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Expanding the understanding of self-directed learning : community action and innovative workplaces Taylor, Rosemary 2002

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EXPANDING T H E UNDERSTANDING OF SELF-DIRECTED LEARNING: COMMUNITY ACTION AND INNOVATIVE WORKPLACES by ROSEMARY TAYLOR M.A. , The University of British Columbia, 1993 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of Educational Studies) We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA June 2002 © Rosemary Taylor, 2002 In p resen t i ng this thesis in part ial fu l f i lment of the requ i rements for an a d v a n c e d d e g r e e at the Univers i ty of Brit ish C o l u m b i a , I agree that the Library shall m a k e it f reely avai lable fo r re fe rence and study. I fur ther agree that pe rm iss ion fo r ex tens ive c o p y i n g of this thesis fo r scho lar ly p u r p o s e s may be granted by the h e a d of m y d e p a r t m e n t o r by his o r her representat ives. It is u n d e r s t o o d that c o p y i n g o r pub l i ca t i on of this thesis fo r f inancial gain shal l no t be a l l o w e d w i t hou t my wr i t ten p e r m i s s i o n . D e p a r t m e n t of ^^-K^rts^XX^r^ezX jSJCLs^<&-*-&--£> T h e Univers i ty of Br i t ish C o l u m b i a V a n c o u v e r , C a n a d a Da te J j ^ ) 2S2_/ 2^>-2_~ D E - 6 (2/88) ii A B S T R A C T Much confusion surrounds the term 'self-directed learning', which presently describes a process, a goal, a teaching technique, and an outcome of that teaching. As a process, the literature concentrates mainly on how individuals learn, with little reference to groups that can be as self-directed as individuals. The purposes of this study were: (a) to reduce conceptual confusion by creating a typology distinguishing different processes of self-directed learning; (b) to explore the phenomenon of group self-directed learning; and (c) to illustrate the effect of environment on learning, and the complex learning dynamics in group settings. This project arose somewhat differently from typical doctoral research. Data from two unrelated field studies conducted for other purposes, completed before this thesis work began, each illustrated self-directed groups learning informally in the contexts of community action and innovative small workplaces. A subsequent review of the literature indicated a lack of attention to this form of group learning, and the field studies were then re-analyzed from this perspective. As a result of the literature review and data re-analysis (1) a typology emerged from the literature review that divides the process of self-directed learning into three forms, each of which is context sensitive but between which learners can continually move back and forth; (2) it appears that the term 'autodidactic' can apply to specific groups which are both self-organized and self-directed in their learning efforts; and (3) that the term 'autodidaxy' as presently defined is as conceptually confusing as the term 'self-directed learning'. This confusion is reduced by the typology proposed by this thesis. Minor findings indicate two continuing problems. The first is reluctance by some to accord non-credentialed learning the value it deserves, and the second is the difficulty often encountered in transferring knowledge from the site of learning to the site of application. This study concludes that 'informalizing' some formal curricula, and encouraging self-directed learning at all levels and in all contexts, may provide some of the tools necessary for living and learning in the twenty-first century. iii T A B L E O F C O N T E N T S Abstract i i List of Figures v List of Tables vi Acknowledgements v i i CHAPTER ONE. INTRODUCTION 1 Statement of the Problem 2 Research Questions 4 Purpose of the Study 5 Organizing Framework for Analysis of Self-Directed Learning 6 Background to this Study 7 Significance of the Study 9 Outline of the Thesis 12 CHAPTER TWO. METHODOLOGY 14 Review of the Self-Directed Learning Literature 14 Re-analysis of a Study of Community Action 17 Re-analysis of a Study on Learning in the Workplace 18 Outline of Methodology for this Thesis 19 Limitations of this Methodology 20 C H A P T E R T H R E E . L I T E R A T U R E R E V I E W 22 Background To Self-Directed Learning 22 Founding Fathers 24 Evolution of the Study of Self-Directed Learning 27 Contexts in which Self-Directed Learning Occurs 28 Non-formal Educational Contexts: Shared Control of the Learning Process 37 Informal Contexts - Autodidaxy 41 Summary of Self-Directed Learning Contexts 48 Elements of Self-Directed Learning 50 Themes Arising from the Literature 79 Summary 82 CHAPTER FOUR. ANALYSIS OF A COMMUNITY ACTION C A M P A I G N 86 The Community Action Study 87 Data Re-analysis 88 Dynamics of Learning in a Community Action Group 110 Teaching Techniques Used by Campaigners 117 Summary 118 CHAPTER FIVE SELF-DIRECTED LEARNING IN INNOVATIVE S M A L L WORKPLACES 121 The Workplace Learning Study 122 Data Re-analysis 124 Comparing Community Action with Workplace Learning 164 Summary 165 iv CHAPTER SIX. DISCUSSION 167 Overview 167 Discussion 169 Findings From the Literature 169 Findings from the Field Studies 177 Answers to Research Questions 185 Summary 188 CHAPTER S E V E N S U M M A R Y , IMPLICATIONS, A N D SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER R E S E A R C H 192 Summary of this Study 192 Implications of Research Findings 194 Suggestions for Further Research 195 REFERENCES 199 V List of Figures Figure la. Group learning dynamics, step one - independent individual learning I l l Figure lb. Group learning dynamics, step two - individuals sharing personal learning with others I l l Figure lc. Group learning dynamics, step three - group sharing knowledge with those beyond their own boundaries 112 Figure Id. Group learning dynamics, step four - group learning and knowledge sharing process improving over time 113 Figure 2. Flow of learning as observed in a community action group campaign 115 Figure 3. A self-directed learning typology : 173 vi List of Tables Table 1. Factors affecting control in autodidactic learning projects 109 Table 2. Comparison between Kasl's model of group learning and that found in a study of community action 116 Table 3. Increasing complexity as autodidaxy moves from individual to group settings 179 V l l A C K N O W L E D G E M E N T S This study is all about self-directed learners and the wide web in which they become involved. This self-directed learner, who has been behind the camera taking the snapshots of learning depicted here, is no exception. I therefore wish to acknowledge and thank all those who have helped me in myriad formal, informal, and incidental ways, to reach this goal. Thanks to modern technology, and the ease of electronic communication, my web extends around the world, and without the help and support of many people, from my committee members Kjell Rubenson, Tom Sork and Barbara Paterson, conference colleagues in many places, friends and family, this dissertation might never have been written. 1 CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION People have always learned on their own as individuals or together as members of a group or community. This everyday learning is ubiquitous and commonplace, and until recently remained almost unnoticed. However, self-directed learning, as it is now known, has become the subject of considerable interest and scrutiny by educational researchers who have examined the phenomenon extensively. This interest was sparked to a great extent by Houle's Inquiring Mind published in 1961, which simply asked why some people are lifelong learners while others are not. Since that time there has been a rising tide of research in this area (Candy, 1988), examining the subject from many angles. However, there are still gaps in knowledge not only because some aspects such as self-directed learning for social action have not yet been well studied, but also because technological progress has created many new contexts in which self-directed learning occurs. These areas, therefore, are open for investigation. A great deal of the learning that takes place both within and beyond educational institutions is the result of self-teaching (Tough, 1967), or autodidactic learning (Candy, 1988), and considerable interest has been shown in the research and study of what is generally referred to as self-directed learning in a variety of contexts and circumstances. However, as a result of the very flexible way in which the term self-directed learning is used in the literature, it has come to mean many things. The phrase now covers a wide range of learning processes taking place in a variety of contexts, under many different circumstances, from university lecture halls to hobbies at home. Self-directed learning is also seen as a product as well as a process (Knovvles, 1990), a goal (Long, 1998), and a teaching technique (Brockett & Hiemstra, 1991), and there is no one accepted definition which is agreed on by all who use the term. At present in North America there is a core of researchers studying self-directed learning, each specializing in their own area of interest, and as a result the literature tends to follow certain 2 threads. Some are particularly interested in self-directed learning in a formal academic setting, while others are experts in self-directed learning in workplace contexts. A third group studies self-directed learning that individuals do for their own pleasure on an informal basis, which is where Houle's study was situated. Tough, a student of Houle's, was one of the first to investigate the way in which these independent learners plan and carry out their projects, and Brookfield and Candy are two well-known researchers who have advanced the study of autodidaxy to its present level. Brookfield, in particular, has also added to the literature of self-directed learning for social action and community education. There are many other researchers who have developed distinct lines of enquiry within the topic. Two other major areas of research involve readiness to be a self-directed learner and the personal characteristics required by such learners. These are difficult qualities to assess, but several instruments have been created to measure these propensities in a variety of contexts and cultures. Many characteristics and components of self-directed learning have been researched individually, but there is presently no literature drawing all these factors together. This thesis considers each, and links them to show how they all contribute collectively to our present understanding of the concept. Most of the literature on the many aspects of self-directed learning as it is presently conceptualized can be found either in educational or business and organizational management libraries, spread through a multiplicity of books, edited chapters, journal articles, conference proceedings and ephemeral documents such as those available on the Web or through the ERIC Document Reproduction Service, and a variety of workplace learning databases. Statement of the Problem As self-directed learning has become an increasingly popular subject of study there has been exponential growth in the number of terms used to describe the concept, to the point where the literature is "plagued by terminological imprecision" (Candy, 1988, p. 5). This was confirmed by Hiemstra (1996), who found 250 similes and synonyms for self-directed learning appearing in 3 the literature from 1986 - 1994, presenting "a maze of semantic plenitude to anyone new to the literature base [who] has to wonder when it ever stops" (p. 6). This confusion has led to considerable communication problems, and calls have been made by those in the field for some greater clarity. Review of the present literature indicates that, with few exceptions, self-directed learning is represented as an individual activity for personal benefit. This is not to say that individual equates with isolated (Moore, 1973), for self-directed learners are usually considerably involved with networks upon which they rely for help and information. However, for the most part, the North American literature implicitly or explicitly indicates that learners are usually individuals striving to meet their own goals in their own way, or to reach goals set for them by authorities such as employers or educational institutions, whether through becoming students in an other-organized formal setting, or by learning autodidactically as a result of becoming interested in a particular topic or hobby. There is, however, little information on the way in which group self-directed learning happens in context, despite the fact that literature has developed around workplace learning, lifestyle learning, volunteerism, social action, and community education, where learning in group settings is the norm. One model has been developed to show the process of group learning (Kasl, Marsick & Dechant, 1997), but this model extends only as far as groups learning for their own benefit, rather than as a tool for further action beyond the group's own boundaries. There have been many case studies of social action, including Foley (1999) and Stewart, Reynolds and Elsdon (1992), but none have so far analyzed the way in which both individual and group learning takes place in these settings. This has created a gap in knowledge of how learning happens in a group context where that learning is not only for personal benefit, but for use as a tool to catalyze others into wanting to know more. With regard to learning in the workplace, Marsick and Watkins (1987; 1990; 1999; 2001) and Watkins and Marsick (1992; 1993) have done a considerable amount of research on informal 4 and incidental learning, but have not discussed self-directed learning, except to mention that it is included in their definition of informal learning (Marsick & Watkins, 1987). They also call for research "at the interface between learning at the individual, team, and organizational levels" (Marsick & Watkins, 2001, p. 32), which is an area considered in this thesis. Much knowledge in the workplace has traditionally been acquired through attending training sessions which implicitly, if not explicitly, connotes some form of other-organized learning. While the underlying principle of other-directed learning still applies, the process and dynamics are changing to include learning through individual access to a variety of computerized data bases, where learners can have some control over certain aspects of the learning process. Firms are frequently assessed by outsiders on the size of their training budget and the number of training opportunities available to employees throughout the company. However, as organizational structures change and adapt to a post-industrial knowledge-based economy, the way in which learning takes place in the small, entrepreneurial workplaces researched in this study rarely includes participating in formal training. Traditional training opportunities are not obsolete, but often they are not sufficient for, or even applicable to, small young firms on the leading edge, where knowledge creation and innovation are their livelihood. The problem is, therefore, how to meet learning needs of employees in circumstances that are relatively new in the corporate world. Research Questions Self-directed learning, while seemingly self-explanatory, is interpreted in many different ways by those who use the term, leading to considerable confusion. Much of the North American self-directed learning literature focuses on individual learning in a variety of circumstances, but there is little discussion of group learning, or the means by which that learning occurs. Two research questions arise from these observations: 1. How is the concept of self-directed learning currently understood in the literature, and how is its use evolving? 5 2. How does group self-directed learning differ from individual self-directed learning presently discussed in the literature, and how can this learning be regarded as self-directed? Purpose of the Study Much of the North American literature on self-directed learning available in English concerns individuals as learners reaching either their own goals or those set for them by others. There has been little research in the area of collective self-directed learning where individual learning takes place not only for personal reasons but for the benefit of a group where the main goal is decided, implicitly or explicitly, by consensus, and where the group itself, as an entity, also learns in order to use this knowledge beyond the group boundary. This study has three main goals: i) To analyze the current North American self-directed learning literature available in English to show how the concept is currently represented. Clarity will then be brought to the present conceptual confusion by creating a typology of self-directed learning from that literature review. ii) To illustrate through re-analysis of data from two independent studies that the present representation of self-directed learning as shown in the literature is incomplete, as it has not explored the phenomenon of group self-directed learning, rather than individual self-directed learning in a group context. One of the studies investigated educational techniques used by a community action group, and the other researched innovation and learning in small, non-traditional workplaces. iii) To illustrate the effect of environment on learning, and the complex dynamics of learning in group settings. 6 Organizing Framework for Analysis of Self-Directed Learning Self-directed learning takes place in many different contexts for many different reasons. The term's imprecision is a result of the fact that examples can be found in all areas, from formal institutional settings to informal activities taking place anywhere. One of the main criteria differentiating one form of self-directed learning from another is the degree of learner control and autonomy in the process. This varies from psychological control of the learning process in other-organized situations such as formal educational institutions, to shared control that mainly applies to learning in formal settings and some types of workplaces, to complete learner control in the autodidactic model described by Candy (1988). Other important features of self-directed learning are the goals towards which learners are working, for these will determine their choice of learning processes and context in which learning takes place, motivation for learning, and the timespan within which goals should be reached. Learner attitude also plays a large role in self-directed learning, although this is not discussed as frequently in the literature as the other aspects already mentioned. Outcome of the learning process is very dependent on learner attitude and the environment in which the learning process occurs, as will be shown later in this discussion. There are many individual interpretations of the concept, leading to the confusion referred to by Candy and Hiemstra. This research found that the following factors play a major role in conditioning both the process and the outcome of self-directed learning: i) context in which learning takes place; ii) locus of control/learner autonomy; iii) motivation/trigger factors precipitating learning; iv) goals - immediate and long-term, and who sets them; v) resources used; vi) learner attitude; vii) environment, in the widest possible sense. 7 In most cases, regardless of context or circumstances, self-directed learning is usually seen as an individual pursuit towards personal goals. B a c k g r o u n d t o t h i s S t u d y Serendipity played a major role in the creation of this thesis. It was not so much carefully planned as such works are supposed to be, but rather it coalesced in a fortuitous way, firstly as a result of investigating teaching techniques used by community activists for my masters thesis (Taylor, 1993), and secondly as a doctoral student participating in a team project researching learning in small, innovative workplaces. Original analysis of the former study discussed the way in which activists raised awareness amongst the general public of some contentious issues which required immediate attention. Subsequently, further reflection on these data indicated that a great deal of self-directed learning had taken place, and that for the most part those involved did not see themselves as learners. They attributed their incredible increase in knowledge to getting the job done, rather than deliberately acquiring information in the accepted sense of setting out to learn something. Since this type of everyday learning is not commonly referred to in the educational literature, the obvious question was why not. But that is where, initially, the curiosity ended. Not long after, an opportunity arose to participate as a doctoral student with a team researching innovation and learning in small entrepreneurial workplaces. This two-year study involved visits to many different industrial settings described in Chapter 5, interviewing workers and managers regarding their learning experiences in the workplace and how that might be connected with the innovativeness of the firm's products. It was only after transcribing many hours of interview tapes, and subsequent analysis of data, that self-directed learning in these contexts became apparent, despite the fact that a search for such information had not been part of the research agenda, nor had any questions on the topic been included in the interviews. This provided a gratuitous look at self-directed learning in a way that may not have been possible had that information been deliberately sought. These data are used with the full knowledge and approval of the team leader. 8 Just at that time many calls for papers appeared for conferences based on workplace learning and self-directed learning. By preparing proposals, and eventually writing and presenting papers on many aspects of the workplace learning study before international audiences ranging from academics to business and management personnel, it became clear that the self-directed learning emerging from this study was similar to, and elaborated on, the findings from the community action study carried out several years earlier. This reinforced the intuitive feeling that these aspects of everyday learning were of interest, but were not addressed to any extent in the existing literature. It was serendipitous that the workplace learning research opportunity appeared soon after completion of the community action group study, creating some of those educationally magic moments also referred to by many interviewees in the high-tech sector. Had two different people been involved in these studies, the juxtaposition which enabled the comparison between them may not have happened - it was the intuition, gut feeling, or hunch that the two fitted together that made this present thesis possible. Having observed that each of these studies made what is often invisible learning visible, albeit co-incidentally, it was then necessary to do an extensive literature review to confirm that this everyday learning had not been researched to any degree, and it was during this phase that it became obvious that the visible portion of Tough's iceberg still consisted of learning in the formal sector. There is some literature on learning as a result of participation in social action, and a considerable amount of research is presently focused on learning in the workplace, but even that did not shine a light on the dynamics of the learning process or deconstruct the concept of self-directed learning to see how the various elements within it interact. This has not gone unnoticed by others (Livingstone, 1999). This thesis therefore fell together as a "result of personal involvement in the two field studies and presentations at many conferences which provided an opportunity to analyze both studies 9 through new lenses. The research questions resulted from observations made during data analysis, which suggested a noticeable absence of discussion around these topics in the literature. Significance of the Study A significant feature of this thesis is that it concerns the ordinary, everyday learning of those who share a collective task by working together, whether for social or community action, or in the workplace. There is already a body of literature on situated and informal self-directed learning, and this study adds to that knowledge, illustrating the dynamics of such learning in the two sites discussed. This is of particular importance as the knowledge society requires the extensive use of informal knowledge (Livingstone, 1999). It is important to know how informal learning occurs (Marsick & Volpe, 1999), but as yet little research has been done regarding learning dynamics in this field. While self-directed learning amongst individuals in a variety of contexts has been well studied, there is a lack of knowledge about how this type of learning happens in groups which are formed for specific purposes. There has been much discussion regarding the use of small groups in organized learning environments, where individuals interact for a short time to brainstorm or work together on a specific project. However, there appears to be no examination of the dynamics involved in ongoing groups, beyond Kasl, Marsick and Dechant's model (1997) that is limited to the learning achieved by a group, where the knowledge remains within that group for its own benefit and use. Livingstone (1999, p. 53) also states that "collectively conducted learning . processes are the least well documented part of adults' informal learning". This thesis not only documents that aspect of adults' informal learning, but analyses the dynamics of those processes in two separate sites which, although seemingly very different, share much in common. This research also provides two clear profiles of intentional informal learning practices situated in the everyday lives of ordinary people, an area which Livingstone (2001) suggested needed further exploration. 10 Research in the field of adult education and workplace learning shows that small groups can learn, that they retain knowledge despite changes in personnel, and that this learning becomes a valuable teaching tool both for use within the group, and eventually for educating a wider audience (Kasl, Marsick & Dechant, 1997). Knowledge of the dynamics of group learning, as shown by this analysis of two field studies, also has implications for hiring practices in the workplace, where finding the right employee is now much more than a matter of bringing the appropriate skills and qualifications to the job. This thesis analyses the dynamics of self-directed learning in informal groups created for specific purposes, that often exist for months, or even years. Such groups develop their own identity and as members work closely together, the learning that transpires becomes enriched by the individual strengths each person has to offer. A certain synergy develops, and the total learning resulting from these contexts is far greater than the sum of its parts. While findings from the recent New Approaches to Lifelong Learning (NALL) study suggests that "researchers struggle with the relationship between learning and experience, especially between learning and collective (social/political) experience and interaction" (Church, 2000, p. 2 of downloaded document), this thesis examines that relationship through the collective social and political experience of community activists discussed in Chapter 4. The significance of self-directed learning for social action is gaining importance as it appears that large-scale social action is being used as a means of questioning and challenging government decisions. One such example is the alternative forums organized by citizens' groups opposed to globalization of trade, or other major issues of concern. Study of the community action group learning dynamics shows not only how knowledge is shared and used by activists, but how effective that action can be in achieving results. However, the empowerment of citizens through self-directed learning paradoxically creates a double-edged sword on which governments may fall. There is a fine line between education for self-directed independence while maintaining social control, and self-directed learning as a tool for organizing action through which citizens express disagreement with government policy. 11 Emphasis in formal educational institutions is often placed on working at an individual level, in a competitive rather than co-operative environment, in contexts which do not always reflect those found in the setting where that knowledge will be applied. The fact that learning in groups, in real world conditions, is so productive is very relevant to curriculum planning and policy making at all levels of the formal educational system, including that of teacher education. This work also has implications for the future of training and development as traditionally found in the workplace. There is still a time and place for planned learning organized and instituted by others, but as workplaces become less hierarchical and less traditional in structure, self-directed learning is being encouraged in many different ways, often designed to fit particular workplace contexts. Formal budgets and times set aside for organized training were rarely included in the strategies of small workplaces participating in this study as training and work have become one, where working together and learning together on the job is the best and most appropriate training available. In leading-edge contexts, there is often no other form of training because this is where new knowledge is being created and people become trained experientially and through self-directed study as appropriate. Consequently, setting aside specific training budgets for organized learning opportunities may not necessarily be the most appropriate way to ensure that knowledge is acquired as and when needed in the most suitable format; there are many other ways suggested by the workplace learning study that may be more relevant, depending on the circumstances. The influx of new technologies into many workplaces that were previously not highly mechanized is requiring workers at all levels to learn continuously, and therefore a readiness to do so, and the ability to seek out knowledge for personal and economic reasons has become a necessity. Self-directed learning has become increasingly essential as a way of life, and people need to be encouraged to develop their skills in this direction at all levels of their personal education, not only for economic benefit, but for personal survival. There has also been considerable discussion in the literature concerning the ability to transfer knowledge from one context to another. Problem-based learning is trying to overcome that dilemma, but in many cases knowledge and skills are taught in simulated situations away from the 12 site where they will be used, removing environmental cues that play a part in the way such knowledge is recalled and applied. Knowledge resulting from an analysis of both the learning dynamics and the learning processes as illustrated in this thesis may provide tools for use in teaching at all levels. There is rising interest in the importance to society of lifelong learning, and this study indicates how informal, and even incidental learning can lead to lifelong learning, as illustrated by a member of the community action group discussed in Chapter 4, who said "I knew nothing about municipal affairs, and by-laws and sections, and Acts of Parliament. I didn't even think it was interesting, but now I've become interested in the legislation, the need for new legislation, and the whole legal proceedings." (AM 11/1). Thus, it is significant that the informal learning process be analyzed and understood in order that it be encouraged by systems which have previously regarded knowledge gained informally as of lesser value than that which is formally acquired. Livingstone (2001) suggests that effective recognition of this form of learning in work and community settings could stimulate both greater educational accessibility and enhanced workplace utilization of knowledge. Outline of the Thesis The following are brief introductions to the remaining chapters of this thesis: Chapter 2 describes the research design and method in detail, and provides a brief description of the methodology employed for each of the two empirical studies being re-analyzed for the self-directed learning found but not analyzed in detail during the initial analysis of each. Chapter 3 reviews the literature to illustrate how self-directed learning is presently viewed, and creates a typology derived from that analysis. 13 Chapter 4 is a re-analysis of a study of a community action group, originally designed to discover the teaching techniques used by activists to inform local residents of impending environmental problems, to show the self-directed learning which occurred during that action. Chapter 5 is a re-analysis of a workplace learning study originally undertaken to investigate possible connections between innovation and learning in small entrepreneurial enterprises, to show the self-directed learning taking place in these settings. These findings add further to those of the community action group study. Chapter 6 integrates findings from an analysis of the literature and the two empirical studies. This chapter also extends the typology created in Chapter 3 to include collective learning in groups for group benefit, and for use as a teaching tool beyond group boundaries, and discusses the dynamics of learning in these contexts. Chapter 7 summarizes the study and discusses the implications of these findings, and makes recommendations for further research which might add to our understanding of self-directed learning. C H A P T E R T W O 14 M E T H O D O L O G Y Before this present study began, data analysis from two projects already completed for other purposes raised questions about the self-directed learning taking place in two different group contexts which appeared not to be addressed by the current literature. One project researched a community action group's campaign strategy, and the other investigated learning in innovative, entrepreneurial workplaces. In order to answer questions related to self-directed learning among individuals working together as a group, a thorough and critical review of the current literature was required to determine how the concept of self-directed learning is presently defined and described. That understanding of self-directed learning is then extended to include group learning where individual members are all working towards a common goal. Data for this present study comes from three main sources. The first is a thorough and extensive review of the self-directed learning literature in order to determine how the concept is presently understood. The second and third sources are data from the two field studies, conducted independently from each other and from this present study, which revealed a great deal, both directly and indirectly, about self-directed learning occurring at each site. Coincidentally, each illuminates self-directed learning in group settings, a context that has as yet been given little attention in the North American literature, which at present is mainly concerned with self-directed learning as an individual pursuit. The original analysis of these two studies clearly found detailed information on self-directed learning as it happened in situ without it having been directly researched, and consequently these data have been re-analyzed from this viewpoint. Review of the Self-Directed Learning Literature In order to discover whether the two field studies do, in fact, have anything to add to the present literature, it had to be determined what the literature says about self-directed learning. Before anything new can be added to the concept, there must be a clear understanding of how it is 15 presently understood by the major authorities. A critical analysis of the literature was therefore conducted to discover both what is included and what is left out by current interpretations. There is a very broad literature in the field of self-directed learning, spread through a wide range of books, edited chapters, journals, professional magazines, conference proceedings, and ephemera. However, there are several seminal works which are easy to locate, and a small coterie of well-known authorities in the field whose writings provide a wealth of further references. Confirmation that these were some of the most often-cited works in the field came not only from references listed by others, but also from participants at the annual Self-Directed Learning Symposium held in the United States, who were personally consulted. Advice was sought through discussion with several researchers who are familiar with the field, and over several years, as personal presentations were made to symposia audiences. Attending presentations made by others at these symposia also suggested references which might otherwise have been overlooked. As with any research project, these initial references led to more, and many of the more broadly based references include studies which, although peripheral to self-directed learning itself, are invaluable for providing a general understanding of many aspects impinging on, but not central to, the study of self-direction. Eventually references also led to works that do not mention the term self-directed learning, but are describing the phenomenon nevertheless. This review began with a close and critical reading of the main works, and an analytical process started to identify and follow the main themes of the discussion. Many different forms of self-directed learning are described, involving a variety of learning processes, contexts, and dynamics. There are those whose research concerns self-direction in formal institutional settings, or large corporate workplaces, while some choose to investigate hobby learning or self-directed learning as a political tool. Others study various elements of self-direction, such as motivation, goals, learner autonomy, or the personal characteristics and readiness of individuals to be self-directed, no matter what the context. Consequently, the literature is built up along these prominent 16 themes, and very quickly certain authors' works can be associated with the specific areas of self-direction in which they tend to specialize. References provided by these works then led to a maze of documents, each of which in turn referred to an even wider collection of books and articles. These were all read and analyzed in the same way as the foundational literature with which the review began. Eventually as happens with any data gathering process, redundancy gradually becomes apparent when many of the references cited were those already accessed. At this point it is clear that most of the available literature had been found, and it remains only to keep up with what is published subsequently. However, this comes with a caveat that there are always books, papers, journals and articles which are not found, despite a thorough search, because they do not appear in keyword searches or other attempts to locate every possible published source. Literature analysis shows the nuances and small variations within self-directed learning which reflect the multi-faceted nature of the concept. There are subtle shades and degrees of difference which need to be understood in order to appreciate what those differences are, and why they matter. Reading as much of the literature as possible creates insights which may not be noticeable to the average reader who may consult only a few articles by any one author, rather than reading everything within a short space of time. Authors contradict not only each other, but even themselves, indicating where the controversial and conceptually confusing areas are, or showing how understandings are evolving. The aim of reading extensively about and around the topic of self-directed learning was to identify the many ways in which this concept is being represented, and how it is portrayed by those working in the field. This provides a base line from which to show what the many variations of self-directed learning are presently thought to include, and to indicate what is not represented in the current theoretical literature. 17 Re-analysis of a Study of Community Action This study originally researched how a community action group conducted its campaign to raise awareness of some local environmental concerns about which few appeared to know (Taylor, 1993). Data were gathered through interviews with core activists, those peripherally involved in the action, and members of the general public who eventually became aware of the problems through the action group's activities. Interviews were set up with whoever was available to take part from all sectors of the community. Gender, ethnicity, or socio-economic status were not criteria in this research, which looked at the way in which information flowed around the entire community during the campaign. Although no questions were asked regarding employment or retirement status, this information was often gratuitously included in interview conversations, and as this action occurred in an affluent rural coastal community near Vancouver, most participants were professionals. Six core activists were interviewed, five of whom were women. Of the nine members of the public who were contacted through letters they had written to the local paper expressing interest in the matter, seven were men, only one of whom was non-professional, being a long-time resident and commercial fisherman. The Head of Programming for the local community television station and the newspaper Editor were also men. Thus of the 17 people interviewed, seven were women and ten were men. Interviews were taped and transcribed, and data were also gathered from reading newspaper backnumbers to gain further information about how events were portrayed in the media. While analyzing these data a great deal of coincidental information was noticed relating to the many ways in which self-directed learning took place, and also the dynamics and flow of learning through the community. As a result, these transcripts were re-analyzed for purposes of this present study, specifically to find instances and examples of the different types of self-directed learning which took place, and the processes by which knowledge filtered through the community. 18 Re-analysis of a Study on Learning in the Workplace A research team from the Centre for Policy Studies in the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia conducted a study of small entrepreneurial workplaces to investigate possible connections between the type of learning taking place in these establishments and the innovativeness of the company's products (Schuetze, H. G, Hommen, L . , Best, A . , & Taylor, R., 1997). These workplaces employed between 10—100 people, had been in operation for five years or more, and many could be described as somewhat, or very, non-traditional in their organizational structure and modus operandi. Nineteen firms participated, and many interviews were conducted with managers, employees, and in one case, union members. In some instances additional insights into company activities were gained through tours of facilities to see work in action. In this research, which included both professional and vocational workplaces, most of those interviewed were. men. This may suggest that the secondary wood products, engineering, telecommunications and computer consulting sectors are not attracting many women into their midst. As with the community action study, consideration of gender, ethnicity or socio-economic status were not included in investigating the way in which these small firms operated, or the way in which learning occurred within them. These factors could, however, form the basis for future projects in similar workplace settings. Interviews were taped, transcribed and analyzed by a team of four, so this study had the added advantage of shared knowledge, ideas and intuitions during the analysis process. Similarly to the community action study, data contained a great deal of information about the types of learning taking place within these small firms, and how knowledge flows from person to person and place to place. These unexpected findings provided substantial evidence of self-directed learning in these workplaces, and therefore the transcripts were also re-read and re-analyzed with this present study in mind. Outline of Methodology for this Thesis 19 This research began with two field studies, both conducted independently for purposes other than the investigation of self-directed learning, which appeared to have something in common regarding the way in which learning occurred in each context. At the same time it was felt that the self-directed learning literature did not seem to address these issues, and this presented an opportunity to add to what is already known about the concept. Re-analysis of each of the field studies resulted in a series of themes emerging from the data. There was no preconceived notion of potential themes; they were created to appropriately capture the essence of what interviewees were saying. As interviews in each study followed semi-structured schedules in a flexible fashion, many aspects of community and workplace learning were discussed beyond those with which interviews were primarily concerned. This provided opportunities for unsolicited information to be included, augmenting the main interview questions. As similar points arose throughout different interviews in a variety of circumstances, it appeared that these aspects of learning were not only commonly shared, but were of importance to those who included them in their discussion. Quotations from which these themes developed were marked and copied into a computer data base, which resulted in approximately twenty themes arising from the community action campaign data and fifty from the workplace learning study. No effort was initially made to use the same themes across both data bases, the data were allowed to speak for themselves. In order not to influence coding of the field studies, the literature was reviewed and coded only after all transcripts had been analyzed. The resulting themes were marked and collected in a data base, at which point comparison across the three data bases could begin. It became evident that although the names given to themes in each data base were different, often the substance was similar. For example, one theme arising from the workplace study was job satisfaction, which later became subsumed within "motivation". Another workplace theme of "small is beautiful" provided much relevant information on what seemed to create advantageous learning environments, and is 20 included in that discussion. While themes were developed independently for each data base, those from the two field studies were found to illustrate themes developed from the literature, eventually evolving into the themes and elements on which the conceptual framework for this study is based (see Chapter 3). Once all coding was completed, data bases were constantly compared as analysis became interactive and ongoing throughout the writing process. While many quotations drawn from both the field studies and the literature were appropriate to illustrate the discussion in Chapters 3-5, those chosen were deemed to be the most fitting and relevant to the point being made. Limitations of this Methodology Although eventually following references through the many books and articles on self-directed learning comes back to the literature already reviewed, the search for literature is unending. There is always more research being reported, continual discussions in a variety of trade and professional magazines that are not always readily accessible, and ongoing presentations at conferences which then appear in subsequent proceedings. While most of these works can be found in educational libraries, through ERIC Document Reproduction Services, or on the internet, some are inaccessible even through inter-library loan, despite the fact that they are well-cited and should be easy to find. Consequently there is some literature which has knowingly been omitted. It is acknowledged that the review of the literature on which this study is based has been limited to that which is available in English and relates mainly to a North American understanding of self-directed learning. This appears to be primarily concerned with individual pursuits and achievements, with very little reference to groups that learn as an entity, rather than people who learn individually but within group settings . This study is also restricted to two research sites. Research undertaken in other sites and based on other literatures might have resulted in very different findings, but this is for further studies to determine. 