by Bob Whitesel D.Min. Ph.D., 9/5/17.
Students often request the “independent study” or IP option as a replacement for a course that isn’t offered within a reasonable timeframe.
However the title “independent study” can be misleading if it gives the impression that the student is going to just independently write up the assignments required in the course.
Rather the term “independent” connotes that a student will “independently” take an existing course syllabus and add to it learning activities that would equal and compensate for a 4-8 hours of classroom interaction each week.
Wesley Seminary provides students a form to fill out for an independent study that includes these stipulations. In the middle of the form are four boxes to be checked regarding additional material that must be attached to the application.
The four checked boxes and attachments indicate what additional learning activities the student has added to the syllabus to make this an “independent” study.
Remember, an independent study does not only mean that it’s done independently. But it also means that the student has “independently” created a course based on the provided syllabus which adds roughly 4-8 hours a week of student work that would have been part of the online or onsite discussion/interaction.
It isn’t hard to do, but an “independent study” does require the same amount of work as a course that has interaction with other students and with a professor. Thus, the student independently creates assignments and learning activities that compensate and equal the amount of time the student would have spent conversing with other students and faculty in a course that was taught live.
Here are ideas a student can use to create the 4-8 hours a week of work that would have been part of the online or onsite discussion/interaction in a live course.
First, remember that during a live course the interaction with students and professor would result in the following benefits:
- The student would be learning from other students about different contexts.
- From the professor they would be learning about the latest books and articles on the topic.
- This student would be operating in the higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. These levels would include:
- constructing, creating and/or designing something new,
- comparing and/or contrasting various models,
- prioritizing models for the student’s context
- synthesizing different ideas into a new idea,
- critiquing strengths and weaknesses in various approaches,
- supporting their ideas from valid and reliable research (i.e. juried research),
To compensate in an IP, a student might undertake the following ideas based upon the numbered bulleted points above:
- The student might interview people from various contexts (this is called primary research, where students go themselves to learn about something first-hand).
- The student would independently find and skim tools from the latest articles and books (that otherwise a professor might bring into class discussion).
- The student would demonstrate each week that they are evaluating, comparing creating and synthesizing ideas into a new, original plan that is indigenous to the student’s context. Be sure to read more about these higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.