The landscape of education has changed over the years. It has transitioned from children physically attending school, to an online learning environment that requires students to find their own motivation to learn autonomously.
This has many benefits for children, as it helps them to become more independent and driven adults.
In this article, we’ll discuss study motivation and student autonomy within a homeschooling environment.
What is Independent Study?
Independent study, also known as self-directed study or self-paced learning, is an educational approach that emphasises students’ autonomy and control over their learning process. In this method, students have the freedom to set their own learning objectives, create personalised study plans, and proceed through the material at their own pace.
A key characteristic of independent study is the autonomy it grants to students. They have the freedom to choose what to study, when to study, and how to study. This level of ownership allows students to become active participants in their learning journey, taking responsibility for their educational experiences.
This also allows each student to tailor the learning experience to their individual needs, interests, and learning styles. With the ability to focus on areas where they need more practice or exploration, students can achieve a deeper understanding of the subject matter.
The flexibility created by this manner of learning enables students to balance their studies with other commitments, extracurricular activities, doctor’s appointments, or other personal responsibilities.
However, with greater autonomy comes the need for self-motivation and discipline. Independent students must be self-driven to stay on track with their studies without constant supervision. This aspect of independent study helps foster a sense of accountability and encourages students to take their educational pursuits seriously.
This increased level of responsibility will benefit students later on in life. Preparing them for the amount of self-motivation and discipline that is required to succeed in business.
The Benefits of Independent Study in High School
The autonomy and flexibility experienced with independent study are clear benefits of this method of learning. However, due to the level of self-motivation required, there are a host of other advantages that are experienced by the students who successfully study independently.
- Increased engagement: self-motivated students are typically more engaged with their studies and learning material. They tend to actively seek out knowledge, participate in discussions, and eagerly explore topics that interest them. This heightened engagement will ultimately lead to a deeper understanding and retention of information.
- Improved resilience: independent learning can be challenging, as students face obstacles and setbacks along the way, which they have to try to solve on their own before asking for help from a teacher or tutor. This teaches these students the resilience to persevere through difficulties, maintaining their focus and determination to achieve their goals.
- Sense of ownership: for these students, taking control of their learning journey fosters a sense of ownership. They feel a stronger connection to their education, as they have chosen their path and are invested in the outcomes.
- Lifelong learning mindset: when self-motivation is achieved and harnessed, it instils a love for learning. This love extends past a student’s education and creates a learning mindset in all aspects of their lives, which they will carry through into adulthood. Therefore, these students become proactive seekers of knowledge, continuously exploring opportunities for growth.
- Higher achievement: the internal drive and curiosity cultivated in these students pushes them to put in the necessary effort and time required for in-depth learning and mastery of subjects. This, in turn, tends to result in students achieving higher levels of academic success.
- Greater self-discovery: as these students crave knowledge and more readily research topics of interest, they are more likely to discover and pursue their interests much earlier than other students. Therefore, by the time the topics of further study and careers come into the mix, they know who they are and what they want to pursue as a career.
How to Cultivate an Independent Learner
While the benefits of independent learning and self-motivation are clear, the question is; how do you cultivate this within a student? There are multiple methods that parents can utilise to encourage this behaviour within their children within the homeschooling environment.
Determine What Motivates Your Child
From a young age, each child should display preferences in a variety of ways. If watched carefully, parents will be able to determine what motivates a child. Some children are motivated by a desire for recognition, while others are driven by a sense of accomplishment.
Once their motivator has been recognised, it can be used to encourage them to push themselves and achieve their goals.
For example, if your child is motivated by recognition and praise, it’s important to highlight their successes and give them the recognition they crave.
Set Clear Goals and Objectives
Empowering students to become self-directed studentss starts with setting clear goals and objectives. In an online learning environment, parents can work with their children to define their learning objectives and map out a path to achieve them.
This process encourages students to take ownership of their learning outcomes and gives them a sense of direction, which is crucial for effective self-directed study. As they age, these children will start to set their own goals and objectives for success.
Build Time Management Skills
One of the most significant challenges in online learning is managing time effectively. It’s, therefore, important to empower students to take control of their schedules. This will require parents to teach them time management skills.
This can be done by encouraging children to create personalised study timetables. On these schedules, they should allocate time for various subjects or tasks, and set realistic deadlines for assignments. This will not only instil discipline but also help students develop a proactive approach to their studies.
We have created a study planner for this exact reason. This study planner can be downloaded for free here.
Encourage Self Assessment and Reflection
Self-assessment and reflection are essential components of self-directed study. In order to cultivate this in children, parents should try to create a culture of introspection.
This can be done by setting aside time for regular sessions where children assess their progress, identify strengths and weaknesses, and reflect on their learning experiences. This will enable them to take responsibility for their academic growth, allowing them to take accountability for their achievements.
Promote Collaborative Learning
While self-directed study emphasises individual responsibility, it doesn't mean students should study in isolation.
Collaborative learning opportunities can be fostered through online discussion forums, group projects, and peer-to-peer feedback sessions. One of the ways in which we at CambriLearn encourage collaborative learning is in our Q&A sessions. Here, children are urged to ask questions about topics and concepts with which they might be struggling. These concepts are then discussed among students and teachers.
These interactions not only enhance students’ understanding of the subject matter but also encourage them to actively engage with their learning community.
Develop Critical Thinking Skills
Empowerment in self-directed study goes hand in hand with developing problem-solving and critical thinking abilities. We suggest that parents encourage their children to tackle complex problems, analyse information critically, and propose creative solutions.
Engaging in these activities not only promotes autonomy but also equips students with valuable skills that are applicable in many aspects of life.
Provide Frequent and Constructive Feedback
It’s important to provide students with regular and constructive feedback as this will help them understand their progress, identify areas for improvement, and celebrate their achievements. A supportive feedback loop can inspire students to take initiative in their studies and motivate them to set higher standards for themselves.
Empowering student autonomy in online learning will not only help them find the motivation to study but it will also cultivate a love for learning that will urge them to strive for success after their formal educational journey has concluded. Success starts with the drive and dedication that is found within and is made possible by consistently motivating oneself to put in the necessary effort to rise to the challenges that are provided by life.