In its broadest meaning, self-directed learning describes a process in which individuals take the initiative, with or without the help of others, in diagnosing their learning needs, formulating learning goals, identifying human and material resources for learning, choosing and implementing appropriate learning.
As an ACE Pillar, to self-direct means sustaining a laser focus on the goal and targeted outcome. Free from external stimuli that may impede progress and success. In involves students holding themselves accountable for applied effort and outcomes (results).
At the beginning of each semester, students set their own CUM and TERM GPA targets, and develop the strategies, and identify the support needed to achieve their targets. Utilizing the Growth Mindset, they focus on evaluating their outcomes against their own targets – not comparing their successes or failures to other students. The competition, if there is any, is with themselves. It also means learning how to discipline themselves to shut out or remove themselves from external distractions. Avoiding external distractions can be very difficult, especially during the first year of college, when fitting in and belonging may be equally important. The role of the ACE Coach is not to question whether the strategies or goals are realistic or unrealistic but to have students explain the methods they will use to achieve the goals. It is through the process of explaining the “how” they will accomplish it, and they learn whether what they are proposing is realistic or doable. Are they coming at it from the fixed mindset or the growth mindset? When a student can perceive for themselves, if their targets are unrealistic, or stretching them, they will make the necessary adjustments. Stretching is good – setting unrealistic and unattainable goals can lead to failure. If a student chooses the unrealistic and unattainable goals, their ACE Coach will encourage him/her to review the four ACE pillars, and to ask themselves which mindset they are using. The challenge in this situation is for the ACE Coach to stay in their lane and guide from the side – not advise.