It’s Independence Day here in the United States, so what better day to celebrate the independent, self-directed learner? As individuals in the business of lifelong learning, we need to embrace—and cultivate—the characteristics related to effective learning habits.
In this episode of the Leading Learning podcast, Celisa and Jeff celebrate the self-directed learner including what it means to be one and why it’s important.
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[00:18] – A preview of what will be covered in this podcast where Celisa and Jeff celebrate the self-directed learner and what it means to be one.
[00:39] – Thank you to YourMembership, the podcast sponsor for the third quarter of 2017. YourMembership’s learning management system is specifically designed for professional education with a highly flexible and intuitive system that customizes the learning experience. YourMembership’s LMS seamlessly integrates with key systems to manage all of your educational content formats in one central location while providing powerful tools to create and deliver assessments, evaluations, and learning communities.
Highlighted Resource of the Week
The book covers areas such as your mindset for lifelong learning, practical tactics, and even the importance of diet, exercise, and sleep.
The Self-Directed Learner
[02:11] – We begin our discussion around the self-directed learner with a quote:
The “why” of self-directed learning is survival—your own survival as an individual, and also the survival of the human race. Clearly, we are not talking here about something that would be nice or desirable….We are talking about a basic human competence—the ability to learn on one’s own—that has suddenly become a prerequisite for living in this new world. – Malcolm Knowles, 1975
This is based upon a description in a 1977 survey that ultimately led to development of the Self-Directed Learning Readiness Scale, which was subsequently renamed the Learning Preferences Assessment.
The description from the survey–and the basis for the discussion in this episode—said,
A highly self-directed learner, based on the survey results, is one who exhibits initiative, independence, and 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 for learning, and to develop a plan for completing work; one who enjoys learning and has a tendency to be goal-oriented. (Guglielmino, 1977/78, p.73)
Characteristics of Self-Directed Learners
[05:20] – While lifelong learning and self-directed learning are not equivalent, they overlap substantially and we think the following points apply equally to both.
The successful lifelong learner is someone who:
1. Is comfortable with independence.
Self-directed learners do not always act autonomously or independently. Indeed, increasingly they must cultivate their networks to learn effectively. Nonetheless, successful self-directed learners know how to be self-reliant.
2. Takes initiative.
This first one is core to the entire concept of “self-directed.” The successful self-directed learner does not wait for someone else to say, “you must learn this.”
3. Is persistent.
Learning takes time, it takes repetition, it takes practice. Successful self-directed learners stick to it.
4. Accepts responsibility.
The successful self-directed learner embraces responsibility for doing the work of learning and doing it well.
We’re going to tuck some of the other characteristics of the successful self-directed learner cited in the 1977 survey under the responsibility umbrella, such as self-discipline, which lets you have the persistence to keep practicing.
And self-confidence – successful self-directed learners have a solid sense of “self-efficacy”, the belief that one is capable of performing in a certain manner to attain certain goals.
Study skills are also part of taking on responsibility—skills like taking notes effectively are useful for a lifetime.
Also, time—the successful self-directed learner knows how to find and manage time effectively to allow for learning.
Related to that is an appropriate pace for learning—the successful self-directed learner recognizes that learning is as much about the process as the outcome and doesn’t try to do too much too fast.
You also need a plan for completing work—setting a plan is part of setting the pace and ultimately reaching the destination.
The successful self-directed learner recognizes this. Successful self-directed learners also have the tendency to be goal-oriented—while not all self-directed learners consciously set goals, they tend to have an end in mind when they start down the learning path.
5. Views problems as challenges, not obstacles.
The successful self-directed learner embraces a growth mindset and is not easily thwarted when the going gets tough.
See our related episode, Maximizing Learning with Mindset.
6. Has a high degree of curiosity.
Successful self-directed learners have a high propensity for asking why – and lots of other questions.
7. Has a strong desire to learn or change.
The successful self-directed learner is intrinsically motivated. She has a will to learn and sees learning as a positive path forward.
8. Enjoys learning .
The proverbial bottom line:
The successful self-directed learner simply likes to learn.
[15:29] – We chose to celebrate the self-directed learner because we now live in an age where so much is possible related to this.
The opening up of access to learning opportunities has been tremendous and there has been almost a mandate of sorts for people who want to thrive both on a personal and professional level to embrace lifelong learning.
We encourage you to take these characteristics to heart and ask yourself:
How well do these points describe you as a learner?
How effectively are you cultivating these ways in those you teach (your members, your customers, – whoever it is you are serving)?
[18:19] – Wrap Up
Thanks again to YourMembership for sponsoring this episode of the Leading Learning podcast.
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[20:14] – Sign off