Teacher Corner | How to Cultivate Independent Learning

by Ellen N. Iglesia
Teacher I
Cabusao Central School

The implementation of remote learning opened our minds to the importance of cultivating independent learning skills in students.

Away from the traditional face-to-face classroom setup, where the teacher can directly monitor and assess the learning progress, students were left more or less on their own to accomplish academic tasks.

In a rapidly-evolving world, education goals should also be in constant change. 

Even though they have a parent, guardian, sibling, or tutor with them, learners mostly need to rely on themselves possibly in ways they have never done before.
On their own, they have to discover what learning strategies work best for them. 

They must also develop a sense of self-discipline, in terms of sticking to a schedule and minimizing distractions. Because there is no teacher present to show independent learning behaviors that they may imitate, or even call them out when they are straying from such behaviors, they have to depend on themselves.

At the core of cultivating independent learning is igniting the learner’s motivation. Motivation is generally best when it is internal. If the learner personally finds joy in learning, he or she will more likely show passion for it. This happens when the learner feels the learning material is important, relatable, and relevant to his or her personal circumstances. This allows the learner to establish a deep connection with the subject matter. Thus, he or she does not only accomplish the assignments or tasks out of mere compliance, but out of love for learning.

For the learner, this love for learning will be useful not only during schooling life, but also after graduation as the learner enters the job market, and tries to navigate the world.

What can teachers, guardians, or parents do to encourage this behavior? They can begin by allowing the learner to develop his or her own learning plan. This motivates the learner to be responsible and accountable for his or her schedule, successes, and shortcomings. Learners can also be encouraged to visualize their own study goals and expectations. Further, they can be taught to self-assess and monitor their own progress.

In a rapidly-evolving world, education goals should also be in constant change. 

Pre-pandemic, there was considerably less need for independent learning. The teacher would always be there to support the student whenever the motivation falters. Now that the world has changed, we should also adapt accordingly. Our skills and our way of learning should meet the demands of the new normal. This is how we pivot and grow as a nation and a world.

As of now, we don’t know what the future holds. One day, we may go back to our traditional teaching setup. Our learners may once again be under the direct supervision of teachers. But independent learning skills will remain valuable, whether or not there will be a teacher, parent, guardian, or tutor looking over the shoulder of our learners.