Review of the Literature
The literature of self-directed learning can be divided into three major
topical areas; the nature of self-directed learning readiness, the nature
of self-directed learning, and self directed learning's origins and maintenance.
Long (1988) points out that self-directed learning are not some modern phenomena,
but self-directed learning is a modern research topic. Confessore (1992)
considers self-directed learning and human's need to learn to be the essence
of what defines the human. Others (Brookfield, 1984) have at times adopted
the notion that self-directed learning is the defining characteristic of
the adult learner. It is, however, a topic that requires further research
and explanation (Cloud, 1992; Long, Eisenman & Redding, 1993; Stubblefield,
Nature of Self-Directed Learning Readiness
Guglielmino (1977) focused attention on the concept of readiness for self-directed learning when the Guglielmino Self-Directed Learning Readiness Scale (SDLRS) was developed. The SDLRS was developed to examine and explore the phenomenon of self direction in learning (Guglielmino, 1977). With the introduction of her SDLRS she operationalized the construct and provided an important tool for conducting research into questions concerning (a) who is a self-directed learner?, (b) is SDLR stable across a life time?, (c) is SDLR associated with other measurable human attributes?, (d) can an individual's level of SDLR be changed through an intervention strategy?, (e) what are the characteristics of individuals associated with 'high' or 'low' SDLR, among others?
The SDLRS was based on a survey of abilities, attitudes, and personality characteristics related to self-directed learning (Guglielmino, 1977). It was designed to measure readiness for self-directed learning, to select suitable learners for self-directed learning programs, and to screen learners by identifying their strengths and weaknesses in self-direction in learning (Guglielmino, 1977). Others, looking for the origins of SDLR, have conceived SDLR as primarily a personality trait that is developed through a combination of genetics and environment (Cloud, 1992; Stubblefield, 1992; Long, Redding, & Eisenman, 1993). Long (1993a) points out that the SDLRS does not inform investigators as to the origin of SDLR, but that research conducted with the instrument supports the notion that SDLR develops because of the interaction of genetic and environmental influences.
SDLR changes over time (Long, Redding, & Eisenman, 1993). An ongoing longitudinal study of 5th, 8th, and 11th-grade students has demonstrated that there is a significant group increase in SDLR between the 5th, 8th and 11th-grade (Long, Redding, & Eisenman, 1994). For some children, however, there was a dramatic increase in SDLR, and for others, an even more dramatic decrease in SDLR. The study, though rich in environmental qualitative data, does not adequately explain the individual changes in SDLR (Long, Redding, & Eisenman, 1993).
Nature of Self-Directed Learning
Self-directed learning has been conceptualized as a psychological construct, a pedagogical construct and as a sociological construct (Long, 1989a). As a psychological construct, self-directed learning is related to the cognitive domain. According to Long the psychological construct is the most critical because it is helpful in understanding elements of the other two. The sociological construct, which has been associated with independent learning, describes self-directed learning in terms of isolated and independent learners. This construct usually places learners within a prescribed curriculum that guides their independent learning. Examples of this kind of learning are correspondence courses and computer assisted instruction each of which typically occur in isolation. This view of self directed learning does not address directly the psychological process or procedures by which the learner learns.
The construct that addresses the procedures of self-directed learning is the pedagogical model. Derived from Tough's (1967) early work on self-teaching, and informed by Knowles (1975), it describes a sequential process in which the learner sets goals, identifies resources, allocates effort and time to learning, and establishes the how and what kind of evaluation will occur for the learning outcome. The level of self directedness is tied to the degree of freedom the learner has to control the procedures involved (Long, 1989a). Numerous individuals have studied self-directed learning in formal educational settings (Kasworm, 1983; Hiemstra, 1988; Smith, 1988) and others have sought to address self-directed learning in terms of learning theory (Danis & Tremblay, 1988) and the method of studying questions concerning self-directed learning (Spear, 1988; Long & Agyekum, 1983). The nature of self-directed learning is a well studied topic (Confessore, Long & Redding, 1993), however, the explanations for the origins of self-directed learning readiness continue to be elusive.
Origins, Development, and Maintenance
This part of the literature review is organized into three distinct domains of study. First, research material concerned with whether self-directed learning is a result of nature (genetic) or nurture (social) is discussed. Second, literature on self-directed learning grouped under the heading, Psychological Component of Self-Directed Learning, is considered. The third broad category of this part of the review considers research that generally falls under the heading social context.
