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Self-directed learning (SDL), is an essential concept in problem-based learning (PBL), and, in a broader sense, student-centred learning. Considering the complex nature of SDL, it has been taken for granted and given a shallow meaning, i.e. self-study. In order to develop a deeper understanding and make use of the potential in SDL, this paper discusses and puts forward a more profound meaning. The importance of regarding becoming a self-directed learner as a learning process, and the need for teachers to take part in the learning, is crucial. Two ‘thinking models’, one concerning the PBL tutorial work and one the relationship between tutorial work and self-study, are introduced. The unifying idea behind the reasoning is to emphasise the essence of providing opportunities for, as well as stimulating, the students’ inquiring approach and responsibility.
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Self-directed learning
a learning issue for students and faculty!
Charlotte Sile´n
a
* and Lars Uhlin
b
a
Centre for Teaching and Learning (CUL), Department of Learning Informatics, Management and
Ethics, LIME Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden;
b
Centre for Educational Development and
Research, Faculty of Health Sciences, Linkoping University, Linkoping, Sweden
Self-directed learning (SDL), is an essential concept in problem-based learning (PBL),
and, in a broader sense, student-centred learning. Considering the complex nature
of SDL, it has been taken for granted and given a shallow meaning, i.e. self-study. In
order to develop a deeper understanding and make use of the potential in SDL, this
paper discusses and puts forward a more profound meaning. The importance of
regarding becoming a self-directed learner as a learning process, and the need for
teachers to take part in the learning, is crucial. Two ‘thinking models’, one concerning
the PBL tutorial work and one the relationship between tutorial work and self-study, are
introduced. The unifying idea behind the reasoning is to emphasise the essence of
providing opportunities for, as well as stimulating, the students’ inquiring approach and
responsibility.
Keywords: self-directed learning; problem-based learning; inquiry; tutorial session;
information literacy; self study
Introduction
Self-directed learning (SDL), is considered to be a core concept in problem-based learning
(PBL). We will argue that the students’ development as self-directed learners has been
neglected and treated in an instrumental way within the discourse of PBL. In this article, a
more profound meaning of SDL is discussed ending up with the description of some
implications intended to improve practice in PBL curricula.
Three main sources form the basis for the reasoning and advanced ideas of practical
implementation in this article: (i) research that explores the concept of self-directed
learning, the meaning of autonomy and empirical studies focusing on the students’
experiences of PBL has been conducted by the first author (Ljungman and Sile´n 2008;
Sile´n 2001, 2003); (ii) both authors have worked intensively with teaching and educational
development connected to PBL and student-centred learning for 20 years; (iii) both
authors have long experiences of faculty development concerning higher education. Our
observations, studies, discussions with teachers and analysis all point in the same direction.
If the intention is to enhance the students’ ability to become self-directed learners, and
prepare for life long learning in their professions, it is essential to recognise that students
becoming responsible and independent is a learning process in its own right.
Research conducted by Sile´n (2000, 2001, 2003) indicates that also the following two
factors are very important in the development of self-directedness in learning:
*Corresponding author. Email: charlotte.silen@ki.se
Teaching in Higher Education
Vol. 13, No. 4, August 2008, 461475
ISSN 1356-2517 print/ISSN 1470-1294 online
#2008 Taylor & Francis
DOI: 10.1080/13562510802169756
http://www.informaworld.com
.The students’ feelings of being in charge and having a genuine impact on the
learning situations are crucial for their desire to take responsibility.
.Feelings of being in charge are connected to understanding the demands of the
learning context, experiences of managing and getting feedback.
The students need challenges, support and feedback in their struggle to become self-
directed learners and thus require ongoing attention from faculty. Candy (1991) points out
that sometimes SDL has become synonymous with self-study, meaning that the student is
on her/his own and does not bother anybody. The same issue has also been discussed by
Miflin (2004), who deconstructs the connections between adult learning, self-directed
learning and PBL. She demonstrates that SDL, especially in medical education, has in
many cases been interpreted as self-teaching.
In order to support and enhance the students’ learning process in becoming self-
directed, the authors have defined a need to develop ‘thinking models’ to introduce new
perspectives in the practice of PBL. Both the teachers and the students are supposed to use
and discuss the models. In contrast to the seven steps (Schmidt 1993) or other descriptions
for tutorial work in PBL, these models are presented as means for reflection and not as
instructions for how to carry out the tutorial work.
Theoretical framework
The literature shows that the concept of SDL embodies many crucial factors connected to
students’ responsibility and independence in learning. SDL as a concept was born
(Knowles 1975), and has been more thoroughly examined, within the tradition of adult
education (i.e. Brockett and Hiemstra 1991; Caffarella and O’Donnell 1988; Candy 1991;
Long 1989; Mezirow 1985). Studies of the use of SDL in adult education and PBL reveal
that the meaning of the concept has more or less been taken for granted for many years
(Sile´n 2001). One reason for the stagnation could be that the meaning of the concept, after
the initial introduction, has been addressed as a general skill, separated from context and
defined as individual characteristics. In addition, the relations between SDL as a method
of and goal for education have not been analysed, resulting in a circular definition of SDL
to become self-directed the student needs to be self-directed (Candy 1991). An uncritical
approach to the interpretation of SDL was also found by Miflin (2004) in a review of the
use in medical education. For some decades, much research has focused on measuring the
students’ ability to be self-directed. The notion of self and management of the learning
situation have been stressed and not much attention has been paid to the internal processes
of learning involving responsibility and independence.
