TU/e innovation Space CBL Toolkit

Self-directed Learning

How might we (re)design my course/project so that students become self-directed learners? In this workshop, you will brainstorm ways in which students can take ownership of their learning journey. They identify their own learning goals, engage in research and exploration, seek feedback, and reflect on their progress. Self-directed learning enhances student motivation and independence, and helps students develop skills for lifelong learning. 


60-90 min.


For live session: post-its, pens, printouts of worksheet. For online session: Miro template, charged laptop, internet.


2-6 people, 1 facilitator.


It is recommended to have a basic understanding of constructive alignment prior to using this workshop. Learning objectives and assessment should be pre-defined.

Follow the steps of this workshop, to go from brainstorming on the topic of self-directed learning, to prioritising and developing an action plan for (re)design of your course/project.

The first activity of this method is called Self-directed learning (SDL) star worksheet. At this stage, you are asked to think out of the box and brainstorm as many ideas as you can on the topic. Follow the instructions below:


  1. Read the “How Might We… Question” in the yellow post-it.
  2. Read the 5 dimensions of Self-directed learning in the blue stars and their prompts: Active Learning: Ideas for learning activities or course setup that will enable students to engage with the content through reading, writing, listening, working, analysing, experimenting and thinking. Dealing with uncertainty: Ideas for learning activities or course setup that will expose students to a degree of uncertainty, enabling them to develop an entrepreneurial mindset. Self-regulation: Ideas for learning activities or course setup that will enable students to manage and organise their thoughts and turn them into skills useful for their learning. Manage own learning: Ideas for learning activities or course setup that will enable students manage their own learning tasks, enabling deep learning. Define own learning: Ideas for learning activities or course setup that will enable students to take ownership of their learning process, set their own learning goals and feel agency.
  3. Consider your own course. Brainstorm ideas following the prompts on the pentagon, focusing on one start at a time. Write them on post-its and stick them in the area of the star they correspond to.
  4. Brainstorm as many ideas as you can, prioritising quantity over quality at this stage.
  5. Once of a collection of ideas, ask yourself: does this idea cover one or more dimensions of Self-directed learning? If so, move the idea closer to the centre.

Now that you have brainstormed a lot of ideas for self-directed learning within your curriculum, it is time to start prioritising.


  1. Analyse all the ideas you came up with in the previous activity from an Impact perspective (how much this idea will enable students to work in self-directed learning way?) and Implementability (how easy it is to implement this topic in my/our course?) and stick them in the corresponding quadrant.
  2. Use the symbols that you find on the canvas to characterise your ideas: is it something that you wish to implement in your course? Or not at all? Is it something that is already somewhat implemented but could be strengthened? Or is it something that could be implemented, but you are currently not?

Now that you have a clearer overview of which ideas have more potential than others to be implemented, it is time to create an action plan!


  1. Focus on the ideas (that you haven’t marked with “Don’t want to implement”) in the outlined quadrants of the 3×3 template. Which steps do I/we need to take in order to implement this in my/our course? Break down the steps in the blue timeline on the canvas.
  2. What people, skills, facilities, materials are needed in order to make this happen? Reflect and note it down in the corresponding sections, named “Resources needed”.

At this point, you have a complete overview of which ideas you can integrate in your course and a step-by-step how to guide. Well done!

Resources and downloads

You can access the PDF worksheet canvases through the download button: they are ready for print.

Hey, this Chiara, Education Designer at TU/e innovation Space. How can I help you?

This toolkit is meant to be constantly evolving and improving. Do you have any questions or feedback to make this better? Or do you need help with the toolkit? Get in touch!