21 Another limitation of this study is that evidence of self-directed learning in both field studies was obtained incidentally while researching other aspects of community action and workplace innovation. While this avoids the problems inherent in Tough's study - that participants may have provided answers sought by the interviewers - greater in-depth information might have resulted from a more focused enquiry. However, this work provides a basis for research into informal, everyday learning, upon which others can build. There is also considerable research on self-directed learning taking place in Quebec and France, but most of this work is published in French, and therefore not accessible for the purposes of this study. Many other studies overseas take into account different cultural understandings of self-directed learning, how it happens, and the implications of being a self-directed learner, but cross-cultural comparisons are beyond the scope of this study. This discussion now turns to a review and analysis of the self-directed learning literature to determine how the concept is presently understood. C H A P T E R T H R E E 22 L I T E R A T U R E R E V I E W This chapter begins by setting self-directed learning in a historical context, continues by examining the various theories and themes along which research in this area has developed, and concludes by creating a conceptual framework that re-organizes the way in which the concept can be understood. The main themes appearing in the literature are explored, within which sub-themes examine the concept of self-directed learning in more detail. It must be acknowledged that no one form occurs in isolation from the others. For example, although self-directed learning in formal contexts is mainly learning and goal oriented, taking place under somewhat rigorous conditions, informal and incidental self-directed learning is also happening simultaneously both inside and outside of classes. A l l forms of learning are intertwined and interdependent, but for the purposes of this study, have to be analyzed as separate entities before being put back into the context to which they belong. Background To Self-Directed Learning Before formal education was commonly available people taught themselves, with the help of those around them. Individuals, communities, and cultures built up and shared knowledge, passing it from one generation to the next, adding new knowledge continuously. Self-education was an honoured approach to learning (Rose, 1997a), and those who accumulated useful knowledge and experience were revered as leaders, advisors, mentors, and role models. People learned experientially, through trial and error, or through working with those who were already skilled and proficient. Shared stories carried cultural knowledge, news of important events, or information about how things could be done differently. Town criers, roving musicians and poets took information from one village to another, ordinary people informed each other through general conversation, and learning was a normal part of everyday life. Ancient philosophers such as Plato, Socrates and Aristotle saw themselves as self-learners, and believed that education should enable the young to function as self-learners in adulthood 23 (Brockett & Hiemstra, 1991; Hiemstra, 1994a). In the late twelfth or early thirteenth centuries Oxford and Cambridge universities became established where men from the upper classes could continue their education. Later, the sixteenth century saw the founding of several prestigious English boys' schools where sons of the elite could prepare for university entrance. European coffee houses, which became popular in the seventeenth century, were known as penny universities, as men who frequented them debated the issues of the day over a cup of coffee which then cost a penny. Some coffee houses gradually evolved into prestigious men's clubs, where learning continued in more exclusive settings. By comparison, accessible education for women is a recent phenomenon, and it is interesting to note that now, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, coffee shops are once again becoming informal seats of learning, hosting discussion groups known as Philosophers' Cafes, open this time to everyone who wishes to participate. While organized education was until comparatively recently reserved for elite men, women learned informally from their families, or through situated learning on the job in ways similar to those described by Lave and Wenger (1991). There was much to be learned, at home or away, and some taught themselves through their own determined and self-directed efforts. People moving from one area to another, or from one continent to another, had to learn how to survive and flourish in new surroundings, often making deliberate attempts to learn from indigenous peoples with extensive local knowledge (Hiemstra, 1994a; Long & Ashford, 1976). One famous clandestine self-directed learner was Beatrix Potter, who is internationally known for her children's stories and illustrations. But she was also a learned mycologist studying lichens and fungi, who made significant discoveries in this field. She taught herself to draw, and produced many scientifically accurate pictures of natural items, including mushrooms, which made considerable contributions to the knowledge of the day. Unfortunately this was disregarded by the men in science at the time because she was a woman, and she gave up her scientific studies in favour of writing children's books, which found a ready market (Peck, 1996). And all this was the 24 accepted status quo with regard to the self-educated woman only one hundred years ago, in the 1890s. The status of women changed radically during the twentieth century as they used self-directed learning for social action on their own behalf, becoming acknowledged as persons, winning the right to vote, gaining equal access to education at all levels, and respect for their knowledge and accomplishments. The discussion now follows the self-directed learning literature through this era. Founding Fathers Two of the most influential thinkers in the field of adult education on whose works much subsequent research and literature is based were John Dewey and Eduard Lindeman. Dewey published one of his most famous works, Democracy in Education, in 1916, while Lindeman, his friend and colleague, published The Meaning of Adult Education in 1926. These, along with other works by both authors, have been very influential in the world of adult education. Both saw immense value in informal learning, noting that learning stemmed from the experience of living life, which Dewey (1916) distinguished from deliberate schooling by stressing the incidental, natural, and important nature of that which is learned informally. This value system was somewhat reversed later in the twentieth century, but once again, informal and incidental learning is coming back into favour, particularly through the works of those researching situated cognition, workplace learning and lifelong learning at the present time. Dewey's works are best known for their emphasis on experience as an event with meaning, involving interaction between the individual and the environment (Boud, Cohen & Walker, 1993), and the belief that experience and action are primary sources of knowledge. However, in 1938, Dewey added that not all experience educates, with which Jarvis (1987b) agrees. Building on Dewey's work, Lindeman also valued experience as a learning opportunity, adding that to make experiences meaningful it is necessary to examine the assumptions and social context affecting the process. Lindeman differed from Dewey in that he saw learning as a tool for 25 bringing about social change through collective action, and "included the whole gamut of human experiences within adult education" (Fisher & Podeschi, 1989, p. 348), a viewpoint with which Lawson (1979), Little (1979), and Verner (1964) soundly disagreed. They believed that any learning taking place without the help and guidance of professional adult educators is of little value to society, and will be inefficient, difficult, or doomed to fail (Brookfield, 1983). For Lindeman, education was co-terminous with life, and therefore learning was naturally a lifelong predilection, but he saw this learning to be less for individual benefit than for society as a whole. He also worried about the social consequences of employment upon individuals, especially with regard to the effects of specialization, and organizational emphasis on profit (Fisher & Podeschi, 1989). In this respect, Lindeman's thinking is totally relevant to present-day problems. Lindeman was also the first person to introduce the word andragogy into the English language in a paper written in 1926, despite the fact that it was Knowles who is more familiarly associated with that term. Some time later, Lewin (1951) developed a theory of force-field analysis, which explained personal and group dynamics and motivation for bringing about change through forces exerted by the environment to either maintain or change the status quo. These forces, Lewin suggested, are always acting on each other to maintain an equilibrium, and when one is stronger than the other, action will be taken to restore harmony. This illustrates how individuals or groups and the environment interact upon one another, causing change if resisting forces are weak, and blocking change if resisting forces are strong. Force-field theory can therefore be a useful tool for understanding learning dynamics in a variety of contexts. Although Lewin's theory is not often relied on directly by researchers, it is one of the foundations upon which present day research grew. Lewin also created an experiential learning model, on which Kolb (1984) based his well-known theory. These models were later adapted further by Jarvis (1987a) and Burnard (1988). Bandura (1977) was also concerned with the effect of environment on learning, developing his social learning theory. 26 In the social learning view of interaction, behaviour, personal factors and environmental factors all operate as interlocking determinants of each otlier. Tlie relative influences exerted by these interdependent factors differ in various settings atid for different behaviours. Tfiere are times when environmental factors exercise powerful constraints on be/uxviour, and other times when personal factors are tlie over-riding regulators of the course of environmental events, (p. 9-10) To this he later added Tlie hutnan condition is better improved by altering detrimental circumstances and personal perspectives than by trying to alter personal outlooks, while ignoring the very circumstan-ces that serve to nourish tliem. (1986, p. 23) This speaks very much to the need to consider how environment affects the learning taking place within it, a factor for which there was very little concern in major industrial workplaces where Taylorism held sway. It was conditions such as these, together with the social problems that also controlled workplace environments, that prompted Myles Horton to open the Highlander Folk School in 1932 to help oppressed workers in the southern States to improve their own situation. More recent research into workplace learning also agrees with Bandura's thinking, as reported by Watkins and Marsick (1993). Rattier than change workers to promote learning the Swedes assumed t/iat workers naturally learn all of the time. Tfiey c/ianged tlie work to motivate for continuous learning by making sure that work was varied, independent, and worthwhile, and that workers received frequent feedback, (p. 12) While there has been some attention paid to environmental conditions surrounding learning in many contexts, the literature shows that this mainly concerns such physical comforts as seating arrangements, lighting, opening windows, and governing ambient noise and temperature. Other aspects of environment not generally considered, including affective, social, and psychological effects, are discussed elsewhere in this study. Concern for micro- or macro-environmental conditions also becomes the basis for the social action which Lindeman so strongly supported, as individuals and groups learn for the specific purpose of achieving environmental goals within their personal and community context. For the most part there seems to be a hiatus between the works of Lindeman and Dewey, who were both concerned with informal, everyday learning, and the re-kindling of interest shown in the subject by Houle in 1961, who led the revival of interest in the last half of the twentieth 27 century. Houle's work was later joined by Tough's (1967), and Knowles' (1970), and these three together form the foundation on which many have since built. Houle's major interest concerned people's willingness to learn on their own after formal schooling had finished, which resulted in his small, but often cited book The Inquiring Mind (1961), in which he found that learners were goal directed, learned for the love of learning, or used educational activities as a means of socializing. One of the earliest references to the concept of learner self-direction is found in Sheats (1957) who suggests that one of adult education's primary roles is the facilitation of "the self-reliant and self-directing individual learner who knows what his educational goals are and proceeds to attain them" (p. 232). The term self-directed learning, according to Merriam-Webster, first appeared in a journal article in 1968 (Gerstner, 1987). Tough (1967; 1971) started a wave of research with his enquiry into the way in which adults carried out individual learning projects, and what resources helped them in their endeavours. This he referred to as self-teaching, which is now included in the overall concept of self-directed learning. The third major theorist at that time was Knowles, who was known as the father of andragogy although, as already mentioned, it was Lindeman who first used the term in an English language paper. However, Knowles (1970) put forward the idea that all adults aspire to be self-directed learners and outlined the conditions that might encourage the development of self-direction in formal and non-formal learning contexts. He developed an adult-oriented teaching technique to foster individual self-directedness which he called andragogy, in order to distinguish it from the pedagogical approach familiarly used to educate children. Evolution of the Study of Self-Directed Learning Self-directed learning has existed since time immemorial, although it has only become a subject of serious educational research since the early 1960s. Since then, however, interest in the concept has exploded, moving research from asking why some people choose to be lifelong learners while others do not (Houle, 1961) to enquiry into individual self-teaching projects (Tough, 1967), and subsequently a thorough investigation of a wide variety of different types of 28 self-directed learning taking place through many different processes in almost every context. Self-directed learning has become an umbrella term covering many forms of learning in a wide variety of situations, so in order to differentiate one form of self-directed learning from another there has been a proliferation of terms to describe the phenomenon, leading to conceptual confusion and semantic chaos (Hiemstra, 1996). Many people have tried to define self-directed learning from a theoretical perspective (Brockett & Hiemstra, 1991; Brookfield, 1983; Candy, 1991; Knowles, 1975; Tough, 1967), each promoting different aspects of the concept, while others maintain that it is impossible to define, for to do so would render any definition too general to be useful (Long, 1994). There is no disagreement, however, in acknowledging that there are many forms of self-directed learning, and many processes by which people choose to learn, but it is when they are all described by the same term that confusion sets in. From a more practical viewpoint, Livingstone states that self-directed learning is most simply understood as learning tliat is undertaken on the learner or learners' own terms witlwut either prescribed curricular requirements or a designated instructor.... Self-directed informal learning includes intentional job-specific atui general employment-related learning done on your own, collective learning with colleagues ofotlier employment-related knowledge and skills, and tacit learning by doing. (2001, p.2 of downloaded document) Contexts in which Self-Directed Learning Occurs The literature shows that self-directed learning takes place in many different contexts and circumstances, which has helped to add to the confusion, for no matter what form the learning takes, or how it happens, it is still called self-directed. Thus, when that term is used, people often do not know which form of self-directed learning is being referred to and hence find themselves talking at cross purposes. Since much of the discussion around self-directed learning centres on context, it is necessary to define what is understood by the terms formal, non-formal and informal, all of which are taken from Coombs (1985). Although formal education is not specifically defined, Coombs refers to the 29 familiar formal educational system, ranging from tlie first grade of primary school to tlie highest reaches of tlie university. By this definition, a person's education was measured by years of classroom exposure and by the type and level of educational credentials earned. (p. 20) Non-formal education, Coombs states, is simply any organized, systematic, educational activity, carried on outside the framework of the formal system, to provide selected types of learning to particular subgroups in the population, adults as well as children, (p. 23) Coombs defines informal contexts in terms of both informal education, and informal learning. The former is - . - . . the life-long process by which every person acquires and accumulates knowledge, skills, attitudes and insights from daily experiences and exposure to tlie environment - at home, at work, at play; from the examples and attitudes of family and friends, from travel, reading newspapers or books; or by listening to the radio or viewing films or television. Generally, informal education is unorganized, unsystematic and even unintentional at times, yet it accounts for tlie great bulk of any person's total lifetime learning - including that of even a highly "schooled" person, (p. 24) However, Coombs also refers to informal learning as The most ubiquitous and, in the long haul, most important type of education ... informal learning - the spontaneous, unstructured learning tliat goes on daily in tlie home and neighborliood, behind the school and on the playing field, in the workplace, marketplace, library and museum, and through the various mass media, all of which constitute a person's informal learning environment, (p. 92) While Coombs does not appear to differentiate between education and learning in informal contexts, in this study the word education is reserved for the acquisition of knowledge associated with processes found in the formal and non-formal sectors, while the term learning is preferred for that which takes place informally. This shares Candy's (1991) view that education floats on a large sea of learning. In more recent studies carried out for the New Approaches to Lifelong Learning (NALL) research project based at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto (OISE), informal learning was described as "the way in which learning is undertaken outside of formal structures of classes and courses, instructors and regulations...which is deliberate and sustained. This learning can take place either alone or collectively" (Church, 2000, p. 2 of downloaded document). One of the working definitions of informal learning adopted by the N A L L research project was 30 any activity involving tlie pursuit of understanding, knowledge or skill which occurs outside the curricula of institutions providing educational programs, courses or worksliops. The basic terms of informal learning ... are determined by the individuals and groups who choose to engage in it. Informal learning is undertaken on one's own, eitlier individually or collectively, witfwut eitlier externally imposed criteria or tfie presence of an institutionally authorized instructor (Livingstone 1999, p. 51). To further clarify the understanding of informal learning .. . explicit learning is distinguished from everyday perceptions, general socialization and tacit informal learning by peoples' conscious identification of tfie activity as significant learning. The important criteria tfiat distinguish explicit informal learning are live retrospective recognition of both a new significant form of knowledge, understanding or skill acquired on one's own initiative and also recognition of the process of acquisition (Livingstone 1999, p. 51). Also of importance to this present study is a further statement made by Coombs that "what an individual can learn from his or her particular environment, however, is confined to what that environment has to offer" (p. 92). The N A L L research project also acknowledges the importance of environment in that "the relationship between formal and informal learning may be dependent on context (e.g. workplaces versus academic settings)" (Church, 2000, p. 19 of downloaded document), and this chapter now turns to examining that environment, firstly by looking at the contexts in which self-directed learning occurs. Formal Contexts As Coombs suggests, formal contexts include all organized educational institutions. In such settings, the locus of control lies mainly with the providing institution in that much, or all, of the curriculum is planned on a national, local, or institutional basis in accordance with pre-set criteria and parameters. Students' learning is assessed in accordance with designated guidelines to ensure that standards have been met as required for the credential being sought. Little learner control of tfie teaching/learning process. Caffarella (1993) asks what differentiates self-directed learning from learning in more traditional formal settings, and answers it by saying "the learner chooses to assume the primary responsibility for planning, carrying out, and evaluating those learning experiences" (p. 28). This is a puzzling question, since self-direction as a form of learning occurs within formal contexts, and is the subject of considerable research 31 (Brockett & Hiemstra, 1991). It is agreed that in most formal contexts there is very little opportunity for learners to take charge of the externalities of the learning process, as most curricula lay out set courses or learning modules to be mastered which, for on-campus students, also means set times, places, and durations of lecture or laboratory sessions, designated reading, and schedules for completion of assignments drawn up by the providing institution. Nevertheless, as Long (1998) points out, learners in these contexts have two choices. They may decide for themselves whether to learn only what is necessary to reach minimum standards for a pass, or take the opportunity to use lectures and required reading as springboards for asking further questions and becoming more deeply involved in what and how much they learn. This, Long states, separates other-directed learners from self-directed learners, for those who take internal charge of the degree and depth to which they will learn are taking psychological control of the situation. In these contexts this is often the only way in which learners can exercise any degree of choice or control. Consequently Long's characterization of self-directed learning states that "psychological control on the part of the learner is both a necessary and sufficient condition for self-directed learning to exist" (1989, p. 4), and that this holds true, no matter what the context. Learner attitudes, values and abilities ultimately determine whether learning in other-organized contexts such as formal educational institutions or training establishments will be self-directed (Guglielmino, 1977), or whether learners will be happy for their learning not only to be guided by others, but directed by others also. Autodidacts who choose to become facilitated self-learners (see Typology, Chapter 6) will acknowledge that altfwugh tlie formal classroom has an 'expert' (faculty instructor), the adult learner may use that individual as one of many resources in the planning process of a broader learning project.... Tlie master planner role assumes that tlie learner in a formal education context draws upon formal and nonformal learning experiences as 'learning episodes'. (Kasworm, 1992, p. 225) Shared control. Within this formal education context, learners on campus may negotiate shared control with their instructors/facilitators, or may be studying off-campus through distance learning. In either case, negotiation of learning contracts encourages students to take responsibility for agreed aspects of their coursework (Brockett & Hiemstra, 1991; Caffarella & Caffarella, 1986). This creates greater opportunity for learners to decide on aspects of course content and 32 learning process, and even to have some control over assessment procedures. The degree of control any one student wishes to take will vary from one individual to another, and will be dependent upon the instructor/facilitator's assessment of the student's abilities and potential for succeeding in this context. While learning contracts are a teaching tool which may encourage and motivate learners to move towards a greater degree of autonomy and self-directedness, Candy (1991) suggests that encouraging students in formal contexts to work with learning contracts does not necessarily bring about these results. Tough (1982) expressed concern that learning contracts may appear to be static and unquestionable once they have been negotiated, even if this is not so, which may dissuade learners from taking any course of action not specifically mentioned in the contract. Brookfield (1999) argues that learning contracts could be looked at from yet another point of view, that of monitoring students' work without instructors needing to be present, building on Jarvis's supposition that the use of learning contracts is more a case of self-help than self-direction. Universities and colleges are facilitating tlie experience and then giving some control for the actual process over to live learners, wlio Imve paid llveir fees and enrolled on taught courses! This is self-direction, or is it self-service? In many situations, education is copying other industries and introducing more self-service learning, as if it were self-directed learning, in order to be more efficient in the advanced capitalist system. (Jarvis, 1998, p. 23) For those who participate in formal education courses through distance learning, control is automatically shared by default. The learner has absolute control of how, where and when they will work, within the parameters of time schedules set by the providing institution and, with the exception of some residential requirements which may be mandatory, will not attend classes on a face-to-face basis. However, that does not preclude meeting one's fellow students, as various forms of technological conferencing techniques are used for real-time exchange of information, replicating where possible the synergy of classroom interaction. It may appear that distance learners are possibly more motivated, and therefore more self-directed than those who learn through personal attendance on campus, because of the challenges of accessing and undertaking education in this manner, but that is not necessarily so. They too may either choose to work through their courses in the same other-directed manner they would prefer if attending classes in person, or may draw up learning contracts in the same way as students on campus. While 33 published work on learning contracts is not new, there seems to have been little further research in this direction recently. There are those, however, who do not wish to extend their self-direction beyond psychological control in formal educational circumstances for many reasons, and may choose to suspend their personal autonomy in recognition of the fact that they wish to learn from those who have greater knowledge than themselves. According to Moore (1972), the autonomous learner turns to teacliers when lie needs help in formulating his problems, gathering information, judging his progress, and so on, surrendering temporarily some of his learner autonomy as he says, in effect, 'Direct me in my learning task.' However, if he is a truly autonomous learner, lie will not give up overall control of the learning processes. (p. 81) Moore's assertions that truly autonomous learners will not give up overall control of the learning process is a precursor to Long's theory of psychological control in other-organized settings. Often individual learning styles are better suited to didactic teaching and close supervision (Candy, 1987; Pratt, 1988), but those people may nonetheless be very self-directed in other aspects of their lives, for as Pratt states, self-directedness "is a situational attribute of learners, not a general trait of adulthood. Adults, like children, are capable of self-directedness in some but not all tasks" (1988, p. 165). Self-directed learning as a teaching technique. The literature refers to self-directed learning in formal contexts not only as a way in which individuals can take responsibility for their own learning process, but also to describe a set of teaching techniques encouraging learners to become self-directed (Brockett & Hiemstra, 1991; Long, 1998). However, learning and teaching are two different processes, and while self-directed learning can be promoted through the use of appropriate teaching techniques, it is confusing to refer to those techniques as self-directed learning. Learning is an individual or group process by which knowledge is acquired and consolidated, but the technique by which that information is conveyed to the learner is pedagogical, either through self-teaching or being taught by others. In order to remove some of the conceptual confusion from the term self-directed learning therefore, this study suggests that that term be reserved to describe individual or group learning in self-organized or other-organized contexts, and 34 that the technique used to foster this ability in educational institutions be clearly identified as an instructional process by which learners are encouraged to be more pro-active in their own education. While educational institutions are becoming more receptive to the introduction of teaching techniques which foster individual self-directedness in learning, it is but one of many teaching tools available. Fashions come and go in teaching as they do elsewhere, and Brockett and Hiemstra (1985) issue a timely warning that it is important to avoid tfie pitfall of viewing self-directed learning as tlie best way to learn. With tfie great diversity that exists both in learning styles and in reasons for learning, it is extremely sfwrtsighted to advance such an argument, (p. 33) There is a time and place for teaching techniques that encourage learners to develop independence in their learning processes, but it is not appropriate in all cases, and therefore it is essential that instructors/facilitators can also correctly assess who will benefit from this particular practice. That anyone needs to be taught how to be a self-directed learner is itself a controversial matter. While formal institutions are trying to wean learners away from dependence on those in authority and encourage autonomy, self-directedness and self-sufficiency in their future learning endeavours once they have left the academy, Knowles (1970) believed that all adults wish eventually to be self-directed, and Perry (1970) maintained that adults acquire self-directedness by reaching the appropriate stage in their natural development. This is challenged by Tennant (1986), and Brookfield (1985) was prompted to ask why people need to be taught how to be self-directed learners if they are eventually going to gain that ability anyway. "We repeatedly encounter the claim that adults are self-directed. This claim is often speedily followed by the self-contradictory proposition that continuing education should therefore be concerned with developing adults' powers of self-direction" (p. 5-6). There are others who have different ideas about why the ability to be self-directed appears to be a trait of adulthood: It seems plausible that the innate human tendency to be self-directing may be suppressed in children by teachers and parents during the formal education years. Once the individual lias graduated and moves away from the parental home, self-directedness resurfaces. (Eisenman, 1990, p. 106) Eraut (1994) agrees, stating that "the dominant conception of learning in our culture - so dominant that children have been socialized into it by the age of 7 or 8 - is that learning involves the explicit 35 acquisition of externalized codified knowledge" (p. 39). This in turn begs the question of the degree to which an individual's self-directedness is a result of nature or nurture. Formal education at the post-secondary level certainly tries to nurture students towards that end, but perhaps this need would not be as extensive as it is sometimes perceived to be if innate self-directed curiosity had not been reduced or extinguished earlier in life, as suggested by Eisenman and Eraut. In that case "by the time he was an adult the cumulative effect on his problem solving, decision making and creativeness might be impressive" (Moore, 1972, p. 85). Summary of self-directed learning in a formal context. The formal education system in North America certainly recognizes the need to encourage students to move from dependency upon guidance from both the institutional provider and their instructor/facilitator, to achieving autonomy and independence in the ability to organize and carry out their own learning, with help when needed. A great deal of thought is being given to improving teaching techniques in such a way that even in large classes, learners are encouraged to take some responsibility towards achieving their goal, and to take that ability into other areas of life beyond the institution as they learn how to learn in other contexts. Not all learners need that guidance, there is no stereotypical student, and many are already self-directed. Some curricula are recognizing that, and moving from lock-step compulsory courses to modular or problem-based learning where appropriate, and by negotiating creative learning contracts which enthuse both student and instructor. Equally, no-one is saying that all students are comfortable taking responsibility for their learning as many feel that they have little or no knowledge in a subject and have chosen to enroll in courses to acquire that knowledge from expert instructors. Only later, when they have learned the basics, will they have the subject knowledge and self-confidence necessary to become self-directed as they continue their studies. Nevertheless, North American formal education systems are geared very much to the individual learner, individual achievement, and competition throughout the system, whereas the world in which students will be living and working, paradoxically, depends on co-operation and collaboration despite the fact that it too is a highly competitive environment. 36 Use of the term self-directed learning in a formal context can create considerable confusion. Organizationally, it has been used to describe both a teaching technique and a goal or outcome of that teaching, which is to encourage learners to become more autonomous and independent in their learning process. At a personal level, learners may reach that goal through learning contracts or other means of shared control and responsibility. While many learners in formal institutional settings may be self-directed, at least taking psychological control of the process, there are those who participate in formal contexts as part of an autodidactic learning project of which they have complete control. Because they wish to learn something for which tuition or facilitation is required at a level not found in informal or non-formal contexts, they will knowingly temporarily surrender their autonomy in order to defer to experts in the field. These people return to a didactic setting, temporarily becoming facilitated self-learners while including formal learning in their personal project, which may otherwise take place wholly or partly in the informal context (Kasworm, 1992). These learners may also choose not to continue participating at any time, which is usually not an option for the average student in formal settings. Most people do not participate in formal education specifically as a means of socializing as they are usually, according to Houle's typology (1961), either learning oriented or goal oriented. However, many seniors now returning to school in their retirement years are activity oriented, participating not only for the joy of learning, but also to enjoy the company of others who see learning as a form of recreation. In conclusion, Penland (1981) referred to learning in formal settings as other-directed rather than self-directed, which Brockett and Hiemstra (1991) interpret as meaning that true adult self-directed learning only occurs outside the formal education system. However, this study agrees with Candy, Knowles and Long, that learners in a formal setting can be very self-directed, and that the term other-directed is misleading as learners are in fact self-directed in oilier-organized contexts. This makes it clear that self-directed learning can, and does, exist in settings where learners have little apparent control over most aspects of the learning process, but can at least remain psychologically in control of the depth and degree of their learning experience. 37 Non-formal Educational Contexts: Shared Control of the Learning Process Non-formal education, as Coombs (1985) defines it, still involves organized, systematic, educational activity, but it differs from formal education in that it takes place outside the framework of the formal system. Another difference is the degree of control learners can exercise in non-formal contexts, and that learners can be children as well as adults. Those participating in non-formal education contexts in North America seem to have very different reasons for being involved from those entering the formal system, since classes are generally non-credential led, and based on learning for fun, recreation, and general interest. However the lines are blurring, since it is now possible to gain credentials through non-formal nightschool or continuing education classes, which then become more like formal education with assessment procedures and set curricula. On the whole, the concept of non-formal learning in the North American context is exemplified by the wide range of classes, seminars and workshops offered each semester by a variety of providing agencies, a practice which has on occasion been referred to as cafeteria style education. Planners and organizers spend a great deal of time ascertaining which programmes learners will respond to, and put a huge selection on offer in the hopes that most will attract enough participants. Thus, like a cafeteria with its choice of dishes from which the consumer can choose, non-formal education in this context is contending with a buyer's market that has to be equally attractive to the casual passers-by, and to dedicated lifelong learners who will always find something to interest them. It is, therefore, somewhat surprising that self-directed learning in this particular context is hardly mentioned in the literature. It is even more astonishing since Houle found that people learn because they enjoy the learning process, have distinct goals they wish to accomplish, or as a means of socializing, all of which are well-known reasons why people participate in nightschools and many other non-credentialled learning activities. The main emphasis in the literature, however, concerns the fostering of self-directed learning in formal settings and the development of shared learner control in that context; or autodidaxy, which includes the informal hobby learning most often associated with the concept of self-direction. The main research in the 38 non-formal area of self-directed learning at present seems to be situated in the workplace, in which direction this discussion now turns. Since computers and information technology have become common in almost every workplace, large or small, some corporations are changing the way in which they educate, inform and upgrade their employees by providing a virtual library, available to everyone, through their personal computers (Marsick & Volpe, 1999; Phelan, 1997). Building on Hiemstra's assertion (1994b) that "most learners prefer to take considerable responsibility for their own learning when given the opportunity" (p. 81), one company found that much more learning was taking place on an as-needed basis if hard copies of documents were not pushed at employees throughout the company, but were made available on the intra-net and could be "pulled down" at any time by anyone who wished to do so (Phelan, 1997). Here the system of teaching and learning was reversed, from information being pushed towards employees by others, to a pull system, where employees instigate their own learning by accessing whatever information they need, whenever they need it. This provided access to a wider range of material on-line than by any other means. In these circumstances employees have more control over their learning, gathering what information they need from the huge selection available to them, and become self-directed in doing electronic searches for whatever they need to know, whenever they need to know it. This, says Phelan (1997), involves educating employees to adopt the habit of pulling the information directly to their own desktop, with encouragement from management who say "it's here, come and get it". Employees are also provided with learning modules through which they can work in whatever order suits them, at their own pace, and at a time convenient to themselves, whether during official work hours or not, in a form of self-directed learning which Piskurich (1993) defines as "a training design in which trainees master packages of predetermined material, at their own pace, without the aid of an instructor" (p. 4). This freedom to learn in a more independent fashion also introduces a creative factor into the process as learners can access much more than they may have been provided in class or by way of instruction manuals, and also become disseminators of information themselves throughout their 39 workplace as "self-directed employees, with very little formal instruction, have created no fewer than nineteen department home pages [and] the corporate library has made dozens of industry-specific resources available via self-directed multimedia and the Intranet" (Phelan, 1997, p. 4). This, he adds, has made people not only more self-directed in their workplace learning, but also in carrying this technique home for themselves and their families. As a result of using people's natural self-directedness to find the resources they need, some corporations are now re-assessing their training policies to include more autonomy in the learning process. At the same time, the knowledge provided in this way is that which the company has organized and feels is necessary for their employees, although those employees have some choice as to what they need to learn, and when (Phelan, 1997). While it is similar to more traditional self-paced learning models, it also includes an additional element of self-directedness. As with education in the formal context, self-directed learning in the workplace is not appropriate for everyone, or for all subject matter, as some materials cannot be learned by individuals alone without formal instruction or guided experiential learning being involved. As Mezirow (1985) points out, tlie learner cannot know wliat his or her learning needs are when he or sfie does not know what is required to become a machinist, build a bridge, or perform a root canal operation. ... Obviously tliere are many areas of learning where self-directedness as Knowles defines it does not apply, (p. 26) Thus what can be learned in a non-formal and self-directed context is limited to certain skills and knowledge, while others are more appropriately learned through cognitive apprenticeships which "supports learning ... by enabling students to acquire, develop, and use cognitive tools in authentic domain activity" (Brown, Collins & Duguid, 1989, p. 39), working alongside those who are already skilled and qualified, in the same way that craft apprentices learn their trade. Non-formal education in the community. Self-directed learning in non-formal settings also takes place in lifestyle support groups (Hammerman, 1990), many of which are well known for their educational agendas, and this aspect of non-formal learning is very important in helping people to help themselves. For the most part, learners are self-directed and determined to succeed before they join such groups, as they have probably spent considerable time assessing their 40 chances of success before they make the move to participate. Despite the fact that these learning contexts are very visible in society, and are well known, little has been published on the self-directed learning taking place within them, or in volunteer communities, where a huge amount of learning occurs. A l l of these contexts fall within the definitions of non-formal education in that they include "organized, systematic, educational activity, carried on outside the framework of the formal system, to provide selected types of learning to particular subgroups in the population" (Coombs, 1985, p. 23). It may be that, in common with self-directed learning in informal contexts, people do not view themselves as learners as much as they are participants in an activity which, incidentally, brings with it an enormous amount of learning if they stop to reflect on their progress. It may also be due to the fact that non-credentialled and invisible learning of this nature is very often not given the recognition it deserves, since credentialled knowledge is much more valued in North American society than self-taught non-credentialled knowledge, particularly if it was not even deliberately learned, but picked up along the way to achieving some other goal. Summary of self-directed learning in non-formal contexts. Although not explicitly stated, it appears that organizational goals to foster self-directed learning in non-formal contexts include providing a wide range of learning opportunities from which to choose, and offering courses leading to vocational credentials not available elsewhere. In the workplace, there is a move towards enabling workers to learn in a self-directed way, supplementing the more traditional training programmes by making required information available on corporate intranets, to be accessed at a time and place convenient to employees in situations which do not require the presence of an instructor, but where help is available when needed. Individually, people take advantage of these organizational offerings for the reasons suggested by Houle (1961), in that there are those who are lifelong learners and enjoy furthering current knowledge or taking up new interests, learners with definite goals in mind who search the course calendar for something which meets their needs, or wish to meet new people, enjoy a challenging activity in social surroundings, or escape from the routine of everyday living into a different community and interest group. 41 As with formal education, most of these non-formal educational opportunities are organized by the providers who plan and present both credentialled and non-credentialled courses, seminars and workshops, or by lifestyle groups which learners may choose to join in order to learn on an individual basis within that group. Although self-directed learning is still taking place in other-organized circumstances, there is greater learner control than in the formal sector, and with some exceptions such as workplace learning or in non-formal provision of credentialled courses, there is not the same onus on the learner to meet imposed criteria or to attend class. In a North American non-formal context, participants are usually free to leave at any time if they are no longer interested in participating, and in that respect, unlike formal education courses, they can be totally self-directed in deciding whether or not they will continue to attend. Informal Contexts - Autodidaxy The main authorities associated with self-directed learning in an informal context are, in date order, Tough (1967), Knowles (1970), Brookfield (1982), and Candy (1988), and each uses a different term to describe the concept. Tough talks of self-teaching, Knowles refers to self-directed learning, Brookfield researched independent learners, and Candy referred to informal learners as autodidacts, and the process of learning as autodidaxy. Their definitions are as follows. Tough (1967) found that a self-teaching project occurs when an adult has spent at least eight hours in the year prior to the interview pursuing some specific knowledge or skill, and he himself, rather than any professional teacher or organized group, assumed the primary responsibility for planning, controlling, and supervising the entire project, (p. 4) Knowles is the authority associated with one of the first, and most often quoted definitions of self-directed learning: Self-directed learning describes a process in which individuals take the initiative, with or without the help of others, in diagnosing tlieir learning needs, formulating learning goals, identifying human and material resources for learning, choosing and implementing appropriate learning strategies and evaluating learning outcomes. (1975, p. 18) and Brookfield (1982) derived a definition for independent learning as "that which takes place when the decisions about intermediate and terminal learning goals to be pursued, rate of student 42 progress, evaluative procedures to be employed, and sources of material to be consulted are in the hands of the learner" (p. 5). This is very similar to Livingstone's definition which states that "self-directed learning is most simply understood as learning that is undertaken on the learner or learners' own terms without either prescribed curricular requirements or a designated instructor" (2001, p. 2 of downloaded document). Independent learners would be referred to as autodidacts in Candy's terminology, who are described as "single-minded in their commitment to learning tasks, often achieving] high levels of expertise in their chosen areas of inquiry" (Candy, 1991, p. 16) and as "people undertaking learning projects on their own initiative without formal institutional affiliation" (p. 172). Many studies have now been undertaken with different populations of self-directed learners, reference to which can be found in Brookfield (1986, p. 149) and Candy (1991, p. 160-161). That people do learn on their own, without professional help of any kind, is widely acknowledged. The dynamics of individual learning have been clearly described by Berger (1990) in a study which also illustrates many of the theories concerning self-directed learning's elements such as trigger events (Mocker & Spear, 1982), motivation, goals, degree of planning, resources used, and effects of environment on the learning process. Learning experientially, informally and incidentally in this manner has always formed the major portion of most people's lifetime learning (Boud, Cohen & Walker, 1993; Brookfield, 1983; Candy, 1991; Coombs, 1985; Knowles, 1975; Spear & Mocker, 1984; Tough, 1971). Autodidaxy, nested as it is within the overall concept of self-directed learning, is itself complex and confusing. While self-directed learning is seen as having many forms, each within its own context, autodidaxy spans all contexts, and cannot be said to occur specifically in one place but not another. Autodidacts may choose to enroll in formal courses and it is the personal attitudes, values, and abilities brought to any learning project which determines the degree to which that learning is partially or totally self-directed (Guglielmino, 1977). It is these intangible and subtle 4 3 differences in forms of self-directed learning that make the concept so confusing, as differentiating one form from another is tacit and intuitive rather than positive and quantitative. The fact that facilitated self-learning can function in formal and non-formal contexts has already been discussed, and this section now considers autodidaxy, which is completely controlled by the learner. This encompasses a variety of situations from learning projects which, as Tough suggests, have been carefully planned to reach a pre-determined goal, to the ongoing, endless learning where there may be no end-goal in mind, just the pleasure of becoming more informed, and participating in a journey of unending challenge and discovery (Brookfield, 1983). Both of these examples involve deliberate action on the part of the learner, but there are still other forms of learning which may start as unplanned and unnoticed acquisition of knowledge from everyday experiences. Ebeling (1994) refers to this as sett-undirected learning, in the sense that it occurs in the absence of deliberate means or anticipated ends, and that learning has taken place at all may only be realized in retrospect. Watkins and Marsick (1992) state that when such learning is surfaced and recognized, then it can be deliberately pursued in a self-directed manner if it is of importance to the learner. Unplanned and undirected invisible learning happens through the everyday experiences of life, from observing others and reflecting on what has been noticed (Bandura, 1977), and from participating in activities where learning is somatic, rather than cognitive (Clark, 2001; Fensham, 1992; Finger, 1989; Schon, 1987), that is, knowing when something feels, smells, looks, or sounds right. These are sensory perceptions which cannot be described in words, they have to be experienced, and may even be assessed by the even more intangible gut feeling or sixth sense. But learning in this way can also be self-directed as one learns a sport or other skill where working out a move cognitively would be impossible, it has to be learned by doing, rather than thinking about doing, such as learning to ride a bicycle, or swimming. Learning what something should feel, smell, or sound like is intuitive and must be learned by experiencing what that right feel, smell or sound is, and remembering it so that it can be recognized another time. 44 Although it may seem paradoxical, self-directed learning can also take place tacitly, as discussed by Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995). While creating the first home breadmaking machines, one company had extreme difficulty mechanizing the dough-kneading process. Many quantitative engineering tests were carried out to determine why a machine could not emulate a master baker, but it was not until the machine's software developers apprenticed with such a baker that they experienced for themselves all the minute movements involved in kneading. Learning tacitly, through observation, imitation and practice in this way enabled them to surface their knowledge for analysis, eventually allowing them to write the correct movements into the bread machine software. These examples of autodidactic learning are all within the consensus paradigm in that they do not question the cultural status quo, but as Lindeman believed, adult education and self-directed learning should also bring about social change through collective action. Brookfield has always developed this theme in his works, stating that "self-directed learning could become one of the most politically charged Trojan Horses in the field of adult education" (1993, p. 233) and in 1999 argued that "self-direction can be, and should be, reframed as an inherently emancipatory idea, an oppositional, counter-hegemonic force" (p. 3). This builds on Lewin's force-field theory that if the environmental equilibrium is upset, moves will be taken to restore balance, whether it be that of the status quo, or in the establishment of a new order through critical reflection and self-directed learning. While other authorities have not explicitly referred to self-directed learning in social action, there are many studies illustrating the effect of self-directed learning in a variety of social action campaigns and voluntary organizations. Here people are learning not so much for personal, individual reasons, as to add to collective knowledge and to play a role in creating a better environment than that which presently exists (Boggs, 1986; Engwicht, 1993; Foley, 1999; Holford, 1995; Linton, 1977; Stewart, Reynolds & Elsdon, 1992; Taylor, 1993). While this is the form of political self-directed learning to which Brookfield refers, there is very little in the literature analyzing exactly how self-directed learning is happening, the dynamics of learning in these contexts, or the differences between learning as an individual for personal reasons and learning as 45 an individual member of a group working for a common cause. However, Newman (1999) briefly discusses the practical aspects of learning involved in social action, some of which are incidental, some are intentional but unstructured, and some may be structured but taking place in a non-educational context. Similarly, while self-directed learning in formal and non-formal workplace contexts has been examined and analyzed, and there is considerable research of informal and incidental learning at the theoretical level (Marsick & Watkins, 1990; Watkins & Marsick, 1992; Marsick, Volpe & Watkins, 1999) elaboration of the way in which these theories actually play out in practice is less noticeable in the literature. Summary of self-directed learning in an informal context. The form of self-directed learning known as autodidaxy covers a field almost as wide as the entire concept of self-directed learning. When self-directed learning takes place within formal or non-formal contexts it can more easily be contained within certain parameters, but autodidaxy stretches across all contexts. It can oscillate between facilitated self-learning in formal or non-formal settings, or remain solely within the informal sector. Whether or not learning is autodidactic in intent depends on the reasons why learners choose to be in those contexts, what their goals are, and the value they place on achieving their objectives in that way. There is almost no limit to the ways in which autodidacts pursue the knowledge they require, all of which are self-planned and self-organized, albeit that these contexts may also include temporary participation in situations where learners may not have ultimate freedom to design the process and content of that learning experience. It is perhaps because the overall concept of self-directed learning is so fluid and flexible that it is difficult to define. Like a chameleon, it can change appearance to fit the background, and therefore can only be discussed in relation to the context in which it occurs, the attitudes, values and abilities brought by the learner, the reasons why they are learning, and the goals to which they aspire as a result. In contrast to self-directed learning in other-organized circumstances, which includes the formal and non-formal sectors, autodidactic learning is both self-directed and self-organized. Therefore in this study it is referred to as self-directed learning in self-organized contexts. 