Fostering Independent Learning


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Many colleges aim to develop students into lifelong learners. This presentation focuses on techniques which foster learning independence. Objectives covered include: learning objectives conducive to independent learning, verbal and non-verbal strategies for building rapport (using rapport to raise student expectations), communication strategies for raising learning independence, building learning confidence, and tutoring strategies for developing learning independence.

This presentation also covers assessments for tracking progression towards learning independence. Rubrics provided include specific behaviors that correlate to varying levels of learning independence, including behaviors that indicate high levels of learning independence – signs a student is prepared to become a lifelong learner.

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  • The key habit of a level one learner is that the student has very little confidence and / or few problem-solving skills. When a level one student encounters something they do not understand, they stop. They simply do not finish the problem or assignment.
  • A major distinction between level one and level two is the ability to complete an assignment without stopping when encountering a problem. They may not problem-solve well, but they attempt to problem-solve and continue to completion to the best of their ability.
  • Level three is really where students start to see academic success. A key distinction of a level three learner is that these students can – with some accuracy - identify which portions of an assignment they need help on, and which they are confident they did correctly.
  • A trademark of the level four learner is that these students rely heavily on one or two specific problem-solving strategies. This allows them to meet current academic needs, but may not entirely prepare this student for increased challenges in the future (which require additional problem-solving strategies)
  • The key distinguishing characteristic of level five learners is that they have had success implementing a range of problem-solving strategies, and have learned how to effectively select the appropriate strategy in given situations.
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  • Fostering Independent Learning

    1. 1. FOSTERINGINDEPENDENT LEARNING Pearson Learning Summit Jon Mladic Rasmussen College
    2. 2. OVERVIEW The concept of independent learning Why does independent learning matter? Observable differences Levels of learning independence Measuring learning independence Strategies for increasing learning independence Independent learning in the classroom Q&A References
    3. 3. THE CONCEPT OF INDEPENDENT LEARNING Programmatic Knowledge General Education Independent, Developmental Lifelong Learner Education Honing Learning Strategies Dependent Learner
    4. 4. Sample Student Pattern 1 Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 TutoringAppointments 5 5 4 3 1 0 0 0 0 1 Successful Student Similar Pattern (reliant learner) Unsuccessful Student Sample Student Pattern 2 Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 TutoringAppointments 5 5 5 4 4 4 4 5 5 6
    5. 5. Dependent Student AnxiousIntimidated Hesitant Independent Indecisive LearnerMay waver ConfidentSelf-doubting IntellectuallyFeeling “lost” curious Timid Problem- solver Engaged Positive Flexible
    6. 6. STAGES OF LEARNING INDEPENDENCE Level One Students observe and mimic problem-solving techniques Level Two Students have a basic understanding of independent learning habits Level Three Students function well independently on material they understand Level FourStudents utilize a small number of problem-solving strategies effectively Level Five Students select the best of a multitude of problem-solving strategies
    7. 7. 1. After seeing the completion of a similar sample problem, the student completes part of a problem (supervised).2. Faculty / tutor starts a problem and students attempts to finish it.3. This process ends with students completing at least one sample problem by themselves Beginning Student Ending Student • Is almost completely reliant on • Can complete at least part of the instructor or tutoring to every assignment complete assignments independently • Requires confirmation on each • Understands the role of faculty step before advancing appropriately as “guidance” • May appear to lack self- and has fair expectations motivation • Has some understanding of • Does not complete or continue whether s/he is “on the right assignments past a point of track” with an assignment or confusion or uncertainty problem
    8. 8. 1. After confirming the student understands the assignment correctly, the student begins working independently2. Faculty / Tutor (repeatedly) checks in at regular intervals (ie. after ten minutes or five problems) to answer questions about specific problems or skills Beginning Student Ending Student • Can complete at least part of • Can complete most of an every assignment assignment independently independently (more than a problem or two) • Understands the role of faculty before seeking assistance appropriately as “guidance” and has fair expectations • Can check some work and • Has some understanding of identify weaknesses in skills whether s/he is “on the right (understands which problems track” with an assignment or are right, which to ask about) problem
    9. 9. 1. Student attempts to complete the full assignment independently, using problem-solving techniques to solve problems that arise.2. Once the assignment is completed, Faculty / Tutor addresses problem portions of the completed assignment3. Student independently makes necessary (suggested) corrections • Can complete most of an assignment independently Beginning • Can check some work and identify weaknesses (understands which problems are correct, which to ask Student about) • Is starting to develop problem-solving skills • Seeks confirmation and positive reinforcement more Ending than academic assistance Student • Starting to display signs of independence (ie. initiative)
    10. 10. Strategies for Fostering Independent Learning Stage Four Independent Learners Increasing Problem-Solving Strategies1. Student completes assignment independently2. Assignment is reviewed (in student-requested areas) by Faculty / Tutor3. Faculty / Tutor asks for alternative ways to approach specific problems (already solved correctly) • Understands expectations of assignments and coursework • Problem-solves (primarily relying on one or two problem-Beginning solving techniques) when encountering difficulties Student • Appropriately communicates with resources • Is starting to develop problem-solving skills • Seeks confirmation and positive reinforcement more than Ending assistance Student • Starting to display signs of independence – initiative, etc.
