Self-directed learning

Jump to navigation Jump to search



  • “A process in which students take the initiative to diagnose their learning needs, formulate learning goals, identify resources for learning, select and implement learning strategies, and evaluate learning outcomes.The role of the instructor shifts from being the 'sage on the stage' to the 'guide on the side' in a self-directed learning environment.” ([1])
  • “Several things are known about self-directed learning: (a) individual learners can become empowered to take increasingly more responsibility for various decisions associated with the learning endeavor; (b) self-direction is best viewed as a continuum or characteristic that exists to some degree in every person and learning situation; (c) self-direction does not necessarily mean all learning will take place in isolation from others; (d) self-directed learners appear able to transfer learning, in terms of both knowledge and study skill, from one situation to another; (e) self-directed study can involve various activities and resources, such as self-guided reading, participation in study groups, internships, electronic dialogues, and reflective writing activities; (f) effective roles for teachers in self-directed learning are possible, such as dialogue with learners, securing resources, evaluating outcomes, and promoting critical thinking; (g) some educational institutions are finding ways to support self-directed study through open-learning programs, individualized study options, non-traditional course offerings, and other innovative programs.” (Hiemstra, 1994).

See also Learner autonomy and factors that may help self-direction such as self-regulation, reflection, metacognition, motivation.

Instructional design models

Some instructional design models focus more strongly on self-directed learning, e.g. the literature in writing-to-learn (Bangert 2004 et al.) or problem-based learning (Newman 2003; Shin et al. 1993), inquiry-based learning.

Specific tactics include using:

Technologies for self-directed learning

“Self-directed learning is a continuous engagement in acquiring, applying and creating knowledge and skills in the context of an individual learner's unique problems. Effectively supporting self-directed learning is one of the critical challenges in supporting lifelong learning. Self-directed learning creates new challenging requirements for learning technologies. Domain-oriented design environments address these challenges by allowing learners to engage in their own problems, by providing contextualized support, and by exploiting breakdowns as opportunities for learning.” (Fischer and Scharff, 1998: Abstract)

The same authors formulate the following requirements for computational envionments [2]. Such systems must:

  • be simultaneously user-directed and supportive, i.e., the choice of tasks and goals (including the learning opportunities offered) must be under the control of the user/learner, and the support provided by the system must be contextualized to the user\u2019s task;
  • be sufficiently open-ended and complex that users will encounter breakdowns. The system must provide means for allowing users to understand, extricate themselves from, and learn from these breakdowns;
  • provide means for significant modification, extension, and evolution by users;
  • support a range of expertise, because such systems will be employed over long periods of time by their users and must be able to accommodate users at progressively different levels of expertise;
  • must promote collaboration by supporting people to overcome the symmetry of ignorance and allow stakeholders to learn from each other and create mutual understanding.




