What is Self Directed Learning?

In Self-Directed Learning, or SDL, students have: 

  • input into their academic programming and assignments
  • flexible scheduling
  • access to teachers and mentors for advisement
  • continuous progress through self-pacing of work
  • authentic assessment of knowledge and skills
  • an environment of collaborative learning

Self-Directed Learning is the alternative approach to teacher-directed learning, which has been the approach in most conventional schools across the Western world since the Industrial Revolution. Teacher-directed learning is teacher-paced and lecture-based. The teacher is the source of power over curriculum, organization of workspace, and time management.

Self-Directed Learning is a more participatory approach, in which decision-making is two-way. Teachers guide the curriculum, help with resources, guides skill development for SDL, gives feedback, manages class dynamic, and organizes any learning activities. Children know what their own interests are, what they are motivated to do, and what their level of energy or ability is. Together, decisions are made, in the best interests of the child.  In addition, the teachers’ maturity and developed communication skills allow them to be altruistic and empathetic; in this way, they can be guides and mentors for children who are still learning pro-social behaviour. Banbury Crossroads is designed to be a school that is convenient for children. 

Benefits of Self-Directed Learning include:

  • developing autonomy and independence
  • increased student engagement
  • increased self-confidence
  • learning organizational skills and time management
  • mastery of material before moving forward
  • taking initiative

Outcomes and Benefits of SDL

Studies on Self-Directed Learning have shown that the skills and competencies that develop when students learn by themselves often lead to the creation of lifelong learners. This is only one of the many benefits of Self-Directed Learning. Other known outcomes and benefits include:

  • Becoming aware of one’s own learning needs.
  • Understanding subject material in depth rather than just memorizing it.
  • Ability to make decisions about how they want to reach knowledge and mastery.
  • Learning to set goals for themselves.
  • Understanding how to monitor their own learning process and progress.
  • The development of autonomy.
  • Being self-motivated. 
  • Increased ability to make good choices not only in the classroom.
  • A reduction in stress and powerlessness because the child has control of his or her own life.
  • Students do not feel judged against, compared to, or in competition with other students.
  • Knowing their gifts, talents, and interests are special and can flourish.
  • Learning to collaborate and negotiate with peers and teachers across the age spectrum.
  • A sense of satisfaction with their lives.