Why Independent Study?
Gifted children often develop an eagerness to explore one or more topics of interest. Independent Study gives students a structured environment to pursue their interests, while providing training for many Type II process skills. As students are guided through this process, they learn academic skills and develop learner independence.
Stages of Independent Study
It is important for teachers to assess students’ degree of independence before allowing them to pursue an independent study project. Then determine an appropriate direction for independent learning.
Basic Skills of Independence is where students learn the basics such as selecting a topic, asking research questions, finding answers, using resources effectively, time management, and product completion.
Structured Independence is where the teacher provides structured, but open-ended tasks for the students. Students may need to follow a preset timeline, follow a specific steps outlined for completion of the project, and work toward teacher-established criteria for success.
Shared Independence is where students take the lead in the process of independent learning. Here, the student poses a research problem or question, designs the plan for researching, develops timelines and goals, and establishes criteria for evaluation. The teacher’s role is that of “guide on the side”.
Self-guided Learning, the ultimate goal of education, is where students can plan, execute, and evaluate independent projects on their own. The teacher provides feedback but is not to provide guidance and instruction.