While teaching in class, I realize that when students are given ownership of their learning, the outcome is more positive. I ask students to explore, why is it important to learn skills such as Emotional Intelligence, for example, and once they have the basis for introspection, they come to class with an open mind. An environment where students are the center of their learning helps them become independent learners and empowers them to make decisions on their own. This ultimately prepares them for “real world” skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, and negotiation skills. Of course, as educators, it is important to act as facilitators as coaches, and encourage better decision-making.
A very important outcome of self- directed learning, is the establishment of a growth mindset. Students tend to see more value in what they learn, retention is higher, since ownership is on them, and class- room discussions are enhanced due to increased development of critical thinking.
This self- directed approach also helps students develop a higher sense of responsibility since they are in charge of what they take forward from what is taught and presented to them. They not only think about what is taught to them between the four walls, but tend to see beyond. This is the beginning of their preparation for the real world.
Right from choosing between online learning, to independent study courses, and research and project based- learning, students build connections based on what benefits them to obtain their career goals. This nurturing of self- directed and participant centered learning is the stepping stone towards preparing students to be better decision- makers. In the long run, this helps to be objective towards decisions that fail, and leverage on what works best.
Another observation is that when students direct their own learning, they collaborate more, and this contributes towards developing their team- work and communication skills. Our role as educators, mentors, parents, is to present them with ideas and opportunities, and allow them to go beyond those thoughts. This empowerment is vital for their self- esteem and self- confidence. Accountability, adaptability, and learning agility are the main components of self- directed learning, and is the foundation for an empowered generation of youth.
The article was first published in Edarabia in January 2018.
About the Author: Ms. Bijal Oza
Ms. Bijal Oza is the Director (Cross-Campus) of the Counseling & Coaching Centre at SP Jain School of Global Management. A Clinical Psychologist and Counselor, Bijal has completed her Masters in Clinical Psychology with Counseling Specialization from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology- Chicago, Illinois. She has also acquired a Diplome de Langue Francaise from Alliance Francaise de Bombay, and has also worked as a French Language Instructor for Basic and Intermediate French at a Professional Foreign Language Center in Mumbai, India. She has had an enriching and diverse experience as a therapist/ counselor for 8 years in the United States, India, and in Dubai. Bijal has been a certified Domestic Violence Trainer/ Counselor in the state of Illinois, USA. Her research interests lie in Cross-Cultural Approaches to Counseling, International & Social Psychology, Emotional Intelligence, Personality Development, and Coaching for overall personal effectiveness of students and professionals.