Teaching Independent Thinking

Using Functional Skills as a base for teaching and developing independent and critical thinking skills in students

Many students, especially those learning at entry levels, find working independently a challenge. Traditional teaching pedagogy requires students to replicate practised routines and procedures but when faced with a different set of challenges, many students then find it difficult to conceptualise problems and work out which techniques to apply, when and how.

By adopting a more andragogical approach to teaching that focusses on the development of independent thinking skills, collaborative learning, problem-solving and teambuilding strategies, teachers, trainers and tutors can provide a more appropriate approach for the teaching of English and Maths, especially for those students who have been failed by conventional teaching methods.

Teaching strategies that have been developed around self analysis and problem solving activities can better equip students to succeed outside the classroom especially in exams and when independent thinking is required.

This one-day workshop explores the strategies and approaches which seek to unpack exam questions, identify ways of achieving higher exam marks and help to create practical activities which will allow maths and English to be taught in a more relevant manner, whilst simultaneously promoting initiative and critical thinking skills.

For Whom
This workshop is designed for teachers, trainers, tutors and learning support staff who are teaching functional skills at entry levels. The workshop also offers benefits to those teaching functional skills from entry level to Level 2

Managers and those who observe teaching and training may also benefit from attending this course.

Delegate Feedback

Aims and Objectives
To demonstrate and explore:
• Practical and stimulating ways to teach functional skills maths and English
• How students’ independent thinking and learning skills can be nurtured and encouraged
• Strategies to help students unpack and plan relevant responses to exam questions
• Ways to embed the skills of representing, analysing and interpreting into teaching sessions


1. Introduction – understanding the learning process
A practical session involving an evaluation of the teaching and learning strategies that can assist learners to develop independent problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, along with an identification of potential barriers to learning

2. Skills levels
Session 2 explores ways to identify the level of knowledge and understanding required by students to attain successful Functional Skills results. It considers ways to interpret the language used by Awarding Organisations in order to identify skills levels needed in maths and English. Ways to link skills levels to the development of Individual Learning Plans. How to use critical thinking, problem solving and communication in learners in order to change their approach to answering exam questions

3. Exam techniques
Unpacking exam questions and exploring how examiners mark papers in order to develop more effective strategies to improve students’ abilities to answer exam questions.

4. Embedding exam skills in Functional Skills lessons
How maths skills such as representing, analysing and interpreting data and English skills such as representing, analysing and interpreting written information can be embedded into generic teaching sessions through the development of schemes of work