Self-directed learning

  • self-determination theory
    • Understanding motivation a person has to do something because it is inherently interesting to them


  1. Identify my learning goals.
    • I can’t achieve what I haven’t envisioned.
  2. Question the significance of things.
    • Make a habit of not taking things for face value.
  3. Seek out interesting challenges.
  4. Monitor my own learning process.
    • To set my own standards.
  5. Understand my own approach.
  6. Use game-based motivation strategies.
    • Give myself fun reasons to challenge myself and work hard.
  7. Start with background on a topic.
    • Get to know my topic by reading the Wiki page on it first.
    • It’s important to have context before I dive into details.
  8. Cultivate intrinsic motivation.
    • Intrinsic motivation doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but it can be learned.
    • Help myself enjoy learning more by collecting interesting facts or planning to share my knowledge with other people.
  9. Share my learning with peers and mentors.
    • My attention and memory both receive a boost when I picture myself relaying new material to another person.
  10. Create something out of what I’ve learned.
    • Make a habit of creating something–a diagram, a song, a journal entry– with the new material I’ve learned.
    • Not only will it help solidify the material in my long term memory, but it will also help I look forward to future learning endeavors.
  11. Build my own personal learning syllabus.
    • Now’s my chance. Learn what I want, when I want, how I want.
  12. Use time (or lack thereof) to my advantage.
    • We’re all busy, but sometimes this can be an advantage.
    • Take the thirty minutes I have during my lunch hour or post-work session at the gym to complete a “unit” on a topic of interest.
  13. Pursue knowledge, not good grades.
    • It’s hard to ignore grades when they seem to mean so much to university admissions staff.
    • But it’s important to keep in mind that they aren’t the end-all-be-all.
    • Grades don’t always reflect how much I’ve actually learned, and that’s what counts in the end.
  14. Create my own personal learning record.
    • There are so many great tools out there to help I document my learning.
    • Have some fun with a digital learning portfolio– especially ten years down the road when I’m going through my old notes and projects!
  15. Verbalise my achievements.
    • It’s one thing to know what I’ve learned; it’s quite another to make it known.
    • Verbalising my achievements can be extremely rewarding, and can help I reflect on what I think I’ve learned vs. what I’ve actually learned.
  16. Make a list of topics “to master.”
    • Creating a list of topics to master is almost as fun as crossing them off.
    • Remember to make concrete, easily-achievable goals as well as more general, overarching ones.
  17. Practise using what I’ve learned.
    • We all value knowledge we can actually use. Sometimes we need to make an effort to use it, though.
    • Create my own opportunities to use my knowledge and I’ll find the results very rewarding.
  18. Value progress over performance.
    • We never stop learning, and that’s one of the many reasons why self-directed learning can be so enjoyable.
    • Countless topics, questions, and problems means countless opportunities to feel stimulated and accomplished.
  19. Keep my goals realistic.
    • unrealistic goals. It’s easy to get discouraged when we don’t achieve what we want to.
  20. Build a network of “learning colleagues.”