46 Self-directed learning, in the informal context, covers a multitude of learning events, ranging from carefully planned and organized projects, to unplanned and serendipitous happenings which act as learning triggers. Almost any life experience can be meaningful and a source of learning if it has some significance for the learner, and if it gains the learner's attention. Such learning may seem to be somewhat trivial at the time, but as further small pieces of information are gathered, they may interact to create a larger whole. Here the learning has not been deliberate, or planned, but like a collection of seemingly insignificant iron filings round a magnet, eventually become part of a bigger picture. Self-directed learners in the informal context have many goals, ranging from needing to know something for immediate use, to embarking on a long-term interest that may at some point involve participating in formal or non-formal educational contexts, for those pursuing their own self-organized learning project may also wish to avail themselves of expert instruction through attendance in other-organized contexts. While still in overall charge of their own learning process, this includes a deliberate choice to become a facilitated self-learner, accepting the planning, evaluation and guidance of others for the duration of their participation in formal or non-formal contexts. Brookfield (1986) defines self-directed learning as "deliberate and purposeful (though not always marked by closely specified goals), occurring] outside of designated educational institutions, receiving] no institutional accreditation, and voluntary and self-generating" (p. 47). Candy (1988) agrees that self-directed learning, which he refers to in this context as autodidaxy, is "the individual, non-institutional pursuit of learning opportunities in the 'natural societal setting'" (p. 21). These two definitions obscure the fact that self-directed learners who organize the path of their own learning projects may wish to take advantage of all three contexts, while still remaining self-organizing, autonomous individuals. Jarvis (1999) comes closest to covering these possibilities by describing self-directed learning as "an approach to learning, very common in recent studies in adult education, in which the learners assume total responsibility for planning the 47 strategies of learning, motivating themselves to pursue their objectives and to complete their plans" (p. 307) in that he does not confine that learning to any one specific context. Bonham (1991) also takes this approach, stating that "when persons choose their own learning goals, their own learning methods, and the content and process resources they will use, they are being self-directed learners" (p. 53). Interpretation of this definition thus allows that the autodidact, in charge of their own learning project, can choose learning methods and resources other than of their own planning if they so wish, thereby remaining autodidactically oriented in an other-organized context. This may seem to add to the conceptual confusion, but it emphasizes the fact that autodidactic intent is not necessarily confined to the informal, self-organized context, but may occur in other circumstances of the learner's choosing if it fits into plans for their own self-organized learning projects. According to Candy (1991) "autodidaxy is best understood neither as a model of teaching nor of learning, but that it needs to be studied 'on it's own terms' " (p. 167). Autodidactic learning, or self-directed learning in self-organized, or even unorganized everyday surroundings, is everywhere, it is ongoing, sometimes recognizable by learners, sometimes only noticeable to observers of those learners but invisible to the learners themselves, in which case it becomes self-undirected learning. While autodidaxy is one of the most prevalent and prominent forms of learning in the North American context, whether deliberately undertaken or not, it appears not to be given the same importance as that which is learned in the formal and non-formal sectors (Berger, 1990; Brookfield, 1984; Candy, 1991; Eraut, 1994; Merriam & Caffarella, 1999; Usher, Bryant & Johnston, 1997). At the same time the formal sector appears to eye this capacity to learn informally, without the aid of professional help, somewhat enviously, for the thought appears repeatedly in the context of formal and organized education that it may be ttiat research on autodidaxy could, because of its unique nature, contribute to our understandings of tlie processes of teaching and learning.... [However] it [autodidaxy] is not a teaching metliod tliat is at tlie disposal of tlie program planner, nor a teaching technique to be used by an educational agent, because tlie entire initiative rests with the 48 autodidact.... Some autlvors treat autodidaxy as eitlier a method for organizing education, or as 'just another technique of instruction' " (Candy, 1991, p. 167) However, Candy (1991) recognizes that: if adult educators were able to encourage learners into autodidaxy, or 'define' them as autodidacts, major instructional issues such as motivation, relevance, meaningfulness, independence, etc. would be taken care of.... It is not that simple, because autodidaxy is not a method of instruction that can be called on by an educator, (p. 16) Thus, the form of self-directed learning, or autodidaxy, found in the informal sector involves different processes from those found in either formal or non-formal contexts, but may be governed by values, attitudes and beliefs that allow self-directed learners to adapt to contexts in which their learning process is organized by others, rather than themselves. In comparison with self-directed learning in other-organized contexts (facilitated self-learning), self-directed learning in self-organized contexts differs in that: • goals are self-set, not imposed by others. If autodidacts wish to obtain credentials it is usually for reasons other than as a necessary condition of employment, and therefore an internal goal of the learner rather than an external goal of others; • motivation for autodidactic learning is usually internal and not a response to the wishes of others; • autodidacts are not subject to criteria set by others, as autonomous self-directed learners will decide for themselves what criteria they apply to their learning. This does not preclude willingly choosing to participate in other-organized contexts in which they are prepared to suspend their autonomy under the circumstances; • autodidacts may or may not have self-imposed time limits on their learning endeavours, whereas most formal or non-formal educational activities usually have various time limits to which learners must adhere. Summary of Self-Directed Learning Contexts Self-directed learning has always existed, but since organized, formal education became the norm, knowledge acquired through teaching oneself was often relegated to being of lesser importance since it was uncredentialled. As formal education became more influential in society in general, and the North American context in particular, official, codified, canonical knowledge was 49 also more highly valued than that which was acquired experientially, anecdotally, or through self-study. While Lindeman and Dewey recognized the importance of this everyday learning, it gradually became co-opted by the formal education system as a teaching technique which offered a different approach from the didactic methods normally associated with classroom teaching. It was perhaps at this point that self-directed learning became differentiated from what has been referred to as other-directed learning, although mounting research seems to point to the fact that in most contexts learning is self-directed at least in part. While theorists have labeled learning in formal settings as self-directed if certain criteria are met, it is confusing to leave the nomenclature at that, without defining it further. As has been discussed earlier, those learning in formal settings may choose to take at least psychological control of the process, or alternatively, as Long suggests, do only what is directed and expected of them. Thus we now have self-directed learners and other-directed learners sitting side-by-side in a lecture hall, but no one except the individuals themselves can tell the difference. The term self-directed is also applied to so many other contexts and circumstances that it has become almost meaningless, and it is proposed by this research, after a thorough review of the literature, that other-directed learning only occurs in those learners who really do not want to be in a learning context, but have to suffer through the process. Whether this is in the mandatory school system, or in post-secondary education, there certainly are those who do only what is minimally required. Those who are more enthusiastic about their learning opportunities will take charge of their own learning to the extent that is possible in somewhat restricted circumstances, and be designated as self-directed learners. Long (1996) gives a clear comparison of what is considered self-directed learning and other-directed learning. In order to clarify one form of self-directed learning from another, it is proposed that in formal or non-formal contexts, facilitated self-learners should be referred to as self-directed learners in other-organized contexts, and then to elaborate on what that context is, for that in itself makes a difference to the form of self-directed learning that will happen there. 50 Houle (1961), Tough (1967), and Knovvles (1970), were the major authorities who first resurrected interest in self-directed learning outside the formal school system, leading to further research by Mocker and Spear (1982) who found quite a different model from Tough's. From the mid-1970s on, self-directed learning has become a subject of great interest to researchers in all educational areas, investigating self-directedness in formal and non-formal settings, and adding considerably to knowledge of learning in informal settings where adults are continually learning, whether through deliberate projects, or through the experience of everyday life. This has opened the field wide for ongoing research which is looking at self-directed learning from every angle, both quantitatively and qualitatively, as is apparent from the burgeoning literature to be found on the subject today. Not only are researchers interested in trying to define exactly what self-directed learning is, but they are deconstructing the concept to examine its elements, and the role those play in making self-directed learning what it is. There are many of these elements, listed in the summary of this chapter, which have formed the nuclei around which further research is progressing, to which attention will now be turned. Elements of Self-Directed Learning Self-directed learning is usually seen as an umbrella term that covers many different forms of learning in which individuals become involved in a variety of contexts, encompassing a complex and dynamic combination of elements, some of which are internal to the learner, some are external, and some are both. It is the varying combination of these elements which makes one form of self-directed learning different from another, even within the same context. These elements are all discussed in the literature, and will be examined in order to create a complete understanding of self-directed learning as it is now perceived. Internal Elements Some elements of self-directed learning are totally, or almost totally, within the learner's control, or are conditioned by personal values, attitudes and beliefs. Some are also individual 51 characteristics or personality traits which the Self-Directed Learning Readiness Scale or the Oddi Continuing Learning Inventory suggest create the propensity to be self-directed. Locus of control. This has already been shown as a very important element of self-directed learning, and is central to Candy's (1988) understanding of the concept, in which he depicts locus of control as a continuum extending from almost total instructor control at one end to total learner control at the other. Thus locus of control is both intrinsic and extrinsic, and an integral part of the way in which learning takes place in formal and non-formal contexts. Both Candy (1991) and Brockett & Hiemstra (1991) show how learner control can be increased gradually by the use of appropriate teaching techniques in the formal sector, so that learners move from instructor dependence to learner independence. Brookfield (1999) emphasizes the importance attached to locus of control in defining self-directed learning, stating that "probably the most consistently predictable element in definitions of self-direction is the importance of the adult's exercising control over the educational decision any learning project requires" (p. 4), for it is this element which conditions, to a great extent, how learners approach their projects, whether in the formal, non-formal or informal sectors. It may seem oxymoronic to suggest that learners can have a degree of control in settings which are in fact highly controlled by others, but if Long (1989) is correct, and "psychological control on the part of the learner is both a necessary and sufficient condition for self-directed learning to exist" (p. 4), then learners can extend a considerable degree of personal control for their own benefit in settings which might otherwise not be very conducive to self-directedness. It may also seem equally oxymoronic to suggest that autodidactic learners, who by definition have complete control over every aspect of their learning, may not in fact do so when the path of that learning is carefully examined. As Tremblay and Theil (1991) point out, the concept of organizing circumstances directing the course of autodidactic learning negates the belief that learners are, or can be, in control of all aspects of their learning, for most people will use those resources which are easily available within their immediate environment rather than other resources which might be more relevant but also more difficult to find. Thus both the path of learning and the 52 eventual outcome are in fact determined to an extent by the organizing circumstances pertaining at the time, some or all of which are beyond the learner's control. Learner autonomy. Although everybody knows, from common sense or experience, that learners are rarely completely isolated from the world around them, and that learning is situated contextually, culturally, and temporally (Candy, 1991; Jarvis, 1987a), a strong thread runs through the self-directed learning literature denying that autonomous learners are isolated learners. This is very strange, since no literature has been found during this extensive search and review that ever suggested that people learning on their own were indeed remote from other people or resources, and removed from the effects of their cultural and temporal context, but one of the most often-cited denials appears frequently, stating that the autonomous learner is not to be tfiought of as an intellectual Robinson Crusoe, cast away and shut off in self-sufficiency. ...However, if he is a truly autonomous learner, he will not give up overall control of the learning processes. (Moore, 1973, p. 669) Personal autonomy is itself an elusive concept that for Candy (1991) includes moral, emotional and intellectual aspects, which he collectively terms learner determination. Chene is the authority to whom most researchers in self-directed learning turn for a definition of autonomy, which is "that one can and does set one's own rules, and can choose for oneself the norms one will respect. In other words, autonomy refers to one's ability to choose what has value" (Chene, 1983, p. 39), and that learners are agents of their own learning. This concept of autonomy can be applied to the many forms of self-directed learning for even in formal, other-organized systems, learners can still set their own rules insofar as the breadth and depth of their learning is concerned. As control becomes more evenly shared, learner autonomy with regard to rule setting and choosing what is of value increases proportionately. Autonomy and locus of control are therefore very much interdependent regardless of context. Motivation. Motivation can be both extrinsic and intrinsic to the learner, where frequently the extrinsic goal increases the learner's intrinsic motivation because of the eventual reward. If 53 there is a disjuncture between external and internal motivation, learners may be less enthusiastic participants and may be content to remain other-directed rather than self-directed. Houle (1961) saw motivation in terms of enjoyment of the learning process and the resulting increase in knowledge and abilities, attaining a sought-after goal, or participation in a learning opportunity for the social aspect of the activity. In some cases goals are long-term, as in Tough's model of self-teaching, where careful planning ensures that, if competently carried through, that goal will eventually be attained. On the other hand, as Mocker and Spear (1982) found, although the eventual goal may be long-term, there are also intermediate, short-term goals along the way which may be planned only on an immediate and short-term basis. The trigger events which prompt learning, and the organizing circumstances which often direct its path, usually could not have been predicted in advance. Thus many learning projects may be motivated and directed by circumstances that are very much subject to serendipity and unplanned events which intervene while working towards long-term goals. Success in learning is itself a motivator that inspires learners to continue being involved in a variety of learning opportunities, reaping intrinsic rewards as their competence is recognized by others (Danis & Tremblay, 1985). "Validation of one's own experiences and ideas, the acquisition of new insights and interpretations based on interchanges with fellow learners, and the enthusiasm generated by this process are among the most potent benefits" (Guglielmino, 1992, p. 115). Authentic self-directed learning, Garrison (1997) says, "becomes self-reinforcing and is intrinsically motivating" (p. 29). According to Penland (1980), credit and certification are not powerful motivators, but that may have changed over the last twenty years in view of the present high unemployment rate which makes credentials not just desirable, but almost essential. Therefore learning for accreditation at the beginning of the twenty-first century may be extremely motivating. Motivation for learning may also be a consequence of imbalance in Lewin's model of force fields. Learners may notice a disjuncture in their own learning, when they realize that there is a gap in their knowledge that needs to be filled, which then acts as a trigger to take remedial action if 5 4 necessary. Force field theory certainly helps in understanding motivation for learning in social action groups, when there is a cause for concern which needs to be addressed. Motivation, as suggested by the self-directed learning literature, appears to be both intrinsic and extrinsic. If learners set goals for themselves which are impractical and unreachable, or there are too many intrinsic or extrinsic barriers to make such goals realistic, motivation will flag and learning may be discontinued as enthusiasm wanes, whereas small goals, easily achieved, act as motivators encouraging learners to continue. Some autodidactic projects do not have an anticipated end, for as more is learned, so learners recognize how much more there still remains to be discovered. Thus the curiosity of always wanting to know what is around the next corner is a great motivator that keeps learners involved in interests for years, and even for life. Motivation is therefore very much linked to the learner's attitudes, values, beliefs and abilities, and by the degree to which that knowledge is respected and validated by the community. While self-directed learners usually respond to intrinsic motivation, Garrison (1997) suggests that tasks externally imposed by others can reduce individual willingness to learn and may in fact motivate learners to take action in the opposite direction. Goals. The term 'goal' can be interpreted so widely that it needs to be qualified. As Long (1998) asks, "what kind of a goal is it ?" (p. 4) as goals are a many-faceted element of self-directed learning. There are individual intrinsic goals set by learners for themselves, and extrinsic goals set by others or arising from organizing circumstances which motivate individuals to undertake learning projects. A second, and less common, personal goal is to become a better and more efficient self-directed learner through a process of learning how to learn, perhaps as a result of teaching techniques devised to help individuals attain greater independence in learning (Brockett & Hiemstra, 1991; Knowles, 1975). As mentioned in the discussion concerning motivation, goals to which learners aspire may be both motivating, if they are attainable, or dispiriting if they are for whatever reason beyond the learner's reach, no matter how hard they try. 55 Enabling learners to become more self-directed through the use of specifically designed teaching techniques is itself one of the major goals of adult education, and therefore the term goal now applies to adult education and adult educators, rather than an individual learner, and one needs to be distinguished from the other in order to make clear whose goals, and for what purpose (Long, 1998). In the literature, and in the vernacular, the terms goals and outcomes are often used interchangeably. However, no matter what goal has been set, the eventual outcome might be very different. One can plan for desired outcomes by setting goals, but the two do not always coincide. Candy (1991) points out that setting goals will not necessarily make learning self-directed. In order to take charge of one's own learning necessary sub-goals include being able to critique and assess information obtained through access to the many resources available, and acquiring the technical skills to access resources within the immediate environment. Thus setting a goal for oneself as a learner may mean setting many smaller, intermediate goals first, in order to make achievement of the larger goal possible. Some learners may prefer to arrive at their goals through other-directed learning rather than self-directed learning, depending on what the goal is, and why it should be achieved. Setting of goals is sometimes dictated by environmental circumstances which become the focus of learners' attention. In the case of social action, trigger events are often community or social problems, the solutions for which require both individual and group knowledge and action. This demonstrates Lewin's force-field theory, and often requires considerable determination to overcome the forces causing the imbalance in equilibrium. In this case it cannot be said that such goals are the result of other-direction or other-organization, they are circumstantial, and it may be argued by some that in such cases learners are not totally in control of setting their own goals as they have been pre-determined by other-organized events. However, activists have recognized a problem, and chosen to learn for the purpose of trying to put that problem right, and therefore have self-selected that goal as the target for their individual and group learning. Thus, in the view of this study, this learning is self-organized and self-directed both individually and as members of a cohesive group working towards the same end. 56 Planned or unplanned learning process. Tough's study (1967) found that autodidactic learners choose a goal towards which they wish to work, then plan the process by which they intend to reach that goal, and the resources they envisage using during their learning project. Others have found the opposite (Mocker & Spear, 1982), in that learning projects often result from environmental trigger events which then become the learner's focus of attention. Depending on the circumstances, and what those triggers are, the resulting learning may be planned partially or not at all. In the first instance it may simply entail answering a question or finding the relevant information, but those acts may themselves lead to further enquiry which could not have been foreseen, and thus many learning projects meander from one trigger to the next. Such a process may lead to finite conclusions, or to a lifelong commitment with no preconceived end (Berger, 1990). While these two studies are not contradictions, they apply to different circumstances, and different learners, with a variety of goals and expectations of themselves and the knowledge they acquire in this manner. This is borne out in a recent study (Church, 2000), which found that a key dimension of current studies on informal learning is the relationship between incidental (ad Iwc, spontaneous) and planned (deliberate, intentional) learning ... Informal learning doesn't have to be planned. It can be siluationally stimulated with no prior intent ...ad hoc, incidental and only consciously recognized after the fact (p. 15 of downloaded document). Consequently, Church adds, "many researchers are struggling with the relationship between learning and experience, specifically with learning that arises not intentionally but simply as a feature of everyday life" (p. 15 of downloaded document). Relevant to this discussion is the following example of unplanned learning where a group of neighbours participate in local democracy, and through this process they learn about municipal politics; altlwugh tliey didn't join the process with a learning objective in mind, tliey realize that they have gained new skills and knowledge tliat allow litem to participate more effectively in democratic deliberation and decision-making. (Shugurensky, 2000, p. 3 of downloaded document) In between Tough's planned model, and Mocker and Spear's unplanned learning, there is the middle ground where learners have long-term goals towards which they are working, but a partially planned or undetermined way of reaching those goals. This is often the case with social action and lifestyle learning, as both have definite reasons why learning is being undertaken, and yet serendipity and circumstance are often more likely to determine the path(s) taken to achieve the 57 desired end result. The way in which projects are planned on a long-term basis by the learner, or organized serendipitously and in the short-term, depends very much on individual learning styles, intermediate goals, motivations for reaching those goals, the ultimate long-term goal, if there is one, and environmental circumstances. Critical reflectivity. Brookfield's works stress the need for critical reflectivity, not only to be able to assess the worth of information accessed by self-directed learners, but also to recognize learning that has taken place tacitly or incidentally. Experiencing, without reflection, may result in no learning having occurred (Boud, Cohen & Walker, 1993; Jarvis, 1987b), and not everything which is experienced will necessarily be meaningful or important. However, as Spear and Mocker (1984) point out, there are many small events happening all the time which at first glance appear meaningless, but when stored and recalled later may, in combination with many other apparently trivial bits of information, become extremely meaningful. It is impossible to tell which experiences will suddenly become valuable as vital links in a chain of information, when individually those data were unconnected and unimportant before some catalytic factor drew them together (Dixon, 1993). Critical reflectivity also enables learners to examine and question personal, community, and cultural norms, values and assumptions conditioning learning (Watkins & Marsick, 1992), which is an essential part of the learning process if it is to refute the assertions of Lawson (1979), Little (1979), and Verner (1964), who all believed that learning undertaken by adults outside formal education is inherently inferior in its design and execution to that occurring in institutional settings. Those individuals and groups which undertake to plan and conduct their own learning will invariably come to grief and this will cause tliem to enter professionally designed and controlled instructional settings. (Brookfield, 1983, p. 2) As information becomes widely available through the internet and other forms of electronic communication it is even more important that individuals separate the wheat from the chaff for their particular purposes by critically assessing where the information came from, how reliable or valid it is, and how useful it might be. 58 Reflecting on personal learning not only requires cognitively acquired knowledge to be questioned, but also the affective context in which that knowledge is situated. It is not appropriate, as a community activist said to rely on emotion by saying 'this is awful, the way our society is going. We must reverse civilization, we've lost touch with our roots and lost sight of what we should be doing for the planet'. It's good stuff and reaches a certain emotional level, but you also have to have a very firm factual basis. ( A M 5/0) However, it is the feelings, memories, sights, smells and sounds associated with learning experiences that often add meaning, and with which that particular information is associated on recall (Finger, 1989, Jarvis, 1987a). It was also through critical reflection on what was learned during the breadmaking experience referred to earlier (Nonaka & Takeushi, 1995) when software writers learned the art of kneading bread in order to be able to question all aspects of their learning and surface the knowledge acquired tacitly, that they were then able to translate it into code for the breadmaking machine software. Brookfield (1995) uses critical reflection in a self-directed assessment of his own strengths and weaknesses as a teacher. He asks of himself how his work achieves the goal of encouraging students to become more self-directed themselves, and how the teaching techniques carefully planned to provide one message may be interpreted by students entirely differently from what was intended. Until critical reflection questions personal assumptions about the attitudes, values and beliefs of others, efforts to encourage others might unintentionally have quite the opposite effect. Thus, it becomes necessary for those involved in teaching in any context to reflect on their own actions, and the subsequent reactions of those who are learning from them. Becoming critically reflective is also important for those who are learning to question the hidden values and assumptions of any literature from which they learn, particularly if it is political in nature. This is essential when it comes to self-directed learning for social action, for most of the literature involved is to some degree political, and it is fundamental in this context to be able to distinguish underlying motivation and intent of the authors. Critical reflectivity here must also be tempered with both tacit and explicit knowledge of the background and circumstances under which documents were 5 9 produced, for they have very different embedded intent than does most of the academic material with which the self-directed learning literature is mainly concerned. Characteristics and personality traits of self-directed learners. While self-directed learning is very common throughout the community, not everyone has the ability or the wish to be autonomous in their learning. There are times when even the most self-directed individual will recognize the need to defer to the expertise of others, but there are, nevertheless, certain individual characteristics or personality traits which have been identified as indicative of inherent self-directedness (Guglielmino, 1977; Oddi, 1985). According to Guglielmino's Self-directed Learning Readiness Scale, often referred to as the SDLRS, there are eight main characteristics which are likely to be found among self-directed learners. These are: • a love of learning; • good self-concept as an effective independent learner; • tolerance of risk, ambiguity and complexity in learning; • creativity; • seeing learning as a lifelong, beneficial process; • to have initiative in learning; • self-understanding; • the ability to accept responsibility for one's own learning. Oddi (1985) then identified clusters of personality traits relating to initiative and persistence in learning over time and through a variety of learning modes. She found that "elements of self-confidence, ability to work independently, and learning through involvement with others ... reading avidity, and the ability to be self-regulating" (p. 229) were important in sustaining self-direction in learning. To what extent these characteristics and traits are a result of nature or nurture is a matter for another study, but there is some relevance in raising awareness of this question as this discussion relates particularly to the North American context, where these individual characteristics and traits are highly valued. It would appear that Guglielmino's "ability to accept responsibility for one's own learning" and Oddi's "ability to be self-regulating" are agreeing with Long's concept of learner psychological control. 60 The Self-Directed Learning Readiness Scale is used by some educational establishments to help determine which potential students might benefit from teaching techniques that encourage self-directedness and who might be happier in more traditional educational environments. This scale is also used extensively by many workplaces to assess the most appropriate forms of training to be offered to employees. While the scale was originally based on North American personality characteristics, and the values placed on them by that society, it has since been adapted for different cultures and different age ranges in order to widen its usefulness. Just as the SDLRS was originally constrained by the culture in which it was developed, so too is the overall concept of self-directed learning, which is shaped by the way in which North American culture in the twentieth century has placed great importance on the rugged independence of the self-made man or woman (Brookfield, 1999), valuing the personal characteristics that create that image. But as Candy (1991) points out, learning too is contextually constrained, and the characteristics which predispose towards self-direction in one learning situation may be very different from those required in another. Because individuals possess those desired characteristics does not mean they will be self-directed for, depending on their level of knowledge, personal confidence, and their reason for learning, they may choose to participate in a didactic, rather than an autodidactic, setting. There is, therefore, some question as to the usefulness of either the SDLRS or the Oddi Continuing Learning Inventory (OCLI). However, if these characteristics do contribute to a learner's ability to be self-directed, then those instructors or facilitators who try to encourage self-direction in formal settings have a worthwhile framework on which to base their teaching techniques. The time is right. Even if the most propitious and advantageous learning environment exists, the final and most important factor necessary for any learning to occur is that the time must be right for the learner. This is an aspect of learning which may implicitly lie behind all learning theory, but it is rarely mentioned, or even alluded to. Learners may have all the right characteristics predisposing them to be self-directed, and potential learning opportunities may be ideal in every way. However, if there is some over-riding personal factor which precludes the learner from either 61 recognizing the opportunity, or just not being in a learning frame of mind at the time, no learning will occur. "The occurrence of self-directed learning seems often to depend on serendipity: the time, place and even the event may have to be just right to spur an individual to embark on a learning project" (Smith, 1990, p. 212). This elusive factor of the time being right is not just a personal condition, it also applies to the community at large, as exemplified by the Wright brothers' project to solve the problem of manned flight. Technology had advanced to tlie point where the cognitive and material resources provided excellent sociological timing for this event to occur. As such, it represents another example of the organizing circumstance, or being in tlie right place at tlie right time. Had the Wrights tried 50 years sooner tlie technological advances in materials and engineering as well as the consolidation of existing information would not have been available. (Cavaliere, 1990, p. 26) This observation is borne out by the fact that Leonardo da Vinci had many ideas which are relevant and practical today that were so far ahead of his time, both cognitively and technologically, that they lay dormant for several centuries before being adopted. An idea or learning opportunity which is rejected at one time will of ten be readily accepted at another, for no apparent reason other than the time is right. There must also be a critical mass of those who accept new ideas, and once that has been reached learning spreads among individuals within the community. This phenomenon can be seen to have happened many times in a culture's history, on both a large and a small scale, a notable example of which is the rejection of the U N Charter of Human Rights when it was first proposed. Now it is almost unthinkable that it would not have been accepted. Summary of internal elements. If the designation of formal, non-formal and informal contexts describes the overall background against which self-directed learning occurs, then the elements discussed provide some details of light, shade and colour which make each form of self-directed learning within those backgrounds different from each other. So far only those elements internal to the learner have been included, and therefore just a part of the total picture is yet visible. Like a tapestry which is only partly finished, more detail will be added by considering those elements external to the learner, but the picture as it presently stands shows the importance of locus of control, learner autonomy, motivation and learner intent, and goals. These elements in turn 62 condition the degree and type of planning for which self-directed learners can take responsibility, and the need for critical thinking and reflection to enter into the learning process. Since no-one can learn for anyone else, learning in any context is shaped at least to some extent by individual characteristics or personality traits on which the SDLRS and OCLI have been based. But the rogue element which cannot be willed into place or otherwise created on demand is the intangible and unpredictable fact that the time must be right. If the learner just does not want to learn, or there are extenuating circumstances which preclude learning at the time, then no personal learning will occur, no matter how great the learning opportunity presented, as personal motivation is lacking altogether. In the larger picture, if society is not yet ready to accept the learner's viewpoint on matters that would be of community rather than purely personal benefit, all individual efforts of the learner to share their knowledge with the wider community will be somewhat ineffective. This is important for those involved in social action, for they must ensure that their target audience is receptive to their message by carefully creating the right atmosphere in which their ideas will be well received and shared with others. While other elements in this discussion can be controlled to some degree by the learner, no matter which context their learning falls into, if personal or societal circumstances are such that the time is not right, there may be little or nothing which motivates an individual to learn until their personal problems have been resolved. In society, the most often-used way of ensuring that the time eventually becomes right is to encourage change agents to take up the cause and then, through role modelling or other means, gain support until there is a critical mass within the general population who are now prepared to tip the balance in favour of new ideas. This may take a very long time when it involves attitude or lifestyle change, but eventually these leaders in their field will start the bandwagons rolling, on to which many more will jump to give their support. Once the time is right it is sometimes quite striking how quickly these new ideas become accepted and adopted. On the other hand, ideas which depend on technical capabilities not yet in place will remain in limbo until ways and means have been found to implement them. 63 External Elements There are many elements external to the learner that help make self-directed learning what it is. Some, like motivation and goals, are both extrinsic and intrinsic, but other factors such as the micro- and macro-environments in which learners find themselves are sometimes beyond their personal control. These elements are themselves a complex combination of many components, all of which affect learning outcomes, and if one or more components were changed in any way, then the end result of a learner's project might be very different. For example, it is generally agreed by many researchers that most self-directed learners will use those resources within their immediate environment that are easily accessible (Coombs, 1985, Spear, 1988). What is learned will depend entirely on what resources are used, and had a different set of resources been within that environment, the learning project may have gone in a completely different direction. As these external elements are considered, it can be clearly seen how serendipity and circumstance do appear to control and direct learners' projects, as Spear and Mocker (1984) suggest. These elements are discussed in the order listed at the end of this chapter, but as locus of control, motivation and goals can be both internal and external to the learner, these have already been discussed under internal elements and will not be included again at this point. Trigger events. Self-directed learning is always sparked by some precipitating factor, no matter in which context that learning will subsequently occur. This Spear and Mocker (1984) refer to as a trigger event, resulting from a "change [that] may be positive or negative, may happen to the individual or to someone who affects a person's life, or may be an event which simply occurs and is observed within the life space of the individual" (p. 4). Their research also found that, rather than planning their projects according to Tough's model (1967), learning trajectories are often determined by organizing circumstances, leading most self-directed learners to select a course from limited altertuxtives which occur fortuitously within their environment, and which structures their learning projects ... Learning sequences progress not necessarily in linear fashion, but rather as tlie circumstances created during one episode become the circumstances for the next necessary and logical step in tlie process. (Spear & Mocker, 1984, p. 4-5) 64 Despite the fact that a great deal of self-directed learning does flow from one organizing circumstance to another in a seemingly haphazard and unplanned fashion, even if there is a definite goal to be reached eventually, there are still learners who know where they want to go, and how they are going to get there. They plan their learning in logical and linear steps because that is what achievement of their goal demands. This indicates that there are at least two forms of learning which are equally self-directed, but are structurally very different. One is pre-planned and carried out systematically until the goal is achieved in accordance with Tough's model, while the other meanders from one circumstance to the next, perhaps never reaching the original goal, but allowing for circumstance to intervene and re-direct the whole project as a variety of learning opportunities present themselves. The former resembles that found in formal and non-formal contexts, whereas the latter is typical of autodidactic learning which may become lifelong and never ending. In between are hybrids, where it is imperative to follow a plan in order to learn quickly and thoroughly, but in which circumstances also play a role in guiding the way in which that goal is reached. This contrast clearly illustrates one reason why the concept of self-directed learning is so confusing, as each of these forms of learning are carried out for different reasons, along different time-lines, and each is appropriate under the circumstances. Resources. Resources, Spear and Mocker (1984) found, were dictated by the learner's circumstances, where people use what is available and accessible within their immediate environment. Those who tried to name resources used by self-directed learners found that they were including every imaginable aspect of an individual's everyday environment (Carr, 1985; Knowles, 1975; Tough, 1971), which does not help to clarify which resources are useful and which are not. That depends entirely on what is being learned, in which context, and for what purpose. If an autodidact chooses to participate in formal education as a facilitated self-learner, then the resources used will be very different from those used by an individual who is totally in charge of every aspect of their own learning meandering through a maze of learning opportunities on an informal and unplanned basis, even if both learning projects have identical goals. It also depends on the attitude and values of the learner as to what is seen as a resource, for Steele (1991) points 65 out that in her study of her own leisure-oriented self-directed project to become a quilter she found that much of her information came from what she refers to as print materials which were not designed to educate anyone. Local histories and genealogies, ... quilt books which were designed to provide enjoyment or make patterns available. All these materials were designed to share information, but very few of them were organized to 'teach' the user. (p. 92) Of all the resources mentioned throughout the literature, one remains paramount, and that is that learners find other people to be their greatest resource (Bonham, 1993; Brookfield, 1983). People share experiences with each other, swap stories (Orr, 1996), help each other in many ways, exchange knowledge and information, give guidance, brainstorm together, and are ubiquitous and easily accessible. But at the same time, learners need to know who are the right people to approach for specific knowledge and information, and how best to approach them. "The research shows that busy people outside academia and the most highly specialized practices rely mainly on personal contact for information rather than courses or professional literature" (Eraut, 1994, p. 113). What is a resource to one person is not a resource to another. Those who are used to consulting the literature and verifying the knowledge they seek would probably not consult their lay friends on subjects about which they know little, but on the other hand, those who live in a society which is mainly oral would go first to family and friends, and only to more official sources if deemed absolutely necessary. This is where the criticism of self-directed learning being based on false assumptions and information may be valid, for what is learned informally from others may be incorrect, even if the informant honestly believes otherwise. In this way, rumours quickly become substantiated as reality, and absorbed into an individual's stock of knowledge without knowing that they have been wrongly informed. Although much importance is placed by educators on the use of books, journals, manuals and other printed material by self-directed learners, it appears from an extensive review of the literature by Bonham (1989), and is confirmed by others before and since (Brockett & Hiemstra, 1991; Brookfield, 1982; Csikszentmihalyi, 1996; Eraut, 1994; Tough, 1967), that personal contact 66 is often a preferred way of becoming informed. This, then, leads directly to the next element of self-directed learning. Self-directed learning as an oral process. Despite the plethora of resources available to learners, and the proliferation of information available electronically, self-directed learning at all levels is still very much an oral process (Baskett & Marsick, 1992; Brookfield, 1983; Eraut, 1994). Even in formal educational settings, where great importance is put on the written word, courses are built around lectures, discussion groups, laboratory experience, and informal connection between all levels of the intellectual hierarchy. In the early days of universities, students strolled with their mentors through the cloisters and quadrangles, discussing issues of importance and learning from each other. That still continues, as portrayed by Czikszentmihalyi (1996). Freeman Dyson's education at Cambridge owed much less to wlvxt he heard in the classroom or read in the library than to tlie informal and wide-ranging conversations he had with his tutor while strolling tlie patfis around tlie college. And later, in Ithaca, New York, it was through similar walks that he absorbed tlie revolutionary ideas from the physicist Richard Feynman: Again, I never went to a class tfiat Feynman taught. I never had any official connection with him at all, in fact. But we went for walks. Most of tfie time that I spent with him was actually walking, like tlie old style of philosopfiers who used to walk around under tfie cloisters', (p. 137) The importance of learning informally from peers and colleagues in otherwise formal settings has not been overlooked. It is well-known anecdotally, and substantiated by research, that the exchange of conversation in the corridors and hallways between lectures or conference presentations is often more productive and informative than the formal sessions (Dixon, 1997). What is learned may or may not relate to the reason for being in that context, but nevertheless the exchange of information on a casual basis is an essential and ongoing ingredient of everyday self-directed learning. This is why no one form or context of learning can be isolated from another. For the purposes of research they have to be examined individually, but at the same time be seen as continually interdependent, with learners moving actively between them. The informal sector is possibly where the greatest amount of learning takes place through social conversation, since many people see their friends, neighbours and community as resources. Those interested in specific hobbies or interests often join clubs which provide both informal 67 networking and a learning environment (Berger, 1990; Brookfield, 1983). People learn