Independent learning

It is important to empower learners to be self-sufficient. It is essential that learners are able to take stock of what they already know, what they need to work on, and how best to approach learning new material. 

Independent learning does not necessarily mean working alone, it is about the student working out what works best for them and acting on that knowledge. Working with someone else, encouraging each other and talking through difficulties may be the most effective way of working independently.1

Benefits of independent learning:2

  • Improved academic performance
  • Increased motivation and confidence
  • Greater student awareness of their limitations and their ability to manage them.

Including independent learning in your course:

  • Peer marking/learning/feedback. Teach learners how to give and receive constructive feedback
  • Teach self-reflection right from the start of the course. Encourage learners to critically evaluate their progress, reflecting on their strengths, weaknesses and areas for improvement
  • Include team-based activities and critical review of other learners' work
  • Use ‘patchwork assessment processes’ that include group collaboration
  • Include ‘real people’ and encourage learners to ask for honest feedback from these ‘patients’
  • Outline the expected outcomes of independent learning - through understanding why they are learning something learners may be more motivated and engaged
  • When students ask questions, encourage them to think independently first. This fosters critical thinking and problem-solving skills.3
Instead of an 'imparter of knowledge' the teacher becomes a 'facilitator of learning'.