Guided vs Independent Learning: How To Strike A Balance?
One of the biggest challenges that teachers face is knowing how much guidance they should give their students. It’s important that students develop their own independence and they are able to implement things they have learned and practice skills. However, too much independence without the right guidance can leave some children falling behind.
Understanding the difference between guided learning and independent learning, and how to strike a balance between the two, is crucial for teachers.
What Is Guided Learning?
Guided learning is one of the most common methods students use to learn and practice new skills. This method means that students will work collaboratively with their teachers and peers in a group setting. Teachers guide students’ learning by asking questions, providing explanations and giving feedback.
The benefits of guided learning include:
- It allows students to explore new concepts and ideas with guidance from a teacher.
- It gives opportunities for students to work together in a group setting, which develops social skills and cooperation.
- Guided learning is an effective method of teaching, especially in the initial stages of learning a new topic.
When students are new to a topic, they require some guidance from their teacher to understand the basic concepts. This is especially true for underachieving students who find it hard to grasp certain concepts. However, there is a limit to what you can do with guided learning and you need to incorporate independent learning too.
What Is Independent Learning?
In contrast to guided learning, independent learning means that students have greater freedom. They are able to complete their own work without teacher intervention. This means that there is more of a hands-off approach from teachers and they allow students time to complete tasks independently.
The benefits of independent learning include:
- Encouraging students to take responsibility for their own learning.
- Supporting the skill of resilience
- Allowing children to explore new concepts themselves, leading to a greater understanding of the topic.
- Giving teachers time to focus on individual students who may need more support or guidance.
Independent learning allows students to cement their knowledge by practicing skills on their own, without the help of their teacher.
How To Find A Balance
Finding a balance between the two learning styles is vital if students are going to progress, but it can be tough. As a general rule, you should employ the scaffolded instruction technique (sometimes called ‘I do, we do, you do). This means that you first teach the students by showing them (fully guided), and then you let them work on the problem in groups (partially guided but still fairly independent). Finally, you have the children work on their own (fully independent).
Additionally, it is equally important that you monitor the progress of each student and understand their strengths and weaknesses. Some children require more hands-on guidance than others, especially in subjects they find difficult. Tracking their progress and learning how to recognize when students are struggling will help you get the balance right.
Guided and independent learning are both vital parts of the education process, and only by finding the right balance between the two can you help students move forward.