Characteristics of Successful Distance Learners

So what does it take to be a successful distance learner? Researchers have found that students that have done well with distance classes:

  • Are highly motivated;
  • Are independent;
  • Are active learners;
  • Possess good organizational and time management skills;< /li>
  • Have discipline to study without external reminders; and
  • Can adapt to new learning environments

If this is not necessarily the words you would use to describe yourself, don't despair. Although you may lack one or two of these attributes, you now know that you need to develop these skills.

There are a number of web sites with self-tests to determine if you are prepared for distance learning. One of the better ones we've found is at the De Anza College Distance Learning Center. This site not only has the self-test but follows it with explanations of the need for certain characteristics. Take it and find out how ready you are for distance learning. While taking classes, pay special attention to the areas you need to improve.

Twelve Competencies for Self-Direction

Way back in 1986, Cafferella & Cafferella published what they had identified as the twelve competencies for self-direction. You can use this list to rate yourself on your abilities for self-direction. Realize that you will have different abilities in different situations and for different learning tasks. Rate yourself from 1-5 on the following (1 being low and 5 being high):

  1. The ability to diagnose your own learning needs realistically, with help when needed from teachers and peers.
  2. The ability to translate learning needs into learning objectives in a form that makes possible the accomplishment of those objectives.
  3. The ability to relate to teachers as facilitators, helpers, or consultants.
  4. The ability to identify human and material resources appropriate to different kinds of learning objectives.
  5. The ability to take the initiative in making use of the resources of your teachers.
  6. The ability to select effective strategies for suing learning resources.
  7. The ability to execute the learning strategies skillfully with initiative.
  8. The ability to gain knowledge and skill from the resources utilized.
  9. The ability to relate to peers collaboratively and to see them as resources for diagnosing, planning, and completing your learning.
  10. The ability to deal and cope with personal blocks to learning.
  11. The ability to renew your motivation for learning when it lags.
  12. The ability to evaluate your own work and get feedback from others about your progress.