There are still lingering ideas that address SDL as a general skill emphasising
management. In a review article on self-directed learning in nurse education (O’Shea 2003),
a fair number of recent studies can be found (e.g. Kell and Van Deursen 2000; Nolan and
Nolan 1997; Thompson and Sheckley 1997) that have dealt with self-directed learning in
this way. Lately, an interest in exploring and broadening the dimensions and including
internal processes in the concept of SDL has appeared. Garrison (1997) describes a model
with the dimensions self-management (contextual control), self-monitoring (cognitive
responsibility) and a motivational factor (entering and task). Patterson, Crooks, and
Lunyk-Child (2002) from McMaster University, School of Nursing, describe six
competencies required to become self-directed in the context of PBL. These competencies
are: self-assessment of learning gaps, evaluation of self and others, reflection, information
462 C. Sile´n and L. Uhlin
management, critical thinking and critical appraisal. They also put forward the idea of
SDL as a developing competence and describe the intended progression during education.
Within cognitive psychology, students’ independence in learning has been investigated
and designated as self-regulated learning (e.g. Boekaerts 1997; Boekaerts, Pintrich, and
Zeifner 2000; Schunk and Zimmerman 1994). Of special interest in this research is a meta-
cognitive aspect, described as a part of self-regulation in the learning process (Flavell
1987). Boekaerts (1997) claims that in order to become self-regulated, the learner needs to
be aware of a meta-level concerning the core content and the values within the domain
studied. This means that also within this research, the relation to context is emphasised.
Boekaerts also considered a meta-level to be necessary for the students’ awareness of
effective strategies for learning and the influence of their own concerns and interests. In
relation to PBL, a meta-level in the tutorial process and the tutor role had already been
identified by Barrows (1988). In a study (Sile´n 1996) carried out at our faculty, 295
students, first and third year, from six educational programmes (Nursing, Occupational
Therapy, Medicine, Physiotherapy, Biomedicine and Social Care) and 58 tutors answered
questionnaires about the tutor’s functioning in the tutorial groups. A significant finding
was that considerable time and effort were spent on specific content of the courses and that
tutors did not focus on the meta-cognitive level of the students’ learning processes.
In relation to self-directed learning, Sile´n (2000, 2001, 2003) reveals two dialectic
relationships, which are created when students are challenged to take responsibility for
their own learning.
1
One relationship that emerges refers to the students fluctuating
between chaos (frustration, disorientation) and cosmos
2
(structures they themselves
constructed) when they have to make their own choices and decisions about their studies
(Sile´n 2001). The second dialectic relationship (Figure 1) that emerges concerns the
students’ handling as regards their own independence, vis-a`-vis dependence, related to the
Figure 1. A dialectic relationship, which influences students’ responsibility and independence (Sile´n
2003, 255).
Teaching in Higher Education 463
tension between the prerequisites provided by the educational framework and the students’
interpretation of and ability to use them (Sile´n 2003).
The relationship between chaos and cosmos creates a driving force that makes the
students consider and try to handle questions similar to the teachers’ traditional
educational questions: what is to be learned, how should it be learned, why should the
students learn certain things, and what are the objectives of the learning process and how
are they attained? As a result of the challenge of taking responsibility, the students become
agents in the learning situation, considering their own needs and interest in learning a
special content in relation to the framework of the educational programme. Feedback and
the experiences of managing are crucial for the students’ ability to perceive cosmos.
The second relationship described (Figure 1) points to the students’ need for
collaboration with faculty in their process of becoming self-directed. The educational
framework and the way teachers choose to interpret and implement it determine the
opportunities for the students to influence their studies. These opportunities concern all
the central educational questions: what, how, why, the objectives and how they are
assessed. Offering prerequisites for the students to handle the educational questions was
found to be insufficient for the students to be able to take on and handle responsibility in
their learning. They need to develop competencies for using their freedom and under-
standing what the opportunities mean in relation to choices and decisions made on their
own. If the students get the impression that they can influence their learning situation and
gain the competence to do so, they take responsibility and make their own decisions. If
they feel abandoned and left alone, unable to manage, their behaviour will instead be
characterised by dependence, looking for strategies to survive, ‘right answers’ and cue
seeking (cf. Miller and Parlett 1974).
Since this research was carried out, the dialectic relationships described have been
presented and scrutinised in relation to several other PBL programmes. They have been
found valid and useful for describing the processes of becoming self-directed, from both
the perspective of PBL students and faculty involved.
PBL context
PBL has been implemented in full in all the programmes at our faculty since 1986, meaning
that the whole curriculum in each programme is based on assumptions underpinning PBL.
The educational programmes are Medical Biology, Medicine, Nursing, Occupational
Therapy, Public Health, Physiotherapy and Speech Pathology Language Therapy.