incidentally from participating in some activity with no intentional educational content (Brookfield, 1983; Marsick & Watkins, 1990), they learn through casual conversation, observation, and trial and error, all set in the context of everyday living (Brookfield, 1983). This is also where critical reflection is necessary, in order to sort out fact from fiction, reliable information from rumour, and anecdotal evidence from scientific research. Experience, intuition and common sense help in this assessment process, and each learner must accept or reject informal oral information at a personal level for what it is worth. Wherever self-directed learning takes place, in the formal, non-formal or informal context, most people build up their own network of contacts (Brookfield, 1983) from whom and with whom they learn through conversational exchange. This is another element of self-directed learning which can shape the goals and outcomes of any learning experience, as will now be shown. Networks. Whether in a learning capacity or not, most people form networks of friends, relatives, neighbours, peers, colleagues, and in today's electronic world, cyber-contacts, with whom they exchange information and knowledge at all levels, from grapevine gossip to academic argument. Networks are an essential part of self-directed learning (Brookfield, 1983), for although the concept often brings to mind learning in isolation, this myth has been dispelled many times, for even if learners appear to be working alone, they are in fact supported by a considerable network that has been built up over the years. Even being in true isolation does not preclude the creation of networks, as shown by the extraordinary learning of Robert Stroud, Birdman of Alcatraz, who spent many years in jail in solitary confinement, and yet became an expert in avian diseases (Gaddis, 1955). Networks can develop into communities-of-practice (Wenger & Snyder, n.d.), highly motivated and informal sites of learning which develop from a deliberate gathering of like-minded people who share a common interest, or through informal meetings of peripatetic workers over coffee or lunch where learning takes place through the swapping of war stories (Orr, 1996). Self-directed learners join groups in order to network with members, but Brookfield (1983) found that 68 the learning encounters between individual members ... look place in addition to, and separate from, the official business of the club or society. Despite their serendipitous nature, however, such apparently casual encounters and conversations were much more important than formal society lectures for the development of individual expertise, (p. 54) Informal networks encourage the easy exchange of information and knowledge in a spontaneous and impromptu fashion, permitting people to approach experts in their field in a casual, collegial atmosphere where it is taken for granted that knowledge will be willingly and enthusiastically shared. It is this type of social setting in which self-directed learning occurs that Brookfield (1984) maintains has been ignored in the literature. Since that time research is moving into the area of situated cognition, and informal and lifelong learning as shown by Rogoff and Lave's work (1984) on situated learning, Brown and Duguid's (1991) discussion of the concept of communities-of-practice, and Orr's research (1996) of learning practices of photocopy machine repair technicians. More recently a project has been conducted by the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, regarding New Approaches to Lifelong Learning (NALL). While this review is confined mainly to literature available in, and relevant to, a North American context, Billett (2001) is also researching socially situated workplace learning in Australia. Networks, by their very nature, infer that communication is mainly oral, spontaneous, informal, and probably covers a much wider field than just the subject of specific interest on which the network is based, thus engaging members in a considerable amount of learning not related to the network's main interest or reason for being. This is where creative synergy develops, through brainstorming and sharing of ideas, and networks also act as valuable support systems when required (Hammerman, 1990; Rager, 2000). The value of networks depends on their continuing existence despite the ebb and flow of members, the accumulation of knowledge within that network, and the capacity of members to share a wide range of experiences for the benefit of others. Networks are, perhaps, one of the least visible aspects of self-directed learning, as studies tend to concentrate on the individual learner and the foreground context in which that learning is situated, but overlook the background in which both the learner and their context are embedded. The individual learner is just the visible tip of the network iceberg, for supporting every learner is an enormous network upon which they can call. 69 One aspect of research which appears to be lacking in the literature is the extent to which networks stretch beyond the learner and their immediate contacts, although it is mentioned in passing by Brown, Collins, and Duguid (1989). Individual learners develop their personal contacts in many fields of expertise as they go through life, and call upon these people for help, ideas, knowledge and information on a casual and as-needed basis. However, each of these contacts also has a personal network to whom they can refer, so a member of one network now has a much wider, if indirect, range of expertise available to them than may appear at first glance. The success of networking also depends on good lines of communication between members, which is yet another of the elements of self-directed learning about which there appears to be very little in the literature. Absorptive capacity/stock of knowledge. As has been tangentially referred to while discussing the value of networks, it is the access to a wide body of knowledge which makes networks so valuable. Few people share the same background or biography, and therefore accumulate a varied stock of knowledge, which is how Jarvis (1987b) describes the learning each individual has acquired over a lifetime, and to which Cohen and Levinthal (1990) refer as an individual's or a group's absorptive capacity. It is in the stock of knowledge made available by a network that serendipity and chance play a role. If one member of a network were to be replaced by another whose stock of knowledge is completely different, what is subsequently learned from consulting that network might also be totally different. The knowledge accumulated by this network depends entirely on who the members are, what their particular interests and expertise are, and their lifetime experiences resulting from their personal biographies. While the diversity of knowledge and expertise available through networks is recognized in the literature (Brookfield, 1983), the serendipity factor in which chance and fate determine what knowledge is available is often left out of the discussion. Regardless of the type of knowledge resources provided by networks, two important aspects of participating in such groups are the ability to brainstorm with others, and the synergy 70 created by pooling ideas. As with word association games, one idea sparks another in a way that is difficult to replicate as an isolated individual, and this in itself is an important resource that encourages creativity and inductive thinking in the self-directed learning process, and underlines the fact that learning in any context is socially situated (Jarvis, 1987a). Environmental effects. One of the most important factors in any learning context is the effect of environment. Bandura (1977) and Lewin (1951) both stress the role played by the macro-environment in precipitating and directing the course of learning activities, and Spear and Mocker (1984) include in that the "setting, artifacts, and inhabitants of the individual's life space" (p. 213). A l l learning is socially, culturally, and temporally conditioned (Candy, 1991; Jarvis, 1987a), and time also plays an often unnoticed role in the evolution of educational practices and processes both on a major scale at the level of government intervention and changing policies, and on a lesser scale as people individually get better at what they do through practice. There is a considerable amount of literature dealing with both cognitive and physical environments and their effects upon learning (Brockett & Hiemstra, 1991; Candy, 1991; Csikszentmihalyi, 1996; Fulton, 1991; Hiemstra, 1991; Knowles, 1975; Spear & Mocker, 1984). Trigger events stimulating learning are environmentally created (Lewin, 1951; Mocker & Spear, 1982), and the way in which learning proceeds results from an interaction of environment, personal factors and behaviour (Bandura, 1977). Learners behave differently in different settings, as is self-evident when considering the way in which the learning process is conducted in other-organized formal or non-formal contexts, and the very different way in which self-organized learning occurs in the informality of everyday life. Great importance has been placed on creating conducive atmospheres within the formal context (Brockett & Hiemstra, 1991; Knowles, 1975) as it is acknowledged that environment plays a role in determining attitude, and attitude in turn conditions learning (Ebeling, 1994). The macro-environment, however, reaches beyond the immediate classroom effects of lighting, temperature control, ambient noise, and the way in which the chairs are set out, which are 71 often the main concerns in the formal context. The affective atmosphere of learner support by both instructor or facilitator and fellow students, the suitability of learning materials presented in relation to learner abilities, and the respect given to student knowledge and experience as a class resource are also important environmental aspects which condition the learning process. Miller (1993), when a sociology student, reports that she became "puzzled and exasperated by the tendency of those who taught me to dismiss personal experience as merely 'anecdotal' "(p. 131). Lovin (1992) also noted that when learning takes place in the more formal atmosphere of continuing education or college programmes, anecdotal stories are often dismissed as having little place on the curriculum. Yet it was by sharing anecdotal knowledge and practical experience between photocopy machine repair technicians in art informal context that the most useful information percolated through that particular community-of-practice (Orr, 1996). Micro-environments also have varying effects upon learning. Not all learning is cognitive, and people often recall sensory memories which were present during the original learning experience (Finger, 1989), thus pointing to the need to deliberately include more than cognitive learning in the formal and non-formal context where possible. Personal challenges created by environmental circumstances are considerable triggers for learning where there is an immediate need, which provokes learners to problem solve by organizing their own learning through formal, non-formal or informal means (Brookfield, 1983). Since all learners are socially and culturally situated within both macro- and micro-environments over which they have varying degrees of control, the effect of environment is all-pervasive in conditioning learning. The environment does not completely control learning, as learners can also adapt their environment to their own purposes (Bandura, 1977). However, some forces are overwhelming, and personal family background and previous educational experiences may limit learners' ability to be self-directed in certain situations (Candy, 1991). While consideration of the effects of environment are seen throughout the self-directed learning literature, it is still not studied from a broad enough perspective, as most research is focused mainly on the 72 teaching and learning process, rather than the context in which that action occurs. It is therefore vital to consider all aspects of the macro-environment when furthering an understanding of the concept of self-directed learning, and to consider the prevailing micro-environmental social context within which the learner and the learning process are situated (Brockett & Hiemstra, 1991). Serendipity. One of the most often used words in connection with self-directed learning is serendipity. No matter how well planned or organized a learning project might be, unplanned and. unforeseen events often intervene, one of the most famous of which led to the discovery of penicillin. Serendipitous happenings occur in all contexts, and may re-direct the course of a learning project, or even a life. Observation, conversation, and reflection on what may be heard or seen as a casual occurrence in everyday life may set learners on a completely different path from that intended, but nevertheless lead to a great deal of learning that may not otherwise have happened. This, Ebeling (1994) refers to as self "undirected" learning, which unfolds as it goes along. Spear and Mocker (1984) found that learning was guided by circumstance, which includes serendipity, and Brookfield's independent learners (1983) considered their learning to be ajourney of unending challenge and discovery, with no preconceived end point in mind, allowing for the incorporation of unplanned effects into the learning process. Although there are some self-directed learning projects which are carefully planned throughout in order to reach pre-determined goals (Tough, 1967), others maintain that this somewhat rigid approach can sometimes stultify and constrain learning as it leaves little room for opportunistic, serendipitous learning and straying from the chosen pre-planned path. (Brookfield, 1983; Danis, 1992; Spear, 1988). Learners at all times need to keep an open mind, be aware of unforeseen opportunities, and have the time and interest to follow serendipitous side-issues, but this flexibility may not be so available to learners in the formal or non-formal context, although even there the effects of serendipity cannot be excluded. Status of self-directed learning in North America. At one time, the self-made man or woman was admired for their tenacity and educational achievements, but as more importance is placed on 73 official knowledge, even those who are experts in their subjects but have no credentials are at a considerable disadvantage when it comes to formal acknowledgement of their expertise (Knowles, 1975). Apps (1978) states that "unfortunately our society has not recognized the importance of incidental learning [and] even worse, many persons believe that unless learning opportunities are offered by some institution, the learning somehow is of lower quality or maybe is not learning at all" (p. 6). This substantiates the Unesco definition of education, which excludes self-directed learning because "the learning is not consciously organized by a teacher or any providing agency, but by the learner himself..." (Candy, 1991, p. 405). This confirms the confusion about the wide field covered by self-directed learning, for some aspects are consciously organized by a teacher or providing agency if Hiemstra's and Long's understanding of self-directed learning as a teaching technique in formal contexts has any validity. At the same time the Unesco definition devalues learning organized by individuals as not being of the same worth as that organized by official educators. Struggles still continue in this area, as noted by Hiemstra (1994a). "Formal education and schooling remain highly valued in most societies, and many educators, employers, policy-makers, and average citizens find it difficult to place high value on what is learned on your own or outside the formal system" (p. 4). A number of authorities have continually made this point throughout the literature (Confessore, 1992; Dirkx, 1996; Eraut, 1994; Jarvis, 1990; Melamed, 1987; O'Donnell, 1992; Padberg, 1994), and Usher, Bryant and Johnston (1997) go so far as to say "the postmodern attitude would argue that it is a dangerously oppressive totalising discourse which assumes learning is a 'gift' bestowed by enlightened pedagogues" (p. 26). However, even now, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, credentialled knowledge is frequently the accepted employment criterion over non-credentialled expertise, even if the latter is generally acknowledged by the community to exceed that available academically. It therefore appears that the reluctance of authorities to give credibility to informal learning has created and reinforced learners' own perception of their knowledge and its value to society. 74 Prior learning assessment of non-credentialled knowledge by the formal sector, where experiential learning under specific circumstances is given equality with college credits, is one way in which society is trying to bridge the credibility gap, but Candy (1991) felt that "autodidaxy is best understood neither as a model of teaching nor of learning, but that it needs to be studied 'on it's own terms' " (p. 167), echoing Jarvis (1987a), who stated that "education may be regarded as the institutionalization of learning. Hence, learning is a phenomenon in its own right and should be studied as such" (p. 8). In the same vein, Billett (2001) states that the present obsession with equating learning in all other contexts with that provided by educational institutions also applies to socially situated workplace learning. His research suggests that workplaces have their own 'social pedagogy' which functions differently from planned academic education, but is effective and appropriate within its own context. Consequently the concern is to shift the bases for considering social pedagogy of tlie workplace from concepts and assumptions associated with educational institutions to those that can provide a critical base for thinking about workplaces, unencumbered by concepts that are privileged by those assumptions, (p. 8) Knowledge acquired by individuals throughout their lives as a result of everyday experience or deliberate self-learning has been, and often still is, regarded as less valid than that learned from official sources and through official channels. Those who have learned much of what they know from their lifetime of lived experiences often do not recognize their own wealth of knowledge as they did not deliberately set out to acquire it. Often such learning takes place while participating in the normal, everyday activities of being a member of a family, a community, and a workplace. While prior learning assessment is now trying to acknowledge the value of such learning, there is still considerably more importance placed on credentialled codified knowledge than uncredentialled knowledge which is sometimes dismissed as anecdotal. However, findings from the two studies discussed in Chapters 4 and 5 below show just how much experiential learning takes place in informal everyday contexts. Very little research on informal, incidental or tacit learning makes its way into the literature, seldom appearing in the more prestigious peer-reviewed academic journals in which recent research of educational interest is published (Donaghy, Robinson, Wallace, Walker & Brockett, 2002). 75 There are two possible reasons for this. The first is that little research is being conducted in these areas, and the second may be that there is a pre-occupation with the role of the educator, the design of instruction, and other aspects of formal education. As a result, there appears to be less interest in learning that occurs informally, without the involvement of professional educators, in settings that are, by comparison, largely invisible. Summary of external elements. Not only are these elements external to the learner, many are also beyond the learner's control. The literature suggests a variety of trigger events precipitate learning projects, proceeding according to the organizing circumstances that determine the subsequent path that learning will take. Trigger events include: • Learning instigated mainly at the request or requirement of another: required training, continued professional education, or acquisition of an accredited qualification for employment purposes. • Learning need arising from life circumstances: Urgent: coping with medical/personal problems or other immediate crises such as political problems requiring social action; Less urgent: subsistence skills and knowledge for managing everyday life. Lifestyle change through self-help groups; Non-urgent: Personal interest piqued by something seen, heard or reflected upon which is then investigated and may turn into a learning project. • Learning for self-actualization. Resources used will depend entirely on what the learner can access easily and in a timely manner if learning needs are urgent, as in the case of medical emergencies. As learning needs become less urgent and more focused on personal interest, so proportionately more time can be spent looking for and accessing resources, giving learners a wider field of choice. However, whatever resources are available or can be easily found will condition the path of learning, and which resources are in fact used will depend on the learner's research abilities, technical 76 competence, access to materials, help received regarding other avenues through which information might be available, time constraints, cost in terms of time to do research, or financial cost for obtaining materials. The learner's persistence and patience are also factors in accessing resources which may take a considerable amount of research to find, and then critical reflection is called into play in order to assess the worth of that information. The degree of urgency to acquire knowledge also conditions motivation and persistence, for the greater the need, the greater the determination to learn. For personal interest learning there may equally be considerable determination, but the time frame involved is so different that learning efforts can be picked up and put down at will, as life circumstances allow. Although the effects of time on learning are not mentioned to any extent, looking back shows the evolution of a learning project, and its changing dynamics and development, which itself can provide valuable material from which further learning can take place. Looking forward shows how quickly a goal must be reached if deadlines are involved, and that in turn affects the rapidity with which resources need to be found and conditions the path of learning that is followed. Whatever resources learners choose to access and use, self-directed learning in any context still relies heavily on oral communication. Despite the number of inanimate resources listed by many researchers, it is generally acknowledged that asking friends, colleagues, or peers is one of the preferred ways of finding information, especially in the case of technical information where there are helpful, or not-so-helpful, manuals to be consulted that often come with appliances (see Knowles, 1990, Appendix C for comments on technical writing). Brookfield (1983) remarked that self-directed learning was still surprisingly oral as the world was becoming more high-tech, and Eraut (1994) makes the same point over a decade later. Little has changed in that respect. Even in the most high-tech workplaces people still mix a great deal of casual conversation with their work. Often it is much easier to ask for help and advice than to look it up in some written resource, and direct conversation may result in extraneous but 77 useful incidental information adding value to what was initially required. Books, written materials, or even interactive data bases do not have the ability to add depth and breadth in the same immediate and responsive way. This is not to negate the usefulness of inanimate resources, they are essential, but information through the spoken word is often the learner's first choice before investigating other avenues. This preference for oral communication also leads to the formation of personal networks, through which information travels. Networks include members with a wide range of knowledge, and are made up of an indeterminate number of people who each in turn have their own personal networks, thus creating an extensive pool of expertise, innovation and creativity. Networks are usually informal, and those such as communities-of-practice cannot be mandated or officially convened, for it is their spontaneity and informality that contributes to their success. Official networks are often created by a variety of authorities and organizations, but while these still provide excellent self-directed learning opportunities, they may be subject to more written or unwritten rules than the casual networks which form of their own accord, and may not be as long lived as the more ad hoc informal networks. Successful networks require good lines of communication. People need to be able to approach each other freely, and to know that colleagues will share information with each other. Unofficial, unorganized networks do not generally have any sense of hierarchy, no matter who belongs, and therefore communication is open equally to all. The literature appears to have little on this aspect of self-directed learning, but the free exchange of knowledge and information, no matter what the context, is essential to creating a learning community. Good lines of communication are, however, sometimes thwarted by such overlooked aspects of the environment as building size and design. If there is no suitable meeting space, or floor layout does not encourage moving back and forth through common areas, then some lines of communication are reduced or eliminated altogether. This applies equally to public buildings and public spaces in urban areas, for people learn together informally and incidentally where gathering places are created, inviting organized or impromptu activities to occur within them. 78 The extent to which a network or community-of-practice can act as a resource depends entirely on what each member knows, what their personal experiences are, and how they construct their reality. This pool of individual knowledge created by each person's path of learning and autobiography is what Jarvis (1987a) refers to as their stock of knowledge and Cohen and Levinthal (1990) call absorptive capacity, and while the resources within a network may be immense, they are still conditioned by what each individual can contribute. How, why, what and when people learn are all somewhat dependent on the micro- and macro-environments. An immediate problem requires an immediate solution, and it is often environmental factors which trigger learning (Spear, 1988). Environmental effects on an individual can be profound, creating both barriers to learning and incentives to learn more, and although some environmental effects have been considered at length in the literature, there are still others which have not been given the attention they deserve in researching their influence on both learners as individuals, and the learning which occurs as a result of environmental conditions. One of those environmental factors contributing to the way in which learners see the worth of their own learning is how present North American society values non-credentialled knowledge. In learning for personal interest, hobby, or lifestyle change, personal accomplishments are recognized by peers and colleagues, but often even renowned experts find it hard to have such knowledge accepted for employment or academic purposes. This preference for accredited knowledge overshadows the wealth of uncredentialled expertise available to the community, despite the fact that credentials are no guarantee that that knowledge can be applied in practice. There is movement to try to equal this imbalance, but some self-directed learners are not given the respect or acknowledgement they deserve simply because they have learned informally and often without the help or assistance of those in the formal or non-formal sectors. Finally, unless the time is right for an individual to learn, no matter how advantageous the environment may be, motivation will be lacking and therefore no learning will occur. Equally, if a learner is trying to put forward ideas for which society is not yet ready, acceptance will be 79 minimal. Until a person is ready to learn, and society is ready to accept the results of that learning, enthusiasm and persistence will be lacking. However, by networking and collaborating in groups, society itself can be educated to accept ideas that were previously rejected, resulting in social and lifestyle changes which are ongoing in any cultural context. Themes Arising from the Literature Analysis of the literature shows that while self-directed learning takes place in all contexts the concept has different characteristics in each context, governed by both internal and external factors including locus of control and learner intent. It must be re-iterated here that although it appears that the following framework discusses only one form of self-directed learning in each context, in fact one aspect can never be isolated from the others as they are all constantly interactive and interdependent. However, for analysis, each context is considered as a separate entity, and the form of self-directed learning most connected with that context is discussed as if it stood alone. Whatever the context in which self-directed learning occurs, the concept itself consists of many sub-concepts, referred to here as elements, each of which play a part in making self-directed learning what it is. Some elements are found mainly in the academic context, some in the purely informal context, and some form a common core regardless of context. These are outlined below, and discussed at length throughout the following chapters. Contexts in which Self-Directed Learning Takes Place Formal educational institutions - little learner control of organized process (content & process organized and provided by other than the - some shared control may be possible through learner) the use of learning contracts Non-formal educational contexts - shared control of the process (content & process organized and provided by other than the learner) 80 Informal learning context - learner has total control of all aspects of the (autodidaxy)(totally organized process and provided by the learner) Within each of these contexts are a number of forms of self-directed learning where differences are distinguished by a variety of nuances and learner choices, often shaded by degrees of learner control available in the situation. Formal contexts: • Very little learner control of the situation except in exceptional circumstances. Learner has psychological control in otherwise other-organized situations • Learner may share degrees of control through negotiation with instructor/facilitator, or may accept what is already provided for by way of shared control in pre-set conditions: During personal attendance at credentialled courses, wherever those are held, including workplace training; Through participation in credentialled distance learning. • Learner is usually learning or goal oriented according to Houle's typology. Some seniors also return to formal education for social reasons. Non-formal contexts • Usually provide greater degree of shared control than in formal settings; • Degree of learner control varies according to setting and circumstance, for example: Learner control may at first be minimal in lifestyle groups attended voluntarily, but may increase as participant becomes more able to cope with the change they seek; • Learner control may be considerable in non-credentialled continuing education courses, seminars and workshops offered by a variety of providers. Also includes some forms of workplace learning where computerized instructional modules are available to learners on demand. • Learner intent may be learning, goal, or activity oriented. Informal contexts - autodidaxy, total learner control of all aspects of process: 81 • Autodidact may choose to attend formal classes as a facilitated self-learner, where psychological control is augmented by an autodidactic approach to being in a formal setting. Autodidacts have the freedom to remove themselves from this setting any time they wish; • Deliberate self-teaching planned in accordance with Tough's model; • Deliberate goalsetting, but planning of learning process minimal and evolves according to circumstances - self "undirected" learning; • Incidental learning as a result of doing something else - learning from everyday experience, including: Tacit learning, which only becomes recognized and directed when surfaced through reflection; • Learning for social action. Individual autodidacts join forces, learn by many of the processes listed above, share knowledge as a group, then use this knowledge for inspiring others to become self-directed learners for the purposes of supporting the action. • Informal learning in the workplace where individual knowledge is shared for the benefit of the group, and the group then retains some of that knowledge despite the ebb and flow of members. Within each of these contexts, the concept of self-directed learning is a combination of many elements which can, to some extent, be examined individually to understand the interdependent roles they play in creating the forms of self-direction outlined above. Elements or Sub-Concepts of Self-Directed Learning Self-directed learning is an umbrella term not only covering different types of learning processes within a variety of contexts, but is made up of a number of sub-concepts, or elements, that may be internal or external to the learner, and within the learner's control or not, as circumstances dictate. These elements suggest a framework upon which analysis of the data in Chapters 4 and 5 is based and include the following: elements internal to the learner • locus of control • learner autonomy • motivation (intrinsic) • goals (intrinsic) • planned or unplanned autodidactic learning process • critical reflectivity as an essential part of self-directed learning • characteristics and personality traits required for self-directedness time is right for individual 82 elements external to the learner locus of control trigger events precipitating learning motivation (extrinsic) goals (extrinsic) resources used by learners self-directed learning an oral process participation in networks good lines of communication absorptive capacity/stock of knowledge contributing to synergy in group learning effects of micro- and macro-environments serendipity status of self-directed learning in present-day North America affecting personal and societal value attached to knowledge gained. time is right for society In placing these elements in two columns, those opposite each other are not intended to be connected unless elements on each side are the same. With the exception of the first and last, they are not listed in order of importance, for all elements are so interwoven that degrees of importance cannot be assigned, but none will be very effective until the time is right. Summary Self-directed learning is a complex concept as it can occur in a variety of contexts, within which are a multiplicity of issues differentiating one form of self-directed learning from another even within the same environment. In order to understand what the overall concept of self-directed learning encompasses it is necessary to look at the various elements, both internal and external to the learner, which create the wide range of shades and colours that differentiate one form of self-directed learning from another. Without a basic understanding of the make-up of any one form, the 83 true complexity of the total concept is difficult to appreciate. On the surface it is easy to say that self-directed learning is the way in which individuals in an informal context learn unaided by the formal sector, but as this literature review shows, it is much more than that. Some of the complexity of understanding arises from the fact that over 250 terms have been used to describe self-directed learning in one form or another (Hiemstra, 1996). This may be because each writer wants to show that the subject of their research really is different from any other form yet described and therefore needs a different description, or it may simply be a result of teaching writers not to over-use the same words throughout an article, thus requiring the use of alternatives for the sake of good writing. Whatever the cause, the number of ways to describe self-directed learning has proliferated ad absurdum. For the purpose of this study, the concept of self-directed learning is first divided into the contexts in which it occurs, showing that various forms of self-direction can take place not only in the informal sector, where individuals are free to plan and carry out whatever learning they are interested in pursuing, but also in the formal context, where the process is mainly didactic, rather than autodidactic. However, as this review reveals, it is still possible to be individually self-directed within an other-organized setting, which up till now has more frequently been referred to as other-directed learning. This is where some of the confusion in understanding the concept arises, for the learning process can be psychologically self-directed even within an other-organized setting, whereas to label this type of learning as other-directed is misleading and appears to remove from the learner the ability to exercise at least a small amount of control over their own learning process. This situation exists both within formal and non-formal contexts although the degree of control available to learners is usually somewhat greater in the non-formal context than in formal settings. Outside the organized educational context, self-directed learning carried out entirely by the learner for their own benefit is referred to as autodidactic learning, as opposed to the didactic learning more familiarly associated with classroom teaching. This study refers to autodidactic 84 learning as self-directed learning in a self-organized context, in contrast to education in formal and non-formal settings, which is referred to as self-directed learning in an otlier-organized context. The differentiation between the use of the word education to refer to that which is organized by others, and learning to describe that which is self-organized, also helps to distinguish one context from another. The individual is still self-directed in the way in which they approach learning, regardless of context, but there is also a subtle difference between the informality of learning and the formality of education. To use an analogy, if the contexts in which self-directed learning occurred were seen as a range of sewing canvases with different thread counts and hole sizes, each piece of material would accommodate different designs, depending on the type of canvas being worked. The many kinds and thicknesses of yarns used to do the stitching represent the various forms of self-directed learning to be found in each context, while the elements making up the concept of self-directed learning are the shades and colours which make a meaningful impression when used together. To go one step further, it could be said that a tapestry design laid out in accordance with Tough's well ordered model of self-directed learning may result in a recognizable and realistic picture, whereas Brookfield's journey of unending discovery, inspired by Mocker and Spear's unpredictable organizing circumstances, might result in an interplay of yarns of varying thicknesses and colours creating a more abstract impressionistic effect. Thus all the canvases share much in common, for the same stitch is used throughout, but it is the variety of yarn types and colours, and the way they are used, that makes each result recognizably different but at the same time sharing some recognizable similarities. The various elements of self-directed learning are all mentioned in the literature, but there appears to be very little analysis of how they interact. Although each of these elements is discussed as a contributing factor to self-directedness, rarely does the literature explore to any depth how these interactions affect eventual goals and outcomes, about which readers are left to make their own assumptions. 85 As the North American literature tends to concentrate on individual self-directed learners, there is a noticeable lack of discussion concerning individuals learning within groups not only for personal benefit, but to create a communal stock of knowledge in order to teach others or achieve a common, group, goal. While Lindeman and Brookfield both see adult learning as a way of achieving social change, and there is considerable case-study literature around social action, none appears to have been analyzed from the perspective of group self-directed learning, with the exception of a study by Kasl, Marsick and Dechant (1997). This is another form of autodidactic learning, where individuals work together towards a common goal, and where that goal is self-chosen by the group, which comes within this study's definition of self-organized self-directed learning, but on a group, rather than an individual basis. Not only is this element of self-directed learning presently missing to a large extent from the literature, so too are the dynamics of such learning. Research within groups that are self-organized by their members shows how the path of learning progresses from individual to group to the wider target audience that those involved in social action wish to influence. Similar group learning takes place within small, non-traditional workplaces, but the goals and dynamics here are somewhat different, although they do share much in common with that of learning for social action. Furthering the concept of self-directed learning into the group context is the subject of the next two chapters, analyzing learning and dynamics firstly in a community action campaign, and secondly in small, innovative, non-traditional workplaces, where empirical data address the themes arising from the literature. C H A P T E R F O U R A N A L Y S I S O F A C O M M U N I T Y A C T I O N C A M P A I G N 86 The literature review shows that almost without exception the many studies of informal self-directed learning set in a wide variety of contexts have been centered around the way in which people learn for their own personal interest or benefit in everyday settings, usually without partaking in organized formal, or non-formal education. Researchers set out to look for the occurrence of self-directed learning and to document their findings. Two field studies relating to a community action campaign and learning in small non-traditional workplaces, discussed in this chapter and the next, had no such intent. The first of these researched educational techniques used by an ad hoc informal group of people who became aware of a community problem, and the way in which they solved that problem by sharing information with local residents and taking action. The second study investigated whether, and how, formal and informal learning contributed to innovation in small firms on the leading edge of technology. The researchers had no idea at the outset that so much information would be forthcoming on the major role of self-directed learning in both contexts and the dynamics by which that learning was shared. Looking at each of these studies through averted vision, however, revealed a great deal about self-directed learning in each setting which was totally unexpected, unplanned, and serendipitous. Because these two studies revealed information about self-directed learning in an indirect way, there was no reference to that aspect of learning during any of the interviews, and therefore data are unaffected by direct or indirect suggestions made during the interview process. This, it is suggested, makes these data valuable sources of information which may not have been discovered by more direct means. Although the term self-directed learning was used infrequently by respondents in these projects, in the workplace study reference to the concept and discussion of learning dynamics between colleagues and co-workers was constant, no matter what type of firm was involved. Details of each research project outlined in this and the following chapter will clarify the questions on which the studies were based, and the way in which each was focused. The Community Action Study 87 This study was conducted after the campaign had reached a successful conclusion, and traced the development of learning throughout, not only amongst the main activists involved, but also the way in which the local community learned about two environmental problems of which most were unaware. The results of this research are reported in Taylor (1993), which analyzes how the public learned about the problems, and how they reacted in such a way that the campaign was highly successful for the environmentalists' cause. This, it was found, involved the use of many different educational techniques by both the core activists and the public at large, and also included a great deal of self-directed learning. This chapter focuses on a re-analysis of those data to reveal the extent of the self-directed learning taking place in these situations, little of which has been reported in the mainstream literature. Cause of the Action In a small rural town on the south-west coast of British Columbia, the local council had made unilateral deals, without consulting the electorate, to develop prime farm land for housing and to use extensive coastal marshes for golf courses. Both sites were important to the area, where farming is an economic mainstay of the community, and the marshes have supported vast numbers of resident and migrating waterfowl, and other fauna and flora, for millennia. The activists' problem was to stop these developments, and to force councillors to follow correct procedures which had been ignored, including consulting the electorate through public hearings as required by law when land is re-zoned. If those goals were not achieved by the time of the next municipal election, then the ultimate aim was to vote the present incumbents out of office and elect a fresh slate of councillors who would rescind previous decisions. Metliodology Data were collected by standard qualitative research methodology, where open-ended interviews with participants were conducted, transcribed, and analyzed. Participants included core 88 activists, those involved as interested members of the public, and members of the media including a local newspaper editor and community television programmer. Newspaper back numbers were perused for coverage given to this campaign, and for information provided by Letters to the Editor. Some of those letter writers were then contacted and interviewed for their perspective on the issue. Interview questions related to the way in which respondents heard about the problems, how they reacted, how they became involved in the action, and how they thought about their learning. People were encouraged to discuss the matter at length, and keywords arising in these conversations were used to prompt further useful information which could not have been foreseen in the interview schedule. Analysis of data revealed many learning processes at individual, group and community levels, which have subsequently shed light on self-directed learning in contexts other than those most frequently portrayed in the literature. This chapter now relates those findings to the literature already discussed, and proposes an extension of the concept of self-directed learning from individual to group autodidaxy. Data Re-analysis This re-analysis discusses learning within the informal context of community action, under the rubric of what is referred to in this thesis as self-directed, self-organized learning. In order to make these findings meaningful in terms of the literature reviewed in Chapter 3 , the same outline of elements internal and external to the learner will be followed, but not necessarily in the same order, and are illustrated by data from the community action study. Throughout this analysis the concept of self-directed learning is extended from learning as an individual for personal enjoyment or benefit to learning as an individual as part of a group, and developing that learning for group benefit and as a teaching tool in the campaign. The literature review looked first at the internal elements of self-directed learning, but in this instance it is more appropriate to reverse the order, and begin with an examination of external elements, thereby creating the context in which this learning took place. 