How to develop independent learning skills
Growing up, we’re always taught how to learn from others. No one ever really sits us down and teaches us what it means to learn from ourselves and shape our own learning methods throughout life. As a result, many people often struggle when picking up new skills as adults.
We’re thrown into self-guided courses without really knowing how to maximize our learning from the materials provided.
It’s never too late to pick up independent learning skills. These are strengths that can help anyone take control of their learning development and start learning in a way that works for them.
What exactly is independent learning?
Developing learning skills may sound strange at first — we’re constantly learning, all the time. But what many people don’t know is how to really align themselves with what they want to discover, and how to acquire information in a way that’s memorable and relevant to their lives.
Think back to high school math. If you excelled in it, it was because you had a strong intrinsic motivation to succeed. You enjoyed the coursework, and you found the challenge of mastering new concepts rewarding.
On the other hand, if you felt complete disdain and dread at the sight of an algebraic equation, you likely didn’t feel motivated to study, either. You’d give it some effort, try to pass tests, maybe even work with a tutor. But it was hard to overcome not only your lack of understanding but your lack of interest in the subject.
In order for independent learning to work, people need to care about what they’re studying. And you can actually foster a deeper love for learning just about anything by developing learning skills to support independent learning.
Independent learning is self-guided education driven by exploration, investigation, and problem-solving.
You learn how to ask yourself the right questions, identify the best places to get answers, and turn what you learn into meaningful insights that you can apply throughout your life.
Top Independent Learning Skills Everyone Should Develop
It can take some time to learn independent learning skills, but the payoff is worth it. Being able to learn on your own is liberating and rewarding. You feel proud of yourself just for making the effort to learn something new.
Adopting an independent learning mindset helps you do away with the idea that learning has to equal achievement to be valuable. In other words, you learn to teach yourself things for the right reasons, not someone else’s approval.
Here are our top skills for independent learners to pick up:
Learn to look inwards, so you can set objectives that are meaningful to you. Once you know what you want to do, you can start looking for the best ways to reach your goals. You can also start to seek out feedback from people who can help you grow.
Have you ever felt overwhelmed by a course or text, and had no idea where to even begin? Scaffolding can help. Teachers often use this instructional tool, but it can work well for independent learners, too.
Whenever you have to read something, start by previewing the text, and taking some bullet point notes. What are the key points that it covers? Read these sections, jot down some takeaways, and move onto the next point.
Simply put, scaffolding is a process that encourages you to learn step-by-step, rather than trying to master everything at once.
Reflect and Review
This practice helps you check how much you’ve learned and identify where you need to brush up on knowledge. After you’ve read something, summarize it in one to two paragraphs. Describe it as if you’re teaching it to someone else. You’ll quickly notice where you struggle. These points are exactly where you should refocus your attention and review the next time you study.
Remember that developing learning skills takes time. Be patient with yourself and have fun along the way. If you’re an employer teaching your staff new skills, consider choosing a self-driven platform like Juno Journey that makes independent learning intuitive and rewarding.