PBL was primarily modelled on the curriculum at McMaster University, Hamilton and
Limburg University, Maastricht. Their curriculum was based on Knowles’ (1975) theories
about androgogy and self-directed learning, and the ideas for the application of PBL
presented by Barrows and Tamblyn (1980). Since the start in 1986, a broader theoretical
base concerning student-centred learning forms the foundation for the development of
PBL at the faculty. The assumptions underpinning PBL in the educational developmental
work are now based on pragmatism, meaningful learning, cognitive psychology and social
constructivism. Many medical programmes using PBL have limited understanding of PBL
related to cognitive psychology. Broadening the theoretical basis has been found to be very
productive.
All students begin their studies by attending a common course where PBL is introduced
as the principal pedagogical philosophy and method of learning. The students work with
reality-based situations in small groups, 69 students and one tutor. Other strategies and
forums for learning, such as resource sessions, seminars, lectures, skills training, practice in
464 C. Sile´n and L. Uhlin
the professional domain and studies involving different resources are regarded as parts of
the PBL approach.
Thinking models
Based on research and experiences of tutorial work, the authors have developed two
thinking models aiming at promoting the students’ learning process in becoming self-
directed. Model A: ‘Inquiry in the tutorial session’ (Figure 2) stresses different inquiry
processes going on in the tutorial session. Model B: ‘Relationship between tutorial sessions
and self-study’ (Figure 3) illuminates the students’ ongoing self-directed learning process,
connecting the inquiry in the tutorials and the students engaging in studies.
A reality-based situation described in Figure 4 provides an example used in a tutorial in
a PBL nursing programme. This example will be used along with the reasoning aiming to
provide a concrete illustration of the meaning of the models.
A thinking model for inquiry in the tutorial session
Model A describes what (or what we would like to promote) goes on in the tutorial session
(Figure 2). The reality-based situation presented in the group is the core of the inquiring
processes.
In the tutorial session, it is important to investigate all four areas in the model
problem processing, the learning process, the group process and a meta-cognitive level.
They are all intertwined and interact. The processes all have their roots in, and evolve
according to, the approach to the reality-based situation adopted by the students. The
situation forms the concrete and meaningful basis and the context of the subsequent
interpretation and analysis made by the students.
Inquiring into the reality-based situation
When the students start their problem processing and inquire into the situation, they have
opportunities to express their ideas, beliefs and experiences concerning the situation. It is
crucial that they express their own conceptions and assumptions concerning the situation
(Figure 5).
All issues that are raised need to be thoroughly examined, discussed and problemised
and finally formulated, for example, as significant problem areas and question/s according
to the inquiry. A platform for visualisation and formulation of individual and common
understanding is established (Figure 6).
This platform formed by the students is the basis of the students’ control over and
ownership of their own learning processes. The tutor needs to be active, observing
and challenging the students to really get a grip on the situation from their point of view
and not end up with stereotype behaviour. We have found that many groups ‘brainstorm’
words about their ideas related to the reality-based situation and categorise these ideas into
problem areas without any deeper inquiry. Often, the formulated problem areas become
very alike even if the situations vary, e.g. in cases involving patients, problem areas are
instrumentally labelled as aetiology, pathophysiology, treatment and caring. If the students
are allowed to get into instrumental ways of handling the situations, their ownership of
their learning is immediately jeopardised. Their own understanding of the reality-based
situation has not been made visible.
Teaching in Higher Education 465
Inquiring into the learning process
Based on the students’ interpretation of the situation, e.g. formulated as problem areas, a
process of critical reflection on their previous learning and the need for further learning
can be initiated. This process is meant to be an inquiry aimed at making the students
reflect on and formulate both what they already think they know and understand, and
what they need to learn for a better understanding and ability to handle the situation.
In this process, they need to appraise and then decide what their assumptions are based
on, how this is related to their experiences of other situations and previous learning, the
relevance of the knowledge they will look for, the nature of knowledge from different
disciplines that is needed and how they think they can learn what is required. The process
is supposed to end up with the students being able to formulate well-grounded learning
needs, which constitute the basis of the self-directed learning process to be continued
outside the group.
Formulating learning needs is a recognised part of the tutorial work in PBL, but our
observations indicate that this process is often superficial and limited. Once more, it is
important to point out the importance of this process not becoming instrumentally
directed by underlying meanings such as: what do they want us to study now fractures,
painkillers?
In the model presented, we want to emphasise the importance of a thorough inquiry
using the concrete platform the students have created and formulated on the basis of their
Figure 2. Inquiring processes in the small group tutorial.
466 C. Sile´n and L. Uhlin
understanding of the situation. This is a unique opportunity in the tutorial work in PBL.
The students are able to be very concrete about their learning when it is connected to a
situation that is known and analysed together in the group (Figure 7).
Figure 3. The relation between tutorial work and self-study.
Figure 4. A reality-based situation in a PBL nursing programme.
Teaching in Higher Education 467
If they have thoroughly considered their thoughts about learning, the formulated
learning needs can be very useful for guiding the students’ self-directed learning process.
Based on the formulated learning needs, they can consider suitable learning resources, and
in this way they have started to prepare their self-studies with the help of the group (cf.
Model B, Figure 3). Formulating and expressing their learning is also valuable in the
Figure 5. Inquiry into the situation questions, assumptions, reasoning.