89 Elements External to the Learner The elements making up the concept of self-directed learning referred to in Chapter 3 are now reviewed from the perspective of learning in a group context, rather than as an individual. Analysis of the community action campaign data shows that some of these elements are applicable to such non-traditional autodidactic settings, whereas many are more relevant to academic, or individual, self-directed learning more usually reported in the literature. Trigger events. Triggers which instigate self-directed learning projects may, according to Spear and Mocker (1984) include "an event which simply occurs and is observed within the life space of the individual" (p. 4). Many community actions begin from small observations or rumours that something ominous is about to happen which may not be in the interest of the common good. In this instance, a few individuals discovered that council had agreed in camera to allow development on environmentally sensitive land, which would not only require a re-zoning application, but according to democratic procedure, would also involve public hearings at which the electorate could voice their opinions before any further action was taken. However, at no point had there been any official information released on the matter, or public consultation as required. These rumours, acting as early warning signals, were the trigger events which prompted those who were aware of the situation to learn more in order to substantiate what was presently only hear-say. Although these individuals deliberately set out to discover as much as possible about what was really happening, and to separate truth from rumour, they could not plan their learning according to Tough's model. Rather they found that what was learned today led to questions which needed to be answered tomorrow, in accordance with Spear and Mocker's organizing circumstances, and that those answers were themselves subject to the availability of information within the immediate environment. Once actions could be based on facts, rather than rumours, the major trigger was anger, resulting from three concurrent events which disturbed the community. Firstly, precious farmland 90 was being illegally re-zoned; secondly extensive marshland wildlife habitat was slated to become numerous golf courses; and thirdly, there had been no public information or consultation on such major decisions as required by law and tradition. While these concerns started at an individual level, they also caused people to try to find out what others might know about the problem, and who, if anyone, was prepared to take action, bearing in mind that time was of the essence if development was to be halted before too much damage was done. As more people became aware of the potential problem, the anger level in the community rose to the point where lack of action was not an option. "I am not a political activist, really, but boy, we got riled up" (PS 1/3). Motivation. As discussed in the literature, motivation can be both intrinsic and extrinsic, and in this action both played a part. While environmental ism at the time was moving from the political periphery to becoming more mainstream, it had not yet reached its present high profile among the community at large. However, those who were committed environmentalists at that time were motivated by the need to change attitudes to accepting the intrinsic value of land for its role in the eco-system, rather than for what it could become in the hands of developers. People were also beginning to change their own individual attitude away from the not-in-my-back-yard (NIMBY) argument which often gave rise to community action, to an awareness of the need to act not only for personal benefit, but for the common good. Such natural habitats were gradually being seen as amenities which had already attracted many residents to the area, rather than wasteland of no economic importance, and thus people became motivated by the need to preserve these areas not only for themselves, but for the future benefit of others. A growing environmental philosophy acknowledging the needs of wildlife in an increasingly developed world also played a role in motivating the community to save what they had before it was too late. These factors alone would have been sufficient motivation on which to build a campaign, but the electorate as a whole were so exceedingly angry at the way democracy was being subverted that they were moved to act on political as well as philosophical grounds. We got the sense that the council at tfiat time was going to ram the thing down our throats whether we liked it or not, and that's wluit stirred a lot of ire, and it stirred my ire. ... They 91 just got people so angry with tlieir arrogance ... Look what [tfie mayor] is doing now - he can't getaway with that! (PS 1/3) Thus it appears that trigger events and motivation are almost the same thing in these circumstances. It was both concern for the environment and anger which triggered learning in the first place, and it was these same two factors that where highly motivating throughout the campaign as both were greatly increased by subsequent events as they unfolded. Goals. Self-directed learners in the informal context may have very definite goals (Houle, 1961), or may have no set aims other than to follow a thread of interest (Brookfield, 1983). However, the crisis precipitating community action brings with it clear goals that are predetermined from the outset by the organizing circumstances (Spear & Mocker, 1984), and until these are reached and equilibrium is restored (Lewin, 1951), the action will continue. In any such action, the overarching goal is to apply pressure to those who are perceived to be the source of the problem in order to reach an acceptable resolution. In this context, goals were interdependent in that the immediate need was to remove the threat of environmental destruction, but to do this required a reversal of council's decision, which in turn depended on the restoration of democratic process so that voices could be raised in opposition. Before these major goals could be achieved, a number of sub-goals were essential to the process, including raising awareness of the problem among local residents and recruiting their support to put pressure on the politicians. In community action, power lies in numbers, so it is important to create a critical mass of supporters who must be prepared to offer help and hard work when needed. A problem facing all activists is burn-out, and a large contingent of volunteers must be maintained to share the load. Raising awareness requires a widespread information campaign, for which a great deal of knowledge is needed at two levels. Firstly, the early activists must be conversant with the issues in order to share that knowledge with others, and secondly, there must be some sort of organized educational plan by which that information is spread widely throughout the community. This then creates a further goal of knowing how to attract people's attention and providing a variety of ways 92 through which knowledge can be effectively dispersed on an ongoing basis without causing information fatigue, where people just stop listening or learning. Although these goals and sub-goals are not always explicit, they are implicitly acknowledged and rapidly become part of the plan of action on which activist campaigns are based. In this action the following goals were deemed to be of major importance to the success of the campaign: • Individually and as a group become well informed about the issue; • Provide credible facts and information from reliable resources at all times; • Attract public attention to the problem; • Increase size of group to prevent burnout; • Create a community-of-practice to increase political power and presence; • Remove or reduce the threat around which campaign is centered; • Remove the cause of the problem. Locus of control. Autodidacts are, by definition, completely in charge of all aspects of their projects (Brookfield, 1982; Candy, 1988; Tough, 1967), but those coping with unforeseen crises of a personal or community nature find that what they need to learn is conditioned by the problem they are solving, and the timeframe available for doing so. However, bearing in mind that goals have been pre-determined by problems beyond the learner's control, and that organizing circumstances play a large part in shaping the learning trajectory, those involved in community action are otherwise self-directed and self-organized. Informal and flexible plans are made regarding personal learning requirements and the public education to be conducted, and activists share control of setting up and running a campaign by consensus. This group process is, with some exceptions, seen as the equivalent of an individual autodidact becoming interested in a specific topic where there is a definite goal in view, and then pursuing the interest until the goal has been achieved. Resources. Resources used by learners in the informal sector are, for the most part, those easily available within their immediate environment (Spear & Mocker, 1984). For the average autodidactic learner involved in following a hobby or interest, it may not be important to either the 93 enjoyment of the learning process or the eventual outcome that the direction in which a project goes is subject to both the resources available, and the order in which they are accessed. However, when eventual goals have been pre-determined by the organizing circumstances, the resources required may be more specific, and less easy to access. While autodidacts learning for their own purposes do not generally need to be involved in politics or lobbying, that is a big part of community action. Core activists need to become well informed both on the subject under debate in order to challenge experts, and on the political process when lobbying for change. Resources required therefore range from documents, local insights, personal observation and experience, to anecdotal knowledge regarding access to politicians and how to conform with bureaucratic protocols. To get to government ministers and bureaucrats, you must prepare the ground first, meet with government staff, set out objectives and get advice. Learn of any stumbling blocks which might prevent access to a minister. Get the bureaucrats involved and give tliem all the information they need. Then when you go to ministers at a political level, they go back to their staff for research and information, and if the staff have already been primed, the ministers get the information you want them to get! It's a three-step system: go first to tlie staff, then tlieir seniors; and then on to the political level. (EB 4/2; 4/11-13) As media are a great resource in such contexts, it is essential to know both how to get media attention, and how to provide them with the appropriate information to be widely disseminated through the community. Campaigning also needs a constant flow of creative ideas to keep the issue at the forefront until a conclusion is finally reached. Resources, to the average autodidact, have one main use, which is to provide knowledge to the individual learner. In the case of community action, many resources have two uses; the first is the same as for the individual autodidact, to provide knowledge and information about the topic of interest. Secondly, the activists themselves, and the knowledge they have acquired, both in its original form and synthesized for easy access by the community at large, become resources for the community as they learn more about the problem both from and with the activists. Eventually everyone involved, at whatever level, becomes a resource for each other. "You couldn't go into the 94 supermarket without meeting somebody that you knew that was involved in some way or another" ( A M 12/2). Boggs (1991a) sums up skills developed by activists, all of which were demonstrated in the course of this campaign, that in turn became resources available to others. • Ability to obtain, organize and communicate accurate information regarding problems and developments relating to the common good; • Ability to identify and investigate issues ... and take and support positions persuasively; • The ability to make appropriate decisions, to identify and solve problems effectively, and to initiate appropriate action; • The ability to think critically about tlie assumptions, arguments, and evidence relevant to problems tluit concern tlie general welfare; • The ability to determine and understand citizen rights and responsibilities and how they should be exercised, (p. 76-77) In this instance, quite by chance, the community television channel became one of the greatest resources in the entire campaign as the public hearings, which council could no longer avoid, were televised live every night. People learned so much from this that ... everybody was talking about the issue, and that helped us so much, otherwise we 'd still have been back at square one. All this [campaign] stuff is very admirable, but I don't think it would liave got us further along in public education, it would have burned out after a few montlis. So it was the political things tliat liappened tliat lielped our publicity, because we got the tv coverage. ( A M 1/3) Community campaigns cannot let resources be conditioned solely by organizing circumstances, as might be the case for the autodidact hobbyist, and considerable effort must go into getting the information required to deal with the problem, and to make that information available to the wider public in order to trigger self-directed learning in the community, upon which the success of the campaign depends. Learning orally. As the literature suggests, most exchange of knowledge in an informal context is through conversation, either incidentally in the course of everyday life, or through deliberately planned meetings where resource people made themselves available to anyone who wished to learn from them. In this campaign, neighbours kept each other informed, as 95 ...the area has a 'tidal flow' of residents - many newcomers and many have left, so the developers keep bringing up the same old issues which have been shot down previously in the hope that there are enough newcomers to overwhelm the old pro-environmental residents. But the residents of long standing keep rising up like phoenix from the ashes and reminding the community of what previous issues were and how tlie present ones are just the old ones in a new form. (BG 4) Consequently, there were few in the area who were not aware of the problem. People also watched the community television channel, where public hearings revealed a wealth of information as a long list of speakers petitioned council over many weeks. You'd hear a person discuss the engineering aspects of tlie site, and somebody would discuss the traffic flowing through tlie peninsula, and tlien you 'd have somebody discussing tlie ecology of it, and somebody discussing the agriculture, and you had all these speakers, and everybody got educated. ( A M 5/1) These hearings then became the talk on the street next day, and so people continually shared information with each other. Such ease of communication not only created networks between people who may not have known each other previously, but also depended on those networks already existing, and others created during the campaign in order to promote rapid action when needed. Networks. Groups formed for the purposes of community action to remedy perceived wrongs will probably not be able to network with other such groups, since they are somewhat ephemeral, and are often known only in their own immediate area. There is almost no literature which might act as a working manual to which such groups could turn, and individuals in one group rarely know others who were, or are now, members of similar groups with whom they can exchange information. However, research re-analyzed for this study shows that the group in question depended on their own individual, community, and national networks to help them disseminate information and provide support for their cause. These networks appeared to be mainly channels allowing knowledge to flow outwards towards a variety of target audiences, while at the same time all working together to influence the decision makers towards whom this knowledge was directed. Perhaps an appropriate analogy might be a pod of whales bubble netting a school of fish, where the collective act of blowing bubbles in a circle prevents the corralled fish from escaping. So the community activists corralled those they felt to be responsible for their 96 problems with a net of information drawn around them by various members of target audiences working together in a co-ordinated way. A l l communities have their grapevines through which rumour and information travel indiscriminately, but a great deal of deliberate networking developed as a result of this action. One of the first moves made by those who got early warning of the problem was to seek out others who would join them in raising awareness amongst the public at large. Small local groups which had previously operated independently, and may not even have known of each other's existence, began to make contact and pool resources. Eventually a coalition was formed among representatives from each group, set up to make communications with each group's membership rapid and easy, and as a forum for working out campaign strategy and delegation of duties. E-mail was not in common use at that time, but telephone trees were created through which people were asked to attend rallies, demonstrations, or take specific actions to help promote the cause. Those who were interested also kept themselves informed by making enquiries of their friends, reading information posters which appeared all over town, and making sure those around them also knew what was happening. We've got people here that are quite strongly involved. ...It's very much a friendly community. We've been here four years, and just about everybody knows each other. It's not that tliey're nosing in on each other, but it's just that it's a small community, and you hear what's going on - you certainly hear it from the neighbours. ... Tfiere were flyers and there was information in the papers about it. And they have quite a good phoning committee - tliere was a lot of phoning - get out to tlie hearings, or get out to tlie referendum - don't forget that today's the day that we're voting, and this kind of thing. So there's a lot of that community effort, real networking. (PS 1/3; 2/4) In this small community people knew many of their neighbours, and a resident of a nearby fishing village reported that I'm a member of tlie Fisliermen's Co-op, and... [this area] used to be a separate little community. A lot of people they grew up together, they know each other. My wife grew up liere, so tliey know what's going on in the general area, ... and they talk about things. So the people who've lived here a long time, it's quite a close-knit community, and they know about things even if it's not in the paper. (MW 1) People also developed networks that stretched far beyond local boundaries. We certainly tried to involve as many visible types as possible. Everybody from the Robert Batemans through to tlie International Union for Bird Conservation, World Wildlife Fund, Endangered Spaces, Audubon Society. (SP 7/3) 97 People wrote to relatives and friends in other parts of the country or overseas asking them to get support for the cause from their local groups, and national newspapers and journals carried articles about this issue which extended network boundaries to cover a very wide area. It was hoped that support in the form of letters from afar might indicate to city council that the issue was not just local, but caused concern amongst well-recognized environmental groups elsewhere. Whereas networks in the ordinary course of life usually develop casually and incidentally, community activism also depends on well-organized networks which are often created specifically for the duration of the campaign. In this instance there was evidence of many kinds of networks, both those which already existed, and those which were deliberately created to promote the cause. At the local level these included unorganized and amorphous networks such as the grapevine, and a loose network of people who perhaps did not know each other but shared a common topic of conversation when they met casually. More deliberately organized networks included those among the many stakeholder groups in the area, and the volunteer telephone trees on which activists depended to disseminate information and put out calls for action. On a broader basis, networks stretched across the country and beyond, getting the support of recognized organizations with lobbying power. Some of these networks are permanent in any community, some exist only for the duration of the campaign, and some, depending on the circumstances, may remain dormant in a watchdog role, ready to become active should the need arise. While networks are discussed in the literature as sites of learning, there is little if anything differentiating one form of network from another in the roles they play and the types of learning they promote. Absorptive capacity/stock of knowledge. The pool of knowledge available in any group is another of those organizing circumstances over which there is little or no control. Most communities are large enough to support a wealth of knowledge and abilities, and those involved in this campaign were no exception. One of their first goals was to increase awareness among residents of what they stood to lose should council's plans for development come into effect. This they did by drawing up an educational plan targeting the community at large. To get people interested, they've got to realize what was there. So we thought the first step was education, because they're not keen to save something unless they appreciate it.... 98 Start with public education, get people wanting to save it, andtlien just hope that that'll multiply to have the [desired] effect. (AM 1/0; 4/2). Through personal and community networks, people with specific skills such as printing large quantities of information material, or time to volunteer in whatever ways were needed, could be located and called upon to help. Many information meetings were organized, where knowledgeable people shared what they knew, answered questions, and encouraged others to make their own contribution. Ideas and knowledge in group settings are often shared through discussion and brainstorming. It is the synergy resulting from pooling of information which enables learning to go a stage further than for the individual autodidact, who may be limited in the availability of such group interaction if working on a project about which others know little. This is where serendipity and spontaneity play a role in creating knowledge, building on what is already known, resulting in fresh ideas for new and different ways of getting people's attention, without which long campaigns such as this would fail. Throughout the action people in general, and the activists in particular, were constantly learning more, and adding to the already large knowledge base, all of which encouraged new thinking and new tactical approaches. Not only did individuals learn, but the group itself retained a considerable amount of shared knowledge which remains even if membership changes over time. "[The developer's] going to have to wait for all of us to die before he can do anything, and he's as old as we are, so it's not going to work. Maybe our kids will forget, but not the people that live here!" (PS 4/1). Environmental effects on learning. Spear and Mocker (1984) stated that "because self-directed learning occurs in a natural environment dominated by chance elements ... it seems useful to investigate the possibly differing effects of the natural environments on the learning process" (p. 9). Bandura (1977) and Lewin (1951) also stress the importance of environmental impact on learning, and this campaign showed that, as the action became more bitter, people were even more strongly motivated to win their battle. 99 Community activists must learn how to read their environment in order to provide information in the most appropriate way to a variety of target audiences. Some people prefer structured information sessions, with accessible data and resource people to answer questions. Some bring friends and family to informally organized participatory activities to learn first hand about the threatened areas. Those who are only peripherally involved may attend fund-raising social activities, but are not there principally to learn more about the issue. There are still others who cannot, or do not, participate to any extent, but who become informed through a variety of means designed to catch people's attention incidentally as they go about their everyday lives. Knowing how to address each audience effectively is all part of the experiential learning of being an activist, and is conditioned very much by demographics, local culture, and attitudes prevailing at the time. As with most aspects of learning during the course of community action, while the macro-environment is often beyond activists' control, micro-environments can be created which foster learning by those attending informally organized events. Finger (1989) notes the effect of childhood memories on how and what is learned as an adult. Action groups can contribute to environmental adult transformation, provided tliat one lias learned tliat acting for the environment can also be fun.... Childhood memories are extremely strong: I can still smell the lierbs, see the coloured butterflies and flowers, the steep hills...' (p. 25/29) Perhaps without explicitly thinking about this, the activists used their environment in many ways as a teaching tool, one of which encouraged children and families to experience mud walks at low tide, digging to see whatever might be below the surface of the bay. They have guides, and bring a little shovel or something to dig with. They don't take anything away, they have a look and put it back, and the guides will tell them what it is.... We sell cookies and hot chocolate at mud-walks just as a way to make money, basically. Maybe coffee and juice and things like that... (MK 10/2; 11/1) This helps to create a memorable occasion, because warming small cold hands around a mug of hot chocolate after having fun dibbling in the mud creates an affective impression linked with the environment in which it took place that may be recalled years later when, as an adult, one reflects on where one's interest in the outdoors began. It is this emotional, affective aspect of the informal learning environment which conditions not only learning, but how that learning is recalled in the 100 future, and the attitude associated with the subject. It may even become the trigger event for subsequent lifelong learning. Situated learning theory suggests that what is learned cannot be separated from how or where it is learned (Brown, Collins & Duguid, 1989; Jarvis, 1987; Rogoff, 1984) and therefore throughout this campaign it was incumbent upon the activists to structure the environment accordingly. This is an aspect of self-directed learning which does not exist to the same extent in autodidactic learning undertaken by individuals for their own benefit, as the environment in which their learning occurs may not play such a crucial role. While autodidactic learners may teach others, or share their knowledge on an informal, unstructured basis, they are usually not explicitly concerned with the environment in which that exchange takes place, and therefore this factor is relevant more to those who are deliberately learning in order to teach others in a social context, especially if that teaching has a persuasive element. Such environmental aspects may be noticed only tacitly or incidentally by those involved, but as an example, it leaves a much more favourable impression if a meeting is held in a well-filled small room, rather than an empty hall with just a few people in the front row. Serendipity. This is an uncontrollable fact of life which can often be used to advantage. Although Spear and Mocker (1984) do not actually use the word, they found that learning is often directed by organizing circumstances which are unplanned and even unforeseen. Serendipity is one of those organizing circumstances, and in this campaign, it was the role of the community television channel which gave an unexpected boost to the educational activities created to raise awareness in the general public. Although council had planned to put their decisions into action without the statutory public hearings that zoning changes required, they eventually had to capitulate to the demands of the electorate. The way in which these hearings were conducted was itself a learning experience for the community, as council kept deliberately irregular hours and venues in the hopes of outwitting activists and drawing the hearings to an early close. These actions needed immediate reaction, and 101 since all council meetings were televised by the local cable television channel, everyone in the community could watch. Since the hearings went on for five weeks, and were televised every night for several hours, "you go to the public hearings for 100 hours, you learn something!" (SJ 8/3). Very quickly activists learned to take advantage of this situation, holding pot luck dinners outside council chambers to ensure that people would already be present if hearings started earlier than previously announced, and organizing eye-catching events within range of television cameras which focused on speakers. People marched on with banners with 'Herons don't eat golf balls' and stood behind tlie public hearing. It was absolutely packed, and people just walked in and stood around the walls holding these big banners, all about birds, and tliat was orchestrated by various people tliat were part of our group, and also otfier people as well. ( A M 3/1) These events were not just publicity stunts, they were aimed at disseminating information to those who might still be unaware of the issue, and to encourage everyone to learn more for themselves in order to make up their own minds about possible outcomes. They were teaching techniques quickly brought into action in response to the organizing circumstances provided by the occasion. Other serendipitous events were completely beyond the activists' control, but helped them enormously in generating support for their cause. Residents were already very angry for many reasons, one of which was that the only local newspaper was so pro-development that it would not report on any anti-development activities in the community, neither would it entertain any letters to the editor which did not support council's actions. This was another lever to get people's attention, as they had no means of expressing their point of view, until a newspaper owner from the next-door community felt the time was right to publish a second newspaper which would print all points of view, no matter which side they were on. This enabled activists to organize letter-writing campaigns and create media events which would now be reported. Since both of these papers were delivered regularly to every house in the area, it provided another channel of communication through which people could make their voices heard, and their views known. Tlie time is right. This community was previously very conservative, somewhat restrained, and certainly not radical. The council in power, whose actions were now such an irritant, had until that time reflected the views of the electorate, who would in any other circumstances most probably 102 have re-elected the incumbents. However, events of the past few years had created a considerable shift in attitude towards a more environmental orientation. When this happened, the time was then right for a complete change which would probably never have occurred under normal, settled conditions. Members of the community had learned so much about their environment during the campaign, and felt so strongly about the way they had been treated by their municipal government, that the next local election recorded a complete rejection of the status quo in favour of a slate of candidates proposed by the activists and their supporters. The time was not only right for individuals to embrace the green philosophy with which they had previously not wished to be associated, but enough people did so to create a paradigm shift throughout the community. Consequently the marshlands are still intact, and the farm land is still part of the provincially regulated agricultural land reserve, from which no land can be removed without provincial approval, despite the best efforts of the municipal council to do so. Elements Internal to tfie Learner Most self-directed learning studies are set in contexts where learning is deliberately engaged in, whether in formal, non-formal, informal, or workplace settings. Few, if any, have considered other areas which challenge the status quo rather than work within it. In this respect, learning through participation in community action involves somewhat different demands of learners than do the conventional contexts around which the majority of the literature is situated. Personal and group autonomy. The most often cited definition of autonomy in self-directed learning is that of Chene (1983) "that one can and does set one's own rules, and can choose for oneself the norms one will respect. In other words, autonomy refers to one's ability to choose what has value" (p. 39). This is very relevant to learning in community action, for not only do activist groups consist of autonomous individuals who are there because they have chosen the norms they will respect, which are often not the norms espoused by the majority, but they also set the rules and choose what has value. In this campaign, individuals who had chosen to value environmental conditions which were not equally valued by those against whom the action was 103 taking place formed a group in which these sentiments were shared. There was therefore no problem in reaching consensus on what was valued by the group as a whole, and what rules they would set to ensure the campaign was successful. In fact, individuals within the group had the autonomy to make decisions on behalf of the group without necessarily consulting everyone else, so that actions could be taken without delay if required. As the core activists, and eventually the entire community-of-practice which formed once many residents joined the action, shared a basic philosophy which brought them together, the group as a whole had as much autonomy as the individuals within it. Any member could make group or individual decisions and be sure that most, if not all, members would have made the same choice. Thus, it is maintained, self-directed and self-organized groups can also be autonomous within the definition most often referred to in the literature. Planned or unplanned learning. Community activists generally have a definite plan of action and timelines within which to work in order to achieve their goals, but at the same time must be flexible and well-organized enough to address any unforeseen learning demands along the way. Until people become involved in these types of actions, they do not know just how much unplanned personal learning must take place in order to carry through a successful campaign, including acquiring a working knowledge of other people's routines, One learns a lot about how municipalities work by dealing with tlie planning staff and seeing how they really are much more firmly entrenched in many ways, and more powerful than the politicians themselves.... One thing that we learned very quickly was that if you submit something to the staff, many times, depending on their whim or opinion, it may or may not make it to the mayor, let alone to the council... And similarly, if you address a letter to tlie mayor, more likely than not it won't make it into tlie council's package; you have to address it to the mayor and council, because that's in fact wlio you want to address. Actually, talking to each individual council member seemed to be the only assured way of getting information to those people. ( S P 9/1) or how to make considerable political impact in order to get a point across. Because council wouldn't believe that so many people were against them a plebiscite was launched. It happened on tlie spur of tlie moment when at one council meeting the mayor cut off further speakers, even though tlie list of registered speakers had not been heard out. People got so mad there and then that one person on tlie spot suggested holding a plebiscite, and the whole thing just caught fire and took off, because people were so angry at the way they liad been treated by tliose who were elected to represent them. (BG 2) 104 There had never been an unofficial public plebiscite in Canada before, so this was an unexpected and unplanned learning experience for all those involved in its organization. Almost every aspect of being involved in community action requires learning, consciously, tacitly or implicitly, as activists will often state that they are flying by the seat of their pants and having to learn as they go. People learn through participation, and by trial and error, altering and improving the process as it progresses over time. As these data were collected after the campaign had been successfully completed, people had time to think retrospectively about the less obvious learning which took place, and were often astonished when they realized just how much they had learned during their participation. The subject of the action also required becoming familiar with aspects of community life in the area which the more traditional autodidact would probably never need to know. In order to be sensitive to the ramifications of proposed solutions to this particular problem, activists had to learn about ... soil classification, nuisance birds, problems with farm machitiery, farm roads and urbanization, and tfie fact tliat farming is so important to the area's economy. We learned about problems in California and concerns for future food supplies... (SJ, personal communication) These were all subjects which the more usual hobby learner would be unlikely to include in their own learning projects. It is clear, therefore, that while learners are not entirely free to choose what they need to know, they are still self-directed in their quest for the knowledge required to build a successful campaign. Critical reflectivity. The ability to be critically reflective in the political arena is essential, for every spoken and written statement needs to be interrogated for its validity and worth, and every action interpreted and assessed for explicit and implied meaning. Participants in community action must learn enough about subjects with which they may be unfamiliar to fairly assess documents and actions involved in the debate (Boggs, 1991a). Good campaigns cannot be run on assumptions and impressions, and all information must be carefully critiqued, based on known facts and taking into account its origin and purpose. One of the dangers of such a polarized campaign as this is the tendency to be overly critical, which reduces credibility and damages arguments. However, one of 105 the goals of the campaign was to encourage critical reflectivity among the general public, so that they could take what they had learned from the activists' educational material and assess it for themselves. / don't think our information was something they just blindly accepted. People are very wary of environmentalists if they see them - greenies-particularly in an area like Tsawwassen, which is a very waspish area. They're very, very conservative people, they're very wary of radicals, so they would not take anything we say without questioning. So you're raising people's critical awareness, it's part of tlie movement, definitely. (SJ 8/3; 6/3) Characteristics and personality traits. The literature on personal characteristics and traits associated with self-directed learning is mainly based on academic and workplace settings, and few apply in a community context. The two main characteristics relating to these circumstances are creativity, and initiative in learning (Guglielmino, 1977), which are demonstrated constantly in rapidly changing circumstances as the action progresses. Examples of creativity were evident in the many events staged both to attract media attention and to clearly make a point, one of which was when ... mothers decided to stage a protest. We signed a petition which was Tdon 't-know-how-many-feet-long, we had some problem getting in and unfolding this huge petition, which had kids' handprints and footprints and signatures and names and everything, and the kids brought it in and unrolled it in front of the council. (JQ 3/1) Many innovative social activities were also held in order to raise funds, raise awareness for the cause, and involve those who may not have participated in any other way. Initiative in learning is necessary, as it may take some persistence to find whatever information is required, and then to absorb unfamiliar jargon from technical reports in order to make use of the material. Activists also need to know how to find information which those against whom the action is proceeding do not wish to release. As with most everyday learning, knowledge comes from the experience of doing. Action by participants on one side of a conflict cause reaction on the other, and people must be able and ready to cope with whatever needs their attention. Oddi (1985) noted that learners need to be self-confident, able to work independently, and learn through involvement with others, and these traits are important to successful campaigns. 106 Very often grassroots actions involve small Davids opposing large Goliaths, and therefore self-confidence is essential. Individual community members often feel intimidated by the corporate resources and expertise against which they are working. Neophyte volunteers find themselves counteracting paid professionals, and a considerable amount of self-confidence and chutzpah, as well as a sound knowledge base, is needed to make convincing arguments against evidence presented by the opposition. Boggs, (1991a) noted that citizens must know something about the subject, problem, or question to even recognize the knowledge of the expert. And. tliey must achieve rough epistemological parity with public officials and experts if they are to have any cliance to influence decisions that are vital to their future, (p. 74) a statement with which the activists in this campaign agreed. People on tlie other side were getting paid to do so-called environmental assessments, and we feel they were doing a very shabby, incomplete, nasty job of it. ...And what we had to do more than anything was get our experts to critique these phony enviromnental assessments and prove them incorrect and incompetent. And that's quite easy to do if you've got the expertise. (SJ 6/3) In groups where members are working together towards a common aim there needs to be a tacit, if not explicit, division of labour, in order to ensure that nothing is overlooked, while at the same time avoiding duplication of effort. People are learning in order to contribute to the common knowledge base rather than build up individual expertise. While each will undoubtedly become an expert in some aspects of the action over the course of time, that is not the main aim of the project. "The group nature of much citizen learning necessitates that individuals learn group process skills and demonstrate sensitivity to interpersonal and group relations" (Boggs, 1991a, p. 75), while they are learning individually and collectively about all aspects of conducting a community action campaign Oddi also mentions the ability to be self-regulating. One of the major problems of any volunteer organization or activity is that people burn out after working hard for long periods, and therefore to be able to pace oneself in the face of stress, the need for speed in taking action, and the ongoing nature of these campaigns, is of great importance. 107 Those involved in community action need to develop different qualities from learners in academic settings, which include: • persistence to keep going in the face of adversity; • willingness to make time for an enormous amount of voluntary work; • developing an ability to read their community and act accordingly; • knowing what resources to access and how to get them; • risking personal backlash from those who disagree with the action being undertaken. On this last point, those who live and work in small communities know how difficult it is to take sides on an issue and then live in harmony with neighbours thereafter. Participation is therefore not only governed by the characteristics and personality traits of individuals, it is also conditioned by the characteristics of the community itself and the ability of its members to co-exist afterwards, when winners and losers live side by side. Participation in terms of Houle's typology. Participation in community action results from learning which is deliberate, planned, and informal, including at the same time that which is incidental, unplanned, and tacit, and learning of all kinds continues throughout the campaign. Few people, however, would become activists for the love of learning in the same way they would register for nightschool courses, although Boggs (1991b) twice became a political candidate, and observed his own learning during the process. Most who get involved do so because they share a common goal with other activists, and newcomers also expressed the fact that, for them, it was a way of getting to know their neighbours and the important issues in the area, thus conforming with Houle's description of activity-oriented learning. / felt as a new member of tlie area I slwuld sign up and take an interest in wliat was going on. I went to my first meeting, and when I arrived tfie fellow who greeted me shook hands and said 'how nice to have a volunteer!' At tfie time I hadn't even offered to be a volunteer! However I lieard at the meeting that flyers about tfie issue needed to be delivered, and so I got involved in delivering those. (BG 2) I've lived here for just two years. I went to a meeting and they were looking for volunteers, so, being new to the area and not knowing tliat much about it I thought I've got a bit of time, not working ...to do some typing or help with the mailing and so on.... And when you're new to a district that's a good way of getting to know people and know what's going on. (MK 1/2-4) 108 Community action andLewin's force-field theory. This particular campaign could be compared with a hard-fought tennis tournament with well-matched players. The resistance on both sides was considerable and ongoing, and tactics were devised as the action progressed to find the opposition's weak points in a prolonged campaign which lasted for several years. Each side tried to wear down the other, but the activists created many learning opportunities, and individuals within the community shared knowledge with each other, creating a very well informed electorate by the time the next municipal election was due. As Boggs (1991a) points out, "a logical outcome of this learning effort is that citizens assume the role of educators in order to persuade neighbors and fellow citizens to adopt their point of view" (p. 84), and adds that community activists are some of the most aggressive and dynamic learners. The philosophy of community action is well summarized by Brookfield (1993) who said "the populist democratic tradition holds that people's definitions of what is important to them should frame and instruct governments' actions, not the other way round" (p. 233). Through persistence, education and determination, the apparently overwhelming resistance of City Hall had been successfully overcome. Summary of External and Internal Elements While many of the same elements found in the self-directed learning literature analyzed in the previous chapter also apply to learning in community action groups, the circumstances are somewhat dissimilar from those to which the majority of the literature refers, and therefore these same elements have different effects on the path of learning and eventual outcomes. The literature refers mainly to autodidacts learning a hobby, skill, or following a pursuit of personal interest, and while there is mention in passing of learning to solve personal problems, or cope with life crises, little if any analysis deconstructs the differences in learning trajectories between one aspect of autodidaxy and another. Table 1 below shows two different autodidactic learning contexts, and illustrates how in many self-directed learning projects, such as dealing with community problems, circumstances are such that the learner is not, and cannot be, in full control of all aspects of their learning. 109 Table 1 Factors affecting control in autodidactic learning projects Element Individual Hobby or General interest Learners Community Activists Trigger Event Can freely and deliberately choose what to learn, or may gradually and incidentally be drawn into project Subject of learning pre-determined by circumstances causing action to be taken Motivation General interest and curiosity Need to remedy problem and remove cause by taking action as a group Goals Totally self-chosen Dictated by problem causing action to occur Locus of control Totally learner controlled throughout Controlled not only by the problem itself, but also the moves made by those against whom action is taken, and culture of the community in which the action is happening Environ-mental effects on learning Usually learn in everyday environment which plays a normal role in learning process Confrontational nature of action often creates further triggers for learning. Environment often hostile, causing community anger and a greater commitment to learning in order to resolve problem Resources Usually what is available locally Activists need to find appropriate resources for own use and then re-organize them to provide resources for the wider community Critical reflectivity Need to be critically reflective at a normal level to assess information Need to be especially aware of validity and worth of all information used in campaign by both sides Time is riSht Can choose when to learn and how long to remain involved with project. Timelines are not usually of major importance. If time is not right, learning will cease. Problem usually requires immediate attention by activists, who can structure the action to help make the time right for a favourable outcome The process of learning is self-directed, but goals, resources used, and even locus of control are often subject to outside influences which shape the way in which that learning occurs. Thus, analysis of the elements within the concept of self-directed learning indicates that there are at least two major triggers for personal learning - pleasure and plight - and that there are also considerable 110 differences between personal self-directed learning within the status quo, and group self-directed learning challenging the status quo. However, whether the learner is in complete control of every aspect of the project depends to a great extent on organizing circumstances (Spear & Mocker, 1984) which play a large part in determining whether eventual outcomes are congruent with intended goals. The literature, on the whole, discusses voluntary autodidaxy, where learners have willingly become involved in learning projects of their own choice, but in problem management, learning often occurs from necessity rather than choice. Although in community action there is choice in whether to become involved, it is often a matter of conscience, or moral obligation, which provides the initial impetus to become active. Thus elements play a different role in each context, as shown in the analysis relating to group learning in a conflict context, when compared with the way individual autodidaxy is described in the literature. Dynamics of Learning in a Community Action Group With the exception of work by Kasl, Marsick and Dechant (1997), which refers to organizational learning, there is very little in the literature on learning dynamics in a group setting. The Kasl model outlines how learning progresses from the individual, to a newly formed group, and later becomes consolidated as members integrate and work more closely together. The final aspect of this model sees learning within the group as continuous and on-going, and as with all shared knowledge it also becomes incorporated into each individual's personal stock of knowledge. Consequently, Kasl et al state, such knowledge is frequently shared outside the group. However, the model gives no indication of the way in which that learning is used, either by the group or by the individual members. This present study illustrates the dynamics of learning in community action groups extending Kasl et al's model further, to become four dimensional. Firstly, in accordance with Kasl, the individual is an independent, self-directed learner, who has not yet become part of an integrated group. In the community action setting under discussion, that learning can be described Ill as autodidactic, in that an individual seeks knowledge about a perceived problem of which they have become aware. As like-minded people begin to band together to form a group, their knowledge becomes shared until not only do individuals accumulate expertise, but the group itself, as an entity, retains some of that knowledge as common to everyone involved. Not all knowledge is shared or known by each member, some remains tacit and individual, but as members move in and out of the group, so they learn from the core knowledge, and add to it from their own personal learning and expertise which they bring with them. This can be illustrated in the following way. If the individual learner is represented by a vertical line, absorbing knowledge from the ground up (Figure la). individual learning Figure la. Group learning dynamics, step one - independent individual learning. The group to which they belong can then be shown by a horizontal line indicating the sharing of knowledge throughout the group (Figure lb). O O O O O learning shardd with group ft ft ft ft ft individuals learning Figure lb. Group learning dynamics, step two - individuals sharing personal learning with others. As individuals band together to form a group of like-minded activists, the Kasl model then states that the shared information, referred to as the synergistic mode, becomes integrated into an 112 individual's personal knowledge, and thus gets shared outside the group through normal transfer of information (Dechant, personal communication). Kasl, Marsick and Dechant (1997) then posit that the group goes on to learn in continuous mode, but indicate that their assumption is not data based at this stage. However, this study of community action not only confirms that learning becomes continuous and ongoing, but extends Kasl's model into the third dimension, where shared knowledge, strengthened by continuous learning throughout the group's existence, is knowingly and deliberately disseminated outward, beyond the boundaries of the group, to the target audience of local residents. This deliberate effort to share knowledge can be envisaged as waves radiating out from the group into the wider world beyond, like ripples on a pond (Figure lc). learning radiating outwards & O learning shared with group •=> 0 ft ft ft ft individuals learning Figure lc. Group learning dynamics, step three - group sharing knowledge with those beyond their own boundaries. Finally, this three dimensional model progresses forward through the fourth dimension of time (Figure Id). It is over time that educational methods improve and change, and action and reaction take place throughout the campaign. Learning in this context is often only recognized on reflection, some having occurred intentionally, but much taking place incidentally as a result of participation in the action. While much learning in these circumstances is self-directed, much more is self-undirected (Ebeling, 1994) in that it is less planned than dictated by the turn of events as the campaign progresses. 