Report from ECTN Working group Developing Independent Learners in Chemistry

Andersson, Jonny, Brouwer, Carlaxel, Childs, Nataša, Finlayson, Peter, McDonnell, Odilla, Parchmann, Claire, Santamaria, Ilka, Wähälä, Jesus, Wilkins, Kristiina and Woodward, Hazel (2006) Report from ECTN Working group Developing Independent Learners in Chemistry. Other. UNSPECIFIED.


The past decade has seen a considerable expansion in Higher Education as we move from an elitist approach to the mass education system needed to support a knowledge-based economy. Expansion has however been accompanied by a decrease in both unit funding and staff to student ratios. This has led to claims that students must start to take more responsibility for their own learning. Many students, however, having been spoon fed throughout secondary education, currently arrive at university both unwilling and apparently unable to plan and control their own learning. If, in future, students will be expected to take more responsibility for their own learning, we must surely help them to make the difficult transition to becoming independent learners. Although university lecturers will have made the transition for themselves it is by no means clear exactly how this was achieved; certainly not by surface learning to try to satisfy assessment criteria. Students must be encouraged to identify their learning weaknesses and to confront rather than try to avoid them. This ‘Thematic Network’ seeks to cooperate to examine the impact of a number of approaches, including peer group work, problem based learning, mentoring, the use of information sources including newspapers, metacognition, reflective diaries, experiential learning, concept maps and ICT (Information and Communication Technology) to help students to take responsibility for their own learning and hence to become self-directed learners.

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