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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A mixed methods case study of early childhood professionals' perception and motivations of choosing self-directed learning
by Walsh, Susan, Ed.D., University of La Verne, 2014, 213; 3648371
Abstract (Summary)

Purpose. The purpose of this sequential, mixed-methods exploratory case study of early childhood professionals was threefold. First, determine if a relationship exists between a learner’s readiness toward directed (DL) and self-directed learning (SDL) style and the perception of their inclination toward directed or self-directed learning, when given a choice of the two. Second, examine how self-selection of DL or SDL relates to learning achievement. Third, detect motivation of individual’s selection in directed or self-directed learning.

Methodology. Quantitative methods in the form of survey assessment were employed to determine 52 participants’ perceived inclination for SDL compared to their diagnosed readiness for SDL using the Self-Directed Learning Readiness Scale (SDLRS). A pretest/posttest assessment determined achievement of skill in identifying content presented in training. Qualitative data were gathered through semistructured interviews of 24 participants representing all directed and a purposeful sample of self-directed learners.

Findings. Quantitative data showed that most participants could positively identify if they were ready for SDL, when looking at the readiness level for SDLRS. However, there was no significant relationship between their readiness for SDL and content growth of the training material. Content growth was measured using pretests/posttests. Qualitative data showed that those choosing SDL were motivated by convenience, desire for schedule autonomy, and confidence in ability to complete training independently.

Conclusions. The study data support the conclusion that adult learners are capable of identifying their readiness for SDL. SDL can be situational, and perceived barriers will motivate choosing DL versus SDL when given a choice. When barriers are mitigated, directed learners’ behavior may change and parallel self-directed learner behavior.

Recommendations. Further research is advised: (a) in applying quantitative survey to larger populations to determine more confidently the relationship between SDL and training growth; (b) in applying the research study to a more demographic diverse population that is better representative of the population; (c) applying the research study in various situations, as SDL is situational; (d) in seeking qualitative data from all participants including those not completing the study to discover the motivation and barriers to continue or withdraw from the learning experience.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Machi, Lawrence
Commitee: Ainsworth, Patrick, Kennedy, Denise
School: University of La Verne
Department: Organizational Leadership
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 76/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Instructional Design, Educational leadership, Early childhood education
Keywords: Barriers, Learner readiness, Learning achievement, Learning experience, Learning style inclination, Motivation, Professional development, Self-directed learning
Publication Number: 3648371
ISBN: 978-1-321-45057-6
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