Figure 6. Problem areas and learning goals.
468 C. Sile´n and L. Uhlin
development of their ability to appraise and assess progression in learning and exchange
this with peers and faculty. The tutors have a great responsibility to stimulate and ensure
that the students inquire into their learning thoroughly.
Working together
The intertwined inquiry into the content of the situation and the learning process is
deliberately carried out in a group with the group dynamics influencing the processes and
outcome. The cooperation in the group is meant to support and challenge the individual
student in his/her learning (Barrows 1988; Boud, Cohen, and Sampson 2001). An inquiry
into the group dynamics makes it possible to understand what the group has created
together how it came about, the influences of individuals, the communication, choices
and decisions (Figure 8).
Group work is a means of inquiring into the situation, but understanding group
dynamics and developing group skills is also a goal. According to our observations, the
discussions about the group work and the development of skills usually work well. If the
group do not consider their work and formulate the premises for the tutorials, the quality
of the inquiries into the situation and the learning process will suffer. In a group that
functions well, each individual student can use the group to develop her/his own learning
process as well as contributing to the common goals of the tutorial.
Inquiring into thoughts, feelings and actions
As mentioned in the Introduction, we believe there is a need to emphasise a meta-cognitive
level in the tutorials. The fourth field in the model illustrates the position of that process,
showing that it embraces all the others. A meta-cognitive level includes inquiry into the
Figure 7. Learning needs.
Teaching in Higher Education 469
thoughts, feelings and actions that have occurred in the group activity. The students need
to position themselves ‘above’ the actual events and reflect on problem processing, the
learning process and the group dynamics (Figure 9).
Figure 8. Evaluating the group work.
Figure 9. Meta-cognitive considerations.
470 C. Sile´n and L. Uhlin
In cognitive psychology, a meta-cognitive aspect is described as being a part of self-
regulation in the learning process (e.g. Boekaerts, Pintrich, and Zeitner 2000). In order to
become self-regulated, the learner needs to be aware of a meta-level of the core content and
the values in the domain studied. A meta-level is also necessary for the awareness of
effective strategies for learning and the influence of the students’ own concerns and
interests (Barrows 1988; Sile´n 2006).
These kinds of discussions seem to be a difficult part of the tutorial work. The students
are anxious to get along with their studies and they often feel that discussing their learning
is a waste of time. It takes great awareness on the part of the tutor to support the students’
interest and create a situation where the students feel that they are learning something from
these discussions. If the group is able to hold such discussions, the students become able to
transfer their knowledge both about the content, their own learning process and the group
dynamics to other situations. In other words, they are on their way to getting hold of
‘thinking tools’ enabling them to develop as self-directed learners.
A thinking model integrating the small group tutorial and self-study
The ability to search and make choices from the huge amount of information at hand is
crucial for taking responsibility in the learning process. It also includes the ability to
scrutinise, judge and assess relevance. Model B (Figure 3) is introduced to address the
relation between the small group tutorial, the students’ self-study and the role of
information literacy. An important part of the students’ self-study is the development of
information literacy. The information explosion and the development of student-centred
approaches to education have placed new demands on a shift in the role of libraries and the
librarian in higher education. Achieving information literacy has been increasingly
regarded as a learning process (Bruce 1997, 2004; Johnston and Webber 2003; Kuhlthau
2004; Limberg 1999). The research field of librarianship has developed alongside
educational research. This field of research has opened up new perspectives and the
authors consider it important to integrate the knowledge gained in this research in order to
improve the daily practice of PBL.
Tutorial work and self-study
In a small group tutorial session, when the students inquire into a new reality-based
situation, they do so with ‘the eyes’, the pre-understanding, they had before studies of that
particular situation. The students’ work in the group, described above, generates learning
issues. This is the first opportunity to pay attention to the students’ developing information
literacy. The quality of students’ formulation of common and individual learning needs is
crucial for what their self-studies will generate. This also relates to the quality of all the
inquiry processes in the base group and it is essential to highlight a discussion about what
kind of learning resources might be appropriate to meet their learning needs. Earlier
experiences of searching for and making choices of relevant learning resources are other
areas for the students to scrutinise and reflect on in order to improve the skills needed to
develop information literacy.
Between the group sessions, the students encounter many different learning resources
they need to be able to use. This is where students are usually left alone to seek and process
information. Numerous questions need to be addressed: How to prepare the search? How
to carry out the search for and the sorting and assessing of information? How to handle the
Teaching in Higher Education 471
relationship between the systematic structures of subjects and their own problem-based
questions?
As mentioned earlier, SDL in PBL has been taken for granted and has been regarded as
a matter for the student to deal with alone i.e. self-study, the student’s own concern. The
very meaning of being responsible and independent has been defined as the student’s own
handling of issues related to information literature. We would argue that it is necessary to
give the students the freedom to search and make choices about what to read, but this is
not enough. The students need challenges, support and feedback to develop information
literacy. Librarians, whose knowledge is often underestimated in higher education, are very
important in this phase of the students’ self-directed learning. The relationship between
education and the library and librarians needs to be developed. Being experts on
information literacy, it is essential for the students’ development that librarians use the
same facilitating approach as the tutors are supposed to employ in the small group
tutorials. Lectures, other experts and clinicians are also very important in the students’
development of information literacy. They can all challenge the students’ views on the
information needed and support them by initiating reflections and modelling their own
choices.
