SDL + Carnegie Mellon Study
Updated: Mar 15
By: Boo Earlewine
SDL, or Self Directed Learning, is a credit requirement for graduation at Quaker Valley. The SDL section on the QV website explains that 10th graders are asked to choose a self-directed project and document their progress throughout the year to “explore personal strengths and interests in a real-world context to help them realize their possible future selves.”
There are monthly meetings where students bring one piece of “evidence” such as photos, permission slips, physical items, or anecdotes collected from other people involved. These pieces of evidence help students prove in the final press conference what micro-credentials they acquired through this process.
These skills include but are not limited to perseverance, self-direction, social skills, professionalism, responsibility, etc. and are then listed on report cards once proven. This project serves as a concrete display of skills students can then use to further their school or work careers.
Current junior Isabella Murano did her SDL on making a website for a start-up she created called eco-assemble in the summer of 2020. Murano explains, “The whole idea behind it was teaching kids about the importance of the environment through steam based activity kits.” She entered it into a contest, Startable, where Murano had previously won 5th place in the general division, but this time she entered into the website division and won 2nd. Murano said, “it taught me about marketing, finance, product margins; basically all the nitty gritty behind creating your own company.”
There are a ton of cool projects in the works this year! Stevin Wallace is reinstating the Student GSA, Gay Straight Alliance. Lizzie Szuba is learning ASL to teach children at her church a song in sign language. Rena Gilligan is interviewing successful athletes about their experiences with staying focused through things like injuries to create a mental health resource for athletes online. Other student SDL projects include getting CPR certifications and taking AP self study courses. All of these projects are being used to better both student lives and the community.
Carnegie Mellon is doing a research study with the help of student volunteers to gain an understanding of how students use this opportunity to “notice personal growth and progress, reflect on skill development, articulate their project goals and process, and/or provide new opportunities to give and receive feedback on their creative projects,” as they explain in their permission form.
QV Academic Specialist, Dr. Conlon, urges students to volunteer stating, “It's not too late to sign up and participate in the CMU team's study of our SDL process and what you think about it!” The study consists of multiple surveys as well as in class observations. The estimated total time across 15 weeks is around 12 hours, or 1-1.5 hours a week. By participating in the study, students can both help further scientific studies and will receive 25 dollar compensation.