While researching for my paper, I learned a lot on self-directed learning (SDL) I will apply to my classes. It is popular for adults to want a non-traditional classroom, therefore, self-directed learning is often sought to advance knowledge. Ironically, this mode of learning is what men and women do when learning a new skill, trying a new recipe or building a shelf. It is not a new concept but is certainly in vogue for adults…the more independent a person can be is often the attraction to the course. the role of the educator in this mode of education is pivotal.
The role of the student in self-directed learning is as important as the educator. Weimer (2014) indicates, adult students want teachers to provide the information or else the teacher is not doing their job. The role of the educator includes fostering a learning environment that supports formal learning and self-education. The challenge comes when the educator creates dependency on themselves or does not push the learners to seek answers (Merriam & Beirema, 2014). Students lacking a vision for learning, anticipate the educator will provide the answer. Conversely, it is the educators’ responsibility to, clearly, delineate accountability and goal setting at the beginning of the learning experience (Merriam & Beirema, 2014).
The educator may experience cultural barriers with self-directed learning. Al-Eraky (2014) emphasizes that SDL may be difficult for students of Asian, Arab and Dutch descent. Learning, from these areas, tend to be hierarchal, with the educator dictating learning (2014). Although students may be taught to be SDL, Al-Eraky (2014) indicates Dutch and Chinese students were adaptive to SDL, but very competitive, whereas, Arab students felt lost and the majority of Asian students found the change in learning style difficult. These conclusions stem back to Tough (1978) emphasizing learners evaluating their own learning but, educators must constantly evaluate their role in the learner’s environment and factors hindering SDL.
Although this may not seem trendy, those students that have been educated through a formal system, find this mode of learning new and curious. There are so many different deliver systems for SDL it is hard as the educator to keep up with the availability.
Al-Eraky, Mohammed. (2013, October 1). The cultural flavours of problem-based learning. Medical Education. doi: 10.1111/medu.12285
Merriam, S.B., & Bierema, L.L. (2014). Adult learning: Linking theory and practice. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons.
Weimer, M. (2014). “She didn’t teach. We had to learn it ourselves”. Retrieved from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-professor-blog/didnt-teach-learn/?ET=facultyfocus:e110:119382a:&st=email