Self-directed learning is a process where individuals take primary charge of planning, continuing and evaluating their learning experiences (Merriam et al., 2007). In self-directed learning, the responsibility to learn shifts from an external source (teacher, etc.) to the individual. Control and active involvement of the learner in the learning process is crucial in this process (Grover, 2015). Self-directed learning includes the conceptualization, design, implementation and evaluation of learning guided by learners (Brookfield, 2009). It may be referred as a method of organizing learning which learners control the task of learning.
Self-directed learners have the following characteristics:
- They set clear goals for themselves.
- They shape their learning process in line with goals and plans.
- They monitor their own learning process.
- They evaluate the outcomes of their own learning.
- They are autonomous.
- They have self-motivation.
- They are open to learning.
- They are curious.
- They are willing to learn.
- They value learning.
- They have self-control.
- They take initiative to learn.
There are several competencies that self-directed learning requires (Knowles, 1977):
- The ability to enter into a close, respectful and learning-friendly relationship with learners
- The ability to establish an environment which is physically and psychologically comfortable, open to interaction, based on cooperation, open and secure
- The ability to take responsibility for determining one's own learning needs
- The ability to set goals
- The ability to plan, implement and evaluate learning activities
- The ability to help learners to self-direct their learning
- The ability to be a facilitator and a source
- The ability to effectively use small group processes
- The ability to evaluate learning processes and outcomes (Knowles, 1977 cited in Kasworm, 1983).
Brookfield, S. D. (2009). “Self-directed learning,” in International Handbook of Education for the Changing World of Work, eds D. N. Wilson and R. Maclean (New York, NY: Springer Science and Business Media).
Grover, K. (2015). Online social networks and the self-directed learning experience during a health crisis. Int. J. Self Direct. Learn. 12, 1–15.
Kasworm, C. E. (1983). An examination of self-directed contract learning as an instructional strategy. Innov. High. Educ. 8, 45–54. doi: 10.1007/BF00889559
Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., and Baumgartner, L. M. (2007). Learning in Adulthood. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass