Newsletter – The Power of Independent Study Behaviours in the Sixth Form

Students in post 16 education have a significant period of undirected time per week on their timetables. Many students struggle with the autonomy of not having a teacher present during their learning at all times; it is vital that students in Year 12 choose to act and study with maturity and recognise the importance of this all too brief time in their lives.

Adaptive study habits reinforce learning strengths and are far more likely to have a positive outcome – however, maladaptive study habits increase the likelihood of negative results by slowing or halting any progress. Interventions to ensure the message is clearly communicated may not result in immediate change; mentoring in peer groups focusing on improving learning habits increase engagement but with no significant change in results. Successful students adopt good habits of learning through repetitive habit-forming behaviours.

Students who manage their time well improve their academic achievement; all students should be supported to ensure they too can attain the best possible results by understanding and asserting a conscious control over their own behaviours. Groups of students greatly influence each other’s actions; Sixth Forms should create the right learning conditions at all times with ‘if…then’ planning including entire cohorts of learners.

So how can students become motivated to alter their learning habits? Schools that adopted the Premack principle of reinforcement by repeatedly encouraging better study habits proved to be the best motivation. Schools should aim to fundamentally increase time their Sixth Form students spend studying; this in turn means they will study more and as James, W (1890) proposed, these behaviours will work towards their goal of academic success.

This is possible if schools consider the physical environment and use of space in Sixth Form centres. By introducing blended learning, by giving choice and ownership of learning experiences to students this will also set the foundation for learning to learning. This can be achieved more effectively if you rethink the learning environment.

Noble and Eaton can support your Sixth Form students to achieve more successful outcomes. Call us to find out how.