Conclusions, Implications, and
Recommendations for Further Research
The purpose of this study was to determine the association between historical
events and the development of self-directed learning readiness (SDLR) of
amateur radio operators as measured by Guglielmino's (1977) Self-Directed
Learning Readiness Scale. A demographic questionnaire and 40 interviews
provided additional data. This study examined the association between adult
self-direction and being an amateur radio operator, sex, age, educational
level, class of amateur radio license, self-assessment of whether one prefers
to study alone or in a group, self-assessment of whether they are self-directed
learners, number of amateur radio operators in a family, number of hobbies,
occupation, and whether there is an association between historical events
and one's development of self-directed learning readiness.
Two hundred and sixty-two U.S. Amateur radio operators participated in the study. They were asked to complete the SDLRS, a questionnaire designed by Guglielmino (1977) to measure readiness for self-directed learning. Participants were self-selected through solicitation to participate in a national amateur radio magazine, invitations extended in amateur radio conferences, through amateur radio clubs, and through on the air contacts.
The SDLRS with accompanying demographic data was scored and tabulated. The subjects were subsequently divided into four groups using standard deviation. Two groups, one group comprised of individuals with of SDLRS scores within the first quartile, and a second group of those scoring within the fourth quartile, were selected and interviewed. The qualitative data were then analyzed.
The potential interviewees for the qualitative analysis were selected based on the highest and lowest individual scores on the SDLRS. Forty individuals, 20 from the first quartile, and 20 from the fourth quartile were interviewed. The quantitative phase of the analysis focused on the association between 11 variables and SDLRS scores. The qualitative analysis followed with focused interviews that moved from structured to open questioning techniques designed to explore individual experiences related to their becoming amateur radio operators and demonstrating high self-directed learning. Coding was developed that address micro, meso, and macro events that subsequently were tied to the age of occurrence.
The information obtained from the interviews raised questions concerning the impact the micro, meso, and macro events might have on the development of SDLR, and the importance of age at which these events occur. Other implications associated with the larger cultural climate, and its interaction with micro and meso experiences that occur during youth, the development of SDLR, and the pursuit of lifelong learning raise additional questions.
The interviews presented the following profiles of Low and High quartile respondents.
1. The birth year for this group, 1951, was a year in which the peak of the number of amateur radio operators by birth year was higher than expected.
2. Most Low quartile respondents had two early events that are identified with their interest in amateur radio and SDL activities.
3. The most common first experience (14 of 20) that led to an abiding interest in amateur radio and associated lifelong learning was a micro experience.
4. Four respondents reported a meso event as their first experience.
5. Two respondents reported their first experience was a macro event.
6. All but one Low respondent reported having a micro event that is identified with their participation in amateur radio.
1. The most common birth year for this group, 1941, was a year in which the number of amateur radio operators who were born was well below the normal distribution.
2. All but one High respondent reported experiencing two or more events that are identified with their lifelong interest in amateur radio.
3. The most common first experience was a meso experience, with all High respondents reporting such an event.
4. Eighteen of the High respondents indicated a micro event was one of their initial experiences identified with an interest in amateur radio.
5. Seven of the High respondents indicated a meso event was one of their initial experiences identified with an interest in amateur radio.
6. High respondents generally experienced their first micro, meso, and macro event at a younger age than did Low respondents.
7. The SDLRS score SD for High respondents was smaller (7.64 vs. 12.68) than Low respondents.
The profiles of the two groups are striking in their contrast. The analysis of the interviews suggests that the age of the respondents at which they had certain experiences was different. High group respondents had their first experience that led to developing an interest in amateur radio at an earlier age than members of the Low group. While the types of experiences were similar, the sequence was different; whether the first experience was micro, meso, or macro. For the Low group the dominant first experience was micro. The dominant first experience was meso for the High group, and it was often reinforced with a micro experience at about the same time.
