This online module is highly recommended. The site will issue you a certificate upon successful completion.
Searching for information on a very current or controversial topic can result in a large number of "hits" of uneven quality.
You will have to determine the quality of the information you find, and the CRAAP Test can help.
The CRAAP Test is a list of questions to help you evaluate the information you find. Different criteria will be more or less important depending on your situation or need.
Revised from "Is this source or information good?" Accessed 3/27/2020.
Learning independently can be challenging, even for the brightest and most motivated students. As a means of better understanding the processes involved in this mode of study, this Teaching Tip outlines key components of four key stages to independent learning, known as self-directed learning: being ready to learn, setting learning goals, engaging in the learning process, and evaluating learning.
Students need various skills and attitudes towards learning for successful independent study. This step involves students conducting a self-evaluation of their current situation, study habits, family situation, and support network both at school and at home and also involves evaluating past experiences with independent learning. For a detailed Learning Skills Assessment Tool, read our Readiness to Learn Teaching Tip. Signs of readiness for self-directed learning include being autonomous, organised, self-disciplined, able to communicate effectively, and able to accept constructive feedback and engage in self-evaluation and self-reflection.
Communication of learning goals between a student and the advising instructor is critical. We've developed a set of questions for students to consider as they map out their learning goals: our Unit Planning Decision Guide). Also critical in developing a clear understanding of learning goals between students and instructors are learning contracts. Learning contracts generally include:
Once created, contracts should be assessed by the advising faculty member and questions about feasibility should be raised (e.g., What could go wrong? Is there too much or too little work? Is the timeline and evaluation reasonable?).
Students need to understand themselves as learners in order to understand their needs as self-directed learning students — referring students to our resource on learning preferences may be helpful. Students should also consider answering the following questions:
Students also need to understand their approach to studying:
Earlier academic work may have encouraged a surface or strategic approach to studying. These approaches will not be sufficient (or even appropriate) for successful independent study. Independent study requires a deep approach to studying, in which students must understand ideas and be able to apply knowledge to new situations. Students need to generate their own connections and be their own motivators.
For students to be successful in self-directed learning, they must be able to engage in self-reflection and self-evaluation of their learning goals and progress in a unit of study. To support this self-evaluation process, they should:
Successful independent study requires certain responsibilities or roles of both students and advising faculty members. The following is a brief list of the more important roles. It is useful for both students and advising faculty members to periodically review this list and communicate as to whether each feels the other is fulfilling their share of the responsibility.