HOW TO DEVELOP INDEPENDENT LEARNING SKILLS
When students are taught to be in control of their own learning, they carry that with them through high school and beyond. Independence is one of the best skills a student can master. This article will discuss ways to develop independent learning skills.
As a society, we encourage independence, so it is important to prepare students for the demands of the world. While traditional teaching methods may be best for showing that children are making progress, teachers can teach children to be independent learners without seeing the progress slip away.
But in order to achieve this, students and teachers must change their way of thinking.
HOW TO ENCOURAGE STUDENTS TO BECOME INDEPENDENT LEARNERS
- Provide students with time to self-monitor. Students can be encouraged to self-monitor by teaching them skills that will help them reach their academic goals, and by teaching them to use self and peer assessment.
- Use questions to help steer students toward independent learning. The transfer of academic responsibility from teacher to student does not have to happen overnight. It can be achieved by asking open-ended questions, developing classroom discourse, asking for a higher order, by answering students’ questions in ways that encourage them to think, solve problems on their own, and develop a deeper understanding of the material being studied.
- Be a model for your students. Encourage your students to act like you. Be something they can emulate and learn from.
- Develop communication that focuses on learning. Talk to your students about the different ways of learning. Help them find their own way of learning. After all, everyone learns differently.
- Provide feedback on classwork and homework. This feedback can be oral or written down on paper. Rather than grading based on how many answers on correct, consider grading on the effort the student put into the assignment.
- Encourage collaboration. Students should be given time to work in small groups. Encourage them to learn from their peers, as this can benefit their independent learning as well. Working with others also helps them be able to use problem-solving steps in order to get the answers, rather than relying on the teacher for answers.
- Give your students options and allow them to set their own goals. Allow students a chance to reflect on what they have learned and what they would like to learn. This will give your students a sense of empowerment and responsibility that will help them work toward becoming an independent learner.
- Involve pupils in lesson planning. Asking students for feedback on the lesson allows them to feel as though they have a say in what they are being taught. This will encourage them to become more involved in their learning. Recording a class period can be beneficial as this can allow you to physically see where you need improvement.
- Encourage students to be reflective. One way to encourage your students to keep track of what they have learned is to have them keep a ‘learning diary’ that they write in each day. At the end of the year, the students will be able to look back and see how far they came.
HOW TO CHANGE THE LEARNING MINDSET
Learning from failure:
Far too many students are afraid to try new things because they fear they will fail. In order to help children become strong independent learners, we must teach them to see failure as an opportunity to learn. Students will never learn if they are too afraid to try.
Show your students that failure is not inherently bad. Show them real-life examples to help encourage them to try their best. If possible, use your own experiences to explain to the kids about failure.
Hard work and persistence can help a child to excel, therefore it is crucial to praise a student who is striving to be better. Not only does this help the child become a better independent learner, it gives the student a sense of pride as well.
Furthermore, children who have been praised for their hard work tend to be less likely to quit when things get more challenging.
Minimise teacher talk:
There will always be time for traditional teaching in the classroom. However, these times when the teacher has to stand in front of the class to teach should be kept to a minimum. Instead, make more time for group activities or individual activities, as this will encourage the students to be more independent.
What it means to be independent:
Talk to your students about what they believe independence means. You may have your own definition, but your students will all most likely have their own definitions for independence. During the discussion, be sure to point out behaviours in the classroom that demonstrate independence.
Reflecting on independence:
Self-reflection is an important tool for anyone. At the end of a lesson, have students write down about how independent they felt they were during the lesson. Have your students do this often, then have them store their reflections in a folder so they can see how far they have come. If you would like a more structured approach, give your students a set of categories and have them rate themselves.
If you are looking for ways to develop independent learning skills, following the tips and advice on this page should help. It can be difficult to adapt to new learning behaviours but both students and teachers will benefit from developing as independent learners.