Nature versus Nurture
A question that has been addressed to some degree by the researchers cited below has to do with whether self-directed learning is a result of nature, the genetic inheritance of the individual, or is influenced by the social environment. The answer does not appear to be a choice of one or the other, but rather, a matter of the degree to which nature and nurture contribute to the development of self-directed readiness in an individual. This question is addressed more fully in the following sections.
Cloud (1992) studied the origin of self-directed learning readiness. Specifically, Cloud sought to determine the relationship between readiness for self-directed learning in elementary school students with their parents' readiness for self-directed learning. This author concluded that a significant association exists between the SDLRS scores of children and their parents. The findings indicate that there may be a genetic component to the formation of self-directed learning readiness, but also found support for the notion that it is somehow associated with intrafamilial social relationships.
Stubblefield (1992) also explored questions associated with the origin of self directed learning readiness. Specifically Stubblefield sought to determine the association between childhood experiences and adult self-directed learning readiness. Using a sample of undergraduates and graduate students, a study was conducted based on quantitative and qualitative information. Using the SDLRS, Stubblefield segmented the respondents into quartiles and used the qualitative component of the study to identify the childhood experiences associated with the subjects in the lowest and the highest quarter of scores. Certain elements, such as unconditional love, motivation, responsibility, self-concept and sensitivity to the concept of control seemed to be limited to those scoring high on the SDLRS. The study found that intrafamilial relationships are important, but she was unable to fully explain the origins of self-directed learning readiness.
According to Guglielmino (1992) the most critical area of research in self-directed learning is the question of what contributes to an understanding of how the skills and attitudes involved in self-direction are developed. Guglielmino reported on the initial stage of multi-phase study designed to explore the origins of readiness for self-directed learning. This initial phase focused on the earliest potential influences and explored the possible familial relationships in the development of readiness for self-directed learning. Specifically, it considered the possibility of sibling relationships in levels of readiness for self-directed learning. The study found no apparent sibling relationships in levels for self directed learning, with the exception of twins within the same grade. However, no further data on other phases of the study have been reported by Guglielmino.
Kuhlen (1968) identified three major interrelated factors associated with "readiness for learning" (p. 39). The first two are levels of physical development and an appropriate psychological state. The third, subsumed under the heading "background experience," includes family experiences that "affect perception and motivations" (p. 39). Thus, readiness for learning is tied to the interrelated factors of physiological and psychological development in conjunction with the experiences learners encounter in their environment. Discussing studies associated with the notion of "cultural deprivation" and "culturally disadvantaged," Kuhlen demonstrates that an individual's environment can have an impact on successful learning.
Psychological Component of Self-Directed Learning
Literature concerning the psychological component of self-directed learning addresses how self-directed learning develops, and indicates to some degree the way in which learning is affected by environment. First, the importance of reviewing the literature on the psychology of self-directed learning is addressed, then links between the cognitive domain and the social domain are discussed; finally, the development of learning from a cognitive perspective is reviewed.
Long (1992b) indicates it is important to consider the discipline of psychology in order to understand self-directed learning. During a review of the literature on the nature of self-directed learning, Long (1989a) cited three critical dimensions, pedagogical, societal, and psychological. Of the three, Long considered the psychological aspects of self-directed learning to be the most important because it is the psychology of the individual self-directed learner that interacts within the other two dimensions.
The critical dimension in self-directed learning is not the sociological variable, nor is it the pedagogical factor. The main distinction is the psychological variable, which is the degree to which the learner, or the self, maintains active control of the learning process (Long, 1989a, p. 3). Therefore, it is important to consider the psychological dimension while studying the origins and maintenance of self-directed learning readiness.
Flavell (1963) associates the social construct of learning with the psychological domain. Flavell noted that the distinctive differences between pre-adulthood intellectual changes, as compared to cognitive changes in adults, are associated with biological maturational factors. Pre-adult intellectual changes are associated with the inevitable growth of neurologically intact children (1970a); but, intellectual changes in adults are quite different according to Flavell. Intellectual change in adults occurs in the absence of biological growth factors and is associated with their experiences.
Flavell's (1963) description of biological-maturation factors is grounded in Piagetian cognitive development theory. This theory holds that cognition is an organized affair like digestion. Cognition is the adaptation of information, which includes assimilation and accommodation, and an intellectual response to one's environment. Piaget based his concept of psychological-development on the interaction between the individual and the environment; "every instruction from without presupposes a construction from within" (Flavell, 1970b, p. 406).
