‘Independent study is a process, a method and a philosophy of education:
in which a student acquires knowledge by his or her own efforts and develops the ability for inquiry and critical evaluation;
Independent learning is something that as an AST I am constantly asked to support colleagues with or demonstrate in galleried lessons. 2 of the more valuable, yet easy to use, resources can be seen below and a full article can be found on my website here
One other thing to note - if the students are working in groups it is advisable to assign them roles, again you can find a resource for it here.