra-curricular work demands
Failure can be associated with:
Learning anxiety
Overdependence on teachers and significant others

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