When the students return to the tutorial session, they will have acquired new ‘informed
eyes’ to inquire into the problem. Initiating the processes described above (Figure 2) once
more gives the students the opportunity to pay attention to and reflect on their experience
of self-study. It is also possible for the students to notice the differences in what they know
now and how they perceived the reality-based situation before their studies. When applying
their studies to the situation again, they might find other questions and judge the situation
in a different way (Figure 10).
Sile´n (2001) found that the most difficult questions to handle when it came to the
students taking responsibility for their learning were to assess what they have learned,
whether it is relevant and deep enough. Thorough inquiry in the base group would help the
students to tackle these difficult questions. It is important to discuss not only the outcome
of the self-studies but also to reflect on experiences and appraise the whole search process
from formulation of learning needs to the application of new knowledge.
Closing comments
We would argue that there is a need to advance the practice of PBL especially in relation to
self-directed learning. In this paper, we present two ‘thinking models’, which we believe
make the inherent assumptions about learning within the concept of PBL visible and
operational.
The unifying idea behind the reasoning is to emphasise the essence of providing
opportunities for, as well as stimulating, the students’ inquiring approach and responsi-
bility. A key issue is the use of reflection (Mezirow 1998). In relation to the learning
situation, the students are encouraged to make choices and decisions, take up positions,
appraise, judge and plan. The tutor is supposed to challenge students’ critical awareness in
their interaction with the people involved, the subject matter and the actual learning
environment. Teachers are needed to challenge and support the students’ struggle between
chaos and cosmos, not to take it away (Sile´n 2001, 2003).
Promoting active work and reflection related to the reality-based situation, the learning
process, the group work and a meta-cognitive level in the base group is an essential
cornerstone of the students’ ownership in learning. Instrumental and stereotype handling
of the work in the base groups jeopardises the whole idea of student-centred learning,
472 C. Sile´n and L. Uhlin
which could instead turn into behaviourism and students looking for the ‘right answers’.
The tutor’s own understanding of PBL influences his/her readiness to intervene and
facilitate these processes (Sile´n 2006).
Recognition of the intensive attention that is needed to enhance the students’ ability
concerning information literacy is another crucial factor for the development of PBL
practice. PBL curricula provide good opportunities for making information literacy a
natural part of the learning process. Tutors need to acknowledge information literacy in
the base groups and librarians need to adopt more of a facilitator’s role when meeting
students in the library. Collaboration between faculty and librarians is important when it
comes to improving students’ possibilities to become information literate and self-directed.
Finally, we want to emphasise the importance of collaboration between students and
teachers in the process of students becoming self-directed learners and proficient as life
long learners.
Notes
1. The empirical study carried out aimed to try to understand the culture of student-centred learning
from the students’ perspective within PBL curricula (Sile´n 2000). The study had a discovery
approach, in this case, ethnography, and the field studied was one semester in the PBL nursing
programme at the faculty. Observations and dialogues were the main methods for collecting data
while in the field. Scheduled activities such as lectures, seminars, tutorial sessions and information
meetings, as well as breaks, the students work in the library and their clinical practice period were
studied.
2. CosmosThe beautiful order.
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Teaching in Higher Education 475
... Slika 1: Model problemskega pristopa (prirejeno po Ribeiro, 2011;Silen in Uhlin, 2008) Izhajamo torej iz predstavitve problema, ki ga študentje analizirajo v skupini, izhajajoč iz znanja, ki ga v povezavi s to problematiko posedujejo (semantična in strukturirana znanja). Sledi določanje vidikov problema, ki jih je treba nadalje raziskati. ...
... Slika 2: Procesi pri problemskem pristopu pri delovanju v manjših skupinah (prirejeno po Silen in Uhlin, 2008) Zavedamo se, da je raziskovanje delovanja skupin pri učenju svoje področje oz. da smo na tem mestu poudarili le temelje, za katere pa menimo, da vodijo v razmisleke o delu skupin študentov, ki so nujni pri problemskem pristopu. ...
... Vključujejo pa tudi procese, ki so posebej vezani na skupinsko delo, kot npr. razmišljanja o delu v skupini, dejanjih, občutjih, predstavljajo nekakšen pogled od zgoraj o procesu reševanja problema, procesu učenja in skupinski dinamiki (Silen in Uhlin, 2008). ...
... A basic driving force or motivation to learn is a desire to understand and be able to manage situations that are perceived as relevant and meaningful [19]. Challenges, as well as confirmation and feedback, are regarded as crucial to facilitating and stimulating learning processes [20,21]. Understanding as an outcome of learning is often referred to as meaningful learning. ...
... Consequently, the session was designed to allow the students to actively explore the images and the visualisation table [15][16][17]. Furthermore, driving forces such as meaningfulness, e.g., relation to clinical practice; challenge, e.g., self-direction and interactions with others, e.g., working in pairs, were built into the sessions [7,18,20,21]. A key issue was to capture student approaches to the discernment of anatomical structures without initial help from the tutor [24,27]. ...
