This is a survey that I created to determine the comfort level of my students with self-directed learning vs. teacher-directed learning. This survey is useful when placing students in collaborative groups. Students who are comfortable taking educational risks tend to work well together – much more so than students who are very cautious and who feel comfortable within a very scaffolded framework. Not only that . . . I have also found that students are very curious about how they learn, and sometimes they are surprised by their results.
Column 1 measures student reliance on teacher-directed activities.
I have found that a high score on items in column 1 correlates with student anxiety in open-ended or self-directed studies. Students with a high score on column 1 tend to need more support and prompting to help them to feel comfortable stepping out into an inquiry lesson, lab, or activity.
Column 2 measures the comfort students might exhibit with a moderate amount of teacher guidance. I think of this column as the “middle ground” between specific teacher guidance, and independent student learning. This is where I find many of my students feel most comfortable. From my experience, many students who have the highest scores on this column can work well with people from column 1, and also from column 3 (unless a student scored themselves at the top of the scale for column 3).
Column 3 measures the degree of comfort students feel with self-directed learning. Students who score high on this column tend to be the “free thinkers” who like to determine what they want to learn, and how they want to express their learning. Column 3 high scores also tend to correlate with excitement and enthusiasm with inquiry labs, lessons, or activities that other students might find uncomfortable because of lack of perceived structure. Column 3 students usually work well with other column 3 students – though sometimes the “free thinking” needs to be reigned in a bit because of tangents, or favorite ideas that students might have . . . and they might not want to change their ideas to work with others. I find that having specific guidelines for how to interact in collaborative groups helps to frame effective discussions for students whose top scores are in column 3.