Piaget's (1952) learning theory may provide an explanation of how certain individuals become self-directed learners as they adapt to certain social environments. According to Piaget, organisms at each stage of life have a basic goal--to adapt to the environment. By adapt, Piaget means to function effectively in the world. Piaget explains the development of cognitive structures as an interaction between biological maturation and environment. Thus, it is during periods of physical maturation that cognitive development occurs in response to individual environments.
To date the study of the social context of self-directed learning has been dominated by the micro-social paradigm. There are several research studies available in the literature, however, which also inform the study of self-directed learning from a macro-social point of view. Studies of both the micro and the macro environment will be reviewed in this section.
Micro-Social. This section summarizes pertinent literature concerned with the association between learners' immediate environment and their self-directed learning readiness. Literature associated with micro-social learning situations and their relationship to the origins, development and maintenance of self-directed learning are discussed.
Long, Redding and Eisenman (1993, 1994, 1995) have been involved with a longitudinal study of school age children and the development of self-directed learning readiness. Addressing the question ". . . does SDLR change across time in school?" to identify or provide an explanation for the change. The investigators found that it does change between the 5th and 8th grade and again between the 8th and 11th grade; and that generally there is an increase in self-directed learning readiness in students from the fifth to the eighth grade, and then from the 8th grade to the 11th grade. The investigators were unable to identify a reason for the change in individual scores. Therefore, the investigators consider the study to be nonconclusive in explaining why SDLRS scores increased (Long, Redding, & Eisenman, 1995).
Spear and Mocker (1984) address the mechanism that triggers or precedes the act of engaging in self-directed learning. They argue that it is the individual's response to the environment, based on life experiences that sets the stage for self-directed learning to occur. Spear and Mocker contend that self-directed learning occurs as a direct result of the organizing circumstance of the environment within which the learner is located. Therefore, self-directed learning occurs as a result of an organizing circumstance; but, they recognize that each individual brings to those circumstances a wide range of experiences that tend to establish boundaries and limit the individual's perception of choice.
The notion of a "trigger" is also presented by Aslanian and Brickell (1980) as a way of describing the causes for adults to engage in learning (p. 36). While Aslanian and Brickell focused on adults, their rationale is useful in illuminating how certain situations or collective events in an individual's environment can trigger a response that results in a learning activity regardless of age. Thus an "event" can provide the trigger that releases the motivation to engage in a particular learning activity.
Cronbach (1968) provides an explanation as to the source of motivation for young learners involved in discovery learning. The learners were exploring mathematical concepts and ". . . creating brand-new mathematics, discovering a theorem not in any text" (p. 21). The association of discovery with the excitement of exploration built into the learning experience of Cronbach's students, "offered much the same reinforcement that the mathematician finds at the frontier of knowledge" (p. 21). Cronbach indicated that the self directed learning experience (although the term was not used) contributed to the lifelong learning motivation of the students. Cronbach described it in these terms:
This enforcement [sic] is thought to be an important element in arousing motivation for advanced study and a scholarly career, and in leading the average person to view quantitative reasoning as familiar and joyful rather than alien. (p. 22).
Cronbach indicates that a self-directed learner might experience an intrinsic
form of pleasure that provides motivation and reinforcement for engaging
in learning. In other words, the individual's learning success becomes the
reward that motivates the self-directed learner to continue learning.
Flavell (1977) seems to be concerned with a similar form of motivation called cognitive motivation. Flavell describes it as the factors and forces that activate or intensify human cognitive processes. This author associates motivation with the explanation for why learning occurs.
White (1968) extends motivational theory with an assembly of evidence that indicates the behavior of higher animals can be explained only by assigning a significant role to a drive for competence or mastery. According to White the satisfaction of this drive comes from being able to bend the environment to one's will, rather than from social approval or escape from discomfort. White identifies it as the impetus to learn, and also as an outcome of instruction. Cronbach (1968) notes little is known about the kind and amount of educational experience needed to maintain the child's initial alert interest in any aspect of knowledge.
Brill and Hayes' (1981) thesis for understanding change and adaptation posits the importance of society and environment in shaping the expenditure of human energy. One quotation from their text is especially interesting. ". . . the social character has the function of molding human energy for the purpose of the functioning of a given society " (p. 65). It is their contention that molding by 'social character' occurs without the awareness of the individual. That individual behavior is not always a reflection of conscious decisions "but that people want to act as they have to act and at the same time find gratification in acting according to the requirements of the culture (p. 65)."