    11. 11. Strategies for Fostering Independent Learning Stage Five Independent Learners Challenging Independent Learners1. Student completes an assignment independently, using a variety of problem-solving techniques when applicable2. Student identifies areas of weakness (issues they had in completing the assignment) and attempts different problem-solving strategies in order to determine if another technique would help3. Student shares strategies, techniques, and experience with others • Is starting to develop problem-solving skillsBeginning • Seeks confirmation and positive reinforcement more than Student assistance • Starting to display signs of independence (ie. initiative) • Understands how he or she learns well Ending • Has experience using a multitude of problem-solving Student techniques • Able to effectively select the appropriate approach
    12. 12. INDEPENDENT LEARNING HABITS Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5• Student completes two • Student is able to • Student is able to •Student is comfortable •Student is comfortableor fewer problems before complete two or more complete most (70%) of completing an entire and confident inseeking assistance problems (or part of an an assignment assignment completing all coursework•Student seeks assistance assignment) on his/her independently before independently, as long independentlyon all or most (100%-75%) own before seeking seeking assistance as assistance is • Student completes allassignments in a course assistance • Student seeks assistance available as needed assignments• Student immediately • Student seeks assistance on half or fewer (50%- • Student completes independently, at times seeks assistance when on most (50-75%) 25%) of the assignments most assignments working with others to encountering a difficulty assignments in a course in a course independently, seeking lead efforts to build• Student struggles with • When encountering • When encountering assistance for only 1%- collaborative learningmost concepts and difficulties, the student difficulties, the student 25% of coursework experiencesassignments in subject attempts at least one attempts at least two • Student may struggle • When struggling with aarea problem-solving problem-solving to select the appropriate problem or assignment,• Student works on most technique before seeking techniques before problem-solving student effectively selectsor all assignments in the assistance requiring assistance technique, but has one or more problem-presence of a tutor or • Student has a basic • Student has an average multiple to select from solving techniques. Thesefaculty member understanding of the main understanding of the when struggling lead to problem• Student has few concepts in the subject course content material • Student has a good resolutionsuccessful learning habits area • Student has some understanding of • Student has an excellentand struggles to • Student sometimes understanding of him/herself as a learner understanding of howunderstand connection struggles to understand him/herself as a learner and the habits which s/he learns and improvesbetween current habits him/herself as a learner and caused for previously have led to earned as a student over timeand academic and reasons for earning a earned grades on grades on assignmentsperformance specific grade on an assignments assignment 12
    13. 13. LEARNING OBJECTIVES THATLEAD TO INDEPENDENT LEARNING Concept-Based (addresses a long-term need) Skill-Specific (addresses a course need) Assignment-Specific (addresses an immediate [homework] need)
    14. 14. INDEPENDENT LEARNING – RESULTS INCREASES IN LEVELS OF INDEPENDENT LEARNING October Tutoring Appointments – 3.47 average scoreLevel 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5 8.3% 13.8% 53.13% 30.55% 23.61% November Tutoring Appointments – 3.89 average scoreLevel 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 52.08% 8.3% 20.83% 35.42% 33.33% December Tutoring Appointments – 3.93 average scoreLevel 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 57.10% 7.10% 14.29% 28.57% 42.86%
    15. 15. LEARNING OBJECTIVES THAT FOSTER INDEPENDENT LEARNING Avoid(Assignment- Specific) The student was unclear about a few problems on their Algebra homework … The student did not understand how to do her accounting assignment … The student was confused about a few problems in their assignment … The student wanted me to review their paper …
    16. 16. LEARNING OBJECTIVES THAT FOSTER INDEPENDENT LEARNING Best Practice (Long-Term Benefit) On The Right Track • Solve polynomial expressions (Skill-Oriented) • Create a business card using a template• To have a better • Student wanted to learn what understanding of how to Digital Design programs form a thesis and outline. would be best for each step• To get a better grasp on of a project they are working solving algebraic on. equations and • To solve algebraic equations expressions. with fractions using the• Apply the Pythagorean distributive method theorem to a problem the successfully solve inequalities. student was solving • Be able to solve fractions efficiently in a mathematical expression.
