Self-Directed or Participatory Learning

Tonight’s #edchat topic is the role of participatory learning in schools. If you are like me, that term is foreign to you. In my world we use the term self-directed learning. While I think those terms are interchangeable I wanted to dig up some resources for those that this might be a new concept for.

In my own experience self-directed learning is an integral part of our school district’s mission statement. Therefore, we put a lot of emphasis on it and it is a focus within our planning and instruction. First, there are two things that are often misinterpreted at self-directed or participatory learning. Number one is that a student simply participating in class you is an example of participatory learning. That is not true. The second misinterpreted activity is what some teachers call “seat-work”. They think that if a student is working quietly at their desk they are engaged in self-directed learning. Again, this is not true.

Self-directed or participatory learning implies that a student is involved in every aspect of their learning. There is inherent choice in what they do and how they choose to demonstrate their learning. When appropriate they are also involved in the planning of learning activities. Below are some additional resources for more in depth information as well as light reading before tonight’s discussion.
  • Review this overview of the philosophy behind self directed learning. This also includes a listing of some of the benefits of self-directed learning as well the role of the teacher.
  • Here is a post with some references to Howard Gardner’s work with multiple intelligences and a discussion of what the author refers to as the attainment model.
  • This is a very in depth post on the various stages of a self-directed learning model.
  • Look over this wikipedia post about “informal learning” which is loosely related to self-directed learning.
  • Check this post out about self-directed learning in a specific gifted setting with links to some other resources.

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