113 learning radiating outwards <= learning shared with group •=> ft ft ft ft ft individuals learning time Figure Id. Group learning dynamics, step four - group learning and knowledge sharing process improving over time. Throughout this process a great deal of self-directed learning took place. Firstly, the core group of activists constantly taught themselves experientially how to carry out a successful campaign, what educational techniques and learning opportunities appealed to their target audiences, and how to make contact with those from whom information is required, or to whom information is directed. Having amassed a considerable amount of resource material to stimulate public interest, the second part of the educational campaign involved making this knowledge available to the public in many ways, and distributing it widely in and beyond the community. The ultimate target audience in any social action towards whom activists, the media and the general public direct their information campaign are those seen to be responsible for the perceived problem, in order to pressure them into taking appropriate action to address the matter. Therefore, self-organized, self-directed learning is happening to a great extent throughout the community, especially where individuals deliberately set out to become more knowledgeable once they are aware of the problem. The generators of the problem, however, are usually reluctant to be pressured into action, and learn to some extent because they are being informed directly and indirectly through a wide range of educational techniques organized by others. This segment of any campaign is therefore seen by this study as resulting in other-organized, other-directed learning, as 114 there appears to be very little self-directedness on the part of the opposition at this point. The message is received loud and clear because eventually there is no way to avoid hearing it. The flow of learning as revealed by this research shows that learning begins with isolated individuals who first hear about the problem, who network in their community to find others sharing their views. Together as individuals and as a group they learn a great deal in order to use that information to persuade others in the wider community that there is cause for action. To do this successfully, most activists will not only inform media personnel as individuals, and gain their attention as reporters, but will conduct a range of activities not only as a means of disseminating information widely in the community, but also with a view to providing the media with an interesting story and a photo-opportunity for publication and distribution throughout the area. Activists continue to learn, to improve their teaching techniques, and to inform each other, and use this knowledge to provide a variety of learning opportunities through which the general public become aware of the problem. This raising of awareness, it is hoped, will create a desire by individuals in the wider community to become self-directed in their own wish to know more and share their knowledge with friends, neighbours, colleagues, and contacts at home and overseas. By combining their efforts, the activists, the media, and the general public can then work together to exert pressure on those who are perceived to be the cause of the problem, and if that pressure is great enough, and persists for long enough, a resolution will eventually be reached. While equilibrium may not be restored as Lewin (1951) suggests when a strong force overcomes a weaker one, as issues of this nature tend to simmer below the surface in communities for years, if not generations, the matter will become less contentious and the action group may go into abeyance or disband completely, depending on the outcome. This dynamic is illustrated by the flow chart, Figure 2, below. 115 I V The Media A small core group of activists learn a great deal through self-directed learning they teach Themselves individually and their group I T The general public, who also could become self-directed All of whom use their knowledge to put pressure on I T I T Those who are perceived to be the cause of the problem/s around which the action arose Figure 2. Flow of learning as observed in a community action group campaign. Dynamics of Group Learning Kasl, Marsick and Dechant (1997) developed a model of group learning which is similar to the way in which learning in the community action group was found to occur, as illustrated by Figures la-d. However, Kasl et al's model stops at the point where a group becomes a learning entity within itself. Data re-analyzed in this study shows that the community activists not only learned as individuals to become knowledgeable about the issue, but learned individually and as a cohesive group in order to use that information to raise awareness amongst the local residents. This sharing of knowledge with a wider audience instigated further personal and group self-directed 116 learning with those who had not previously been involved in the action, but became active and interested on learning about the problem. As more people became part of the activist group a community-of-practice developed which Wenger and Snyder define as "groups of people who share expertise and passion, and interact on an ongoing basis to further their learning in this domain" (n.d, p. 3). Involvement of the community at this level is crucial to achieving the goals around which the group developed in the first place. Kasl et al's model and the extension of that model suggested by these findings are shown in Table 2. Table 2 Comparison between Kasl's model of group learning and that found in a study of community action Kasl et al's model (1997) Model suggested by this research Fragmented mode individuals learn separately, but group does not learn as a holistic system Pooled mode individuals begin to share information and perspectives in the interest of group efficiency and effectiveness ... but the group as an entire unit does not learn Synergistic mode members create knowledge mutually. Individuals integrate team knowledge into personal meaning schemes. As a result, knowledge created in a synergistic mode is frequently shared outside the group Continuous mode where synergistic learning becomes habitual in a team setting (not researched further by Kasl et al) Individual learning individuals learn independently until they find like minded people with whom to form a group. That stock of knowledge becomes available for sharing as the group gels Shared learning individuals begin to share information in the interest of group efficiency and effec-tiveness, pooling ideas for action to be taken, but still somewhat individually based. Group learning As group gels, learning deliberately oriented towards gaining knowledge to share well-founded information with general community, encouraging individual interest and self-directed learning, so everyone becomes more informed about the problem. Ongoing learning group continues to learn synergistically in order to strengthen case and further inform target audiences. Collaborative learning Target audiences now know enough to be able to collaborate with activists and become a community of practice, widening the reach of the action group. 117 Teaching Techniques Used by Campaigners The means by which core activists raise awareness for their cause usually rely on the creation of informal and incidental learning opportunities than more structured non-formal education. People are always learning incidentally from their environment, and the activists used their understanding of this process to deliberately promote incidental learning in many ways. Nevertheless, this campaign was somewhat unusual in that it also encompassed teaching the community through formal, non-formal, and informal means, as well as by using strategies to take advantage of the incidental learning occurring as people go about their everyday activities. At a formal level ...we've also been getting the universities involved. At the University of British Columbia's Centre for Human Settlement, the Scfwol of Landscape Architecture, and at Simon Fraser University the Resource Management Masters' Programme was also involved, and tlie graduating class took on Boundary Bay as their joint study. (SP 6/1) Non-formally, this group did what most activists would do. They organized town-hall meetings, where various proposed plans could be examined, providing opportunities for questions to be asked of those who were knowledgeable about the problem. Informally, family activities were a big part of the education process, encouraging people of all ages to experience the endangered environmental areas for themselves through participation in hands-on guided walks and talks. In order to keep the subject uppermost in people's minds, regular media events were staged in order to remain in the local newspaper headlines, and interviews were conducted with provincial and national media whenever possible, so that readers were constantly reminded at an incidental level that the issue still existed. While many people in the community were greatly interested in taking part in the campaign, there are always those who are not so aware of local activities, since they work in the nearby city and have little free time to get acquainted with their community's problems. To reach such commuters, concerted information placard waving took place at major intersections where traffic was regularly reduced to a crawl during rush hours, leaflets were delivered to every home, and posters were placed on as many power poles as possible, announcing meetings, social events and 118 fund raisers. People also kept up a constant stream of Letters to the Editor once the second local newspaper began publishing in the area, where all points of view were printed. Thus, people had ample opportunity to become informed, ask questions, and find out more for themselves if they needed further knowledge on which to base their opinions. Just to ensure that no section of the community was overlooked, informal festivals celebrating small victories along the way were held as fund raisers, to which all were invited, so there were always some activities going on with explicit or implicit educational intent. By saturating the area with information at all levels of interest it was hard not to know that there was a problem. Summary This chapter illustrates the way in which learning in a community action group is very similar to autodidactic learning in an informal context as described in the literature. However, there are a number of differences, particularly with regard to the way in which self-directed learning in the literature deals almost exclusively with individual learning for personal enjoyment or benefit. Groups formed for social action have different goals and emphases from groups convened to share information about a hobby or skill. Those gathering to share their enthusiasm and knowledge around a particular interest willingly exchange information with other members, but it is generally not their main aim to become informed solely to be able to pass on that knowledge to others outside their group. That may happen on a planned or unplanned basis, but is incidental to the main goal. Those learning in the course of community action are deliberately using their knowledge as a tool to achieve the resolution of a problem around which the action is situated. Community action starts with individuals independently learning more about the issue, and looking for others who share their concerns. Gradually groups form and coalesce, and individual autodidaxy becomes group autodidaxy, a concept not given much prominence in the current literature. Such groups are self-directed as like minded members work together towards a common goal, and are very much self-organized as they work out how best to approach the situation. 119 The ripple of self-directed learning then extends outwards into the community as people become aware of the issue and start learning more. They in turn will inform others, and so the self-directedness of the core activists then encourages individuals to also become self-directed in their search for further information. As knowledge passes through the community, so the intention is to create a wave of self-directed learning both at group and individual levels until there is a critical mass of well-informed people who are willing to take action. The main goal of any community action is to apply pressure to those who are perceived to be the source of the problem in order to make them aware that the community as a whole disagrees with their point of view, that participants are seeking an acceptable resolution, and are prepared to take action to achieve that end. Being involved in community action creates the context for a great deal of planned and deliberate self-directed learning which takes place as people want to know more about the problem. Unplanned and incidental learning is simultaneous and ongoing through being involved in the process for some considerable time. Sheats (1957) appears to be one of the first since Lindeman to stress the importance of learning for and through community action, stating that the study of community problem solving is as important as a study of the Great Books, and stressing the individual growth and development which results from participating in community activities. This analysis shows that self-directed learning resulting from community action shares some similarities with informal autodidactic learning described in the literature. Self-directed learning in a conflict situation is, at the same time, very different from autodidactic learning as it has been researched and reported in the literature. Not only does group learning where members work towards a common goal create a dynamic not found in individual learning, but many of the elements making up the concept of self-directed learning interact differently in response to the differing needs of the group as a whole. Very little research has been published regarding self-directing groups and how that learning process differs from individual autodidaxy, about which so much is already known. 120 Having considered the path of self-directed learning in a community action group challenging the status quo, this discussion now turns to another group setting where business norms are not so much being challenged as redefined. Learning in small, non-traditional workplaces is certainly not confrontational, as is community action, but nonetheless it does not fit within the conventions more usually associated with traditional business environments. Surprisingly, learning dynamics in these small leading-edge enterprises share much in common with community action and, it is suggested, extend Kasl et al's (1997) model of group learning one stage beyond that suggested in Table 2 above. The following chapter re-analyses data resulting from research into learning in small entrepreneurial enterprises, and compares the findings both with the community action group study, and with the literature reviewed in Chapter 3. CHAPTER FIVE 121 SELF-DIRECTED LEARNING IN INNOVATIVE SMALL WORKPLACES Learning in small, non-traditional workplaces may appear to be very different from learning in social action, but this research shows that much is shared between them. However, learning in both these contexts is somewhat different from the self-directed learning described in most of the available educational literature (Baskett, Dixon & Chuchmuch, 1994). Billett (2001) maintains that workplace learning is contextually situated and should be acknowledged as a site of learning in its own right, rather than as a branch of what has become thought of as mainstream learning contexts. Furthermore, in view of the fact that work is becoming more specialized, this research confirms Billett's (1999) findings that these workplaces are the only sites where such learning is available, where the learning environment is possibly more rewarding and complex than that found in places of formal learning (Candy & Crebert, 1991). Much current discussion of group and organizational learning is centered on a change in thinking which no longer regards the words 'group' or 'company' simply as collective terms for individuals who are associated with each other in some way. It was previously felt that groups, as entities, are inanimate and therefore cannot learn, it is the people within who learned and became knowledgeable. However, there has been a considerable shift in perception as more literature in the field of business and commerce is based on the concept of organizational learning, and this has now percolated into the field of adult education, and is exemplified in the many works of Marsick and Watkins, one of which is entitled "Of course organizations learn!" (Watkins, 1996). Thus, it is now acknowledged that organizational and group learning is a result of, yet different from, individual learning, and plays a noticeable role in workplace research and literature. The Workplace Learning Study 122 One of the main objectives in the original study was "to clarify the nature of the relationship between innovation and human resources, looking specifically at the role and impact of training activities, and both informal and formal education on skill development" (Schuetze, H. G, Hommen, L . , Best, A . , & Taylor, R., 1997, p. 4) in a variety of small entrepreneurial enterprises involved in computer consulting, telecommunications, engineering, and secondary wood processing. Criteria for participation were that firms must have been in existence for at least five years, since the high-tech sector is very volatile; be successfully marketing their products or processes, and employ between ten and one hundred people. In-depth open-ended interviews were conducted with both employers and employees wherever possible, following a flexible schedule so that each interview covered the same basic questions. Often an informal tour of the plant or facilities was offered, which enhanced the researchers' understanding of the work context and environment. Research was conducted by a four-member team from the Department of Educational Studies at the University of British Columbia, during 1996 and 1997, and data collection followed the usual qualitative methodology of recording, transcribing and analyzing interviews. Unlike the community action group study, which was the work of one researcher, the workplace study benefited from the input of four members with varying backgrounds and perceptions of the reality found during fieldwork, which added to the richness and depth of subsequent data analysis. Description of Participating Workplaces In order to understand the context in which workplace self-directed learning was found, the following brief description outlines the settings and circumstances in which this research took place. Workplaces represented a mixture of traditional and non-traditional cultures and management styles in both high-tech and low-tech professional and trade contexts throughout the Lower Mainland of British Columbia in the mid 1990s. 123 Firms in the high-tech sector were mainly young, many having been in operation for only five years, although one had a twenty-year history. Their management style was for the most part flat, although the oldest established firm was described by its ex-naval officer president as having "a flat structure ... [but] I am the boss, and everybody knows I'm at the top" (T4 1/10; 2/2). Most administrators were also team leaders and active participants in the everyday work of their particular enterprise rather than full-time executives. Dress codes were extremely informal, hours of work were often decided by individual employees, according to circumstance, and management styles were sometimes inventive and creative (Pfeffer & Sutton, 2000). You fit tlie organization around tlie people. When you've got a team of extremely qualified, slightly prima donna-ish people, I believe that you look at their interpersonal dynamics, and you make the organization work around those dynamics. ... We played with the idea of a linear structure for a while, but we found tliat the personalities, the people we had, were better suited by giving them total responsibility for tlieir own projects. (T l 1/10). Offices were a blend of traditional and unconventional, depending on the type of work being done, as were the organizational cultures developed by each firm, with modus operandi to match. The two very different types of workplaces in the low-tech sector were much more traditional in having hierarchical management styles, and well-understood cultures and codes of conduct. As well as being a contrast with the high-tech sector, the engineering firms and secondary wood manufacturers were also a complete contrast with each other. The former consist of highly trained and qualified people who take many years to progress through the firm to reach senior levels. The working day is, for the most part, nine-to-five, although many work much longer hours when necessary, and office walls were hung with a variety of personal and company awards for innovative work in their field. Those working in the secondary wood manufacturing sector present a very different picture. Firms participating in this research had a traditional management-labour division, and employees were often casuals, many of whom lacked high school graduation. That is not unusual, for when times were good it was possible to get a well-paying job locally, where little academic 124 qualification was required, and these firms still depended heavily on unskilled labour, preferring to train their employees on-site for the jobs available. Managers, particularly in recently formed companies, were very interested in developing their own learning both in administrative areas and in their work skills, for small firms are often managed by their owners, who still take part in work on the shop floor. Some owners start a one-person company because they like working in their trade or profession, and subsequent success requires them not only to hire help, but then to become managers by default as their company grows. Consequently management is rarely their main interest, and they participate in production whenever time allows. / come out of an R&D group and I'm learning how to run a business, which is not my nature. It's about as exciting as watching paint dry some days, but to do the fun stuff you have to do some of the other. (C2 3/5) Each of these workplaces had very different cultures, and employees showed different levels of enthusiasm for the work at hand. Management styles also varied, from almost hostile to management by consensus, and as learning is considerably affected by the interaction of behaviour, personal factors and environmental factors (Bandura, 1977) it is important to consider how these all impinge on learning in the workplace. Data Re-analysis Unlike the original research, re-analysis of the workplace learning data for this thesis is the sole work of this author for, as with the community action group study, it was noticed that a considerable amount of self-directed learning had taken place of which the original research team were unaware. It was only as a result of personally deconstructing the data for conference presentations that self-directed learning in all the workplaces researched became obvious, and appeared to bear a remarkable similarity to the learning dynamics previously noticed in the community action group study. This is one of those serendipitous links made as a result of intuitive observation and personal familiarity with the data. 125 Once the self-directed learning literature had been exhaustively read and analyzed, as discussed in Chapter 3, links with the workplace learning study became more sharply focused, and the latter was re-analyzed with that in mind. As with the community action research, there are many self-directed learning criteria found in the literature review which may be of greater or lesser significance in the workplace, since most of the mainstream literature is concerned with institutional self-directed learning, and the creation and testing of a number of evaluative instruments to assess different aspects of self-directed learning in a variety of contexts. This study therefore adds to that literature by examining an informal, unstructured, learning environment where both individual and group autodidaxy is evident within the context of organizational learning on which the original study focused. Re-analysis of the workplace learning data consisted of deriving themes from the interview transcripts, and comparing them with both the literature analyzed in Chapter 3 and the community action group study discussed in Chapter 4. The same discussion format is followed for this chapter, in that the elements outlined in the literature review form the basis on which this analysis rests, so that similarities and differences can be clearly discussed. Elements External to the Learner External elements explain the context and conditions in which self-directed learning takes place in a variety of workplaces. These are, however, intertwined with internal elements, but to reduce redundancy they are discussed only under one heading, as it is often impossible to separate one from the other in any meaningful way. Bearing in mind that the raison d'etre for any workplace is to create a product or service of economic value for sale in the marketplace, many of the external elements apply both to the business itself as an entity and to the individuals who make that entity what it is. This is unlike the role played by most external elements at the individual level, where they are of greatest importance to that individual personally, even when participating in self-directed learning as a member of a group. 126 Trigger events. Most small businesses arise to fill a gap in current market conditions that can successfully be met by the product or process they supply. An individual, or a group of colleagues, may see an opportunity and take advantage of it. In one case "the founder of the company was faced with real world problems. And he would get thinking you know, if I did this, or if I had this, how much quicker I could do my job" (T3 1/24), resulting in that instance in the development of a system which evolved into innovative electronic navigational equipment for commercial shipping. In another instance, a group of colleagues created their own small business as a spin-off from, and with the approval of, the large corporation for which they had all been working. We could set up and earn consulting money, or we could go out and make a product. With the complete blessing of [our previous employer J we raised $5 million US to get us off the ground, and we set up in the business making products like this. (T l 1/2) At the time of the study, this firm was developing component parts for the wireless transmission of data from hand held computers used by mobile workers such as utility meter readers and check-in agents in the car rental business. However, the initial perception of market needs may be incorrect, resulting in several changes of direction before a business finally settles on a successful venture. This in itself is a learning opportunity to notice that, despite initial optimism, things are not going smoothly and something needs to be done about it before it is too late, thus triggering a reactive change of direction. Over tlie last eight montlis or so we've completely redone the way we do things around our operation. We said let's go after a service, provide a revenue stream and a service. And that's changed the whole face oflvow we do things, but it's enabled us to really become proactive towards our own future. (C4 1/2) Those who fail to recognize the warning signals face increasing difficulties, and like many new ventures, do not survive very long. For employees who join high-tech firms the trigger is often the excitement of being involved with new products, working in a non-traditional culture, and being with colleagues who are all learning together. 127 Getting people to come and work liere and getting tfiem to stay is not a major issue. There's stacks of resume's every day of people that just come to the door and want to come and work here because they want to be involved in an adventure. (T4 1/28) However, one firm involved in the study was a traditional wood remanufacturing plant, where there was no incentive in the very routine work to attract employees who were only there for the paycheque. But these workers eventually gained enthusiasm and self-confidence as a result of great improvements to their work environment following a change in ownership, and this had beneficial effects on subsequent recruitment of new employees. "We have had just a big turn around in attitude. ... [so] you are going to stay, you' re not going to come in and work for a couple of months, make some cash and walk out the door" (W4 3/2). This study shows that events triggering innovative company start-up can be diverse, ranging from careful survey of potential market opportunities, to the opportunistic noticing of a need which seems to exist. For employees, triggers drawing them to a workplace vary from mundane survival to the stimulation offered by a creative and innovative environment in which learning is an ongoing way of life. Consequently motivation, or lack of it, is not only conditioned by the workplace environment in which people spend their day, but also by the nature of the job itself. Motivation. Businesses, as entities, are motivated by success in the marketplace, without which they will not succeed. Success depends on the attitude and work ethic of employees, which in turn is motivated by both the micro-environment in the workplace, and the style of management by which the enterprise is run (Eraut, Alderton, Cole & Senker, 1997). Mixed messages from management result in confusion and uncertainty among workers, and this was often visible in the workplaces researched for this study. Although there is considerable literature regarding management obfuscation within its own ranks (Argyris & Schon, 1983), there appears to be little concerning the effect this can have on motivation generally. For example the firm was encouraging people to take risks and be more innovative, but they couldn't be more intwvative because tlieir clients were 'conservative to the point of being dinosaurs'... which resulted in people having to dig up lost skills and recover skills that tliey tliought were no longer needed. Now they have to upgrade knowledge which is dormant. (HV 1/1) 128 Consequently there was a lack of enthusiasm for the work being done. Several small firms also mentioned that lack of communication between the sales staff and the production department often resulted in impossible delivery dates being promised that could not be met. "Because the resources and the deadline were fixed, they (the product developers) had to do what they could in the time available, and therefore could only do a half decent job in order to meet the deadline" (HV 1/19), creating a very demoralizing situation. Workers in the high-tech sector are usually intrinsically highly motivated, but if they are not working on the newest product they feel their knowledge and creativity are not being challenged, even though customers need support with current systems, and someone has to be available to provide it. Some of the basic characteristics of the [software] engineers, because they're professional, they're somewliatintrinsically, rattier than extrinsically motivated. They need to be challenged, they tend to get bored with the same type of work over and over. They always want to be working on the latest and the greatest, it is sometimes a little bit difficult for us to support our existing technology when we're carrying on new leading edge research and development, and the team wants to be working on that, rather than the old stuff. ...So we try to challenge them by doing new and exciting things with the existing system, we try to keep it from being monotonous. Generally the environment in the firm has been tfiat it's all pretty new and exciting stuff, even if we're using the existing platform. So we have to be very much aware of it, and try to give the guys a bit of freedom. (T3 1/13-14) When management encourage workers, a previous lack of motivation and apathy towards both the firm and the job can be completely reversed. A secondary wood remanufacturing plant had been poorly run by an owner who was disliked by his employees, who were not very well educated, and were given very little respect. Once the plant was sold and new management took over, ... it's like night and day, the old owner and tlie new owner. The new owner is really easy to get along with. All these programmes tliat are coming up, these training things, first-aid, survival, he sends people for wellness courses, the forkdift drivers all have to have it and stuff. Tlie previous owner never even thought about that. (W4 3/2) Knowing that his workers might face considerable barriers to participating in any form of training, lists were posted with available courses from which employees could choose, but of their own volition. When it's just put up as a notice, and if you are interested in doing it, if you want to do it, fine, put your name up and that's a much better idea tlian saying ok, these ten people are taking this course. There could be a million and one reasons why you wouldn't want to 129 take that course and you don't want to feel obligated to take it because it means your job. (W4 3/5) The resulting improvement in employee motivation turned the plant around completely. Production at other plants is running at lialf capacity, we're at full capacity and hiring tiew people, and I guess that's tlie test. And we're very profitable. Tlie company had been losing money until the time I bought it.... Today our sales have gone up 300% ...I honestly believe the reason we 're running the way we are today ...is mainly because of our people. Sure it's nice to say we did it because of marketing, or management, but it really comes down to the people, because that's where it's at. (W4 2/1; 2/2) This employer knew and understood his employees, and gave them the respect lacking under the previous management, encouraging them to be self-directed in their learning both on the job and in the work-related courses they were now being offered. We would tell our own people we've made a major breakthrough here, and wliether it's a marketing or a production thing, you guys liave done a great job and it's been well done. And you're to be congratulated and all tliat sort of stuff. ...It lielps develop a culture or something, I think, knowing that you 're a success at what you 're doing. (W4 1/9) A further motivation for many in the workplace is the need to earn a living and support a family, so particularly for those who have few, if any, qualifications, the incentive to participate in some form of training increases as future unemployment becomes a distinct possibility. Tlie younger people resist tlie training. The reason I believe it's tliat way is because t/wy're closer to tlie school system, and the type of people wlio end up in these jobs are from a lower level of schooling. The people tliat are easiest to train are the people w/io liave families. Tliey're in the early to mid-30s and they have a family to support, and tlie realization tliat tluzy're not going to win tlie lottery and it's all going to turn into a wonderful life next week has set in. 'I'm going to have to go to work. I'm going to liave to survive', and people know wliat the employment situation is like, and realize they need a skill set to survive. I don't know if they're committed to the industry or the job. Some of them, I think, are at the panic stage. (W4 2/6-7) This particular manager showed considerable compassion for his employees, who were then motivated to work hard and take pride in what they did. And I can tell you from within tlie kiln training, for instance, the guys come back with ideas and look at the cost recovery, and within weeks we've recovered the cost of the course. ... All of a sudden the kiln turnaround time was 3 days instead of 5.1 was planning on building a new kiln, tlie equipment is physically sitting there ready to go. But every time I do that the guys say no, we don't need it, we're processing almost 5 limes the volume of wood that we were processing three years ago with tlie same kilns. (W4 2/3) Motivation in the workplace can, therefore, be either beneficial to the company or harmful, depending on the relationships existing between management and employees. In both cases a great deal of self-directed learning takes place, some of which, like the example above, is rewarding for 130 both the company and the individual workers, who gain greater self-esteem through being encouraged to learn. On the other hand, where there are irreconcilable incongruities between management and employees, the latter turn to self-directed learning to increase their own autonomy. "If they're going to do something, they say they've got to go ahead and do it and get approval later - they can't wait for approval because it never comes. So increasingly they've taken on new initiatives" (HV 1/10). When a constant sense of insecurity prevails, learning is directed towards gaining transferable skills as insurance against future unemployment, which might happen at any time. In one firm the people who had been brought in to shake up tlie firm were tlie ones out the door fastest afterwards. Management brought them in to shake up the firm, and they shook it up to such an extent that management fired them. (HV 1/9) For the traditional autodidact described in the self-directed learning literature, motivation is often mainly intrinsic, whereas in both community action and the workplace people can be equally self-directed, but are considerably motivated by external environmental triggers directing their learning towards a goal with which they concur, but is not necessarily of their own choosing. The direction in which people are motivated to learn in these circumstances is conditioned by personal reaction to the physical, social, psychological and affective environments in which they find themselves, which once again bears out Bandura's social learning theory. Goals. As with community activism, where goals are predetermined by circumstance, workplace goals are set not so much by individuals as by the marketplace, and personal goals are therefore determined to a large extent by the organizational context (Baskett, 1993). However, this research found that those starting small companies, or choosing to work in such settings, did so because the work interests them personally, and provided an opportunity not only to put their present knowledge to practical use, but to continue learning as the business progressed. Consequently, people enjoy their work. / think we kind of consider it fun here, so it's a lot easier when you consider it fun than when it's 'gee, I have to go to work again today'. Everybody likes showing up here. Nobody drags their butt in and wishes they were some place else, at least not for very long. (T2 1/23) But as Long (1998) points out, there are many kinds of goals to be considered. The ultimate goal of any company is to be successful, while the group goals within that company are based on meeting deadlines, doing a good job, putting out a product of which they are proud, creating a pleasant work environment, and getting along harmoniously with colleagues. Individually, those particularly in the high-tech sector are creative and innovative and set high standards for themselves, and one of the main goals at the personal level is job satisfaction and enjoyment not only from what they are doing on a daily basis, but from the ongoing learning which results from work demands. In many instances this research found that no matter what educational qualifications employees had, personal goals were important, and if they could not be met for organizational reasons, dissatisfaction became evident and self-directed learning for survival often resulted. There are, however, always those whose personal interests lie entirely outside the workplace, and their main goal is to earn a paycheque and go home on time. But even in such instances this study found that, given a supportive environment, less enthusiastic workers could achieve greater self-esteem. It's like night and day, the old owner and the new owner. The new owner is really easy to get along with.. .You're not always fighting... Everything works nice and smooth, and it all comes with the new owner. We have liad just a big turn around in attitude. It's his idea that if lie is going to train you or else he is going to put out the effort to train you and give you a better outlook on your work and on your product, you are going to stay. (W4 3/2) When workers know that managers respect their ideas and often put them into practice it encourages learning, innovativeness, originality, and a willingness to contribute to the workplace in many ways. The [management]guys are willing to try anything, and this works backwards too. There's been some really neat ideas coming back at me from tlie floor, fantastic ideas. Everybody's got something to offer, and especially in woodwork. There's so many different experiences tliat people can draw on from tlieir own experiences or something. They might liave seen something that you haven't seen. (WI 1/11-12) As with community activists, those in small innovative workplaces set goals autodidactically within the constraints of their environment. In most instances employees choose to gravitate towards those workplaces offering the greatest job satisfaction and possibility for achieving of their own goals, for as Leonard and Swap (1999) note, "Birds that flock together 132 become more of a feather. And the longer they flock together, the more of a feather they become" (p. 57). Thus, in this context there is the opportunity to be self-directed and self-organized, within the environment in which they exist. Locus of control. Locus of control, according to Candy (1988) can be external in that it lies mainly with an outside authority, or internal, where learners have complete control of their own learning process. This is not an either/or condition, but degree of control, Candy states, lies on a sliding scale from almost total control by others to complete personal responsibility for all aspects of a learning project. Extrapolating from this definition to small innovative workplaces, locus of control depends very much on the management style and type of work being done. If groups are divided into three types, different degrees of locus of control can be clearly seen. Firstly there are small firms which are run as an entity, by consensus, where decisions are made democratically between all members, and work of all kinds is shared. A manager from a large company is used to an enormous infrastructure to carry out tasks and would get quite flustered if told 'Get this thing out by FedEx tomorrow, and, by the way, the secretary's left'. So in this kind of company, you've got to find people who are willing to dig in, take on a whole bunch of tasks without any sense of it being infra dig, and just go do it. (T l 4/17) This research study found that computer consulting and several of the telecommunications companies fitted into this category, being not only young in years of existence, but young in average age of employees. Secondly there is benevolent management as demonstrated by one highly innovative telecommunications company with an open door policy, but that did not necessarily mean that there was much collegial consultation before decisions were made. You asked me about how we manage this place? I haven't clvxnged in 21 years, altlwugh wliat I'm doing is more fashionable now than it was when I started the company. I have a flat structure ... [and] I am tlie boss, and everybody knows I'm at the top. But at the same time, tlie truck driver can come through tliat door and can talk about what his personal aspirations are, and I know tliat some days he's going to do things that are just as important for tlie company as an engineer... (T4 1/10; 2/2) Engineering firms also manifested this form of more traditional organizational hierarchy, where senior partners made most of the major decisions, after some consultation with junior members of 133 the firm. Control is shared to some extent, but is heavily weighted towards control of the group by management, and no-one really expected much sharing of control in this respect. This can be compared with Candy's depiction of control, where individuals can take partial control of their own learning but only within parameters set by others. Those entering the professions expect and accept this arrangement in order to get the training and experience they need before they can either become seniors themselves, or set up independently after serving what amounts to an apprenticeship, working alongside those from whom they can learn a great deal. However, there are also companies in this category which involve their employees in the strategic planning process, listening to their ideas, and getting input from their perspective. There are a couple of things we do. One is to select half a dozen people at random, and the president takes them out for lunch. It's totally random, so you may find tlie support clerk and the VP of engineering and someone else sitting around the table. And it's 'What do you think, guys? Tell me everything'. And I've found them very useful in the past. We have at least a monthly townliall meeting where we ... sliare all tluz operational details with tlie staff and tlien solicit feedback. (Tl 4/13) Thirdly, traditional hierarchical management exists in firms where employees do not expect to be consulted or share control of the firm's destiny, and often have little opportunity to be self-directed in their individual work either. Where possible, locus of control in these contexts may be divided, depending on the circumstances. For instance, on the one hand we have an example of one of the saw operators changing the coding on the panels on his own accord. Those lists of parts were taken, put against the wall, and left there. That job stopped until that coding was corrected. And that's why you've got to have these people willing to do it our way. (W2 4/20) On the other hand, giving back whatever degree of control is possible creates a happier and more productive workplace, as observed by one manager in the wood remanufacturing sector. The people that we have working in the company are our biggest asset. I'm a great believer in having a company wfiere tlie morale is high and people are happy in tfieir work because tliey are definitely more productive.... One thing I think helps people stay in the company is job satisfaction. That they are happy doing wliat tliey are doing and I think tlie freedom, wliat I call empowerment, where people have the ability to make tlieir own decisions, is paramount. People love tliat. (W2 2/18; 5/3) However, there were also instances where autonomy and self-directedness among employees was not encouraged, and became one of the many triggers motivating unionized employees in one 134 wood sector plant to strike in an attempt to gain a little more control over their own lives while at work. An unhappy striker, interviewed on the picket line in pouring rain, said that we used to have a radio inside, a couple of speakers, pretty loud because tlie machines all the time making noise, and we used to have music inside working. There was some problem, and one of the speakers broke, and there was no more music. And we were asking 7 got a couple of speakers. I can bring it if someone can put it in' [and the boss said] 'you can do tliat in your own time, not in tlie working time'. 'Ok, it's no big deal'. Suddenly, the next week, lie changed completely and said 'not music allowed liere anymore'. Nothing is bugging you, and everybody was working more with the music, the rhythm and all that, and now there's no music. But we hate the noise from the machines, and we need the music, but we didn't get it again. (W3 1/20) While locus of control is one of the main criteria for self-directedness and autodidaxy, it also plays a major role in the way in which individual and group learning takes place in the workplace. Ability to be completely self-managing and in control of most aspects of running a business depends very much on the type and size of business, how it is managed, and the personal characteristics of both managers and employees pertaining to the giving and taking of control in some or all aspects of that workplace. These three contexts differ considerably from the total learner control currently defining autodidaxy (Candy, 1991), but share aspects in common with community action in that the ultimate goal is dictated by the environment, where the learning required to reach that goal is the concern of those making up the group, or in this case, the workplace. This research therefore suggests that groups, in the form of an organization, or teams within that setting, can be autodidactically self-directed and self-organized in the way in which their members collectively reach their goals. Individuals within those groups or teams can also be self-directed in bringing new ideas to the production process or to the workplace environment in general, which is the main way in which these small innovative enterprises remain on the leading edge, for without the personal freedom to transfer knowledge and information from other areas they would soon lose their lead in a competitive marketplace. Resources. Small firms use many resources to further not only their learning but also their business success. In many cases all employees are seen as the company's eyes and ears, looking 135 for new information and ideas, making contacts outside the workplace which might be beneficial at a business level. Each individual is constantly learning, for it is the knowledge brought collectively into the workplace upon which many of these leading edge enterprises depend to keep ahead of the "thundering herd" (T4). Andy brings us new ideas from the market. Bob is constantly researching production technology from trade magazines and reading wlvat's going on in the industry, and how he can apply it to his shop operation, and I'm looking at business ideas to try and see what we should be doing to improve the way we run our business. Jim... goes outside of our microcosm here, and asks if there is some better way that we can do it, whether it's marketing or production, whether it's the office, or the whole structure of the company. (W2 3/10-11) People learn informally by observing others and through collegial conversation at trade fairs and conferences. Others with practical skills call on their own resourcefulness to work on machinery until they improve the standard model. We bought a bratui new packaging machine. ...It was state of tlie art. We struggled with that machine and so did the manufacturer and so did tlie supplier of tlie packaging for about 6-8 months, and in tlie end we said 'enough, tear it out and put the old one back in and let's continue running. We're just losing too much time'. We put the machine in the back, and tlie millwright started looking at it and saying lliere are a whole bunch of things wrong with the design of this machine. So over a period of two montlis he took tlie machine apart, rebuilt it mechanically, redid all tlie switches, and today tlie thing is running bigger and better than ever. (W4 1/7) Resources come from everywhere, from outside consultants, suppliers, customers and end users, who are all extremely important, as knowledge and ideas are constantly being shared, benefiting all concerned. We have some people here who 've been in tlie business since the early seventies, and they were not directly involved in this project, but they were always in the background as a source of a particular problem. We can always consult with them, and they come up with these ideas. (T4 4/18) Often the people within a firm are their own best resources. When a new employee joins a firm with an accumulated data bank tlie first thing that would be done would be give the guy the contract book and leave him alone to read it for a couple of days. Tlien I would liope tliat during tfiat process lie would emerge from his cubicle and start asking questions. (Tl 3/22) One innovative technique is to acknowledge that those who know little or nothing about a subject will often ask what appear to be naive questions of experts in what Dixon (1997) refers to as non-expert based dialogue. This may uncover hidden assumptions made by the experts but questioned 136 by the less knowledgeable, thus exposing weaknesses which would otherwise remain undetected. One company producing innovative electronic charts for commercial shipping tested prototypes on the firm's own boats using this principle. We actually scheduled everybody in the company, clerical staff, everybody, to spend certain periods of time on the boat, working with the system, the idea being that people with varying levels of knowledge about the system all use it, and may approach things differently, and we're trying to find bugs. An accountant may go up there and do something totally illogical, and find a bug in the system. And also the staff found that very enjoyable. (T3 1/25) Using lack of expert knowledge to trigger unconventional ways of thinking about a problem was also practiced by an individual in the telecommunications sector, who said that / have no problem tnaking a suggestion, despite the fact that I don't know too much about printed circuit boards. ... I'm even willing to offer technical suggestions. They may be out of left field, but sometimes those are the right ones (T2 1/7). This confirms Leonard and.Swap's findings (1999) regarding "the importance of visits from 'aliens' - individuals who would ask 'dumb' (i.e. unexpected) questions - and visits to alien environments, so that developers could cultivate their own beginner's mind" (p. 197). One difficulty experienced by many experts is that they either forget, or cannot recall, what it is like not to be familiar with their subject, and therefore are not in a position to ask "dumb" child-like or naive questions which uncover implicit assumptions that are not even recognized by those who made them. Like individual self-directed learners, and those involved in group learning elsewhere, resources used by learners in the workplace include whatever is available and accessible within the immediate environment. As with learning for community action, workplace learning also includes going beyond those resources in the search for more information relating to specific needs of each business, and incorporating whatever can be brought into the workplace by those who work there, culled from their individual and personal knowledge and interests. Working in groups is its own resource, for as Brown, Collins and Duguid (1989) state, "Groups are not just a convenient way to accumulate the individual knowledge of their members. They give rise synergistically to insights and solutions that would not come about without them" (p. 40). 