... Research shows that development of self-directedness in learning depends on feelings of being in charge and of having a genuine impact on the learning situation. Students need challenges as well as support and feedback in their struggle to become self-directed learners (20,21,27). These findings support the idea that approaches to researching anatomy education must include more than cognitive aspects of learning such as visuospatial ability or working memory. ...
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Background Many studies have investigated the value of three-dimensional (3D) images in learning anatomy. However, there is a lack of knowledge about students learning processes using technology and 3D images. To understand how to facilitate and support the learning of anatomy, there is a need to know more about the student perspectives on how they can use and benefit from 3D images. Methods This study used designed educational sessions informed by Educational Design Research to investigate the role of technology-enhanced 3D images in students’ anatomy learning. Twenty-four students representing different health professions and multiple study levels, and one tutor, participated in the study. A visualisation table was used to display the images of real patient cases related to disorders associated with the abdomen and the brain. Students were asked to explore the images on their own and audio/video capture was used to record their words and actions. Directly following the session, students were interviewed about their perceptions and different ways of learning and studying anatomy. The tutor was interviewed about his reflections on the session and his role as a facilitator on two occasions. Content analysis was used in its manifest and latent form in the data analysis. Result Two main categories describing the students’ and tutor’s accounts of learning using the visualisation table were identified: 1. Interpreting 3D images and 2. Educational sessions using visualisation tables. Each category had signifying themes representing interpretations of the latent meaning of the students' and tutor's accounts. These were: Realism and complexity; Processes of discernment; References to previous knowledge; Exploring on one's own is valuable; Context enhances learning experiences; Combinations of learning resources are needed and Working together affects the dynamics. Conclusions This study identifies several important factors to be considered when designing effective and rewarding educational sessions using a visualization table and 3D images in anatomy education. Visualisation of authentic images has the potential to create interest and meaningfulness in studying anatomy. Students need time to actively explore images but also get tutor guidance to understand. Also, a combination of different resources comprises a more helpful whole than a single learning resource.
... There is significant and diverse literature on what drives student success in the classroom. Scholars have looked at such factors as the impact of different types of instructors (Miskolczi & M arton Rakovics 2018;Chingos 2016;Sil en and Uhlin 2008;Nye et al. 2004;Basow 1995), the importance of student characteristics such as socioeconomic background and parental history (Dell'Angelo 2014; Misty & Tissington 2011;Epple and Romano 2011;Ermisch and Francesconi 2001), and the influence of course dynamics such as class size and mode of delivery (Miskolczi & M arton Rakovics 2018;Tobin 2017;Bolsen et al. 2016;Krueger and Whitmore 2001). With respect to curriculum development, there is an extensive literature supporting universal design (UD), with its focus on differing student needs and learning styles (Rao et al. 2014; Tanners 2011; Roberts et al. 2011;Scott et al. 2003;Silver et al. 1998). ...
... Putting AL to the test: Hypotheses, methods, results, and implications Having significant background in working to improve student engagement and performance in the large-section Global Issues class, and drawing on the broader literature on student success, education technology, and adaptive learning discussed above (Miskolczi & M arton Rakovics 2018;Bailey et al. 2018;Dziuban et al. 2018;Dziuban et al. 2018;Dziuban et al. 2017;Johnson 2017;Tobin 2017;Tyton Partners 2017;Yarnall, Means, and Wetzel 2016;Bolsen et al. 2016;Chingos 2016;Rashid and Asghar 2016;Pugliese 2016;Yarnall, Means, and Wetzel 2016;Oxman and Wong 2014;Dell'Angelo 2014;Rao et al. 2014;Rao and Tanners 2011;Roberts et al. 2011;Misty & Tissington 2011;Epple and Romano 2011;Chen et al. 2010;Sil en and Uhlin 2008;Nye et al. 2004;Scott et al. 2003;Ermisch and Francesconi 2001;Krueger and Whitmore 2001;Silver et al. 1998;Basow 1995), we approached the project with some belief that the AL courseware could help improve student perception of course materials and student performance. We were more skeptical of a positive impact on DFW rates, particularly in the short term, despite some positive results reported in previous studies (see above). ...
... So, teachers must change the teaching process from 'the one with power' to 'the one with shared power', which supports self-directed learners to be active participants rather than passive recipients of knowledge (Sze-Yeng & Hussain, 2010). The teacher must understand and apply in the educational process the essence of providing opportunities, as well as stimulating the students' inquiring approach and responsibility (Silen & Uhlin, 2008). ...
Article
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The university learning process must be self-planned, self-directed, self-initiated, and frequently individually completed. To be able to achieve these goals, the students must have certain knowledge and skills. One of these is the reflective ability, developed through different modalities and using different tools. This article presents a qualitative interpretation of the students' responses written in a reflective journal, at the end of a semester, as a tool for self-assessment and self-reflection and feedback on the educational activities in which they were involved. We present, anonymously, the dominant answers for each item grouped in reflective dimensions about the teaching and learning process. Based on these responses, we tried to identify characteristics and/or difficulties in the teaching and learning process, not only to summarize and analyze but to value and/or optimize them in the future university educational process.