Mezirow (1990) indicates that learning is tied closely to construing appropriate meaning from individual experiences. Mezirow considers understanding human experiences to be a basic need and associates it with adult learning. Importantly, this author ties the development of "meaning perspectives" to the childhood socialization process (p. 3). Mezirow states: "Transformative learning is not a private affair involving information processing; it is interactive and intersubjective from start to finish" (p. 364). While Mezirow's Perspective Transformation Learning is concerned with construing meaning from experience as a guide to action, it has been criticized (Clark & Wilson, 1991) for failing to account for context. Specifically, Clark and Wilson were concerned that Mezirow failed to account for the historical context during which his study was conducted. Identifying Mezirow's problem as one of balance they point out that transformative learning pivots on the process of rendering meaningful experience, and that Mezirow places too much emphasize on individual agency at the expense of fully considering the social dimension.
The findings of a preliminary study of amateur radio operators (Redding, 1991; Redding & Aagaard, 1992) are consistent with the discussion above. Amateur radio operators, found to be self-directed learners, identified situations in their formative years that can be described as organizing circumstances that triggered their impetus to apply themselves to the task of learning new technology as a way to gain mastery over their environment, communicate, discover far away places, and be of service to their community. The fact that many, responding to how they came to have amateur radio as a hobby, could remember a specific instance, circumstance or event that left them with an abiding interest in amateur radio or related subjects may be of some significance.
Typically, this event occurred during the pre-teen years. Massey (1979), too, mentions the importance of pre-teen years in the formulation of an individual's value system. Massey 's window, ages 8 to 12 years, appears to be the same window of time described by highly self-directed learners during which they encountered a triggering event (Redding, 1991). Redding described this event as "the first moment of lasting excitement" (Redding & Aagaard, symposium presentation, 1992b). Also, it closely corresponds with Piaget's 'concrete operations' stage (about 7-11 years of age) reported by Flavell (1963) as a period during which important cognitive structures are developed (p. 164).
Several authors converge on the importance of this formative period in shaping the individual to respond in a particular way to the environment. Piaget (1952) explains the development of cognitive structures as an interaction between biological maturation and environment. The formation of these cognitive structures, as a result of experiences, seems to reflect Schooler's (1990) notion of being self-directed in order to adapt to a changing environment. The formation of these cognitive structures also reflects the attributes of Jarvis' (1986) concept of being a pro-active learner. One point that is not clear, however, is whether or not Massey's (1979) scheme of value formation is a factor in triggering lifelong learning for self-directed learners. Tentative support for such a position is suggested in Schooler's cultural anthropological studies, however.
Long, (1989a, 1991c) provides two models that address self-directed learning in a micro-social context. The first model describes a learner in a group situation that explicates the relationship between pedagogical control (the control exercised by the teacher) and the psychological control (the control exercised by the student) in a learning situation. The second model, which is actually five separate heuristic pathway models using the same variables, but with a different set of relationships among variables, places the learner in a social context and notes the possibility of the interaction among contextual circumstance, learner's personality, the larger society, and the individual's personal situation.
A recurring theme in Long's (1989a) work is the psychological control that the learner exerts in a variety of learning environments. It is this premise that permits Long to argue that self-directed learning is present to some degree in all learning situations. The range of learning situations that Long uses to illustrate his point ranges from the autonomous, for whom the parameters and learning activities are personally established, to the learner engaged in a formal group learning situation. In the formal learning situation the institution or teacher controls the learning situation, but Long points out that the individual may never fully release psychological control of the learning situation, and therefore continues to exercise some level of self-directed learning (control) in all learning situations.
Long (1989, 1991) developed a theory and illustrative model, applicable to the micro-social aspects of self-directed learning, that explicates the relationship between the individual learner in a variety of group learning situations. The model uses a tetramorphic scale to illustrate the relationship between pedagogical control of the learning situation and the psychological control exercised by the individual learner as shown in Figure 1.