137 Learning orally. As discussed in the literature review (Chapter 3), a great deal of knowledge at all levels is still exchanged orally, despite the increased use of electronic communications of all kinds. "E-mail is wonderful, but I still walk down the hall if I've heard something interesting, and drop into somebody's office and chat with them about it" (E3 3/7). However, while e-mail involves both written and electronic communication, it is, nevertheless, an informal way of sharing information through written conversations which now augment direct personal discussion. Individual self-directed learners may network with others interested in the same topic, or join groups or clubs where informal learning is ongoing through conversation, demonstration, and application. Those involved in community action are very often members of a group sharing the same goals, and thus have a constant forum where knowledge is shared casually in general conversation, or deliberately by passing on useful information through a variety of ways. Workplaces are constant sources of conversation and exchange of knowledge and information. Many knowledge transfer strategies come down to finding effective ways to let people talk and listen to one anotlier.... Conversations at tlie water cooler or in the company cafeteria are often occasions for knowledge transfer. Influenced by outdated theories of the nature of work, management sometimes assumes that water cooler socializing is wasting time. ... Conversations are the way knowledge workers discover what they know, share it with their colleagues, and in tlie process create new knowledge for tlie organization. (Davenport & Prusak, 1998, p. 88, 90). People share knowledge not only by the more conventional and obvious means of attending trade fairs and conferences, but in ordinary everyday informal conversation which interweaves nuggets of knowledge with gossip and stories. In this manner much more than just information is exchanged, it is embedded in its own context that includes a great deal of tacit knowledge not conveyed by more formal means (Pfeffer & Sutton, 2000). While it is well known that information percolates informally, by osmosis, round small workplaces, an engineering firm planned seminars at lunchtime "with as many people as we can fit in a room, and these are talks given by the appropriate people to try and disseminate ideas and knowledge, practical knowledge" (E4 2/1). A computer consulting company agreed that "whether 138 you're training somebody up, or designing something, or trying to implement something, the one-on-one personal communication - we just haven't found anything better" (C2 3/8), and the manager of a secondary wood manufacturing plant found that "in our operation, in order to get a good solution you have to be talking to everybody" (W4 1/5). People working together in a group setting, no matter what the context, have the advantage of colleagues who share a common knowledge and background, so when problems arise and "I hit a brick wall, I ' l l go and talk to someone else. There are always people available to sit down with me, whether it be for five minutes or an hour, or a day, and get me through that" (T l 2/11). Rather than working as isolated individuals who just happen to be sharing the same office space, a more relaxed management style which encourages a constant flow of people and information around the workplace, instead of frowning on too little time being spent at one's desk, is beneficial to both the individuals working there, and to the collective knowledge base deemed essential in an information economy. This was summed up by the chief executive officer of what would appear to be a very conservatively run firm, who commented that "there's got to be people interacting with each other. ... These guys in the office are talking to each other all the time,... you've got to be bathed in this solar wind of information" (T4 2/28). Work in non-traditional companies is done in non-traditional ways, often involving informal oral communication rather than formal written submissions. There's not a lot of time for formal proposals, so making informal suggestions is probably tlie way things would go. It might not even be to a colleague, it could be to someone they report to, or all the way up to the president, tlie president talks to everyone. It might be over coffee, or you 're standing around getting a drink or something. It might be just an informal comment, and t/ien it might go on, 'hey, let's go and talk about that, what do you think?' (C3 2/12) This substantiates the findings of Eraut, Alderton, Cole and Senker(1997) that "informal learning ... plays an extremely important role in the learning process, even taking the place of written material and courses in areas where they might have been thought to be particularly appropriate" (p. 1). 139 Networks. Individual autodidacts can learn on their own without participating in a network related to their interest or studies, although they very often belong to groups or clubs which share their specialty or hobby. However, while even the most isolated learner will eventually create a network through which to share their knowledge (Gaddis, 1955; Wenger, 1998), being a member of a network is neither necessary nor sufficient for individual autodidactic learning to take place. Despite that, both individual and group autodidacts do deliberately or incidentally create their own considerable networks where sharing knowledge becomes a mutually beneficial activity. In small, leading-edge enterprises, networks seem to be essential for sharing knowledge, and fostering co-operative working relationships which are important aspects of success. Where large corporations thrive on competition, and being self-sufficient within their own environment, small firms need to work co-operatively together with those who can complement their work, not compete with it. Small firm networks not only include their suppliers and customers (Perrow, 1993) but are many-layered. At the individual level, each employee has their own personal network of friends and colleagues from whom and with whom they learn, and those in professional positions also participate in professional and sector-related associations which provide everything from continuing education to collegial conversation. At the firm level, networking takes place through small business management groups, Chambers of Commerce, or other locally instituted fora, where "organizations acting in concert contribute to the generation and success of new products, processes and services. ... 'Learning' firms need to be complemented with close external alliances with suppliers, customers and joint venture partners . . ." (Matthews & Candy, 1999, p. 57). Beyond that, networks form between those competing in the same marketplace, through meeting at conferences, trade fairs, or becoming known to one another through their products. Small firms depend on networking locally with other businesses to complement their abilities. While a large corporation may have many divisions, each creating part of the final product, small firms do not have that ability. However, they may create unofficial co-operatives in order to benefit from each other's skills and knowledge (Brown & Attwell, 1998). For example, one small woodworking business making high-end office furniture was asked to produce tables 140 with a partly metal top. Rather than finding out how to do this for themselves, the firm in question contacted a nearby business specializing in metalwork, and by learning and working together, they were able to create the product required. By working closely together, members of networks gradually become communities-of-practice (Wenger, 1998), where information is shared, knowledge is created and accumulated, and close working relationships are developed. This type of networking is often helped by physically situating many different small businesses in the same industrial park, for as Wenger (1998) states, "learning cannot be designed, it can only be designed for" (p. 229), but the provision of a variety of resources in close proximity makes mutual co-operation and communication easier, which in turn creates many opportunities for learning from one another. Networks in small firms are very extensive and interlocking, as networking even between two people gives each access to the other's resources. When extrapolated to small firms whose networks extend from the personal to the peripheral, where the latter includes financial and other supporting institutions in the community, this offers a vast number of contacts and resources upon which small firms can call, crossing boundaries between a variety of different firms (Brown & Duguid, 2000), each with their own specialized knowledge to contribute to the learning process. That these networks play an important part in the creation of knowledge was particularly evident in one telecommunications firm, where a long-standing and close community-of-practice developed between the firm, its suppliers, and its customers. Brainstorming was a constant part of the knowledge creation process, resulting in production of prototypes, field testing, learning from the results, and constantly going through a reiterative process to eliminate bugs, build in new features, and send the product out for field trials once again, until it was as functionally perfect as possible without total regeneration. Analysis of this dynamic suggests that Kasl et al's model of group learning (1997), discussed in Chapter 4, can be further amended to illustrate the learning dynamics occurring within the community-of-practice. Kasl et al stopped at theorizing that groups, once formed, continue to 141 learn within their own midst, but there is evidence in the workplace learning data that in some instances where communities-of-practice emerge, they develop a life of their own, where ongoing learning continues through a constant exchange of knowledge and information. Further extension of this learning involves sharing knowledge of complicated technical products with the workers who will actually use the new equipment, as they often need a considerable amount of education and training before they become conversant with the product. This requires the product manufacturer or a member of their community-of-practice to take their own knowledge, simplify it, and pass it on through clearly written manuals or appropriate training sessions for those who will be operating the equipment on site. This is comparable with the way knowledge was processed and shared with the public by the community action group. Although one definition of community-of-practice has already been used to describe that which is relevant to community activists, Wenger (1998) also describes communities-of-practice as nodes for the dissemination, interpretation, and use of information. They are nodes of communication. It is therefore often useful to have communities-of-practice that cut across other types of locality, such as product lines or specific functions, so that knowledge travels naturally across the landscape (p. 252) This seems particularly relevant to observations made in this study of workplace learning. In some communities-of-practice learning seemed to ricochet back and forth between members in a most productive way. Eventually that knowledge passes to the end users in the form of on-site training and ongoing support until they not only become comfortable using a new product, but become self-sufficient and able to pass their knowledge and experience on to others. The ultimate network now available to most workplaces is the World Wide Web, a cyber-library through which information can be obtained from sources never before so easily accessible, allowing intra- and inter-firm knowledge bases to be built and kept constantly current. It is as if all other networks, large or small, are enveloped in a stratosphere shared by everyone with computer access. As more websites appear every day, information is both put out by small firms about themselves, and pulled in by employees either deliberately looking for specific knowledge, or browsing and finding some useful information incidentally. 142 Networking cannot take place without good lines of communication, which are built up gradually as employees working within a firm move from Kasl et al's first stage of individual learning as newcomers joining a ready-formed group, to the next step of moving from the periphery as they feel more comfortable sharing knowledge with colleagues. In a similar dynamic, a new company must build up its contacts with outside networks, gradually becoming better acquainted with both personnel and the different environments and cultures of those involved. As a common collegiality is formed in this larger group they may interact in such a way that they become more than a network, forming a community-of-practice, exchanging knowledge and mutually benefiting from the association. The model of learning resulting from data analysis in this thesis (Table 3, Chapter 6) not only builds on Kasl et al (1997), but also bears a similarity to Lave and Wenger's model (1991) of legitimate peripheral participation. Absorptive capacity I stock of knowledge. What people learn and carry with them as a personal stock of knowledge depends on their schooling and individual life experiences. Consequently there is a considerable resource available to those working in groups when such knowledge is shared. Some, gained during years of schooling, will be common to all, while much will result from individual experience and personal background. Each person might therefore be characterized as a cluster of bits of information, with no two clusters being alike. This suggests that group learning resulting from interaction between many individual clusters depends entirely on what is shared. As clusters of knowledge within a workplace change as people come and go, so too will learning outcomes. . . . a key part of the success is interaction. ...It's really fun, because this organic process, wfiere one person might be stuck on a certain way of doing things, or temporarily blocked, someone else is always opening up the possibilities, and you end up with an amazing solution that no individual would have come up with. (CI 3/8) What is learned in group settings is therefore somewhat serendipitous as it depends on what knowledge ingredients are available for mixing into new ideas, or how the different lenses through which people see the world affect the way in which previously known knowledge is reconstituted into new ideas. "There's a synergy there because we have new people looking at the same old thing in a new way, which is good, and picking up that information is quite useful to us" (C2 143 4/15). An engineering firm, creating a water filtration system for remote hamlets, depended on innovative adaptation of old knowledge into new, which is how personal clusters of knowledge can effectively be pooled to everyone's advantage. In other words, "it may not be conceptually new, but it's a new use of all the different ideas" (C2 2/8). We put togetlier a combination tfmt was unique. Each of tlie individual processes luid been used in some ways before, but it's the way we used them that made it unique, and of course it provided the results we were looking for.... The new ideas came from our water quality engineer here, based on his experience and knowledge, teaming in this case with a fellow from tlie joint venture company, who was also very knowledgeable in that area, and teamed to a degree with somebody from Public Works Canada who understood what we were talking about and was looking for a better way lo serve these kinds of communities. (E2 1/16) This illustrates how innovation depends on differences in thinking, not similarity, and bringing diverse perspectives to a project. Creating synergy by pooling people's individual contributions was on several occasions referred to in terms of magic, where something acts as a catalyst, and one of the first impressions tfiat I got as I started to learn this field was llvxt it's a bunch of magicians. The innovations are done in small spells, and in each case, it's a trick. Wfiat seemed not obviously possible, you can do in some really magical way, and so even without tlie others there, tliere would be those spells. But wlien you get a group together, you get tlie big cauldron oftliat. Individual contractors don't have that advantage. That's why it's a joy to work in a group on contract projects. (CI 3/20) It appears from both the community action study and the workplace learning research that as those working in groups are constantly sharing knowledge in many ways, it is almost inevitable that creative thinking results from being with others who have different clusters of personal knowledge, and view the world from a variety of perspectives. Such collaboration sparks the imagination and encourages original thinking. "Part of the group synergy comes from expertise. Because there's so much to learn, people end up having little niches of knowledge. And so you get them all together, and it's like collective knowledge in terms of finding solutions" (CI 2/20). Environmental effects on learning. Workplace environments are most important in conditioning the learning that takes place within them, again substantiating Bandura's social learning theory (1977), and confirming Lave and Wenger's situated learning theory (1991) which suggests that the social setting is integral to the learning taking place within it. Environment conditions learning, and where that environment is conducive to learning, people reciprocate by 144 wanting to learn, whether through organized educational opportunities or informally and incidentally on the job. Even the most intransigent workforce can be persuaded to learn if people are treated with respect and encouraged to challenge themselves. Marsick and Watkins (1999) report a large company where many people had not graduated from high school, let alone completed an undergraduate degree. Human resource specialists realized that they had to motivate employees to advance their formal education. A generous tuition reimbursement programme offered financial incentives for GED completion and college coursework. Employees who receive a grade C in college were reimbursed at 100%; a grade B was reimbursed at 150%; and a grade A was reimbursed at 200%. This policy sent a powerful message regarding tlie value of learning. Suddenly, many people were back in school, learning. [The company] moved away from a largely uneducated workforce towards an educated workforce with the same employee base. (p. 73) The same was found among the secondary wood remanufacturing plant included in this present study, where most employees had very low educational levels, and had to overcome many barriers before they would even consider returning to a learning situation. By making attendance at training sessions for both work and personal benefit voluntary, and given encouragement by the management, the workforce not only became less transient, but began to feel some loyalty to their employer and improved the firm's profitability by three hundred percent. The environment also includes relationships not only between individuals in the workplace, but between an individual and their job (Kops, 1993). Consequently, learning taking place within the workplace environment is conditioned by a multitude of factors that differ for each person concerned. These cannot be isolated from each other in an effort to determine how learning happens (Norman, 1993), they must be seen as interactive elements, all of which will affect what is learned and how learning happens. By contrast, when there is an acrimonious environment within a firm, people become somewhat hostile towards their employer, doing only what is necessary to earn their paycheque without losing their jobs, and learning whatever will enable them to find employment elsewhere. If employees are unionized, this may also result in a strike situation, but whatever the action taken by disgruntled employees, the outcome is not usually favourable for the firm concerned. However, it cannot be said that no learning has taken place, because there will be a great deal of self-directed 145 learning by both employees and management as each tries to cope with the situation. One well-known historical case of workplace hostility occurred with the introduction of the Jacquard loom. Workers feared that job losses would result from the introduction of this new technology, so they destroyed the looms by throwing their shoes (sabots) into the machinery, thus introducing the word sabotage into the language. Environments are very much what they are interpreted to be, for construedvist theory (Candy, 1991) holds that people construe their reality as seen through the lens of their own personal experiences, and therefore an unpleasant environment for one may be an adequate environment for another. The following discussion of environmental impacts on learning in the workplace is very cognizant of that, and while remaining somewhat general, does not overlook the fact that everything is conditioned by personal interpretation. Physical surroundings create strong first impressions for both workers and visitors. While these sometimes melt into the background and are taken for granted, the shape and size of a building (Fulton, 1991; Vosko, 1991), the impact of management, positioning of work areas, the noise factor within that workplace, ease of flow of both people and information, and the number of employees all have a bearing on creating the social, psychological, physical and affective environment in which work takes place. Good floor plan design is extremely important to the creation of effective learning environments (Brown & Duguid, 2000). Architecture, use of internal space, acoustics, even furniture by tliemselves won't make groups more creative - but all oftliese features surely can and do support or inhibit creativity. The wrong kind of surroundings drain off energy as groups fight physical barriers to critical group and individual activities. (Leonard & Swap, 1999, p. 136) This present research found that learning was severely impeded in one small company because the building in which it was housed did not have even one room large enough for everybody to meet at the same time, despite the fact that the company had less than twenty employees. This meant that they had to meet in shifts, or by department, and communication never flowed smoothly between the various factions, to the detriment of everyone. 146 A computer consulting company, however, saw the value of freedom of movement and the importance of open communication while at the same time recognizing the need for quiet thinking time in creating the right work environment for their situation. We give everybody an individual office because they need a place that they can close the door and think. It has good and bad effects because then osmosis doesn't happen. ...So we're looking at getting some more space, and we're starting to put our computers on carts so we'll be able to come togetlier in a common area. (CI 1/6) This was before laptops had become commonplace, and confirms findings of Davenport, Jarvenpaa, and Beers (1996), that simply putting people together to work in the same room greatly enhances effective sharing of knowledge and creates a synergy not attainable in any other way. Added to the external and internal architecture of the building is the culture of the firm, made evident by the interior environment which may need to be strictly functional, or as in many corporate headquarters, reflects the company image through floor plan, furnishings and artifacts (Leonard & Swap, 1999), all of which transmit messages (Blumer, 1969; Czikszentmihalyi, 1996; Merriam, 1993) to employees and visitors alike. Eraut, Alderton, Cole and Senker (1997) found that learning in the workplace was conditioned to a great extent by "the nature of the work, the way it was organized or managed, the climate of the immediate workplace, and the culture of the organization" (p. 2). There's an attempt to put some empliasis on company culture and making it a nice place that we're all happy to work in. And even in an extracurricular way, you have a tremendous number of people who will participate in some outdoors event that you organize here. Last Friday I wanted to play soccer, and half the company came out and played soccer. I've never seen something like that, or hikes off in the wilderness for a few nights. ...The culture may be to the exclusion of a lot of tlie traditional things, like being able to climb up the ladder.... / came from another field [and] I'm very happy here right now, and maybe it will be my home. (CI 4/10) Size of company and how employees fit together are both important aspects of the learning environment. Without exception, all of the firms participating in this research expressed the importance of staying small, where communications flow easily, people know one another, and collegiality exists both in and out of the work setting. Because we're small, it's daily contact that ensures tliat everybody understands wliat's going on. There's a lot of high contact between managers and tlie people doing the work, and between the people doing tlie work, so there's no formal just-in-time process. (C2 1/7) 147 By this means not only does learning take place at the explicit personal and organizational level, but a considerable amount of tacit knowledge develops as people share a common background (Nonaka & Takeushi, 1995). My accountant, who is a source of advice and wisdom for me, suggested that we have weekly breakfast meetings. So we started doing tliat and the unspoken rule is not to discuss business, tliese are just to sit round and liave breakfast and communicate a little better. That worked incredibly well. That diffused a lot of political situations when people were getting a little bit upset about what somebody else was doing - and now we have those types of meetings on a regular basis. (W2 1/14-15) If people do not get along with their colleagues communication can be inhibited, and may result in defensive behaviour where knowledge is not shared and learning is constrained. However, for the most part, small firms tend to pick their employees carefully with this in mind, because fit is probably more important than qualifications to the hiring company. Requisite knowledge and skills can be learned, but character and fit can be either beneficial or detrimental to a learning environment. Another aspect of environment impinging on self-directed learning in innovative small firms is the need to know the conditions under which their product will be used, a vivid example of which was shown by the producers of navigational equipment. Technicians with know-how and understanding of the system, sitting at a workbench on dry land keying in commands are very different from technically-challenged mariners on the high seas in a storm trying to do the same thing. In order to understand the work environment in which the product would be used, those responsible for the invention were sent out with the ships on which the system was installed, in order to experience for themselves what end users would be facing. Software engineers love keyboards, and tlien they've got fifty-three fingers and incredible dexterity on a keyboard. Now a mariner, he wants something real simple, so a keyboard may be intimidating. So wliat's designed into our system which is very popular is a trackball. And we can get to all the features with a trackball and three keys. You can go to the keyboard and do it tliat way if you want, and there are certain 'hot keys' and whatnot, but if you're out tliere on a heavy sea, and tlie ship is pounding and moving around, you don't want to be trying to use a keyboard. (T3 1/24) Only in this way can the tacit knowledge necessary to understand the working conditions of others be acquired, and the success of the product depends, to a large extent, on knowing how to see its intricacies through the eyes of those who will be using it. 148 While a certain amount of business and management literature exists concerning the many environmental factors impacting informal and incidental learning in the workplace, little attention has been given to this in the self-directed learning literature until recently (Foucher & Tremblay, 1993). However, it has been acknowledged that with the increasing importance of learning, rather than training, in the workplace, more research is now being done in this area (Jarvis, Holford & Griffin, 1998). As with other external elements contributing to self-directed learning in the workplace, it can be seen how these become more complex as autodidaxy moves from the individual learner to a group setting. In the workplace the environment is divided into the firm's macro-environment -market conditions and the economic circumstances in which small companies find themselves enmeshed - and the micro-environments within the firm which impinge on the learning occurring there, and finally the end-users' environments which affect the way in which the product is used or misused. In discussing the effect of these environments on the type of learning taking place within the workplace it cannot be stressed enough that self-directed learning will always take place, but unless the environment is conducive, such learning may not always be beneficial to the company concerned. Sereiuiipity. This word occurs frequently when researching learning on the leading edge, and applies not only to the creation and innovation of new products, but to the learning process of those in the workplace where much of the common knowledge, routine, and ways of doing things are learned serendipitously rather than intentionally (Candy & Crebert, 1991). Working together in groups or teams enables people to share ideas tacitly, and notice things incidentally which, when reflected upon, may trigger new insights. "Sometimes your brain has these blue flashes and relational adaptations that let you see something that is an opportunity that you're sort of tuned to" (T4 2/28). Serendipity is very often the result of organizing circumstances which cannot be foreseen or planned for. "I would say that there are some times when by total serendipity, you're wandering along, and you meet somebody, and you start talking. 'Hey, there's something', so an unplanned 149 interaction starts" (T4 1/25). Information flows freely around small firms as people tend to know one another and communicate informally, so that something said in a fleeting conversation may be the trigger linking previously unconnected ideas together, forming new knowledge. This confirms Candy's (1991) findings that serendipity is an important factor in informal learning. Chance meetings, offfiand comments, resources accidentally discovered or mentioned in conversation, tlie changing life circumstances all contribute to the form and extent of individual learning projects, and few if any oftfiese features could be anticipated or predicted at the beginning. Linked to this is the non-linear nature of such learning efforts, which often zigzag from one "organizing circumstance" to the next in an apparently random way. (p. 199) While serendipity is a frequent organizing circumstance in learning of any kind, where what is learned today may lead to deciding what should be learned tomorrow, methodology chapters oftlieses or the prefaces to published books frequently present an account of the research process which is elegant, precise and logically consistent. As anyone wlw has undertaken research ... knows, such impressive accounts tend to be post facto rationalizations of what is a liaphazard and often frustrating activity. Above all, the importance of serendipity -of a lucky, chance occurrence - receives no mention. (Brookfield, 1982, p. 114) This thesis, however, acknowledges its serendipitous beginning. While the community action study was a planned project for an M.A. thesis (Taylor, 1993), being a member of the workplace learning study team was a way to earn money as a doctoral student. Later when the workplace research had been completed and analyzed, similarities between the two studies became apparent. Only serendipity could have caused such a juxtaposition of what seemed to be unrelated research subjects. Indeed, it was held by some authorities in the past that learning serendipitously in this way was too chaotic to count as real learning (Brookfield, 1982), but since then there has been a shift in thinking which accepts that serendipity is potentially present in all learning contexts, not only those which are informal and non-institutional. Making the connection between serendipitous events is one way in which new knowledge is frequently created, and is often described as the ah-ha phenomenon. Tlie time is right. A l l small firms hope the time is right for them to be in the marketplace, especially when innovating products that may not yet have found their niche. If circumstances are such that technical ability, luck, hard work, good ideas, and general acceptance by the targeted end user all coincide, then small firms thrive. An example is the development of the personal computer. 150 When computers were first invented they took up an enormous amount of space, needed special air conditioned rooms, and were operated by experts. At that time it was believed that eight of these cumbersome machines would be sufficient for the whole of the United States - until technology developed the silicon chip, making computers very much smaller and more affordable, when suddenly they replaced office typewriters. Now few if any first-world workplaces could function without them. Many radically new inventions, however, do not get generally accepted by the target audience without a considerable amount of education first. One of the firms researched in this study developed an electronic navigation system which enabled real time readings of many marine features, replacing the more usual paper charts and other traditional navigational aids. But getting shipping companies interested, and more difficult still, trying to get seasoned mariners to change from well-tried ways which had stood the test of time for centuries, took a great deal of effort. Even fleets of modern cruise ships, with many other high-tech facilities on board, were reluctant to change a known navigation system which was working well, for the yet unknown, despite the new invention's many advantages. Thus, in order to make the time right, product developers must be teachers as well as learners, for as one innovator noted, "we don't know the full benefits of the system. We found those field testing our prototype would come back and tell us ways that they were using the system, advantages we hadn't even thought o f (T3 2/12), and it may be these unforeseen and unplanned uses which become the greatest selling point. Through education, demonstration, and application of their product in test markets, small firms work hard at making the time right for creating their own niche in the marketplace. These firms need to liaise with early adopters who will try something new, take risks, and then be prepared to lend their name to future advertising endorsements when products move from prototyping to marketing. Elements Internal to tlie Learner Autodidaxy in the workplace is somewhat akin to autodidaxy in community action, or any other group learning situation. Individuals are learning for their own satisfaction, and to increase their personal knowledge, skills, and abilities, not only for their own benefit, but in order to share 151 that knowledge with their colleagues in the workplace. The autodidact described in the self-directed learning literature is mostly learning for personal pleasure and benefit, or to solve problems. While they often share this knowledge with others having the same interest, or by teaching people who are not familiar with the subject, that is usually incidental to the main reason for their learning. In many group situations, whether in the voluntary or paid workforce, knowledge is acquired both for individual and group purposes and is shared deliberately, incidentally, and tacitly in the course of participating in those activities (Eraut, Alderton, Cole & Senker, 1997). Most of this learning is situated in the context in which it will be used (Rogoff & Lave, 1984), and is learned both from that context, and for the benefit of that context. Personal and group autonomy. As with learning in a community action group, individuals in the workplace are learning both for personal and group benefit. While they may not have chosen the specific subject matter for learning in the same way as the traditional autodidact, they have personally chosen to work in a field of interest which offers continual challenge and learning opportunities. In this way they fall within the definition of autodidact in that they are self-directed within the constraints of their place of employment. They are also self-organized insofar as they often have considerable choice as to how, where, when and with whom they work, although what they work on, and therefore learn about, is predetermined by the firm's product. Many small leading edge firms participating in this research gave their employees considerable autonomy to develop the product in accordance with agreed criteria, and in some cases their work is so specialized that they found themselves working, somewhat unwillingly, on their own. This leads to problems in that there is no-one with whom to share ideas or from whom to get feedback, and is felt to be taking autonomy just a bit further than most people in such situations are comfortable with. Vm one of the only people working in that area, and I draw mostly on my own experience. Pve been developing this software for about eleven years, maybe even more. So I've been focusing in this field all tliat time, and most of it is knowledge in my own brain. I learn on a need-to know basis. When I reach a problem I'll find textbooks or research papers, and try and find solutions to different problems. ...We do need to have more than just me getting this knowledge, ...we need to train other people. I need to transfer my knowledge to others ... then we could achieve results faster, and have more leverage and synergy, or whatever you want to call it, so it's a cliallenge. ...I implement tlie solutions myself, and 152 develop them to tlie point where you actually get a tangible result, so there's a feedback process that's always closed. ...Iknow in some studies tliey've identified that when two or three or four people develop systems you can often get higher quality results because of tfie communication that develops [between them]. (T3 3/21-23) Thus, it becomes apparent that being autonomous and able to be self-directed, self-organized and self-sufficient in the workplace is not always beneficial to the learning process, whereas the traditional autonomous individual autodidact does not necessarily need the same opportunities for working collegially and obtaining feedback to enrich the process. When groups or teams within the workplace are autonomous they organize their own learning within the pre-determined parameters of time, cost, and end product. This involves considerable interaction, learning from experience and also on occasion learning from necessity, resulting in a development of synergy, which seems to contribute considerably to innovation and creativity in workplace contexts. One firm making remotely operated submarine equipment believed strongly that the whole team, from software writers to engineers, should field-test their own work in the harsh conditions of reality, far away from the resources available in the office or their normal urban environment. / demand that everybody in tliese activities goes out in the field, so you've got to know how to run operations. And you can't sit in tlie ivory tower in the office and never see what kind of products you have. If you want to design stuff, you're gonna be responsible for it. The rain dripping down your nose and stuff like tliat. .... You can't imagine how excited these guys are that are going up to the Arctic, on the ice and snow for a whole month and a half. (T4 1/28, 2/2) If there are disasters, the team has to rely on their own abilities and resources to put things right, and are not only in full control of their problem solving process, but are held responsible for bringing the prototype back for re-evaluation. During one trial ...we went to sea with our prototype submersible. And the last day we were at sea, when I went out to be shown just how good it was, how it had improved over the trial period, right before my eyes it disappeared. It just - didn't come back. At 16 knots. It was lucky that I was there, because I jumped into a boat, and as the bubbles were coming up from it crunching on the way down, I threw a line down and marked tlie spot, and we liad it up the next day. It was totally destroyed. Then you've got to figure out what you're going to do about it to make sure it doesn't happen again! (T4 3/8) Small innovative workplaces often encourage teams to be autonomous, draw up their own work plans and processes, and while being responsible for their own actions and decisions, keep their colleagues informed at least at a general level, so that knowledge is shared, resources identified, 153 and unnecessary duplication of work avoided. Autonomy, in this context, is therefore constrained by the norms of group and workplace dynamics, but nevertheless within these limits which are tacitly, if not explicitly, agreed to by those who work in such situations, small innovative enterprises work organically and autonomously, rather than mechanistically and hierarchically, which formerly was often the management style of choice. Planned or unplanned learning. As in most contexts, all forms of learning are found in any entrepreneurial setting. Learning may be planned by anyone - within or outside the workplace, and may require the use of off-site educational resources, or on-site in-house organized training sessions or seminars. One firm sponsored several employees at university. .. .in two cases Vve liad Masters people llmt I felt tliat were good that might be looked down on a bit because they didn't have adequate degrees go to university and get degrees so that tliey wouldn't liave this problem (T4 3/18) Other firms encourage professional upgrading, or organize informal lunch-time study groups discussing a wide range of topics relevant to the work being done. We gave revenue to four irulividuals that were working on a project as a self-directed research and development fund. And that was to be used by them to move us into more interesting work areas, look into the future of technology, get to understand it, do lunch-and-learns on it, maybe put us in a position wliere we can talk to somebody and speak to them knowledgeably so tliat we can get work in this area. So that self-directed R&D programme is an experiment dial's just going on now. (CI 1/20; 1/22) Planned learning can also be at an informal, individual level as each person decides what they need to know and then seeks out that knowledge for themselves, in the same way as hobbyist . autodidacts who go about organizing their own projects. / might approach somebody in the lunchroom and ask him a quick question, or it may take a day in which case you schedule lime with tliem and talk with their manager or whatever to get some time put aside for me. So it really depends on the problem and tlie person. ... You sort of., .find out what has to be done to get the information. (Tl 2/11-12) As in all circumstances, many types of learning are intricately interwoven, and particularly so in a workplace where there are many resources in the form of people's individual knowledge bases, and cumulative organizational learning on which to draw. While training and other formal and non-formal learning opportunities are traditional ways of bringing learning into the workplace, tliere is tlie vast and varied panorama of informal, or accidental, learning tliat occurs in any organization - chatting to colleagues over coffee, picking up job-related information in team 154 meetings and staff groups, reading reports, newsletters, and memoranda, or undertaking research and discussions with others both inside and outside the organization in tlie course of "getting the job done". Research has shown that by far the most significant proportion of workplace learning occurs in this way - informally, on tlie job, ratlier than in specially designed training programmes. (Candy & Crebert, 1991, p. 573) In many of the leading edge businesses researched there were no formal, or even non-formal learning opportunities available as the knowledge created in these workplaces has not yet become part of any organized curriculum, and therefore everything must be both self-directed and self-organized. This includes all learning modules for in-house use, or the development of ongoing organizational data bases accessible to anyone who wishes to learn what has gone before. It is clear, therefore, that both planned and unplanned learning take place interdependently. In these small workplaces, training, as it normally refers to planned and other-organized educational sessions provided in a variety of ways, plays little or no part. It is recognized that work itself provides potential learning experiences, with none of the artificiality of tlie classroom attached. In a rapidly changing world, the workplace has therefore become an important site for learning. (Jarvis, Holford, Griffin, 1998, p. 57) Many of the people interviewed for this research gravitated towards these non-traditional workplaces because they are vibrant learning communities that offer many challenges. You learn things in the context of innovating. You could see that perhaps as a different kind of training effort, learning new things by doing them, but it's somew/iat different from providing the sort of foundation informal training. (W2 1/20) In some work areas a great deal of learning is necessarily tacit. Getting familiar with the feel of the work, knowing almost instinctively what is right or wrong after long experience in the trade, results in knowledge which is very difficult to pass on directly to others, it can only be acquired by working together and sharing learning experientially (Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995). The paint sliop is highly technical, but not from a theory or a book training point of view. A lot of it's feel, tlie way the paint performs from one day to tfie next. And it's the weirdest variable we have in the plant. I mean, it's controlled by weatlier, barometric pressure, temperature, humidity, everything. So every day is a little different, it really is. (W3 4/4) But for the learner, it is not very easy to pick up that knowledge because it consists of concepts which are difficult to put into words, but must be experienced on a personal basis. / came from an environment in which people were very skilled at describing knowledge and into an environment in which a lot of the knowledge was tacit... and tliose who appeared to have less didn't necessarily liave less knowledge, it's just that it was more tacit. Tliey could do just as much, but it was more difficult to extract that knowledge from 155 them for somebody who was used to the normal modes of expression or the university modes of expression tfiat I was used to. (CI 3/24) When tacit knowledge is lost as people leave, it is very difficult to replace. Certainly things like radio design is still a black art. And if we lost our two key radio desigtiers, new graduates could spend three years looking at all of their blueprints, but tfiey still wouldn 't be able to design a new radio. Tliey could maintain what we had, but they couldn't go out and design something brand new. (T l 1/12) People also learn by making mistakes (Smylie, 1995; Watkins & Marsick, 1992). You learn by going through tlie sequence, first working on the construction of one of these plants, and then the design. You learn very quickly what can be built and what can't, and what's practical and what's not. Sometimes you can be sitting in the office and thinking 'well, we can design it this way, or that way' and then when it actually gets to construction the contractor says 'oh, there's no way you can do that, you have to do it this way', and you sort of made a mistake, in a sense. (E2 2/27) This type of learning is never planned, but if mistakes were never made, much less learning would occur. It is therefore important that workplaces, where appropriate, encourage learning through experimentation and trial and error, where failure is not necessarily to be criticized, but seen an acknowledged part of the learning process. Critical reflectivity. Reflecting critically on what is being learned in the workplace, and how knowledge is being absorbed incidentally, tacitly, experientially, or through deliberate discussion and other self-directed means, is an essential aspect of learning in context. "It is possible to analyze workplace education and training as a negotiated adult educational process in which is embedded the possibility for critical reflection" (Brookfield, 1996, p. 889). Argyris and Schon (1978) refer to the results of critical reflectivity as double loop learning, which pro-actively questions the way in which problems are handled, how results were achieved, and considers how or whether the same problem could be addressed differently next time. Consequently, each project results in an accumulation of experiential learning, adding to both the personal and organizational knowledge on which a workplace builds its reputation. After tlie first two oftliese plants that we constructed I circulated a list around to the people involved and said if we liad to do this again, where were areas tfiat we could improve on. And I got a list about a page long, about 20 points on it. ...In this latest project that we've got under construction, we've tried to incorporate some oftliese ideas. So each design should get better and better. (E2 2/22) 156 Argyris and Schon (1978) refer to this type of reflection in retrospect, which results in a better process or product next time as reflection on action, whereas reflection in action, thinking on one's feet as the process progresses, may result in improvements being directly incorporated into current production. Innovation often comes from reflection in action as information comes from here and tliere, and you 're taking a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, and saying 'oh, it works over here'. It's just human innovation when you come up with new ideas on Iww to do things, and tlien try to do them better (W4 1/4). In both situations, further reflection on what has been learned adds to the firm's knowledge base for future use. Some of this reflection creates core knowledge which may not have immediate application, but "we do some things throughout the year that don't make us any money, but we learn from the knowledge. And that's worth more than money at times" (W3 5/6). While critical reflection is part of the way of life in non-traditional small firms, some occasionally slip into organizational complacency based on the assumption that if things are running smoothly, there is no need to change a good system. However, not to question routine work may lead to what Dougherty (1995) referred to as entrenched incompetence, illustrated by the following example: We 've twtlced tliat when products liave come back for a regular repair, or there's been a problem with it, it comes back and tliey go through a standard procedure to get it in, test it, calibrate it, align it, test it again, and ship it out the door. And tliey didn't stop to say what was really wrong with it. (T2 1/8) In this case single loop learning (Argyris & Schon, 1978), which only fixes a problem without reflecting critically on why it arose in the first place, resulted not only in the loss of business due to poor quality control, but in a noticeable drop in employee morale as they worked under excessively tight deadlines, which management had also failed to reflect on, resulting in shoddy product leaving the warehouse. In the workplace, critical reflectivity is often built into the learning process as small entrepreneurial businesses only survive if they are constantly critiquing their own management style, product development, and marketing strategies. However, there is often a lack of time for this to happen in a planned or formalized way, which in itself may lead to the firm's demise. One manager commented that 157 We could be doing courses, but at what price? Maybe tlie business wouldn't survive if we were off doing courses on a regular basis. That's something I have to be very careful of, it's no good going out and gaining knowledge if you don't have work