Problem Statement

Self-directed learning readiness (SDLR) is a popular topic of study among adult educators (Confessore, Long, & Redding, 1993). Research on the topic is concentrated in several different topical areas including (a) the nature of self-directed learning (Bonham, 1989, 1991; Brookfield, 1988; Caffarella & O'Donnell, 1988; Candy, 1990, 1991; Jarvis, 1985, 1986, 1989; Long, 1988; Jones, 1989; Pratt, 1988), (b) the origins of SDLR (Guglielmino, 1977; Long & Stubblefield, 1994; Stubblefield, 1992), (c) the association of SDLR with other variables (Adenuga, 1991; Brockett, 1985a; Cloud, 1992; Eisenman, 1988; Finetone, 1984; Long, Redding & Eisenman, 1993; Stubblefield, 1992), and (d) the conceptual definition of self-directed learning (Brookfield, 1984, 1986; Knowles, 1975; Long, 1991b). Recently, investigators such as Cloud (1992), Guglielmino (1992), Long, Redding and Eisenman (1993, 1994), and Stubblefield (1992) have sought explanations for the evolvement and development of self-directed learning readiness. These investigators have studied different aspects of children's development.

For example, Stubblefield's (1992) retrospective study suggests social and parenting variables may be keys to a better understanding of how self-directed learning readiness develops or is nurtured. Cloud (1992) reports the possibility of a genetic connection, but also supports Stubblefield's findings. Long, Redding and Eisenman (1993) reveal that a group of 5th-grade students' readiness scores increased between the 5th and 8th grades; in a second report (1995), the authors note some interesting relationships between the 8th-graders' readiness scores and certain social activities. The findings in the above studies provide support for the argument that social conditions as found in family and other social contexts may be associated with SDLR.

Long's (1989b, 1990b) analysis of the biographies of Wilder Penfield and Peter the Great suggests self-directed learning behavior may be more closely related to the micro social context than to the broader cultural or macro-social developments. Given the nature of this study, however, it was not possible to obtain an estimate of magnitude of the self directed learning readiness. In contrast, Schooler (1990) provides support for reasoning that individualism is associated with the macro-social context. While individualism is not the sine qua non of self-directed learning readiness, it is possible to associate the two.

Long (1991c) provides a hypothetical model that may be useful in exploring the micro and macro social dimensions of self-directed learning development. It is a model that includes social context along with situational circumstances, personality, and social variables as interacting with self-directed learning. The model has not been tested, however. Thus, the research concerning the development of self-directed learning readiness is ambivalent. Schooler implies that the macro-social environment, usually referred to as culture, may contribute to the development of traits and behaviors identified with individualism. No study designed to analyze the relationship between the macro-social context, ages of individuals, and self-directed learning readiness and behavior has been identified. Thus, this study is designed to address the question concerning the relationship between self directed learning readiness and macro-social contexts associated with selected historical periods in twentieth century United States of America.


This research project is designed to determine the association between currently unidentified events in society and adult self-directed learning readiness as measured by Guglielmino's Self-Directed Learning Readiness Scale. More specifically, the study addresses the following research questions:
1. How are the demographic variables, such as age, sex, and educational level related to self-directed learning readiness?
2. How do individual reasons for pursuing a complex learning activity relate to levels of self-directed learning readiness?
3. What relationships, if any, exist between occupations and self-directed learning readiness?
4. Of all the variables studied, which combinations are the best predictors of self directed learning readiness?
5. What kind of relationship exists between historical events and the number of individuals who are high in self-directed learning readiness?


This study may have both practical and theoretical significance. The impact on practice may be associated with the study's findings concerning a relationship between events in society, increased self-directed learning activities and higher levels of self-directed learning readiness. Further practical implications may result from the identification of kinds of situations, historical, social, and cultural events, that are associated with increased self-directed learning activities and to increased self-directed learning readiness.

Practice may be improved by clarifying variables that are associated with the development of self-directed learning readiness in various learning situations. For example, certain kinds of events may be more important than others in the development of self-directed learning readiness. Knowledge of the kind of events associated with the development of self-directed learning readiness could guide educators in increasing the self directed learning readiness of students through the development of social situations that stimulate self-directed learning readiness.

Theoretical significance may emerge from an increased understanding of the nature of self-directed learning and development of self-directed learning readiness. Since both Stubblefield (1992) and Cloud (1992) leave open the question of how self-directed learning readiness is developed, and there is speculation that its development may be associated with individual experiences (Long, Redding, & Eisenman, 1993, 1994; Long, 1989b, 1990), then it is important to be able to identify the kinds of experiences that may be associated with, or at least influence the development of adult self-directed learning readiness.