Students and their parents may want to think twice about using a self-help book to motivate themselves to study, a new study has found.
But, a review of the research suggests that self-directed learning could have a positive impact on students’ academic outcomes, according to the findings.
The authors said students who were encouraged to explore their own thinking through a self‑motivated reading programme were more likely to do so, compared to those who were discouraged from reading at all.
“This research suggests it is possible to achieve a self‐motivated education through a combination of reading, learning, and self-development,” they said.
The authors from University College London and The Open University said self-guided learning could be an effective approach to boost learning.
“A number of studies suggest that, for students to improve their academic performance, they need to have access to books and resources that enable them to think creatively and imaginatively,” the authors said.
“But, as this study shows, this approach can also help to promote learning.”
The authors stressed that the results of their study were based on a short-term programme in the UK.
“The findings suggest that self‐directed learning may help students to boost their academic outcomes and also boost their self-esteem,” they added.
“For students who need to develop a self motivated approach, we suggest that they can develop their own reading materials, use a self–motivated curriculum, and work with an individual or group to ensure that the content and learning approach that they choose is reflective of their own individual needs.”
What is self-Motivation?
Self-motivated learning involves students using their own knowledge and skills to make progress towards their goals.
Researchers from the University of Liverpool and the University College of London found that students who self-driven read books or self-developed a self-motivating reading programme for two weeks were more successful in completing their academic exams than those who did not do so.
“Self-directed reading, which is a very positive strategy for achieving academic achievement, can be an important strategy for the growth of self‐esteem,” said Dr Marta Zabarczyk, from the School of Education and Human Development at Liverpool.
“We believe it is a strategy that is effective and may also have an important positive impact for students.”
“There are two components to self-managed learning, the first being the self‐education component and the second is the self-improvement component,” she added.
“The students who are able to use their own ideas and knowledge to create an effective learning environment are more likely than the students who have to work with others and with a self education curriculum to achieve academic achievement.”
“Our findings suggest it is feasible to develop an effective and practical self-education approach for learning and for students with a lack of access to reading materials.”
Researchers said the study also showed that self‑guided learning helped students to “develop a better self-image” and to improve self-perceptions about themselves.
“We think that this is a significant step forward in helping students to identify and be self‐aware of their strengths and weaknesses,” Dr Zabararczyk said.
“This is a way to develop more positive self-images, which will improve academic achievement and may even be a benefit for individuals.”
Researchers found that self education was a particularly effective strategy for students who had difficulty with self‐perception.
“Students who are struggling with self image and self‐evaluation are at higher risk of low academic achievement,” said lead author Dr Jörg Rehm from the department of psychology at the University at Buffalo.
“One of the most effective ways of improving self‐worth is to develop and use self‐efficacy skills.”
Dr Rehm said that the researchers found that these skills were not limited to self‐knowledge.
“When we look at students who did well in the self assessment, we found that their self‐awareness and self evaluative skills were also relevant in self‐learning,” he said.
Dr Rehm added that the self‑education approach had potential for many different schools.
“While there is much work to be done, we think that it is important for students in schools to develop their selfevaluative and self knowledge skills,” he added.