Expectations and experiences of independent learning in two New Zealand secondary schools
Couillaut, Vaughan R.
Permanent link to Research Bank record:http://hdl.handle.net/10652/1833
This study explored the expectations and experiences of students and staff that were involved in an independent learning programme in their school. In addition to these expectations and experiences, this research explored the implication of implementing an independent learning programme for school leadership. A qualitative methodology was employed for this research, focusing on two New Zealand secondary schools. Across the two case study sites, 108 students responded to an online questionnaire, two focus groups were held with teachers involved in the independent learning programme and two semi-structured interviews were held with the Principals of each school. The major findings from this study indicate that students and staff have very defined expectations with regard to the learning environment that an independent learning programme should create for students. Students value access to teachers, targeted learning resources, specialist spaces and ICT equipment and infrastructure in order to be able to learn independently. They long for the freedom to decide where to study and are also cognisant of the behaviour management role that teachers must play in order to maintain an appropriate learning environment. Staff want similar resource and building access as students but also desire a clear vision, professional development and clarity as to how an independent learning programme fits with the overall educational philosophy of the school. The findings imply that school leaders must appropriately train their staff in the field of independent learning and provide them with the time they require to prepare units of work and resource material. Thought should be given to the physical infrastructure of the school and the cost to redevelop spaces for independent learning. Other fiscal costs to consider include ICT costs, and the cost to appoint staff to positions specific to an independent learning programme.