Last modified 19/11/08 15:25:06

Students: Developing Students' Skill Sets

Independent learning skills

Do you want to use the session to develop students’ independent learning skills?

Cultivating active, independent learning is a key challenge in post-compulsory learning, whether students are fresh from GCSE or mature adults returning to education after a long gap. For example, they need to:

  • Understand their learning process and strategies;
  • Develop an awareness of their own learning patterns out of the classroom;
  • Make connections between different parts of their learning and between these and their overall goals.

One way to do this is to include some explicit metacognitive learning activities in the session. Another is to employ technology:

"Use the online learning environment to develop these independent learning skills. When students ask 'when's the deadline?' or 'what are the criteria for this assignment?' tell them to look on [the VLE] — and even this shifts their perspective." (Teacher in FE)

Linguistic skills

Do any students have difficulty with the English language, e.g. because they are not native speakers?

If the answer is yes:

  • Make sure that instructions are written in clear, grammatical English, without too many confusing idioms.
  • In online materials, consider a link to an online dictionary such as the  Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary.

Social and interpersonal skills

Does the learning session involve discussion or a substantial collaborative component? If yes, how are you going to encourage contributions from shy or diffident students?

An online discussion - whether synchronous "chat" or asynchronous forum - can help enormously, particularly if students can participate anonymously:

"If I had that discussion as a face-to-face exercise four, five, six of them might have said something, but [in] this case they all had to contribute. I know it’s in writing, but still it made them do something; it actually made them be actively involved." (Teacher in adult learning)
"Interestingly, people are generally more able or willing to reveal themselves online than they might be when face to face, even with people they know well. [...] Learning can promote anxiety as it requires you to move out of your comfort zone into those things that require you to take some risk in a public environment. So create an environment where people feel safe to take those risks. Online discussion forums can make this risk-taking possible." (Teacher in FE)

ICT Skills

Even though technology is everywhere in our society, a substantial number of students still either lack basic ICT skills or simply do not like using computers. So, in the first few sessions/classes of a course:

  • Limit computer-based activities to the classroom sessions so that the teacher can mentor the less confident students in person.
  • If the course makes extensive use of a VLE or Website, stick to simple online activities at first, such as downloading reading materials from the course area.
"Do you provide alternatives [to using technology], or do you just say 'well, you have to do this bit in "this" way'? As long as the whole learning experience isn't delivered in 'this' way, eventually people will accept that 'this' is the way it's going to be done. And sometimes I think that's necessary, that's the way it's got to be delivered, even though it's not everyone's learning style." (Teacher in adult and work-based learning)

PhoebePh2Contents Contents page?