Tuesday, 29 August 2017

HE Explained: Independent Learning

One of the goals of Higher Education, so it seems, is to develop skills of "Independent Learning" in students.  Critical thinking, it is said, emerges from an ability to organise ideas, discover, sort, analyse and evaluate evidence and to communicate conclusions in a persuasive and relevant way.

Many Universities do this by filling student contact time with subject specific material, we'll call it STUFF, and then sending students away to the library, pub, McDonalds, Accommodation block, re-painted "social area" or even "Learning Pod" to undertake Independent Learning.

The academic staff then, in time honoured fashion, guage the level to which students can learn independently by setting an exam or assignment which must be submitted or completed at a decent period after the end of the lecture schedule (STUFF SHOVELLING PERIOD).

Immediately I wonder:

  • Are exams the best way to test STUFF RETENTION or Independent Learning?
  • Is independent work, on an assignment, submitted electronically to match text with all known works in civilisation in order to catch CHEATS, really the same as Independent Learning?
  • Is 80% of nominal hours of student effort on a module enough to foster Independent Learning?
  • Can Independent Learning ever be compatible with Group or Collaborative Learning?
  • Is the Independent Learner really what industry wants to employ?
Just asking....

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