... I believe that for many students, part of the problem is that they need to be taught how to learn differently, which means that lecturers need to teach differently so that students are able to develop effective learning skills (Biggs 1999). Research indicates that students can be taught to become independent learners by acquiring SRL skills and strategies (Pintrich 2004;Silén and Uhlin 2008;Zimmerman 2002). ...
Article
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The study reported on in this article explored how both the first author's teaching practice and students' learning approaches evolved as she embarked on a project to help students take responsibility for their own learning and acquire specific self-regulated learning (SRL) skills. The intervention involved ten tutorials taught to a pilot group of 28 students studying financial accounting at a School of Accountancy in Johannesburg, South Africa. During the intervention, 258 Wilmot and Merino A personal reflection of adopting student-centred teaching the author used guided mastery principles and student-centred activities to teach learning strategies and skills. Action research was used as a tool to assist in designing the intervention, reflecting on and then evaluating the findings. Qualitative data was collected in the form of written and verbal feedback from group participants and colleagues, and the use of a research diary. The findings indicated that guided mastery and active learning are effective techniques for teaching specific SRL skills to students. The feedback provided by students also showed that the intervention fostered student learning. the author's own teaching practice also improved through reflecting on and making changes to her teaching approach.
Chapter
This chapter explores educational leadership graduate programs and the complex process of preparing the next generation of principals and building administrators. The authors emphasize the role of self-directed learning in educational leadership graduate programs, as pre-service principals will ultimately encounter problems of practice in school settings that challenge them to seek, analyze, and utilize information effectively and the skills necessary for making informed decisions and applying theory to practice. This chapter explores the ways in which some educational leadership graduate programs shaped their programs as settings that foster scholar-practitioners through the integration of new standards and frameworks that encourage the development of practice-related research skills. Also, the authors examine problems of practice and the ways educational leadership programs prepare pre-service principals to grapple with these complex issues. Lastly, a problem of practice project is outlined for use in the classroom.
Chapter
African societies have always had their traditional education. This evolved during the advent of missionary works when most societies were exposed to Western education, which sought to instil “reading of the Bible”. In traditional African education, teaching and learning were done orally, through open gatherings around the fire where the elders told stories, or challenged the youngsters in myths, legends, idioms, and solution-oriented quizzes. With the arrival of European missionaries’ modes of delivery changed as formal classroom setups were introduced. This chapter, which is written from an open distance learning context, looks into ways in which self-reliance and self-directness might be facilitated in an African open learning context. The chapter, which is conceptual in nature, further explores the challenges and possibilities that characterise open and distance learning (ODL). It shall be argued that ODL aims at creating autonomous and self-directed learners who can champion their own learning. The chapter shall draw on the works of Mentz et al. (2019), Mentz and Oosthuizen (2016), and Knowles (Self-directed learning. Association Press, 1975a; Self-directed learning: a guide for learners and teachers. Cambridge Adult Education, 1975b) to argue that self-directed learning (SDL) is a product of autonomous students who, on their own volition, identify their learning needs and create ways of achieving outcomes. Based on the ODL experiences, the chapter shall argue that ODL is a student-centred mode of delivery. Thus, through a convergence of ODL and SDL, students employ various interventions to create and co-create knowledge and solutions to their own learning. Against this backdrop, the chapter shall argue that SDL and ODL are pertinent modes of delivery of teaching and learning in times of global crises such as the current COVID-19.
Chapter
Imagining and creating new courses, or updating old courses, can be a fun project if the instructor possesses several crucial tools: a Franklin Planner-type calendar for time management control, a skeletal framework for the course, and a learning management system that facilitates several different modes of electronic storage. With careful planning, the course designer can create a fun and instructive course that benefits both student and instructor in a myriad of ways both during the semester and long after the term has ended.
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Autonomous learning shifts the focus from teaching to learning in relation to lifelong learning skills. This system helps students to get direct skills and knowledge from different sources rather than focusing on passing their examinations. However, lecturers remain as an advisor and guider. This paper describes the application of autonomous learning and why it is essential to be promoted massively again especially during and after the COVID-19 issue. This study aims to re-promote the practice of autonomous learning as an alternative strategy in learning system due to social distance policy resulted from pandemic covid-19 era. This research has used qualitative research method, both primary and secondary information were collected from various sources such as observation, reading published articles, newspapers, books, social media, universities reports and students’ forums, as well as document analysis on the previous research of autonomous learning. Results of the research shows that autonomous learning is a best alternative learning strategic in this tragedy pandemic covid-19 era. However, in order to facilitate and enable this learning student’s readiness is more important, this is because it is a self-learning approach. As the conclusion and suggestion, the development of digital service and online studies have increased and stimulated the use of this system.