In Long's (1989a) illustration, self-directed learning is expressed in terms of the interaction between two dimensions. The first dimension is the amount of psychological control the learner has over the pedagogical process. The second, is the teacher's level of pedagogical control. The illustration demonstrates the differing degrees of pedagogical and psychological influence that exist in a micro-social learning situation. For example, in quadrate I the learner has high psychological control while the teacher exercises low pedagogical control. His theory suggests that under this set of micro-social conditions self direction in learning would be high for those who have a high propensity for self-directed learning. The opposite micro-social condition exists in quadrate III. In quadrate III, as the teacher exercises high pedagogical control, the learner's opportunity to exercise
psychological control is lower. Under these conditions Long's theory would suggest that self-direction in learning would be low.
From Long's (1989a) model inference can be drawn concerning the development and maintenance of self-directed learning (1989). Long suggests that quadrate I and III represent situations that may match a teacher's level of control. A highly self-directed learner, exercising high psychological control would find quadrate I satisfying, while a learner with low psychological control may prefer quadrate III. In both situations, learner satisfaction may be high and the individual learning preference reinforced. In quadrates II and IV the opposite is true and individual learning preferences may be frustrated, not reinforced, and the likelihood of the student dropping out increases, however. In all cases self-directed learning is most likely in quadrate I and II. For a highly self-directed learner, however, quadrate II would appear to be the worst kind of situation from a maintenance of self-directed learning perspective. The following heuristic model (Long, 1991c) depicts the way context, personality, social environment and situations can combine to increase the likelihood the self-directed learning will occur. It is the simplest of two models shown that illustrate the importance of various factors on the development of self-directed learning (see Figure 2).
Long's (1991) heuristic models each contain the same variables: (a) contextual, (b) situational, (c) social and (d) personality. Long suggests that these same variables may interact in various ways to result in self-directed learning. Another way of conceiving the relationships between the variables is shown below (see Figure 3).
While current literature does not indicate the path of the interaction between the categorical variables in Long's models, the models appear to explicate potential relationships in the components of the micro-social self-directed learning environment.
Macro-Social. Questions associated with what the literature has to say about the role of the self-directed learner's environment in the development of self-directed learning readiness are addressed in the following pages Four major authors' works will be explored. First, the research by Schooler (1990), that addresses the role of the macro society (culture) in the origins and maintenance of "self-directedness" is discussed. Second, the writing of Massey (1979), who addresses the role value formation plays during early stages of an individual's life in determining adult values, is reviewed. Third, Jarvis' (1985, 1986, 1990) work is reviewed in terms of his research and writings concerning the influence of society on individual self-directed learning readiness. Finally, Long's (1989b, 1990b) work in biographical essays concerning Penfield and Peter the Great will be reviewed as a way to provide a historical macro-social perspective.
Schooler (1990), a cultural anthropologist, has written on the role of the macro society (culture) in establishing conditions in which members of a society are inclined to be self-directed. In equating self-directedness with individualism, Schooler provides support for reasoning that individualism is associated with the macro-social context by tying a society's valuing of self-directedness to the society's success at adapting to change. Whether individualism is, or is not, the sine qua non of self-directed learning readiness, it is possible to associate the two. Using three different cultures to illustrate her points Schooler argues that not only is self-directedness a characteristic of the three cultures, but more importantly, stresses that it is the macro-society's valuing of the individual's self directedness that encourages the development of the trait within members of the society. Schooler argues that the macro-society can effect self-directedness of its individual members and that it is the individual member's self-directedness that permits the society to successfully adapt to a changing environment.
In Schooler's (1990) theory, self-directedness is viewed as a cultural adaptive mechanism that permits a society to respond to change. Successful societies adapt most readily. These conclusions are based on cultural anthropological work with prehistoric cultures, 13th to 19th century England, 16th century Japan, and modern industrialized societies. The author notes that self-directed behavior occurs in response to complex changing environments. Rapid cultural changes occur and demand increased individualism. In the case of England, individualism led to technological change and development. Schooler provides no clear explanation of the cause for the relationship between individualism and the degree to which it is prized within a culture. Therefore, there is no ultimate answer about why such effects occur. However, the author concludes that modern industrialized nations must embrace self-directedness in order to be successful.
Massey (1979) associates value formation with the major formative events that occur within a macro-society during an individual's critical formative period between ages 8 to 12 years of age. Massey's period of ages 8 to 12 years closely parallels Piaget's 'concrete operations' stage (about 7-11 years of age) reported by Flavell (1963) as "a period during which important cognitive structures are achieved" (p. 164)." It is Massey's contention that this value formation directly influences the choices that adults make, including providing the motivation to learn.
