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Lack of Independent Learning skills in FE students

Discussion in 'Further Education' started by KirstyPainter, Feb 22, 2011.

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    I teach AS Media Studies and am completing the second year
    of my PGCE. I am researching
    independent learning strategies as part of a course project, but particularly
    because I am surprised at the lack of those skills in my students.

    I wondered if other teachers have found the same thing and
    what their thoughts are? Should
    schools be teaching those skills or is it our responsibility? Or should we leave that to H.E. or
  2. I'm in the second year of teaching in FE and yes, I'd absolutely agree.

    Initially, a lot of my students expected me to do all the work and they wanted to sit and absorb it and take it all in. They soon realised that wasn't the way I worked!

    The problem I have is that the vast majority of my students study part-time and so taking the time out of teaching them the things on the syllabus is really difficult to work in but it will be worth it.
    I'd be interested to see if anyone can help out with teaching higher level thinking skills and independent study and effective research skills. I know these are things that need to be developed over time but I'd love from September to begin integrating these skills from the very start of the programme.

    I think if we want our students to reach their highest possible potential then, yes, we need to take on that responsibility and give them a tiny nudge in the right direction! My question is really, how best can I do this?
  3. Meanwhile, back in the real world....

    I have been in schools and FE and whilst FE like to blame schools, FE do exactly the same. It's all about targets, exams and meeting quota's. Take away the league table's and you may find students are 'taught' once more.
  4. Fair enough [​IMG].
    I'm absolutely NOT blaming the teachers at schools BTW. I wouldn't want to deal with what they do but it is difficult to try and get students through AS/A2/L3 qualfiications when they don't know how to study.
    Good luck to us all.
  5. It is the responsibility of all agencies in lifelong learning to teach independent learning skills. If the schools haven't done it, then the next educational institution that students attend should take it on. An initial class on where and how to access information would be useful. Does your college library have any such 'how to find out.....' sessions?
  6. Couldn't agree more. I don't blame teachers for the mess the students I get are in - it is all down to the stupidity of league tables.
    But that doesn't change the fact that at L3 they arrive very poorly prepared to study independently which makes it very difficult to help them re/learn the joy of learning for its own sake. I HATE to think what they make of University!
  7. I think the lack of joy most have in learning for learnings sake is the saddest part of it. I know I'm an old fogey, but I've always relished getting new information/knowledge/skills and find it hard to imagine why young people choose to do L3 quals without that will.
    Thankfully, most of the students I've taught that have gone on to HE have coped well. When my daughter went to university 5 years ago to do a science degree, she spent most of semester 1 doing study skills with her group. I suppose the universities are having to introduce such things just to get their cohort through.
  8. Students only learn higher level thinking skills through their own practice. I'm not sure that they can be taught, as such. What one can do is provide models of such skills and give suggestions as to how to find out things independently and evaluate those sources.

  9. In all FE colleges I
    have worked in this is part of the registration process - not that it
    helps much as that might be the last time a student steps foot in the
    Learning Resource Centre!!
    That makes me an old fogey too. I
    would happily spend the rest of my life in a library a real one!
    Researching and thinking and absorbing new ideas!
    Therein lies the rub. When I get them they have no idea what, how or why. It can takemonths for them to see the point and even then they fall back on good old cramming2 weeks/days before an exam (and then wonder why they fail).
    Yes but where, in a crammed L3 course, do I make the time to do this in a meaningful way? How do I ensure that they do any of this, it isn't in the spoec after all? And how do I cope with the parents who ask why I am doing this instead of teaching Little Darling how to pass the exam (as I was a few weeks ago)?
    I used to think that Stretch and Challenge was how I helped some students fly, now I realise it is how I help most of them walk.

  10. Yes, I guess we just need to get these students to practice these skills and try to evaluate and appraise as much and as often as possible. I think if we can build in some peer assessment so they would each evaluate each others' work and how valuable it has been to them then we're getting them to think for themselves. It sure does take a heck of a lot of development and practice though! I guess as teachers we all just have to find a way of finding time for this within all the other hoops the students have to jump through and inspire them to want to do it for themsleves! Ultimately we need to inspire and motivate and THEN they'll be heading towards being more independent and effective learners.
  11. I take on the chin all your points, The Pobble.
    Still, if your job is to get students through an exam then perhaps you shouldn't worry too much about higher level thinking skills, whatever they are.
  12. One would hope.
  13. Heresy!!!!!!
    cardoon: bar of soap and the inside of your mouth! Close proximity, immediately!
  14. On my way to the soap stand right now, Pobble.
  15. Exactly.
    You have to accept your students as they are and take responsibility for getting them where they need to be.
  16. And then at half terms, when you're utterly knackered and still have a huge pile of marking, cos they all handed their coursework in late, you are allowed to moan and let off steam a bit!

  17. <ol>[*]You have to accept your students as they are and take responsibility for getting them where they need to be.</ol>Do we all now accept that students do not or cannot accept responsibility for getting themselves where they need to be?
  18. No, not all of them. I do have to accept that SOME of them do not/cannot accept responsibility etc though.
    Has to be said that this year's intake show fewer signs of independent learning ability than any other year I've ever taught. It's had some quite serious repercussions in terms of delivery of our units etc actually.
  19. Teaching BTEC National HSC students have to do at least oneresearch project. They tend to hate it but one thing I tell them is that they will have a huge advantage over A Level students at uni.

    By the time they have finished they know a bit about resarch methodology, they know how to use Harvard referencing, they know which web pages are academic, to always check anything on wikkipedia and then find a different reference, they know how to use a library and, shock horror, that librarians have a degree and can be used as a resource.
    These are really good units to give students research skillsbut would you have the time to run a unit? If you do then I'm sure there are BTEC units in other subject areas. The students would get a certificate of achievement, which gives no UCAS points but some people like collecting bits of paper with their names on them
  20. I know poeme, I was being slightly sarky. I found it less frustrating teaching level 1 in that I didn't expect them to and wasn't surprised that they didn't know how. I found it particularly annoying that National Diploma students expected to be spoonfed - adults too. Too many were content with only a pass grade because anything higher demanded a certain amount of input from them and they just weren't prepared to read, research or otherwise take responsibility. "Oh you didn't tell us to read/do/go...."
    The truth, of course, is that they don't have to anymore. We will do everything we can to get them to pass( even if they don't deserve to.) because nobody is allowed to fail. And our jobs are at stake!

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