It is assumed that amateur radio operators comprise a select group based on their SDLRS scores, which are above the normal mean reported by Guglielmino (1977). It is also assumed that SDLR as measured by the SDLRS is developmental. Therefore information about amateur radio operator's and their adoption of amateur radio as a hobby might aid in exploring the development of SDLR development. While the above assumptions seem to be valid, this research indicates that the development of SDLR might be more complex then assumed. While this inquiry identified interesting associations between SDLRS scores and a variety of social variables including micro, meso, and macro social/cultural phenomena: it was not able to identify the potential interaction of genetic and psychological variables. Furthermore, it was assumed that the development of SDLR is associated with major macro events such as the Great Depression and major wars of the current century, these phenomena were not identified by the amateur radio operators interviewed. In order to maintain the position that these macro events are, in reality, associated with the development of SDLR it must be posited that major macro events, in some way, have subtle psychological affects and/or they are associated with other socio cultural beliefs and practices such as general life style and concepts of personal responsibility. These phenomena can influence one's world view while not being explicitly identified with conspicuous phenomena such as the Great Depression or wars. It is also likely that the beliefs, attitudes and values of parents formed a generation earlier than the developmental age of their children may be more directly associated with an earlier time period. While parenting procedures and nurturing attributes are believed to be socio cultural in nature, the relationship of these variables with the development of SDLR has not been examined in this study. Cloud (1992) found an association between parents' and children's SDLRS scores, but she was unable to fully explain the nature - nurture phenomena.
Consequently, the absence of the Great Depression in the respondent interviews does not directly negate the influence of adults who lived through it on children who escaped it. As a result children have both direct and indirect experience that may influence them. Whether it is possible to definitively explain the development of SDLR by time periods as brief as a few generations by macro events remains to be demonstrated. Despite this intermediate conclusion some of the following conclusions may eventually contribute to a better explanation for the development of SDLR.
Four conclusions emerged from this investigation:
1. Self-directed learning readiness as measured by Guglielmino's SDLRS is associated, in the sample studied, with being an amateur radio operator, sex, educational level, preference to study alone, number of hobbies, and occupation.
2. Historical events, whether micro, meso, or macro are associated with developing an interest in amateur radio, and thus by definition demonstrating high SDL. The interaction of these experiences, the age of the respondent, and the importance of the larger macro cultural framework in the development of high SDLR is unclear.
3. Respondents in the High group tended to be younger when they developed an interest in amateur radio.
4. The explanation for the association between historical events, whether micro, meso, or macro and adult self-directed learning readiness is complex.
Specific Conclusions for this sample
1. There is an association between being an amateur radio operator and SDLRS scores.
2. There is no association between SDLRS scores and sex.
3. There is no association between SDLRS scores and age.
4. There is an association between SDLRS scores and educational level.
5. There is no association between SDLRS scores and class of amateur radio license.
6. There is an association between SDLRS score and one's self-assessment of whether one prefers to study alone or in a group.
7. There is no association between SDLRS score and one's self-assessment of whether they are self-directed learners.
8. There is no association between SDLRS scores and the number of amateur radio operators in a family.
9. There is an association between SDLRS scores and number of hobbies.
10. There is an association between SDLRS scores and occupation.
11. Support was found for the conclusion that there may be an association between historical events and the development of SDLR.
The research question and the qualitative information have interesting implications for parents, community leaders, educators and those involved in the field of adult and child development.
The micro environment was important to both the Low and the High groups' development of an interest in amateur radio. The research implies that the kind of experiences children have in the home can influence their adult level of SDLR as evidenced by the kind of lifelong learning they become involved in. A supportive learning environment in the home can have an impact on an individual's adult self-directed learning readiness.
Providing a child with an educational toy, or construction project such as a crystal radio set can have a lasting impact on their interest in technical subjects. An adult simply telling a child about such a device, and the experience of building it can be of importance, also. Providing children with the opportunity to explore the world around them through such isolated activities, such as listening to a shortwave radio alone late into the night, or investigating the possibility of building an electronic device can each contribute to development as lifelong learners and higher levels of adult self-directed learning.