Massey's (1979) theory of value formation also addresses the critical period of human development by classifying people according to separate decades; accordingly he proposes that values are formed, to a large degree, based on what is occurring in a society during an individual's formative years. According to Massey, value formation may be a useful construct to explain why some individuals, from a given decade, are more highly self-directed than others. Individual value formation can explain why attitudes associated with "work ethic,""independence," and "hard work" seem to vary from generation to generation (p. 9). Each of these attitudes, according to Massey, is a reflection of "who you were when" (p. 51 ). In other words, the historical events of a given decade affect the kind of values an individual forms, and these values become fixed and are part of "who" the individuals are, for the rest of their lives.
The following three authors provide support for Massey's (1979) notions concerning the importance of value formation within the macro-social environment. Bandura (1986) identifies an individual's past environment as one of two causes for current behavior. Interestingly, Bandura places emphasis on "past environmental inputs" and identifies it as a "truism" (p. 16) that peoples' actions are affected by their past experiences. Jarvis (1992) examines how certain attributes of a society, such as freedom to choose, can influence the self-directedness of a society's members. Importantly Jarvis explores the impact individual "biographies" have on the choices the individual makes later in life. Jarvis' position seems to be supportive of Massey's theory concerning value formation. Candy (1991) and Jarvis (1985, 1986) tie in Schooler's (1990) concept concerning individualism and self-directedness indirectly without reference to her work. The connection is made through their association of the concept of self-directed learning with the value of independence and individualism in American culture. These authors indicate this may explain why self-directed learning is associated uniquely with being American.
Candy (1991) observed "In the past , self-direction was seen essentially as a personal quality or attribute.."(p. 246). Even though Candy provides no evidence, he asserts that learning was viewed as a process of acquiring attitudes, skills, and knowledge from outside the self; and individuals were seen as substantially asocial atoms, independent of their social and cultural environments. Candy believes this view is changing. Self direction is now, according to Candy, acknowledged as a product of the interaction between the person and the environment; knowledge is recognized as tentative, evanescent, and socially constructed; learning is defined as a qualitative shift in how phenomena are viewed; and individuals are seen in a complex and mutually interdependent relationship with their environments. Thus, according to Candy, our understanding of the concept, self-directed learning, is emerging as it moves from a concept associated principally with individual development to one that includes the impact of social and cultural environments.
Long (1989b, 1990b) approached questions concerning the origins of self-directed learning from a historical (micro and macro-social) perspective by studying the biographies of Wilder Penfield and Peter the Great. Long found the most significant relationships in the micro-social relationships. Penfield was a pioneer neurosurgeon who, like Peter the Great, demonstrated a life time of self-directed learning. Peter the Great was a self-educated man, recognized as expert in several diverse fields. Both Penfield and Peter the Great demonstrate the development of self-directed learning within the context of rapidly changing and dynamic societies. The study of their biographies contain both micro and macro social insights, and thus informs both areas. Long concluded that the freedom available to an individual in early childhood (micro-social) was predominant over the influence of the larger social environment (macro-social). Long also concluded that biographies can provide a stimulating source of material for the study of self-directed learning. Further, Long's biographical research, informs the methodology of research by indicating the value of biography in the study of self-directed learning.
Research Methods Used to Study Self-Directed Learning
This section reviews research associated with self-directed learning. Specifically research design, methodology, and instrumentation are discussed.
Design and Methodology
Confessore, Long, and Redding (1993) report that of 556 items associated with self-directed learning, 363 were research items. Several researchers have been critical, to one degree or another, of self-directed learning research (Brookfield, 1984; Candy, 1991; Caffarella, 1988). The criticisms include being based on one research method, quantitative analysis; one instrument, the SDLRS; one kind of sample, white middle class; ignored the social context by focusing on isolated learners; and finally, placed insufficient emphasis on the social and political implications (Brookfield, 1984). Long (1994) challenges Brookfield's description on several points.
Confessore, Long and Redding (1993) further report that rather than self-directed learning research relying on just one research design (quantitative) it is closer to being evenly split between quantitative and qualitative. Research was considered quantitative if the "following elements were present: hypotheses, statistical treatment of data, and instruments that produced quantitative information" (p. 52). Qualitative research, lacking the previously listed elements, included biographical analysis, case studies, historical works, interpretative literature reviews, theoretical and philosophical explications as well as ethnographic, phenomenological and other naturalistic research" methods (p. 52). The use of qualitative methods is increasing and quantitative research remains devoted to description. Confessore, Long and Redding speculate that self-directed learning theory development is likely to remain weak until qualitative research yields theory that can be tested, and until researchers supplement the qualitative findings with studies of cause and effect.
