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Thinking about learning independently

Thinking about learning independently
So the seminar today is all about thinking about independent study. So thinking about how you might work on your own within the university environment. So first of all, I’d just like to explore what you understand by the meaning of independent study. What do you think, as a lecturer from university, I would expect a student to do if they were engaging in independent study? I think independent study is when a student has a genuine interest in the subjects that obviously, they’ve chosen to study. And they are actively and proactively looking for ways to advance their learning. I’d say it doesn’t have to be if you have an interest in that subject.
I think it could also be homework that you have to do. It’s just the fact that you don’t have someone there to support you with it. You don’t have the teacher there. I think you get the idea that at university what you’re taught in lectures and seminars is a basis for the further independent study. And so like [INAUDIBLE] said, you build on that. And you’re expected to build on that out of the classroom. Yeah, I agree with the rest. I think it’s something for you to take away and mull over and think about.
And then if something does catch your eye like, oh, my lecturer said something about this and I don’t quite understand, and going away and looking deeper into it so you get a better understanding. How much independent study are you able to engage with here within the lessons that you’re doing for your A level? I think it definitely depends on the teacher as to how much you’re expected to do. How much is independent study geared towards what you know you will be assessed in? I think it’s quite focused on what we will be assessed. I mean, I tend to stick quite closely to my textbook.
And then if something in the textbook really interests me, I’ll go and then Google it and research it more. It’s really only geared towards the actual exam that we’re going to take. It’s usually all set by the teacher, and that’s usually all we have time for. Would you like to have more time to go and explore a subject further? Or do you feel that at this stage, this is what you need to do? I think we feel like any extra time we have should be spent revising for our exams. Otherwise we could be jeopardising our grades, and that’s more important. I think the focus is on that. Yeah.
I think until you feel entirely comfortable with the information you need for your exams, I think there’s not a huge amount of point going on and doing further study. ‘Cause at the end of the day, the exams are what you need to pass and anything you read further than that is just a bonus for universities. Exactly. I think A level’s definitely a huge push that you need to stay on your toes at all times and continue to advance and advance your learning. And if you’re ever caught napping, you could definitely fall behind, as I said earlier. Are you aware of creating the most efficient revision style for yourselves, depending on what sort of learner you are?
I have to say, I’m not that conscious about it. I’ve tried lots of different ways of revision. But I find that they all kind of work and you have to use a mixture. Otherwise, if you’ve got loads of writing, you can’t take it all in. And if you’ve got loads of pictures, you can’t take it all in. So I use a combination. And also if I’ve asked a friend to explain something that I don’t understand, I can remember them really well saying it. But if I’ve just listened to the teacher saying everything, then I wouldn’t. So I think you have to use a combination of different methods. I have recently come to the realisation I learn by doing something.
So at the moment, I’m finding it really helpful, after my lesson, I’m going back to my room and I’m retyping up my notes. ‘Cause then I’m transferring it onto a screen, so I’m processing it. And I’m also doing something with my hands as I’m typing it. And then I can construct visual diagrams and things. And then I print this off and stick them around my room, around my house, and then it gives me visual aid as well while I’m walking around. I tend to, kind of like Chris, redo things. So I’ll have my notes and then I’ll probably write something up. And I’m really organised, so when it gets to exam time, I have folders.
And then it’s all done very methodically. And if I need to go over something, then I’ll type it or I’ll rewrite it. I seem to work better by words. My brain doesn’t do pictures or mind maps. And that’s why my revision is so boring, because it’s just words on a page. But that has always worked for me. Through GCSE, through AS, and that’s what I’m still doing now. I hate mind maps. ‘Cause there’s no order to them, so they’re really hard to revise from. Do you have any concerns about the amount that you will be expected to read, or what you do with this vast lists of reading you’ve got to do?
It’s a reality that has dawned on me recently, because for human subjects especially, a lot of it is just reading about philosophy and politics of the past and the big books that have influenced us and influenced people’s thinking today. And I haven’t really been much of a reader, and I’ve had to get to grips with it. I’ve had to force myself to do it in a strange way. It hasn’t come as naturally as some other things do. So I’m much more of a talker. Discussing ideas is really what I think I’m strongest at. So worried? No, I’d say worried is too strong a word. But say, conscious or cautious. Probably good words to use when I think of that.
I think most of us here probably started reading around our subjects anyway to prepare for university and to prepare for interview questions and things like that. So we know that we can do that and that we are interested by it. But in terms of the amount of it, I think that it could put a strain on us in terms of the amount of time we have to spend on it. But if we’re interested in it, it should be OK. My main concern is getting my head around the big words for different enzymes and different cells and things. ‘Cause I’ve never been too good at English.
But I think because I enjoy the subject, then I’ll be more willing to try and learn to get my head around them. And I’m not really worried about the quantity, ‘cause I like reading. So I think my main problem is understanding the context and the content. When you get to university, what did you think will be your motivation to learn then? I think just pure interest in the subject. And being excited and curious by different aspects will make you want to explore it further. So I don’t think you’ll need any. Like here, the motivation is mostly about getting the grades and preparing well for the exams. But I think at university, it’ll much more personal and more interest driven. Absolutely.
And also knowing your class of degree. It doesn’t matter. I think there’s a knowledge that it’s very much going to be the ultimate level of achievement for the rest of the life, unless you’re planning on doing on post-grad. That’s the top. It’s like when you do your GCSEs, that’s the top thing. But once you’ve done your AS, everyone forgets your GCSEs. And it’s like once you’ve got your degree, everyone forgets your A levels. And that’s what’s standing there. But it’s not just standing there until you get something else. It’s standing there. That’s it. That’s the rest of your life. [LAUGHS] I have to agree with Rosie.
I think curiosity’s the big word for me here, is that I think that I’ll continue to learn because I’d be curious about the subject, because I want to learn. And I think a lot of us are going into university in the knowledge that we want to learn what we’re doing. We want to explore the area more. And I think that will set us up for the rest of our life that we want to know more. We want to expand our knowledge in our chosen subject.

Here is a video of a seminar where sixth form pupils discuss with a university lecturer issues around learning independently.

As you watch it, consider what your responses would be to the questions posed by the lecturer. Do you agree with what is said by the students?

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