With online learning, independent learners bloom.
However, it's a fact that not all students (or people for that matter) are independent learners. Some students naturally become independent learners based on life circumstances and learning style. They just take the bull by the horns. It's also true dependency on instruction is tied closely to student age and maturity. The older the student, the more independent they tend to be.
The good news is students who depend on teachers for instruction can begin growing independent learning traits no matter their age. Encouraged growth of these characteristics can foster self-reliance and responsibility, both now in school and later in a career. As a parent of an online student, your role is to assist your student and oversee progress, along with developing these important independent learning traits.
Characteristics of independent learners include
- Curiosity – Independent learners want to find out more about the world. They seek out ways to explore. They learn from various angles and formats, not just traditional instruction. They are proactive and find ways to access additional lesson supplements on their own.
- Self-motivation – Forget bribery. Intrinsic motivation far surpasses any prize or reward system. Independent learners are motivated by setting internal goals to achieve. They are driven by their own personal achievement.
- Self-examination – Where have you been and where are you going? Independent learners know how to evaluate themselves. They can see their strengths and weaknesses. They strive for measurable progress and often chart their accomplishments and failures.
- Accountability – Responsibility means knowing what you have to do and doing it without anyone telling you to. The sooner a student becomes responsible for consequences, the less dependent he will be outside sources for discipline or motivation.
- Critical thinking – Independent learners think critically of a situation. They examine all possibilities and often come up with multiple solutions. They don't just memorize. Rather they ask "why?" and formulate answers based on real-world observation and intelligent deduction.
- Comprehension with little or no instruction – Independent learners have an uncanny ability to read, visualize, or kinesthetically instruct themselves. No matter the topic or subject studied, an independent learner will find ways to understand material through application (generally trial-and-error).
- Persistence – Independent learners don't give up. They strive to understand a concept as much as possible on their own before asking for help. They also apply self-discipline in not finding the easy answer to a problem. They teach themselves and generally only ask question after failure to find a solution on their own.
Independent or autonomous learners take full responsibility for their own learning. In an online learning environment where teachers can be at a distance and parent support can be limited, the skill of independent learning is highly helpful. You can help your student become more independent by encouraging the above characteristics.
Students with high self-esteem and at a comfortable level with academic performance are more likely become independent learners. Those who struggle with esteem issues or have chronic poor academic performance are less likely to convert to independent learning. It all starts inside the mind of your student with a positive attitude and true self belief.
How do you encourage your student to be an independent learner?