  • Bangert-Drowns, Robert L, Hurley, Marlene M, Wilkinson, Barbara (2004). The Effects of School-Based Writing-to-Learn Interventions on Academic Achievement: A Meta-Analysis Review of Educational Research 2004 74: 29-58 .
  • Ahteenmäki-Pelkonen, L. 1994. From self-directedness to interdependence? An analysis of Mezirow's conceptualization of self-directed learning. In: S. Tösse & B. Wahlgren & J. Manninen & M. Klasson (1994) (eds.) Social Change and Adult Education Research - Adult Education Research in Nordic Countries 1992/93. Trondheim: Norsk Voksenpedagogisk Institut.
  • Blumberg, P. & Michael, J. Development of self-directed learning behaviours, Teaching & Learning in Medicine. 4,1, (1992), pp 3 - 8
  • Blumberg, P. (2000). Evaluating the evidence that problem-based learners are self-directed learners: A review of the literature. In D. H. Evensen & C. E. Hmelo (Eds.), Problem-based learning: A research perspective on learning interactions (pp. 199-226). New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.
  • Brockett, R. G., & Hiemstra, R. (1991). Self-direction in adult learning: Perspectives on theory, research, and practice. New York: Routledge.
  • Brockett, R. G., Stockdale, S. L., Fogerson, D. L., Cox, B. F., Canipe, J. B., Chuprina, L. A., Donaghy, R. C., & Chadwell, N. E. (2000, February). Two decades of literature on self-directed learning: A content analysis. Paper presented at the 14th International Self-Directed Learning Symposium, Boynton Beach, Florida. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED449348)
  • Dochy, F.; Segers, M.; Sluijsmans, D. (1999). The use of self-, peer and co-assessment in higher education: A review. Studies in Higher Education, Volume 24, Number 3, doi:10.1080/03075079912331379935
  • Donaghy, R. C., Robinson, M., Wallace, A. H., Walker, K., & Brockett, R. G. (2002, February). A citation analysis of literature on self-directed learning. Paper presented at the 16th International Self-Directed Learning Symposium, Boynton Beach, Florida.
  • Fischer, G. and Scharff, E. (1998). Learning Technologies in Support of Self-Directed Learning. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 98 (4) [ HTML Hypertext] - HTML - PDF.
  • Garrison, D. Randy (2003.) Self-directed learning and distance education. in Moore, M.G. and Anderson W.G. Handbook of Distance Education. ISBN 0805839240.
  • Garrison, D.R. (1997). Self-directed learning: Toward a comprehensive model. In Adult Education Quarterly, Fall 97 v 48 n 1, p18, 16 p.
  • Guthrie, J.T., Solomon, A. & Rinehart, J.M. (1997). Engagement in Reading for Young Adolescents. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy; v40 n6 p438-46 Mar 1997.
  • Hiemstra, R. (1994). Self-directed learning. In T. Husen & T. N. Postlethwaite (Eds.), The International Encyclopedia of Education (second edition), Oxford: Pergamon Press. Reprint
  • Houle, C. O. (1988). The inquiring mind (2nd ed.). Norman, OK: Oklahoma Research Center for Continuing Professional and Higher Education, University of Oklahoma.
  • Long, H. B. (1989). Self-directed learning: Emerging theory and practice. In H. B. Long & Associates, Self-directed learning: Emerging theory and practice. Norman, OK: Oklahoma Research Center for Continuing Professional and Higher Education.
  • Guglielmino, Lucy Madsen; Huey B. Long, and Roger Hiemstra (2004). Historical Perspectives Series: Self-Direction in Learning in the United States, International Journal of Self-Directed Learning, 1 (1) 2004.
  • Lyman, B. G. (1998). Learning strategies for the Internet: Playing Catch Up, Proceedings of 1998 Ed-media conference.
  • Mardziah Hayati Abdullah (2001). Self-Directed Learning, Eric Digest, EDO-CS-01-10 December 2001, HTML
  • Newman, Paul, (2003). A pilot systematic review and meta-analysis on the effectiveness of Problem Based Learning, ltsn special report 2, PDF
  • Schunk, Dale H. & Barry J. Zimmerman (1994) (eds.), Self-regulation of Learning and Performance: Issues and Educational Applications. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. ISBN 0805813357
  • Shin, J.H., Haynes, R.B., and Johnston, M.E. Effect of problem-based, self-directed undergraduate education on lifelong learning, CMAJ. 148,6, (1993), pp 969 - 976
  • Stockdale, S. L., Fogerson, D. L., Robinson, M. G., & Walker, K. (2003). The self-directed learning literature: a more inclusive look. In H. G. Long & Associates, Current developments in e-learning & self-directed learning (pp. 30-43). Boynton Beach, FL: Motorola University [ CD-ROM on-line sale).
  • Taylor, B. (1995). Self-Directed Learning: Revisiting an Idea Most Appropriate for Middle School Students. Paper presented at the Combined Meeting of the Great Lakes and Southeast International Reading Association, Nashville, TN, Nov 11-15
  • Zimmerman Barry J. & Dale H. Schunk (2001). Self-regulated Learning and Academic Achievement: Theoretical Perspectives, Lawrence Erlbaum. ISBN 0805835601.--------

Content of this article has been taken from EduTechWiki (en) or EduTechWiki (fr) at the date indicated in the history. DKS was the main founder and main contributor of EduTechWiki. If you cite this page you also must cite and credit EduTechWiki, according to the CC BY-NC-SA license. View the pageinfo-toolboxlink for this article.