Self-Directed Learners

Self-directed learning is “a process in which individuals take the initiative with or without the help of others, in diagnosing their learning needs, formulating goals, identifying human and material resources for learning, choosing and implementing appropriate learning strategies, and evaluating learning outcomes”

The topic about “She Didn’t Teach. We Had to Learn it Ourselves.” is really interesting. One of my students always starts her questions by saying: “I know you are going to tell me that I can find the answer but…”. She is trying to get the answer from me by starting with this statement but it doesn’t work. However, even though I try to apply this principle in my teaching, I don’t find that it is easy. Just like I find it is easier to do something for my child instead of teaching him how to do it. It takes more patience, more guiding instead of going straight to the result, etc. When I teach Digital Literacy, I always tell my students that our ultimate goal is that they become self-directed learners because there is no way we can teach them everything about how to use a computer, for example. So when they are advanced enough, what I teach them is how to figure out something.

I believe that, even thoug it is pretty obvious in the case of computer skills, it is the same for any topic but it makes the role of the instructor much more complicated. Maybe more interesting too but, for sure, more challenging. It used to be that the role of the teacher was: “Listen to this and be able to reproduce it” and now it is:

    • Content resource
    • Resource locator
    • Interest stimulator
    • Positive attitude generator
    • Creativity and critical thinking stimulator
    • Evaluation stimulator

What a change!

To get back to the topic of instructors not answering question, I found this article C3B4Me Policy to Encourage Students to Become Self-Directed Learners. It describes the C3B4Me (meaning “See three before me”) technique. It is very simple: “Before contacting me for assistance, go to three sources to determine if you can find the answer to your question on your own.” Not only can it help students to become self-directed learners but it may help them learn how to cooperate more.

Among the other techniques mentionned in this discussion to help students become self-directed learners, I really like the questions asked to the students in order for them to reflect on a graded exam. These questions are:

      • How to you feel about your grade? Were you surprised?
      • How did you study for the exam? Did you study enough?
      •  Why did you lose points? Any patterns?
      • What will you do differently to prepare for the next exam?

I am definitely planning to use that. Because my French course is informal, I make it very clear that any assessment is for the students to understand what they need to work on (and for me to see what I need to explain better). Using these questions will help them achieve this goal.

I realize now that helping my students become self-directed learners is always my ultimate goal. I don’t think that I do enough to achieve this goal though.

My digital project was about a very simple technique called In-Class Portfolio. This technique is also another step to help students become self-directed learners. Here is the link to this video:

Retrieved from the forum discussion “Are adults naturally self-directed learners?”

by Yan Tanya Tan (Tanya Tan) – Friday, 12 September 2014, 1:56 PM

Staged Self-Directed Learning Model (SSDL) (Grow, 1991) proposes that learners advance through stages of increasing self-direction and teachers can help or hinder that development. Grow also pointed out that, the teacher’s purpose is to match the learner’s stage of self-direction and prepare the learner to advance to higher stages.

Here is a summary table reproduced from the article.

Retrieved from

Problems occur when the teaching style is not matched to the learner’s degree of self-direction. Which I also found interesting is, the article listed up examples of the mismatches and pointed out, “good teaching does two things: it matches the student’s stage of self-direction and it empowers the student to progress toward greater self-direction. Good teaching is situational, yet it promotes the long-term development of the student”