Self or independent-learning requires students to
take responsibility for their own learning. In the
process, students acquire the knowledge and skills
needed to make responsible decisions for their own
learning. Independent learning can be fostered by
opportunities and experiences which encourage
student's intellectual development and his/her
capacity for independent and reflective judgment.
All these are based on students' awareness of their
own interests and talents and an appreciation of
learning for learning's sake.
Independent learning involves interaction between
the educator and students. The lecturer plays the role of a facilitator and shows students how to
learn independently. For example, the lecturer
can motivate students to learn independently
through well-organised and interesting lectures
or encourage students to learn through trial and
error. The lecturer should also provide adequate
feedback on students' learning and encourage
them in their efforts. Further, students should
be allowed to learn at their own pace and feel in
control of their learning.
Students learn independently when they reflect
on the lecture and follow up with an independent
study or from other students, tutors and lecturers
around them when they engage in practical work.
Students also learn independently when they
search for information on the Internet and in the
With the concept of self-learning in mind, I
attempted to promote self-learning in a crossfaculty
graduate level module, BL5201 "Structural
Biology and Proteomics". The objective of this
module was to provide students with a strong
foundation on basic concepts on structural biology
and proteomics with a special emphasis on recent
developments. I believe that at the post-graduate
level, students should be given opportunities to
explore and discover information by themselves.
Thus we used a series of lectures related to
fundamental concepts and recent advancements
to stimulate students' interest in the subject.
Tutorial sessions aimed to cover all bioinformatics
aspects of students' structural biology projects.
In addition to lectures, tutorials and oral
presentations, students were required to write
critical reviews on recent research papers from
top-level journals. Students could choose from
four major areas within structural biology and
proteomics but their oral presentations and
critical reviews had to come from two different
research areas. The oral presentations helped
boost student's confidence while the writing
exercise encouraged students to be creative.
Further, all students were given unique
assignments to solve real world practical
problems/queries on multiple aspects in structural
biology. I provided unique protein sequences to
each student who was then required to elaborate
on 15 fundamental structural biology questions
pertaining to the assigned protein sequences.
Such practical problems helped students learn how
to handle real world problems. During tutorial
sessions, students were asked similar questions to
make sure that students could solve the problems
successfully and independently.
In summary, the activities in the module enabled
individual learners to take responsibility for their
own learning and develop skills essential for