Thesis
Full-text available
In dieser Dissertation wurden drei zentrale Ziele mit einem Mixed-Methods-Ansatz verfolgt. Ein erstes Ziel war es, ein umfassendes Modell affektiv-motivationaler Forschungsdispositionen für Studierende der Sozialwissenschaften zu entwerfen, da sich existierende Konzeptionen von Forschungskompetenz ausschließlich auf kognitive Leistungsdispositionen konzentrieren. Mithilfe von Experteninterviews und einem Expertenrating wurden neun affektiv-motivationale Forschungsdispositionen identifiziert, die notwendig sind, um die Anforderungen eines sozialwissenschaftlichen Forschungsprozesses zu meistern. Ein zweites Ziel lag in der Entwicklung und Validierung von Testinstrumenten zur Erfassung der identifizierten affektiv-motivationalen Forschungsdispositionen. Basierend auf den Standards der psychologischen Testkonstruktion konnten Selbsteinschätzungsskalen für alle neun affektiv-motivationalen Forschungsdispositionen erarbeitet und Validierungsnachweise erbracht werden. Diese Arbeiten bildeten die Grundlage für das Erreichen des dritten Ziels: Es sollte getestet werden, inwieweit die Teilnahme am Forschenden Lernen zu einer Entwicklung kognitiver und affektiv-motivationaler Forschungsdispositionen führt. Das Forschende Lernen ist ein didaktisches Format, bei dem Studierende eigenständig einen Forschungszyklus durchlaufen, um eine Forschungsfrage zu beantworten. Bis dato lagen zwar theoretische Postulate zur Wirksamkeit Forschenden Lernens in den Sozialwissenschaften vor, aber kaum empirische Befunde. Im Rahmen einer Prä-Post-Studie (N=952) in Veranstaltungen des Forschenden Lernens zeigte sich, dass Studierende sowohl positive als auch negative Entwicklungen verschiedener Forschungsdispositionen aufweisen. Als zentral erwies sich die Rolle der begleitenden Lehrperson.
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Self-directed learning is a core theoretical construct distinguishing adult education as a field of study. Most of the concept's emphasis has been on the external control and management of learning tasks. In an attempt to expand the scope of self-directed learning, this paper presents a comprehensive theoretical model. The proposed model integrates self-management (contextual control), self-monitoring (cognitive responsibility), and motivational (entering and task) dimensions to reflect a meaningful and worthwhile approach to self-directed learning. Explicating the cognitive and motivational dimensions of self-directed learning is identified as an area requiring further research.
Book
Originally published in 1991, this book provides the reader with a comprehensive synthesis of developments, issues and practices related to a self-direction in learning. it presents strategies for facilitating self-directed learning as an instructional method and for enhancing learner self-direction as an aspect of adult personality. The idea of self-directed learning is not a new one but has received renewed attention in education circles and has particular significance for the adult education sector. © 1991 Ralph G. Brockett and Roger Hiemstra. All rights reserved.
Article
The study was carried out in the nursing programme at the Faculty of Health Sciences, (FHS) Linköpings universitet, Sweden. The faculty is responsible for six study programmes within health care. PBL has been the basic pedagogical approach in all programmes since 1986. The empirical study in the thesis had an ethnographic approach. This choice was made with the intention of shedding light on and trying to understand the culture of student-centred learning from the students' perspective. The empirical data were analysed and interpreted on the basis of assumptions concerning qualitative research with traits from ethnography, grounded theory and hermeneutics. The results from the analysis of the empirical data were further analysed and interpreted using theoretical references from different perspectives (i.e Dahlgren, 1990; Candy, 1991; Uljens, 1997; Marton & Booth, 1997). Conclusive arguments for the choice of the field of study were the PBL approach, the length of time it has been practised and my own background in nursing education. PBL is designed to implement student-centred learning, stressing the importance of the student's responsibility and independence in learning. My background was considered an advantage as regards access to the field, acquaintance with PBL and the context and ability to understand the content the students studied. My familiarity was also recognised as a problem. There was a large risk that events and statements would be taken for granted, not even observed or problematised. I tried to handle these problems by adopting a reflective attitude throughout the thesis (Hammersley & Atkinson, 1995; Denzin, 1997). One of the main results that emerged from the study was the appearance of a driving force related to student-centred learning that has not been described before. The students' conceptions and experiences of responsibility and independence create a dialectic relation between frustration and stimulation, chaos and cosmos, in the learning situation. This dialectic relation becomes a significant driving force in the learning process.
Article
This paper reports a critique of the literature of problem‐based learning (PBL) in medical education. The objective of the review was to examine the various meanings that medical teachers attribute to concepts of adult learning and self‐directed learning within the context of PBL. The critique found that there are assumptions about the meanings of adult learning and self‐directed learning that are accepted uncritically as appropriate to PBL. The nature and the origins of teachers' conceptions of these ideas are explored in an attempt to clarify the meanings of the concepts and the relationships amongst them. An alternative meaning for self‐directed learning in PBL curricula is proposed.
Article
The aim of this article is to review and critique the current state of information literacy education, and propose a way forward. Key developments in the UK, USA and Australia are reviewed, including standards and models of information literacy. The place of information literacy in the higher education curriculum is discussed. Problems with current practice are identified, in particular, prescriptive guidelines which encourage a surface learning approach; delivery by librarians who may lack both educational training and power to influence the curriculum; and poor assessment methods. Alternative approaches are highlighted. A case study of a credit bearing information literacy class, offered by the authors to undergraduates at Strathclyde Business School, is analysed, to argue that information literacy can stand alone as a subject of study, with appropriate learning and teaching methods. The article concludes by proposing models for the information literate student and the information literate university.