    17. 17. LEARNING OBJECTIVES ASSESSMENTS THAT EMPHASIZE LEARNING INDEPENDENCE After a brief introduction and a At first, she needed assistance few tips along the way, the understanding … But after the student was able to use thefirst assignment, she was able to Equation Editor in Word with do it on her own minimal assistanceAfter my examples, student was Went over the accounting able to do her assignment and equation and gave mnemonic journalize adjusting entries as devices to remember certain well as explain the entries. Student was then difference between an able to explain the devices adjustment and a correction back to me
    18. 18. LEARNING OBJECTIVES ASSESSMENTS THAT EMPHASIZE LEARNING INDEPENDENCE We located examples in Student was able to their book… She even correctly apply both explained how they methods to examples came to the solution to given to her me… The student was able to explain in her own words about the court case …After I showed him once, he The student was able was able to find the same to explain to me the area to select it to use itlater in the assignment process …
    19. 19. CLASSROOM APPLICABILITY Skill – Focused Learning Objectives Conclude Write (a) ComposeUnderstand Write an with a final unified, supporting the basic effective point or coherent, details for parts of a topic transition to and well- the mainparagraph sentence another developed idea main idea paragraph(s) Work with support to brainstorm Through Through supporting Independently support support, be Observe or details. compose a (review first able to identify areas Independently complete draft), independentlyof strength in a compose paragraph Effectively edit composepiece of writing supporting (of five and revise own coherent sentences for sentences) and peer sentences paragraph writing Process – Focused Learning Objectives
    20. 20. Q&A Jon
    21. 21. REFERENCESBroad, J. (2006). Interpretations of independent learning in further education. Journal Of Further & Higher Education, 30(2), 119-143. doi:10.1080/03098770600617521Lewis, J. (2004). The Independent Learning Contract System: Motivating Students Enrolled in College Reading Courses. Reading Improvement, 41(3), 188-194.Margolis, H. (2005). Increasing struggling learners’ self‐efficacy: what tutors can do and say. Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership In Learning, 13(2), 221-238. doi:10.1080/13611260500105675Nelson, J., & Johnson, A. (1996). Effects of direct instruction, cooperative learning, and independent learning practices on the.. Journal Of Emotional & Behavioral Disorders, 4(1), 53.Nortcliffe, A. (2005). Student-driven module: promoting independent learning. International Journal Of Electrical Engineering Education, 42(3), 247-512.Pokorny, M., & Pokorny, H. (2005). Widening participation in higher education: student quantitative skills and independent learning as impediments to progression. International Journal Of Mathematical Education In Science & Technology, 36(5), 445-467. doi:10.1080/00207390500062621Shyh Chiuan Chia, C. (2005). Promoting independent learning through language learning and the use of IT. Educational Media International, 42(4), 317-332. doi:10.1080/09523980500237732Strickland, D. S., Morrow, L., Girling-Butcher, W., Phillips, G., & Clay, M. (1991). Fostering independent learning. Reading Teacher, 44(9), 694.Wagener, D. (2006). Promoting independent learning skills using video on digital language laboratories. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 19(4/5), 279-286. doi:10.1080/09588220601043180