Autonomous Learner Model Suggestions

The Autonomous Learner Model has a multitude of advantages for the gifted learner. It offers a differentiated curriculum for students by challenging them to go beyond the surface and explore areas of interest in greater depth. This method ensures that students will be fully engaged in their work because they are learning concepts and topics that are of direct interest to them. Additionally, through the five dimensions, students are encouraged to become self-directed, independent learners as they seek out information on their topics of study and solutions to the problems they encounter in their research. The students are not only learning about a particular concept, but they are also developing critical thinking and research skills that will serve them well in their future vocations.

Despite these advantages, the Autonomous Learner Model is not the simplest of models to implement in the classroom. In order to effectively accomplish the ALM in the classroom, teachers and administrators should adhere to the following suggestions for a smooth implementation:

1. Professional Development: Teachers must receive the necessary training to progress students through the five dimensions of the model. Educators should be comfortable instructing on the model and administering its various components in the classroom and outside its walls.

2. Programming Search: A programming search provides the students a wealth of resources to use in performing their research. Teachers can assist students by helping them develop contact information on content specialists, who could serve on the student’s support team. Additionally, teachers can assist students in developing specific research skills that will aid them in their in-depth studies. Finally, teachers should communicate about any relevant school and community events and competitions that will further the research and learning on their students. The programming search is necessary to develop the Advanced Learning Plan (ALP), which serves as the outline for the student’s individualized curriculum.

3. Advanced Learning Plan (ALP): Before students can perform research on a topic of interest, they must have developed an ALP with the cooperation of their support team (educators, parents, and administrators). Teachers must remind themselves that the students should develop, implement, and evaluate their own Advanced Learning Plans, i.e. educators are doing this process “with” the students and not “to” the students. Before the students start developing their ALP, teachers must instruct on what an ALP is, why it is necessary, what outcomes are expected, and how the plan will be assessed. Students will develop their own ALP plan under the guidance of the teachers. Once the students have a better grasp of the entire process they will become more responsible for the ALPs.

4. Pacing: For many students who have never completed an In-Depth Study, the overall task can be very overwhelming. Betts and Kercher have outlined a step-by-step procedure for completing this monumental task. Teachers should assist students in helping them adhere to their ALPs and the suggested procedures so that the students do not fall behind in their research or completing their projects. It would be helpful to conference with the students on a regular basis to ensure that they are meeting their research goals and completing their in-depth studies in a timely fashion.

The end result of the Autonomous Learner Model is for students to develop into lifelong, independent learners. As part of the learning experience, teachers can use the above suggestions to help students successfully complete their seminars and in-depth studies. When implemented properly, the teacher’s guidance and the dimensions in this model will help students cultivate those necessary skills needed to develop new ways of thinking in their current studies and future endeavors.