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How self-directed learning benefits and empowers students

Self-directed learning is an educational process that gives power to the student to choose how they want to learn. / Photo: File.

Education sources define self-directed learning as a process in which individuals take the initiative, with or without the help of others, in diagnosing their learning needs, formulating learning goals, identifying human and material resources for learning, choosing and implementing appropriate learning.

With self-directed learning, an individual can formulate learning goals, identify resources for learning, choose and implement appropriate learning strategies, and evaluate.


Emmanuel Ndayambaje, the director at ‘Ready for Reading’, a library in Kayonza District, Eastern Province, says learning independently can be challenging for students, more so those with little commitment or enthusiasm.


To understand self-directed learning better, educationists say there are key points to put into consideration.


Ndayambaje says these include; being ready and willing to learn, setting learning goals, engaging in the learning process, and evaluating learning.

He adds that students need various skills and attitudes towards learning for successful independent study.

This involves students conducting self-evaluation of their position, study habits, family, and support network at school and home.

Signs of enthusiasm for self-directed learning include being self-sufficient, organised, disciplined, able to communicate effectively and accept constructive feedback, and engage in self-evaluation and reflection.

Education experts believe that communication of learning goals between students and instructors is crucial.

“To grasp their own learning process,” Ndayambaje says, “students need to understand their needs as self-directed students.”

He says that students should figure out what their needs are and understand the approach.

He explains that a deep approach to studying involves transformation and is ideal for self-directed learning.

This approach, Ndayambaje says, is about understanding ideas for yourself, applying knowledge to new situations and using novel examples to explain a concept, and learning more than is required for unit completion.

Athanasie Vuguziga, an English teacher in Kayonza District, says there should be a strategic approach when it comes to self-directed learning.

She says achieving the highest possible grades, learning what is required to pass exams, memorising facts and spending time revising past exams are what is needed.

For students to be successful in self-directed learning, she says, they must be able to engage in self-reflection and evaluation of their learning goals and progress in a unit of study.

To support this self-evaluation process, Vuguziga says they should regularly consult with instructors and seek feedback as well. She points out that it’s also important to reflect on achievements.

Vuguziga mentions that a successful independent study requires certain responsibilities or roles for students and faculty members.

The most valuable resource for self-directed learning, experts say, is self-awareness and mindfulness of the world around us — to be able to inquire deeply about both.

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