Self-Directed Learning

5 May 2017

The world of learning today is very much different from what it was in the past. The process of learning has endured vast changes that it is inevitable for students not to trail its rapid changes. Todays information age is accompanied by an exponential increase in factual knowledge with rapid change and modification of that knowledge (LeJeune 2001). Learning, in the information age, demands learners not to be passive or stative but to progress forward in line with the fast development of the current situation in order to succeed.

With the constant change in knowledge and technology, it is impossible for learners to obtain all that they need to know Just within the confinement of the four walls of the classroom or Just from the input of teachers in the classroom. While the role of teachers as the main provider of knowledge in the classroom is important, it is equally important for the students themselves to take the initiative to obtain new knowledge. In this new situation, students must know how to learn every day, how to adapt to rapidly shifting circumstances and how to take independent initiative when pportunity disappears (Gibbons 2002).

Self-Directed Learning Essay Example

The key word is self-directed learning (SDL) and this is the concept that will be able to help learners to keep up with the constantly changing world. Learners should be active and moving forward to be at par with the emergence of new knowledge. Self-directed learning, a concept that is strongly linked with adult education has become the objective of university education everywhere. Many universities are now placing specific emphasis on the development of self-directed learning as one of he primary goals of university education (Norzaini Azman et al. 003). Norzaini clarifies that as self-directed learners, students should have the ability to identify and set goals for their learning, develop and use a wide range of learning strategies, work independently and/or with others and persist to overcome obstacles in order to achieve their learning goals. More specifically, self-directed learnings emphasis on personal autonomy, personal responsibility and personal growth embodies some of the most fundamental principles of higher education (Wilcox 1996).

However, if students are expected to be self-directed learners, they have to be prepared for it. It is important that students are prepared with the foundations of self-directed learning that eventually will lead them to be effective lifelong learners. The interest should be nurtured for the learners to develop a positive attitude towards learning and their own ability to learn (Schrader-Naef 1999). Although this is a concept synonymous to adult education, it is no longer limited to them. This feature is also reflected in the Malaysian Educational Policy.

The importance of self-directed learning can be linked to one of the aims stated in the National Education Policy (1979) that is to produce more autonomous learners to direct their own learning successfully. Hiemstra (1994) acknowledges that self- directed learning embodies the view that self-directed learners appear able to transfer learning, in terms of both knowledge and study skill, from one situation to another. Generally, this ability enables learners to manage and monitor their own learning. Jacob and Farrell (2001) in their article “Paradigm Shift: Understanding and Implementing Change in Second

Language Education” touch on the importance of learner autonomy in language learning. They state that learners should be responsible for their own learning; the teacher no longer shoulders the entire burden of running the classroom and a form of democratization takes place with the students taking on more rights and responsibilities for their own learning. They further explain that eventually, as learners are aware of their current situation, they will be able to determine the best possible strategies to be used, develop new strategies or refine present one, so as to ecome better learners.

Assessing the view forwarded by Jacob and Farrell, one will see the reflection of self-directed learning concept embedded in it. Generally speaking, it can be assumed that self-directed learners whom are said to encapsulate the ability to direct their own learning should also possess good language learning strategies (LLS). If they are able to plan and direct their overall learning goals, self-directed learners should be able to direct themselves in learning a second language. Judging both concepts of self-directed learning and language learning trategies, both concepts appear to overlap one another, with the former being more dominant.

The concept of self-directed learning is reflected in Chamot’s (2001) explanation on language learning strategies that learners have to contribute to their own process to learn a second language in their own use of learning strategies or the techniques or the procedures that facilitate a learning task. In this focus, the learners are no longer seen as passive learners, awaiting instructions and being spoon-fed by the teacher and the teacher no longer becomes the dominant provider of learning. Brockett et al. (2000 in Stockdale et al. 001) lamented that of late there has been a steady decline in work related to self-directed learning, but it is inarguable how the concept of self-directed learning is still placed at the heart of learning and a process of revitalizing it is very much vital. In her article on self-directed learning, Mardziah (2001) enlightens on how self-directed learning allows learner to be more effective learners as well as social beings and also it helps learners to pursue their own interests so that learning becomes more meaningful.

In learning a language too, a teacher dependent method will Just produce a receptive learner which is not an ideal condition for language learners since it is a cumulative process (Michiko 2002). Furthermore, Michiko adds that it is important for language learners to be autonomous language learners. Realizing the benefits of self-directed learning and language learning readiness of self-directed learning of a batch of young adults attending pre- university education in a private college and also to gauge their ability in using language learning strategies in learning English.

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