Over 135 different instruments have been used in conjunction with self-directed learning research as identified during the comprehensive review of 556 self-directed learning publications (Confessore and Long, 1992; Confessore, Long, and Redding, 1993; Long and Redding, 1991). Of the 135 instruments, eight were identified by the authors as being designed to measure some aspect of self-directed learning.
The most frequently used instrument has been Guglielmino's (1977) Self-Directed Learning Readiness Scale (SDLRS). This instrument, or a variation of it, is associated with a number of research studies designed to answer developmental questions about self directed learning (SDL) and self-directed learning readiness (SDLR) to include (a) the origins of SDLR (Guglielmino; Long, Redding and Eisenman, 1993, (b) the association of SDLR with other variables (Adenuga, 1991; Brockett, 1985a; Cloud, 1992; Eisenman, 1988; Finestone, 1984; Long, Redding & Eisenman, 1993; Stubblefield, 1992), (c) the conceptual definition of self-directed learning (Brookfield, 1985, 1986; Long, 1991), and (d) the evolvement and development of self-directed learning readiness through the study of childhood development (Cloud, 1992; Guglielmino, 1992; Long, Redding and Eisenman, 1992, 1993, 1994; Stubblefield, 1992).
Self-Directed Learning Readiness Scale
Drawing on the work of Tough's (1967) and Knowles' (1970, 1975) interest in self-direction, Guglielmino developed the Self-Directed Learning Readiness Scale (SDLRS) using a Delphi study, incorporating input from 14 experts in the field of adult education.
The SDLRS, in its original form, is a 58 item self-report survey that uses a Likert scale and was designed to specifically measure the construct, "Self-Directed Learning Readiness" (Finestone, 1984, p. ii). Factor analysis of the original instrument indicates the presence of eight factors in self-direction in learning: openness to learning opportunities, self-concept as an effective learner, initiative and independence in learning, informed acceptance of responsibility for one's own learning, love of learning, creativity, future orientation, and ability to use basic study skills and problem solving skills (Guglielmino, 1977).
Guglielmino (1977) developed the instrument using a Delphi technique. Part of the instructions given to the committee included these phrases:
. . . it is the personal characteristics of the learner - including his attitudes, his values, and his abilities - which ultimately determine whether self-directed learning will take place in a given learning situation. The self-directed learner more often chooses or influences the learning objectives, activities, resources, priorities, and levels of energy expenditure than does the other-directed learner. (p. 34)
The previous description represents the theoretical constructs for the SDLRS. As there is an inherent gap between theory and research, e.g., the two are never precisely the same (Blalock, 1964), it is therefore important to know if the SDLRS reflects its theoretical constructs.
Guglielmino (1977) provides a description, derived from her study, of those that score high on the SDLRS. As such, the SDLRS provides an operational construct of an individual who is high in self-directed learning readiness. A highly self-directed learner, based on the survey results, is one who exhibits initiative, independence, persistence in learning; one who accepts responsibility for his or her own learning and views problems as challenges, not obstacles; one who is capable of self-discipline and has a high degree of curiosity; one who has a strong desire to learn or change and is self-confident; one who is able to use basic study skills, organize his or her time, and set an appropriate pace of learning, and to develop a plan for completing work; one who enjoys learning and has a tendency to be goal-oriented (p. 73). The above description appears to be promising concerning the potential for using the SDLRS to identify learners who respond well to change in the environment.
Confessore, Long and Redding (1993) report that the overwhelming instrument of choice by those conducting research in the area of SDL is the SDLRS. Principally, these efforts focused on the attributes of a self-directed learner. Confessore and Long (Long & Confessore, 1992) report on 383 non-dissertation publications, published between 1966 and 1991. Their analysis revealed that 253 of 383 items published on self-directed learning, addressed childhood learning or adult learning characteristics.
