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BEING AN INDEPENDENT LEARNER. Making the most of studying at university. Why do you think that studying at university might be different to studying at school or college?. Take a few minutes to think about this and discuss it with the person next to you…. 3 Keys to Independent Learning.

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Making the most of studying at university

Why do you think that studying at university might be different to studying at school or college?

  • Take a few minutes to think about this and discuss it with the person next to you…

3 Keys to Independent Learning

  • You must possess high levels of personal motivation & work to sustain this

  • You will need good time management skills

  • You will be able to reflect upon, and adapt effectively, aspects of your learning

Typical Features of ‘Dependent’ Learners

  • You predominantly respond to the pressures of the system through deadlines, penalties & marks.

  • The content and resources you utilise are determined by your tutors.

  • You follow your tutors’ instructions to letter and don’t go much beyond it. You find it sufficient.

  • You find little opportunity in your studies to go beyond tutors’ instructions, and you may not be encouraged to do it either.

Typical Features of ‘Independent’ Learners

  • You respond to the external pressures, but you are also seeking personal satisfaction and what to learn as much as you can.

  • Although your tutors have given guidance on resources you need, you happily seek out your own resources.

  • You are keen to develop personal strategies for learning.

  • You are keen to reflect on what and how you learn.

The ‘time management grid’

Reflecting on your learning…

  • Try to be actively engaged with your studies and always seek to improve your results

  • Identify your strengths: Think how you can use them to your best advantage, but also how you can make them even stronger

  • Identify your weaknesses: Actively explore ways to address these and turn them into strengths


‘If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got!’

The importance of Feedback

  • Feedback is very important for your academic and intellectual development

  • Scholarship in universities proceeds by what is often termed the ‘critical method’

  • Feedback can take many forms, including face-to-face, written (on your work or perhaps by email), group / plenary feedback

Receiving and using feedback

  • Remember that all of us in universities receive feedback on a regular basis, whether students or staff

  • Be open to feedback, even though it may sometimes be given less sensitively than it should; don’t be defensive or closed to the idea of feedback, and look for the useful comments, positive or negative

Receiving and using feedback

  • Don’t feel that you necessarily have to accept all the feedback comments you receive, but don’t simply reject the feedback out of hand

  • Actively reflect upon the feedback and develop practical ways to adapt your learning in light of it. Put these changes into practice thereafter

  • Do approach tutors & seek clarification if you are unclear about aspects of their feedback

Key points to remember…

  • Take responsibility for your learning and try to be an ‘independent learner’, but don’t hesitate to seek help and support if you need it

  • Reflect on your learning and be willing to adapt where you identify weaknesses in your approach to learning or your skills

  • Use things like feedback effectively

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