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How to Help Your Students Become Self Directed Learners

This webinar is from the IFEES-GEDC webinar library.

Instructors and employers of engineering students commonly complain about what the students and recent graduates cannot do.

“All they know how to do is memorize,” grumble the professors. “I may go over a problem in class, but if I give them a slightly different problem on an assignment or test, they’re helpless.” “That’s right,” agree the employers. “If they get an assignment on the job that isn’t exactly like something they were taught in school, they have no idea what to do.”

Whether or not the professors and employers use the term, they are bemoaning the fact that their students and new employees are not self-directed learners, able to tackle a new problem and figure out what they need to learn to solve it, where to get the necessary information, and how to work their way to a solution, all without professors and textbooks. It should not come as a surprise to the instructors that many of their students can’t do those things, because college courses rarely teach how to do them.

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Some students are naturally talented and learn how on their own, but most don’t do it in school, and they either do it through painful trial-and-error after graduation or they never learn and fail.


The skills needed to be a self-directed learner are not obvious to most students but they are not very difficult, and they are teachable. This webinar will outline several of the most important skills and how to teach them.


After participating, you will be able to answer the following questions:


What is self-directed learning? What do self-directed learners do that most students don’t do? How can engineering students who are not self-directed be introduced to the concept, motivated to develop the required skills, and started on the path toward doing so? How can development of self-directed learning skills be integrated with traditional STEM instruction (which is how the skills are most likely to be learned) rather than being treated as a separate topic? Richard M. Felder, Ph.D. Dr. Felder joined the N.C. State University faculty in 1969. He is a co-author of the book Elementary Principles of Chemical Processes, which has been used as the introductory chemical engineering text by roughly 90% of all chemical engineering departments in the United States and many abroad, and he has authored or co-authored over 300 papers on chemical process engineering and engineering education. He has won numerous awards for his teaching, research, and publications, including the International Federation of Engineering Education Societies Global Award for Excellence in Engineering Education (first recipient) and the American Society for Engineering Education Lifetime Achievement Award in Engineering Education.

Enrolled: 19 students
Lectures: 1
Video: 1h 5min


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