Parental support of a child's developing interest is also important. Children should be provided with encouragement as they pursue isolated learning projects. Whether they engage in learning with a friend or alone, parental support, whether active or passive, is essential. Active support may involve providing transportation to and from clubs, groups, libraries and stores, or it may include gift selections that feed a child's growing interest in a subject. It could be passive support such as allowing children to engage in play with a friend that involves learning. Examples from the interviews include stringing wire between rooms in a house to practice Morse Code or sharing a family radio to audit shortwave bands.
Siblings can also play an important role in the development of a lifelong interest in a hobby such as amateur radio that requires high self-directed learning. Two examples from the interviews from the Low group illustrated the importance an older sibling in encouraging self-directed learning. In both cases an older brother became a role model, served as a mentor, and led in the learning experience.
Meso events were present in the development of High group respondents in all cases. Meso events were also important in the development of the Low group. The research implies that the kind of experiences children have with their friends and in their immediate community (school, church, and clubs) can influence their adult level of SDLR as evidenced by their participation in amateur radio. Clubs that provide a supportive learning environment may be the most important component for some individuals in developing a lifelong learning interest. The most common meso experience involved learning projects leading to acquiring merit badges in the Boy Scouts. The second most common experience reported in the interviews was having a close friend with whom the initial experiences leading to an interest in amateur radio were shared.
Sharing an interest in amateur radio with a circle of friends was a common occurrence for the members of the Low group as they acquired their amateur radio licenses as adults. Members of the High group, while all reported meso events that contributed to the interest in amateur radio, often actually pursued their hobby in isolation. When they were involved in a group, often they reported themselves as the leader.
Macro events were the least often reported experience that respondents identified as associated with becoming interested in amateur radio. Typically they followed either a micro or a meso event. The most common macro event was the introduction of technology, such as a crystal radio set. The second most common macro event reported by respondents was an interest in listening to foreign broadcasts on the shortwave bands. The inspection of the histogram of the age of amateur radio operators, however, and the points below and above the normal distribution that can be identified with historical event supports the notion that macro events may be an important experiential factor associated with the development of SDLR.
These types of events, however, do not appear to lend themselves to control by parents and educators. It should be remembered that the two most reported types of macro events, the introductions of technology and access to experiencing shortwave listening, are both helped by parents and/or educators.
Summary of Micro, Meso, and Macro Events
Events appear to be influential in the development of an interest in amateur radio when experienced in combination with each other, or at least sequentially. Micro events were more often the first experience for Low group respondents. Meso events were more often the first experience for High group respondents. Macro events were reported more often by the High respondents than by the low respondents. Macro events, beyond the introduction of technology, such as war or depression might be associated with the development of SDLR, as evidenced by a fluctuation in the number of amateur radio operators by birth year, and other events.
Two major hypothesis suggested by the findings and conclusions are as follows:
1. The kinds of experiences encountered by a child are associated with adult SDLR.
2. The kind of macro social climate that exists during childhood is associated with the development of adult SDLR.
The results provide some empirical support for the theoretical position that some experiences, between about ages 8 to 16, may be associated with adult SDLR. The nature of the findings would suggest that the next step would be to isolate the birth years associated with higher and lower than normal numbers of amateur radio operators. Then determine the mean SDLRS score for the peaks and valleys to determine if SDLR also varies.
Additional Questions Generated by the Study
1. Do macro events, such as war and depression, decrease the number of individuals that act in a high self-directed manner?
2. Do macro events, such as war and depression, contribute in some way to individuals becoming high in SDLR?
3. How is exposure to micro, meso, or macro events during one's youth associated with an increase in adult SDLR?
Suggestions for Further Study
Consideration of the results of this study within the context of existing research suggests several avenues for further study.
1. Further study could be used with a different hobby population, such as amateur astronomers, as a verification study.
2. A similar study could be conducted using amateur radio operators not drawn from all over the nation, but rather, from a single geographical area.
3. A similar study could be conducted on a random selection of adults, not amateur radio operators.