Research suggests that the students who perform best commit to at least 5 hours of independent study per week, per subject. Ideally, this should not all take place in one sitting and independent study should be completed in a manner where it can be spread across a working week. It is our aim to gradually build and embed the necessary skills needed for students to be able to do this independently by the time they reach Year 13.
All teaching staff set independent study weekly through the ‘Assignments’ section of the MS Teams classroom.
What constitutes great independent study at TSFA:
The TSFA ‘6 Steps to Revision’ is based on research including the work of the VESPA Mindset team, which suggests that effort, in particular the right type of effort, makes a significant difference to student performance at A Level (Oakes & Griffin, 2016). Our six steps are supported by Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) and have been adapted from a blog first published by the Megan Issott (Long Road Sixth Form College) in the Sixth Form Colleges Association in 2022.
Students are explicitly taught the ‘6 Steps’ within their Trinity+ sessions and staff link the independent study they set to one of the ‘6 Steps’ so that students are able to see the learning process in action and understand HOW to revise for key assessments.
- Review: students are encouraged to go over previous lesson content at strategic points in line with the forgetting curve.
- Transform: flashcards, mind-maps, Cornell notes – students need to be taught how to use these methods successfully.
- Quiz: regular low stakes testing to develop strong neural pathways between the short- and long-term memory.
- Exam Questions: ensuring students are confident in applying the knowledge. This is often done through H.I.I.P as well as independent study.
- Exam Papers: more frequently set as independent study in the latter part of Y13 but also used in assessments to form a holistic picture of attainment.
- Above and Beyond: staff are expected to set an element of challenge within independent study to support excellence in students. This may take the shape of podcasts / videos / visits / supplementary reading etc.
The ‘6 Steps’ provide staff and students with a framework for revision, that is structured and progressive. The idea is that students access the full range of steps, rather than focusing too much on any one in isolation. The progressive nature of the steps means that students should aspire to revise more using exam questions and past papers, as they progress in terms of knowledge, skills and study habits. As students near examinations, steps 4 and 5 should be emphasised.