The self-directed learner has been described as goal oriented, flexible, inquisitive, learning oriented, adaptable, and capable of managing the selection, planning, implementation and evaluation of individual learning projects (Long, 1987; Redding, 1991). Two studies have addressed the implications associated with the SDLRS scores achieved by amateur radio operators (Redding, 1991; Redding & Aagaard, 1992). Validity and reliability of the SDLRS have been repeatedly checked (Jones, 1989; West & Bentley, 1991; Confessore, 1992; McCune & Guglielmino, 1991; Finestone, 1984; Long & Agyekum, 1983). The original form of the SDLRS had an internal consistency of .87 for the total 41 item scale as does the 58 item version (West & Bentley, 1991). Researchers, since the development of the SDLRS, have determined that the construct validity of the "total SDLRS score is positively related to measures of originality, creative experiences and achievements, and right hemispheric style of learning" (West & Bentley, 1991, p. 159).
Summary of the Literature Review
This literature review was divided into the three major topical areas of the nature of SDLR, the nature of SDL, and SDL origins and maintenance. Guglielmino (1977) made SDLR a central issue to the nature of SDL with her development of the SDLRS. Using the SDLRS investigators have been able to examine and explore SDLR and consider its development.
Several investigators (Cloud, 1992; Eisenman, 1988; Long, Redding & Eisenman, 1993; Stubblefield, 1992) were concerned with the development of SDLR. They addressed questions concerning the contribution school environments, intrafamilial relationships and genetics have on the development of SDLR. However, their investigations have not fully explained the development of SDL.
Cloud (1992) found reason to believe that there may be a genetic component to the development of SDLR. Stubblefield (1992) found intrafamilial relationships to be important to the development of SDLR. Long, Redding and Eisenman (1992, 1993, 1994), investigated the change in SDLR over time. These investigators found that SDLR changes over time, and identified support for the notion that certain types of isolated activities are associated with an increase in SDLR.
Two models (Long, 1989a, 1991c) illustrate the relationship between the learner and social environments. The first model depicted the learner in a group learning situation and can be used to discuss the trade-off between the individual's psychological control and the teacher's level of pedagogical control and the second, consisting of a series of models, places the learner in a larger social context. Using pluses and minuses to describe the cumulative effect different path experiences can have on the learner, Long's model is useful in describing ways life situations can result in self-directed learning.
Literature concerning the development of SDLR in the social context was also reviewed. It has been noted that the micro-social view of SDLR has dominated its study. The studies by Long, Redding and Eisenman summarized above fall into the micro-social study of SDL. Others (Spear and Mocker, 1984; Aslanian and Brickell, 1980) point out that a single event can trigger or release the motivation to engage in learning. Cronbach (1986) introduces the notion that successful learning can provide the motivation to continue to choose to learn. Both the contribution of the individual environment and genetic background have been addressed to one degree or another. No studies, to date, have addressed the development of self-directed learning from the larger cultural perspective. Schooler (1990), however, suggests that self-directedness varies from society to society and that it may be a significant factor in a culture's ultimate success and even its survival. According to Schooler's theory, self-directedness is an adaptive behavior and the macro society can effect the self-directedness of individual society members based on the value the society places on individualism.
Supporting Schooler (1990), Bandura (1986), and Rodin (1990) have suggested adult behavior and attitudes are influenced by the major social events they encounter. Such events, indicated by Massey (1979), include the Great Depression, major wars, and so forth. If self-directed learning is an adaptive phenomenon associated with the learners' environment, it is reasonable to assume that it may be associated with periods of rapid cultural change.
Massey (1979) contends that value formation, which occurs between ages eight and twelve years, directly influences the choices that adults make, as well as their motivation to learn. If Massey's theory is useful it may explain to some degree the societal mechanism that encourages the development of the self-directedness as discussed by Schooler (1990).
A key element of Massey 's (1979) theory is that the values held by adults are formed during a particular period of time, during their youth. This time, during which values are formed, appears to be comparable to the time described by some highly self directed learners during which they encountered a triggering event (Redding, 1991).
Piaget's (1952) stages of development theory also lends support to Massey's (1979) notion of a critical period of development when values are formed with his concept of adaptation as an explanation for cognitive development. They seem to reflect Schooler's (1990) notion of being self-directed in order to adapt to a changing environment and also reflect attributes of Jarvis' (1986) concept of being proactive learners. The authors above also contribute, to a minor degree, an explanation for why some respondents in Redding's 1990 study (Redding, 1990; and Redding and Aargaard, 1991) of amateur radio operators reported incidents early in life that led them to a life time interest in radio communications, technology, and information exchange.