In the last years, educators and policymakers have put a great deal of emphasis on the need to develop an education for the twenty-first century—an education that prepares our students to meet the economic, technological, and societal needs of our knowledge-based economies. There is wide agreement that the main characteristic of life and work in the twenty-first century is its changing nature. Changes are happening so fast that it is hard to predict the exact jobs the students of today will have over their lifespan. This creates a need to equip students with the capabilities of independent and lifelong learning; in other words, to teach them how to learn. Despite the broad recognition of this important shift in education goals, we still know little about how to teach students how to learn, and especially what this shift means about the way teachers teach in their classrooms. The need to develop students’ capabilities for independent learning has become even more urgent today as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, which has seen unprecedented school closures and dramatic increases in independent online learning.
In this article the authors provide basic information to teachers about how to help students become independent learners. Its recommendations are based on the conceptual framework known as “self-regulated learning”, or SRL. Self-regulated learners have flexible knowledge and skills that enable them to manage their cognition, motivation, and emotions in the pursuit of their learning goals. They can work independently to construct complex knowledge and know how to monitor their comprehension and to persist with difficult problems. Although students can acquire many of the capabilities of a self-regulated learner on their own from their experiences in everyday learning situations, many students do not develop these capabilities adequately. On the contrary, the strategies they use to manage their learning are ineffective and inefficient and result in learning failures.
One of the main reasons why students drop out of studies or fail at universities or colleges after first year or middle of studies is because of their unpreparedness to cope with the demand for independent and self-relance.
The capabilities of a self-regulated Learner.
Self-regulated learners have flexible knowledge and skills that enable them to manage their cognition, motivation, and emotions in the pursuit of their learning goals. They can work independently to construct complex knowledge and know how to monitor their comprehension and to persist with difficult problems. Although students can acquire many of the capabilities of a self-regulated learner on their own from their experiences in everyday learning situations, many students do not develop these capabilities adequately. On the contrary, the strategies they use to manage their learning are ineffective and inefficient and result in learning failures
“For students to cope with the continually changing knowledge and skills required by today’s knowledge-based economies, schools need to pay more attention to the education of independent and self-directed learners.”
Self-regulated learners know how to organise their environment in ways that help them learn. For example, they know that it is important to find a quiet place to study and to minimise other distractions, to make efficient use of their time, to have their books and notes organised, and to know how to access digital and other resources. They know when they need to seek help from their teachers, peers, or other adults and how to do so. They also have strategies that allow them to collaborate with others effectively.
Self-regulated learners have the knowledge about cognition and the cognitive strategies required to help them manage their cognition during learning. They can control their attention and focus on the task at hand; they know how to break a difficult task into smaller parts to make it more manageable. They know how to activate their prior knowledge and use it to learn new information. They have access to strategies that help them practise, elaborate, and organise new information and retrieve it from their memory. They can summarise the main points in the texts they are reading, they can understand interrelationships amongst concepts, they can draw inferences beyond what is explicitly stated, and they can transfer what they learn at school to relevant contexts outside of school.
Metacognition refers to learners’ ability to reflect on what they know and on how they learn. Being aware of the self as a learner is also an important aspect of metacognition, necessary for students who would like to be able to control their cognition and motivation to improve their learning. Self-regulated learners know how to make effective plans for their learning and how to monitor their comprehension effectively—they know when they do not understand, and they have strategies that allow them to go back and repair their comprehension failures. They know how to evaluate their learning accurately and effectively.
Motivational capabilities. Self-regulated learners have confidence in themselves as learners—they believe that they are capable of learning difficult material. They are intrinsically motivated to learn and have the perseverance needed to overcome failure and pursue long-term goals. They know how to motivate themselves to cope with challenging tasks and how to productively interpret both their successes and their failures in those tasks. They are aware of their academic weaknesses and have adaptive strategies in place to help them improve their learning and performance. For example, they tend to attribute their poor performance to lack of effort or lack of appropriate strategies rather than to lack of ability or to external factors beyond their control.
Self-regulated learners are aware of their emotions and can control them. They feel proud when they achieve their learning goals, and they derive other positive feelings from learning as well. They are aware of their anxiety during exams and have strategies to manage it.
Source : Taken from “Educational Practice Series 33 Teaching students how to learn: Setting the stage for life long learning”” by Stella Vosniadou, Michael J. Lawson,Helen Stephenson, and Erin Bodner of the International Academy of Education (IAE) and The International Bureau of Education (IBE)
The full text and other titles in series can be downloaded from the websites of the IEA: http://www.iaoed.org; and UNESCO IBE: http://www.ibe.unesco.org/publications.htm. They are also available on UNESDOC, UNESCO’s Digital Library website: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/. Paper copies can be requested from UNESCO IBE: email@example.com.