Self-regulated/Independent Learning

(Up to 60 minutes)

Engage with the research and practices for supporting independent learning.

In this module you will:

  • review a meta-analysis of research into independent learning

  • identify the three stages of effective independent learning

  • consider classroom practices to promote independent learning


(Up to 15 minutes)

Read the notes and summary of recommendations from EEF for metacognition and self-regulated learning.

Self-regulated learning or Independent learning happens when pupils set goals, monitor and evaluate their own academic development, so they can manage their own motivation towards learning. The development of independent learners is the ultimate long-term goal of education, as it is this independence which will ensure the aim of the NI curriculum is met: 'to empower young people to achieve their potential and to make informed and responsible decisions throughout their lives'. Learning independently is ultimately the job of the learner but the teacher can support learners to develop the approaches and mindsets of successful independent learners.

Examples of everyday classroom practices that can be tweaked to promote independent learning the development of pupils' self-management:

  • Use regular feedback as an opportunity to support the pupil’s social and emotional well-being, consciously empowering them by encouraging their image of themselves as a learner, with control over their own outcomes

  • Set clear expectations for the on-line work/activities set so the pupils know what success will look like; take time to explain success criteria, assessment rubrics etc

  • As far as possible, use a consistent approach to lesson planning across the school and plan with metacognition in mind

  • Think carefully about the questions you ask to ensure that they enable pupils to think about themselves as an agent of their own learning. (Use CCEA Thinking Cards to encourage reflection)

  • Provide appropriate levels of support and scaffolding for new learning to help pupils manage with greater autonomy, replacing instructions with questions to 'activate' the learning

  • Model thinking by asking yourself questions out loud, while you are teaching

  • Ensure on-line and remote feedback is focused on encouragement both in relation to what and how the pupil has demonstrated learning

  • Where possible, agree common language across year groups/subjects so that pupils can begin to make connections (e.g. plan, monitor and review)

  • Take time to consider how plan, monitor and review looks different in different contexts and plan accordingly

  • Create opportunities for pupils to engage in meaningful discussion with their peers about learning so that pupils from different backgrounds understand that learning isn't magic, but it happens after effort, focus and application

  • Encourage pupils to reflect on their learning and performance and follow-up on their teacher’s feedback and guidance

  • Be sure to allocate adequate time to the evaluation part of the self-regulation cycle (CCEA Thinking Cards provide examples of questions to support this)

  • Use an online form to allow pupils to evaluate their learning and use this to help plan the next learning cycle.



(Up to 30 minutes)

Reflect on the recommendations from EEF for self-regulated learning and the list of suggestions for classroom approaches.

Rank them for yourself where 1 is the element you are most likely to do automatically down to 7, the one you are least likely to practise automatically.


(Up to 15 minutes)

Think about your own classes and take the opportunity to plan changes you may considering making.

What strategies are you going to use this week to deliberately extend your pupils’ thinking about their own learning?

Next steps:

You may wish to look at each/any of the 7 recommendations separately in more detail, using the full EEF report. It may be helpful to allocate one recommendation per session and think about how you can build the recommendation into your own planning.

Further Reading and Support Materials