to apply it to. So it's a bit of a balancing act liere. (W2 1/19-20) But at the same time it was acknowledged that time spent reflecting on the status quo was invaluable to the success of his firm. We try to get away every six monllis.. .for the weekend or something like that and business is the focus.... There is a lot of sharing of knowledge that goes on on those occasions, and some socializing as well. We've done it four or five times, and each time it's got better. We document, we keep notes, and we've come back with some fantastic ideas and changes tlmt we have implemented as a result of those getaways. We '11 rent a luxurious condominium, with a hot tub and a nice deck and we '11 buy a bunch of food so we don't have to go out too much. We'11 go out and liave a meal, do a little socializing, and sit around and be very relaxed and clmt. And we've a rule tlmt nobody is to ridicule anybody for stupid ideas, no matter how off-the-wall they tnay be, and it's been very productive. (W2 1/13-14) Time deliberately given to critical reflectivity may appear to be a luxury, whether on-site or elsewhere. However, small firms recognize the need to be responsive to their environments, which include working conditions, overall firm strategy and goals, methods of production, customer relations, end-user education, and many other aspects of running a business which are often learned experientially as owner/managers start out on their own, and then find themselves in a management position by default without any specific knowledge of the job. Critical reflection in small, innovative enterprises is therefore of considerable importance to their eventual success, for lack of sensitivity to what appear to be small details can accumulate to such an extent that they become insurmountable. Such reflection must take place both at a personal and an organizational level, and must be made explicit and shared in order to benefit fully from what is learned. Characteristics and personality traits. Whereas the individual characteristics and personality traits researched by Guglielmino (1977) and Oddi (1985) relate specifically to individual self-directedness, in the workplace people must not only be self-directed learners in themselves, but they must work collectively to encourage group and organizational self-directedness. Leading edge firms depend on their employees to be innovative, but individual creativity and a desire to learn 158 must not preclude working with other like-minded colleagues who are equally anxious to see their ideas come to fruition. Thus, the characteristics and personality traits required in the workplace are still those of the individual self-directed learner, but they must also include the ability to fit in with both existing employees and with the firm's goals and philosophies. Fit, it was found in this workplace research, was one of the most important factors considered when hiring staff. A harmonious workforce usually results in a synergy which comes from colleagues working together, sharing knowledge and ideas, which does not happen so readily in other circumstances. Fit is a many-layered concept in the workplace. Firstly management style must be appropriate for those who work together, "you fit the organization around the people. When you've got a team of extremely qualified, slightly prima donna-ish people, I believe that you look at their interpersonal dynamics, and you make the organization work around those dynamics" (Tl 1/10). Hiring must be done with fit in mind in order to maintain existing equilibrium. / started off doing the recruiting myself. At first I looked for somebody with experience in the industry. Quite frankly tliat was a dismal failure. I'm not a very effective recruiter. My foreman does all tlie hiring now, he told me 'stop hiring all these guys with industry experience, we have to teach them how to do the job anyway'.... What I realized is that the foreman had a better understanding of wliat I should be looking for. So I gave the whole thing up and let them do it. They are looking for somebody who has a minimal level of education, can read atui write and compre liens ion skills. And it would be nice if tliey have worked in this type of environment, but that's secondary. And of course all tlie other things - enthusiasm, family background, personal circumstances, do tliey fit liere? (W4 2/7) Fit was certainly given more importance than skills, ability, or accreditation in many firms, because those can be achieved as needed, but fit is a combination of personality characteristics which are not easy to inculcate or change, and requirements are different for every context. There's a person, I just looked at the c.v. last week, who has a tremendous range of companies, international, with the United Nations. Fabulous range, but there was very little personality. So It was ok, great experience, bring him in for interview, but if I have somebody downtown with a lot less experience that's local, and fit in nicely, I'd hire that person because ...Iknow it's going to work. (C2 4/19) One manager went so far as to say that even if Einstein himself applied for a position with the firm he would not be hired because he would not fit. People must not only fit in with each other, but also with the corporate culture, which in these small innovative firms can be very different from that found in traditional workplaces. It 159 therefore takes specific but often indefinable characteristics to be personally happy, find the job satisfaction which is very important to people working in these situations, and fit well with existing employees. Here again experience is not always the foremost hiring criterion.. We're not a structured environment, and it takes quite a special kind of person lo work here sometimes, and quite often you'll find people that lujve a lot of experience can't work under these situations. You definitely want experienced people, but sometimes the experience that they have can be a hindrance. (T3 1/11) While Guglielmino's (1977) Self-directed Learning Readiness Scale has determined which individual characteristics are likely to be found in self-directed learners, it is more difficult to assess the characteristics that make a workplace self-directed, as it depends on many variables, including the type of work being done, the style of management in operation, the interaction of colleagues, and the ability to work long hours under stressful conditions when needed. An important aspect of learning in small, informally-organized workplaces is the unimpeded flow of information. Knowledge is exchanged through casual conversation and "people are often impressed when they come into the building by a certain level of banter among people, but also a deadly serious focus on what they're doing" (Tl 4/28). It is not only the characteristics of individual employees that matter in creating good communication, it is also a result of good management, and the way in which the physical environment is created. Poor environmental characteristics include office buildings which preclude a flow of people through common areas, or which are divided between floors or spread between buildings thereby hampering the exchange of informal, incidental information through casual corridor conversations, which greatly enhance learning. Electronic communication also flows freely between colleagues who know one another and work well together, and can cross the barrier of distance, but in instances where hard feelings may have arisen between individuals, departments, or between employees and management, this beneficial flow is interrupted, perhaps inhibiting creativity as a result. A characteristic of a workplace where colleagues fit in all respects is synergistic learning, which is the result of varied experiences, ideas and information being pooled to create new knowledge and practices, and is a most valuable asset arising from working in groups or teams, where the total is greater than the sum of the parts. Synergy results from working in teams or 160 groups, where sharing knowledge is part of the routine way of doing things. Building in opportunities for so doing by providing common workspace, creating innovative work events, socializing, or organizing work retreats also help to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and information at all levels. Quite frequently the result of synergistic learning was referred to as magic. / give my partner a lot of credit for this. I almost think he borders on genius sometimes in that his ability to have a really far-reaching look at technology. Probably just to put that in line with the thought processes is that as we are developing technologies, the key is its performance cost effectiveness and real practicality have to be combined in such a way tliat the end product is a real winner. You can't over engineer it, or make it so sloppy that it's going to fall apart. It's this magical combination, when we were looking at how are we going to build these sensors. (T2 1/20) Another important characteristic of an innovative workplace is the mixing of academic skills, experiential knowledge, ingenuity, and inventiveness which comes from hiring people with appropriate but varied backgrounds. Part of the group synergy conies from expertise. Because there's so much to learn, people end up having little niches of knowledge. And so you get them all togetfier, and it's like the collective knowledge in terms of finding solutions. (CI 2/20) Good personal working relations are an essential component of the learning environment, especially in the small firms participating in this study, where most people know each other. As with many of the elements relating to self-directed learning in the workplace, there are numerous ways to make workplaces vibrant learning environments. People who choose to work in new and non-traditional settings are usually already self-directed individuals, who enjoy learning, and find working with other learners to be stimulating and satisfying. They are often creative and innovative, regarding both the product or process upon which their work is based, and the style of management by which the firm is organized. Workers on the leading edge enjoy challenges for which there are few known answers, relying on their own independence and initiative to find solutions. They also need to cope with crises and stressful conditions when things go wrong, or deadlines demand long hours of work. They must be flexible in accommodating to rapid changes of plan, as small firms often survive only by adapting to their external environments quickly when the need arises. They are, in terms of Houle's typology, learning and goal oriented, and in some 161 respects also activity oriented in that they choose their place of work to be socially conducive where possible. Those in non-traditional workplaces work not just for their paycheque, but for personal satisfaction, using their knowledge, being involved in an ongoing learning process, and applying that knowledge to the development of the product or process with which they are involved. Progressing up a career ladder is not one of the main attractions in this type of employment, as many prefer to move on to other work which increases their personal learning rather than their personal stature, for in most firms there is little or no career ladder, and development of expertise in the field is of greater exchange value than aspirations to a management position. "I don't think that the sense of progression worries me too much. What's much more important to me is the sense that what I'm doing is important to people" (CI 4 /9) . This analysis indicates that there are core personal and organizational characteristics required for self-directed learning in the workplace, but each firm also has specific additional expectations depending on their own particular needs. These characteristics vary from one type of workplace to another, so although some are shared, it would be meaningless to list them all without considerable explanatory discussion. Summary of External and Internal Elements Related to Learning in the Workplace Analysis of self-directed learning in workplace settings shows that there are several levels of learning occurring together. Firstly members of groups learn as individuals, and bring with them a wide variety of knowledge, expertise and life experiences. When shared with colleagues this accumulates either as tacit knowledge shared by a few, or is explicitly available to all as core knowledge, and while it may not be known by everyone, is generally accepted as common knowledge by most people. Looking beyond company boundaries, networking increases the sharing of knowledge across a wide range of members, including peers with close connections, those who provide the many forms of support small firms need, and the somewhat more distant contacts who are less frequently called upon but are nevertheless still valuable resources. This 162 learning trajectory is comparable to that experienced by the community action group, as discussed in Chapter 4. A noticeable difference between the traditional autodidact who embarks on an unending journey of discovery (Brookfield, 1983) and the autodidactic community activists or workplace innovators is that a major criterion of self-direction is to be in total control of all aspects of the learning project. Those in group settings may not personally have chosen the ultimate goal towards which they are working (Baskett, 1993), these are often the result of circumstance, but nevertheless members of such groups concur with that goal or they would not voluntarily elect to participate. However, even individual problem-solving autodidacts are not in control of all aspects of their learning, as is suggested by some definitions of autodidaxy. What triggers learning may result from external circumstances beyond their control, and the ensuing self-directed learning is often an attempt to take back control of those circumstances to the best of their ability. Nevertheless, once the trigger factor has been responded to, individuals, groups and organizations then become self-organizing and self-directed in the way in which they work towards their goals. In the workplace, and particularly in the high-tech sector, there are few, if any, examples to follow when products are on the leading edge and have no precedents to draw from. New knowledge often results from old knowledge being viewed differently, or by combining several familiar factors in such a way that new knowledge results, which Weick (1991) states succinctly as "same stimulus, different response" (p. 117). This is commonly rephrased now as thinking outside the box. Findings in these data support the assertions that people working in many of the firms researched certainly share the eight main characteristics of self-directed learners as stated by Guglielmino (1977), but there are also other factors at play in that they must be able to work with others who are similarly creative, and reflect on their work both in action and in retrospect in order to keep their product in the lead. Both firms and their employees must also be very flexible and adapt rapidly to changing market conditions, for that is often a contributing factor in keeping them 163 ahead of larger corporations which may not be able to react as easily. Learning in these settings is not just in preparation for work, learning is their work and is very contextual in that most of that knowledge cannot be learned anywhere else. What transpires in the way of learning is dependent upon the stock of knowledge available for sharing, and this is to some extent serendipitous, depending on who is hired and how they fit with their colleagues. Such stocks of knowledge consist not only of that which is learned in formal schooling, but are the result of individual life experience and ways of constructing reality. The learning resulting in any one small firm is very much conditioned by the way in which these factors form clusters of information and knowledge, and how this knowledge is used. One of the most important factors affecting learning in the workplace is the internal environment, which depends on many variables that determine whether employees learn for the benefit of the company, or for their own benefit in an attempt to remove themselves from an environment which they perceive to be unsupportive in some way. Externally, the environment also directs company goals, for most small enterprises are catering to niche markets which may change suddenly and unexpectedly, thus requiring careful monitoring of the situation and the ability to be flexible and respond quickly to new conditions. The further this discussion moves from the individual autodidact, the greater the chances for serendipitous happenings to occur, and the greater the butterfly effect, where small changes can have large ramifications which cannot be foreseen. That is not to say that all learning in this context depends on chance, for much proceeds in a normal, well-ordered way, but as more individuals are involved in any one context, bringing with them a range of knowledge drawn from infinite possible combinations, it can be seen that while much can be planned for, there is a greater possibility of serendipity and synergy in groups than at the individual level, where autodidacts are often working in less socially-oriented situations. Both the external and internal factors discussed in this chapter refer to individual, organizational, and network learning, and as these three systems are intricately interwoven, their 164 effects cannot be separated in order to make analysis easier or the results clearer. They are, however, still based on those outlined in Chapter 3, but are elaborated upon as the context changes, in order to illustrate both the learning process and the effect of group dynamics upon that learning. In summary, the president of one company described workplace learning as "Real World 101, where the rubber hits the road" (T4 3/12). Comparing Community Action with Workplace Learning In order to compare participation in community action with workplace learning it is necessary to discuss these two apparently unrelated contexts in order to appreciate their similarities and differences. Firstly, they appear to be complete opposites in that one is a conflict situation, challenging the status quo, while the other seems to be working within the system and is neither conflictual nor confrontational. However, that is not always the case, as small enterprises develop their own individual cultures which are often in conflict with more traditional business settings, and if taken over by large corporations, there can be considerable culture clashes which may result in turmoil. Even if they are not taken over, they still have to conform with mainstream business culture on the outside, while maintaining their own unique environment on the inside (DiMaggio & Powell, 1983; Weick, 1985). Without this outward appearance of conformity, communications could be difficult. Secondly, like community action, where each conflict situation creates specific learning demands for which there is no handbook or manual, small businesses on the leading edge do not have models to follow. These enterprises are creating new products and services, and are moving in uncharted territory most of the time. Also like community activists, they are both pro-active in taking control of their environment, and at the same time reactive to that environment which to some extent shapes their strategies for survival and success. People involved in both contexts must be flexible, able to take advantage of unforeseen opportunities if they occur, and cope with frequent crises which are an integral fact of life in those settings. 165 Thirdly, in the course of comparing community action group learning dynamics with those found in small entrepreneurial workplaces, it appears that workplace learning, as it emerges from this study, follows much the same pattern as the community action group, but further extends Kasl et al's (1997) model beyond that discussed in Chapter 4, elaborates on the understanding of communities-of-practice described by Wenger and Snyder (2000), and suggests that autodidaxy as defined by Candy (1991) applies not only to individuals, but also to groups and organizations as entities in their own right. Social action groups and small non-traditional businesses therefore have much in common which affects the way in which learning happens in each context. Summary This chapter compares data collected in small, entrepreneurial workplaces with data from a community action group. Development of group cohesiveness and group dynamics follows much the same pattern in the small workplaces participating in this particular research project as was evident firstly in Kasl et al's model, and secondly in the community action group. The workplace learning study also provided evidence of the way in which communities-of-practice not only participated in the action, but became a source of interaction, synergy and knowledge exchange. This extends the model discussed in Chapter 4 to a wider participation beyond the immediate audience, to include those who are peripheral participants and come from many different backgrounds. This extensive pool of knowledge and networks is one of the less visible assets of those working in small firms, who might at first appear to have limited contact with the world beyond their own boundaries. The way in which continuing learning takes place in these small firms seems to contradict a noticeable trend in recent workplace research into educational strategies of large corporations. As many firms participating in this study were involved with leading edge technology, albeit not necessarily in the high-tech field, there was little opportunity for those involved to learn through formal, institutional education as they were creating new knowledge which had not yet been codified. Consequently, most of their learning took place on the job through individual self-166 directed learning, or from colleagues, and by means of in-house seminars organized on an informal basis when there was something of interest to be shared. Even if there were courses available, many employees work irregular hours, and those acting in administrative capacities also feel that they cannot afford to be away from work for more than a short time. Community action groups and small innovative workplaces may appear at first to be very different, but comparison of learning strategies and group dynamics shows that they are not only very similar, but may have much to learn from each other about reaching target audiences, selling a product or point of view, and getting the support of those who may otherwise be reluctant participants. These findings are now drawn together through the discussion following in Chapter Six. CHAPTER SIX 167 DISCUSSION This study asks firstly how the concept of self-directed learning is currently understood in the literature and how it is evolving as a result of further research. Secondly how does group self-directed learning differ from individual self-directed learning, and how can such groups be described as self-directed? The answers to these questions come from an extensive literature review, analyzed in Chapter 3, which shows how the overall concept of self-directed learning is presently represented. They also came from a review of two field studies, researched for other purposes and completed prior to the preparation of this thesis. Examination of these studies showed that while certain attributes of self-directed learning evident in group settings were briefly mentioned in the literature, they were not explored in depth or researched further. Re-analysis of the field study data indicates that self-directed learning becomes more complex as it progresses from an individual to a group context, requiring a different understanding of the concept from that which presently exists. This study has concentrated on autodidaxy in particular, rather than self-directed learning in general, and the difference between these two terms has been discussed throughout this work. Thus, the findings relate almost entirely to that area, which has been less researched than self-directed learning in the formal sector. Overview The literature review revealed that: • much of the seminal literature concerning self-directed learning is quite old, but nevertheless is still heavily relied upon by present researchers. This is confirmed by Donaghy, Robinson, Wallace, Walker and Brockett (2002). As more research focuses on informal and lifelong learning, some aspects of self-directed learning are now being included within these areas (see the NALL research project recently conducted by OISE). 168 a great deal of research is going on, much of which concerns theory building, self-directed learning in formal educational institutions, use of instruments, and verification studies; the field of research is very broad and fragmented, each researcher following their own particular interests, resulting in a wider but perhaps not a deeper understanding of the concept; the concept of self-direction in North America is generally understood to relate to individual learners, rather than groups. From the two field studies it was found that the terms autodidact and autodidaxy have considerably wider meanings than are currently found in the literature; groups can be as self-directed as individuals; there is a progression in complexity as the process of self-directed learning moves from individual to group settings; the community action group study showed the first part of this progression, and the workplace learning study extended this progression further; the practical dynamics of self-directed learning manifested by individuals and groups in these particular circumstances is made clear by both studies, and these may be generalized to some extent to other similar settings; self-directed learners in group settings may share the workload by dividing it into individual areas of responsibility, but work co-operatively, continually sharing what they know. They use any available network to increase their knowledge catchment area, putting to rest the myth perpetuated in some literature that individual self-directed learners are completely isolated, working entirely alone, without assistance of any kind. 169 D i s c u s s i o n The above overview of findings is now discussed in more detail, and linked together in order to draw conclusions and answer the research questions. Findings from the Literature Several findings emerge from an extensive review of the self-directed learning literature. The first concerns the age of much of the literature itself, while others relate to the way in which self-directed learning is defined by the authorities, and the creation of a typology which takes the present plethora of terms, consolidating them into three main groups for easy comparison and a clearer understanding of what is included in the concept of self-directed learning. Datedness of die literature. The datedness of the self-directed learning and related theoretical literature is very noticeable. However, that which is considered seminal is still being widely used, regardless of date of publication, since there has been little to supersede it. Works of Dewey and Lindeman from the 1920s are still very pertinent, as is Lewin's force-field theory (1951) and Bandura's social learning theory (1977). Other influential works are those of Houle (1961), and Tough (1967, 1971). The latter, although controversial, are the basis of many subsequent studies which brought self-directed learning to the forefront of research at that time. Guglielmino's Self-Directed Learning Readiness Scale (1977) remains one of the classic instruments in the field, and is still prompting many studies in a variety of contexts and cultures. Oddi's work on personality traits shown by self-directed learners dates back to 1985, but is continually cited nevertheless. Other scales have also been developed, but are not referred to in this discussion as they are less relevant. Knowles' (1970) groundbreaking work on andragogy was followed by subsequent elaboration and expansion on that theme. He was one of the first to write a guide (1975) for both teachers and learners interested in promoting self-directedness in learners. Caffarella (1986) is an authority on encouraging self-direction through the use of learning contracts, and Brockett and 170 Hiemstra (1991) researched self-directed learning mainly in formal educational contexts. Long (various) has been working consistently to clarify the concept of self-directed learning itself, and through annual International Self-directed Learning Symposia has provided a forum for further research and publication covering many aspects of the subject, thereby encouraging ongoing study in the field. Brookfield has continually published on topics related to individual self-directed learning in informal, non-institutional settings, in community action, and in the political arena since his work on independent learners was published in 1982. However, with the exception of the New Approaches to Lifelong Learning (NALL) project, there are few others who are analyzing informal self-directed learning from an adult education viewpoint. Berger (1990) did an in-depth study of autodidactic learners with no formal education beyond high school, following them through their projects to investigate their learning paths and processes. She found, as did Brookfield and others, that in these instances learning was often unplanned and ongoing, being determined to a great extent by organizing circumstances as described by Spear and Mocker (1984). Candy was a major contributor to the field of self-directed learning research having published many articles, culminating in a book (Candy, 1991) resulting from his Ph.D. thesis (1988). This has become the definitive work on autodidaxy. However, since that time he has left this area of research and has published very little. Tough was another great loss to the further development of self-directed learning literature, moving away from academic work into other areas, including participation in the SETI project to search for extra-terrestrial intelligence. Among the major authorities, Brockett, Brookfield, Hiemstra, and Long are still very active, but there have been few major publications or the appearance of seminal works since those mentioned above, which explains why so much of the literature referred to, especially in Chapter 3, appears to be dated. A considerable amount of research is currently being published, much of which concerns theory building, self-directed learning as a teaching technique or otherwise set in formal educational contexts, or involves testing for various aspects of self-directedness using the 171 many instruments available. While these works were reviewed for this study in order to get a complete understanding of the concept, they do not form part of the literature base for this thesis, which focuses on self-directed learning in community and workplace contexts. Many theorists have investigated individual elements making up the concept of self-directed learning, but there seems to be a lack of works drawing these elements together to show how they interact and affect not only the way in which learning takes place, but also the resulting outcomes. There also seems to be a scarcity of research concerning self-directed learning in the community as a normal occurrence of everyday life, and less still regarding self-directed learning as a function of political action at the grassroots level. Boggs (1986), Holford (1995), Foley (1999) and Linton (1977), among others, describe learning in social action, but have not analyzed that learning in any depth. While there is considerable interest in individual self-directed learning in the community, there is comparatively little literature in this area. Brookfield (1983) stated that "students of adult learning in the community are entering largely uncharted research waters" (p. 6). That was written almost twenty years ago, but it is still true today. Research concerning learning in the workplace is much more current. The workplace is now acknowledged as a site of learning in its own right, that work is learning, and much of the learning taking place in today's workplace is experiential. Formal training still has an important place in larger corporations, but as the information economy increases its share of the market, training by learning on the job in many small businesses is exceeding training in the more generally accepted sense of organized education in preparation for work, where work and learning are often separated. In many workplaces today learning and work are inseparable, and this is where a considerable amount of research is being focused. Evidence of this is seen in the ongoing studies being published regularly, many of which build on theories of situated learning or situated cognition which first appeared in the 1980s. However, it must be pointed out that much workplace learning research concerns management, rather than the non-managerial employees with which this thesis is mainly concerned. 172 While research investigating informal learning in management, workplace learning, social action, community development, and the inclusion of informal learning in prior learning assessment is available, it is widely dispersed throughout the literature relating to these areas. This makes it more difficult to access than when it could mostly be found in educational libraries, for keyword searches do not always match the very wide-ranging categories through which the most recent literature is now scattered. Much is available online, but despite easy access to the worldwide web, whether or not the latest research is found depends entirely on the researcher's search strategies and tenacity in pursuing possible leads. Definitions emerging from tlie literature. Definitions of self-directed learning emerging from the literature are many, as discussed in Chapter 3, from which it appears that the concept as a process can be divided into two segments. The first concerns self-directed learning in situations permitting varying degrees of personal control over the learning process, mainly found in formal or non-formal contexts. The second concerns self-directed learning in informal contexts, often referred to as autodidaxy, where learners have control of all, or almost all aspects of their learning process, remain outside formal educational institutions, and are not seeking accreditation of their knowledge. It is with this area that this thesis is chiefly concerned. Autodidacts, in North American literature, are usually understood to be autonomous individuals, learning for pleasure and personal interest, often involved in projects which may last a lifetime. Others become autodidacts in order to solve problems or deal with personal crises, where projects are finite and time specific, learning what they need to know when they need to know it. Although this just-in-time learning has not been researched as much as that of the hobby learner, it is an increasingly necessary skill as life becomes more challenging and fast-paced. In summary, definitions in the current literature are confusing as they look at the same concept from many different points of view, and while there is a group of well-known seminal works and authors in the field of self-directed learning, their numbers are not increasing noticeably. Although a great deal of research is still being done, it seems to be somewhat 173 VI O 3 O O « 1 W •= 2 U <u X I s « a, 3 O oo 00 e O *-• '3 o c w a t« JD "3 s '— o aniz info pect in the t« H w in the all, a CJ ^ *-> 9 B main almo TOD earne TOD earne cess o cess "3 a. of tS 00 "o a o! o c o •o '> -•5 u X 174 fragmented, thus widening the field, but not necessarily adding depth. This fragmentation seems to stem from the fact that many studies are derived from the works of early researchers such as Guglielmino, Hiemstra, Knowles and Tough, who all placed considerable emphasis on various aspects of organized learning, mainly in formal settings. There is less literature based on the informal, invisible learning which Tough described as 80% of adult learning activities. These are not criticisms, but noticeable trends in the present literature, as researchers try to define and analyze a concept which, like a hydra, has many heads. Livingstone (2001) states that self-directed learning is "most simply understood as learning that is undertaken on the learner or learners' own terms without either prescribed curricular requirements or a designated instructor" (p. 2 of downloaded document). Findings from this study suggest that this statement should be shortened to define self-directed learning from a practical perspective as "learning that is undertaken on the learner or learners' own terms," for autodidactic learners who choose to become facilitated self-learners by enrolling in formal or non-formal courses are still learning "on their own terms" within the parameters set by the demands of the context and the providing institution. Typology emerging from the literature. As a result of analysis of the literature and the field studies, and in response to Hiemstra's plea to simplify the semantic chaos currently existing in the self-directed learning literature, this thesis proposes that not only the process through which learning takes place should be described by the concept of self-directedness, but that the context is also an important part of that description. As has been argued earlier, the literature refers to learners, self-directed learners, and autodidacts, and the emerging three-stage typology, shown schematically in Figure 3, deconstructs each of these terms in turn. The first stage divides the term learners into two groups, those who are self-directed, and those who are not. Secondly, self-directed learners themselves can also be divided into two groups, facilitated self-learners and autodidacts. The third stage shows that autodidacts also form two groups; those for whom intervening organizing circumstances control some part of their 175 learning process, and Candy's typical autodidacts who have total control of all aspects of their learning throughout the project. The former category can include groups such as community activists or workplace learners who are working towards a collectively agreed goal, whereas the latter usually consists of individual hobby learners who may associate with groups, but that group will probably not have a common goal towards which all are working together. The categories used in this typology are dynamic as learners can move back and forth between them throughout the course of their learning projects. People can be a facilitated self-learner in one context and at the same time also be an autodidact in a slightly different context. Within formal and non-formal contexts, informal and incidental learning will always be occurring concurrently in the same place. Conversely, in the informal or autodidactic context there may be little or no contact with either formal or non-formal educational institutions, but this interaction is not excluded. The literature divides learners between those who are self-directed and those who are not, and this typology refers to the latter as otlier-directed learners in oilier-organized contexts. Learners may be in this category because they are required to gain certain specified knowledge by those in authority, and they have chosen to abdicate all responsibility to the educational providers throughout the learning process. No-one can learn for anyone else, but other-directed, other-organized learners will do only what is required of them at the time. These learners may at some time move into the self-directed learner category, taking some responsibility for the breadth and depth of their learning, even if much is still controlled by others. Once learners cross the bridge from being other-directed to being self-directed, they probably will not reverse that change; however, the literature gives examples of circumstances in which this may happen (Eisenman, 1990; Eraut, 1994). Most pre-school children are very self-directed in their learning, but once they enter a school system which does not always encourage self-directedness, students will comply with requirements and often become other-directed and other-organized for the duration of their school experience. This change may also occur in 176 adulthood, when people participate unwillingly in formal or non-formal courses required of them by authority as a condition of employment or obtaining social benefits. The second stage of this typology shows two forms of self-directed learners. One describes facilitated self-learners who have chosen to learn through formal or non-formal education, and the other describes autodidacts who informally follow their own individual pursuits. These two categories are fluid and interactive. The facilitated self-learner who is already learning in an other-organized context may further pursue that knowledge autonomously in an informal context before, during, or after participation in their educational endeavours. Autodidacts, on the other hand, may become facilitated self-learners if they find suitable formal or non-formal courses on a topic of choice, and will choose to conform with the requirements of those who organize and evaluate the curriculum in order to advance their own knowledge. They will also decide not only at what point to return to learning in an informal context, but when or if to participate in further courses should they become available. As Pratt (1988) has indicated, people vacillate between these two categories throughout their lives, and may be participating in both forms of self-directed learning at the same time. The third stage of this typology then deconstructs autodidactic learning, which until now has been defined as learning in the informal sector, over which the learner has complete control. However, this research shows that while autodidactic learning is informally conducted, even these learners do not always have complete control over their projects. Workplace learners and community activists, among others, are meeting goals set by organizing circumstances beyond their individual control, in which they have nevertheless made a personal choice to be involved. In these settings, groups as entities formed for the purposes of achieving community or workplace goals also fall within the autodidactic category, as they are autonomously directing and organizing all other aspects of their own learning. Those autodidacts who have complete control of all aspects of their individual projects are often hobby learners, following a personal interest. While these people may be members of a group or organization connected with that interest, that group is usually not working towards a collective goal in the same way as those who are involved in 177 community action or workplace learning. Thus this typology not only simplifies the present conceptual and semantic confusion, but adds further clarification to the term autodidact, which appears in the present literature to be as confusing as the term "self-directed learner". Findings from the Field Studies One major finding is the importance of setting self-directed learning in context in order to understand the different forms more clearly, as shown in Figure 3 above. Learning context. In a matrix based on Houle's (1961) learning typology, Candy's (1991) concept of locus of control, and Coombs' (1985) definitions of formal, non-formal and informal learning, autodidacts are found throughout each of Houle's three categories, being learning, goal and/or activity oriented. Autodidaxy is generally associated with informal rather than formal or non-formal contexts. There are exceptions, however, as autodidacts may participate in both formal and non-formal education as facilitated self-learners if doing so forms part of their personal learning project. These people are referred to by Penland (1977) as combination learners, and the workplace study illustrates instances of oscillating between formal education and informal autodidact learning. In these examples either a higher degree was sought, or some form of accredited coursework was required, if such was available, to complement what was being learned informally on the job. The majority of learning in community action or in the workplace can be described as everyday experiential autodidactic learning in an informal setting. For the most part this is goal and/or learning oriented, although as shown by the community action study, there is also an element of activity orientation as newcomers join not only to work for the cause, but as a way of getting to know their neighbours. A major finding from the two field studies is that although those learning together in groups, either for community action or in the workplace, may not have complete autonomy over their learning within certain parameters elaborated on earlier, they are both self-organized and self-directed in reaching their goal. This thesis therefore suggests that they are, by definition, autodidactic. They are not other-organized, in that these groups are independent of outside 178 authority, and they are not other-directed as they are completely in charge of their learning process and, within constraints discussed elsewhere, otherwise fall within the description of autodidaxy. Thus, these studies found that the terms autodidact and autodidaxy need to be re-defined to include self-organized, self-directed groups found in many community and workplace settings. Groups can be self-motivated, they set and achieve their own goals, decide within limits what they need to learn and when, and have full control of their learning project in the same way as individual autodidacts. Evaluation comes in community action in the form of acceptance by the public who may join in the action, or work for the group. Workplace learning is evaluated in terms of creating a successful product and gaining a niche market, and is manifested in the support shown by customers and end users. The elements within self-directed learning discussed throughout this thesis become more complex as the number of variables increase in group settings, and possible interactions between those variables become almost infinite. It must be acknowledged that both community group and workplace learning present very different contexts from those reported in most of the self-directed learning literature, which has concentrated mainly on learning in formal educational settings. Group learning dynamics. As learning moves from the individual to a group setting, the dynamics become more complex, as shown in Table 3 overleaf. Individual learners seek knowledge, find resources, and eventually reach their goal. In group learning situations individuals become informed, sharing their knowledge with the group, which then benefits from a growing pool of individual knowledge. This gradually develops a central core of knowledge that builds into group memory and is added to further as this process continues. The next stage shown by both field studies is that, once the group becomes knowledgeable as an entity, each member shares a considerable amount of common knowledge. They are then in a position to share that knowledge with the community at large, whether that is local residents in community action, or customers, suppliers and end-users in the workplace, thereby encouraging other individuals or groups to also become self-directed learners. So the chain of autodidaxy extends far from the individual, through 179 the group, and on to other individuals or groups that may otherwise not have been involved in autodidactic learning of this kind in the normal course of events. Table 3 Increasing complexity as autodidaxy moves from individual to group settings. Hobbv learners Community Action Groups Innovative Workplace learners > > —_> increasing complexity in learning dynamics > > > > find their own resources individuals find own resources individuals find own resources learn what they want to know learn what they want to know learn what they want to know share knowledge with group members share knowledge with colleagues attain their goal group uses knowledge collec-tively to achieve goal by deliberately group uses knowledge to innovate products or processes for sale may teach others by sharing knowledge incidentally rather than as part of their reason for learning • lobbying • teaching the general public • encouraging public to become self-directed in acquiring further infor-mation for themselves share learning with peers, customers, end-users beyond company boundaries in an informal community-of-practice Ongoing learning results in further development and innovation of product May eventually use knowledge to provide educational and tech-nical support for product users While the self-directed learning literature still often describes the North American autodidact as a rugged individualist, an impression that Brookfield and Long, among others, have been trying to dispel throughout their work, these field studies support the position that learning is very much a co-operative venture, even for autodidacts who may be studying obscure subjects. Networks are vitally important to learners, whether as individuals or members of a group. By contacting others, including those beyond the learner's area of interest, ideas are generated. This supports Dixon's 180 findings (1997) that heterogeneity of thinking, rather than homogeneity, gives rise to discussion, brainstorming, or critical reflection, thus furthering learning. There are occasions, such as that illustrated in Chapter 5, where a technician working on high-tech navigational equipment had no peers within his workplace. He frequently stated throughout the research interview that he found himself in what he described as a closed learning loop, and wished it were otherwise. Since there were few, if any, colleagues in his accessible networks with an understanding of his innovative work, he had to rely on his own abilities. Although surrounded by colleagues in the workplace, none of whom shared his knowledge or expertise, he nevertheless appeared to be intellectually isolated, but he is very much the exception to the rule. Transfer of academic learning to the real world of work. These findings spotlight a discussion which has been ongoing for many years in the field of education, concerning what Resnick refers to as worrisome discontinuities between learning in school and the nature of cognitive activity outside school... [in that] traditional schooling focusses on individual, isolated activity, on unaided thought, on symbols correctly manipulated but divorced from experience, and on decontextualized skills [that] may be partly responsible for ... repeated failure to demonstrate transfer across situations. (1989, p. 175) Times have changed since that was written. Although work within the school system at all levels may now include more group and co-operative activities, evaluation is still very competitive and individual, whereas learning outside the formal education system less often demands such conditions. There may be considerable competition between groups for contracts, grants, or a share of the marketplace, but learning within those groups is likely to be co-operative and collegial. Certainly individuals working alone in confrontational contexts challenging community values or bureaucratic decisions are less likely to be successful than those who organize and form groups, as illustrated by the community action discussed in Chapter 4. Both of these field studies, therefore, add further to the literature refuting the belief that self-directed learners work in isolation from the world around them. Some university courses have been based on the theory of situated cognition in presenting a problem-based learning approach to formal study, exemplified by the medical school at McMaster 181 University, among others. This brings to the formal learning context an informalized way of learning, facing real-world problems and conditions and linking them with the theoretical knowledge with which universities are more traditionally associated. While this approach is still not widely used, this thesis provides an understanding of informal learning dynamics which may in part transfer to more formal settings, in the same way that Knowles instigated group learning, which was a relatively new process at that time. Marsick and Volpe state that "if there is to be a formal approach to supporting informal learning, it is important to discover how informal learning actually works" (1999, p. 3), which appears to suggest that informal learning could be improved by formalizing it in the same way as self-directed learning has been brought into the academic fold from its natural informal environment. However, this thesis suggests that Marsick and Volpe's statement should be reversed, agreeing with Candy's call for the informalization of formal learning. If educators seek to help learners to be able to learn outside of formal settings, part of the answer is probably to make the formal setting as much like the natural one as possible. This does not mean simply the physical appearance or social formality of the educational context, but trying to make tlie act of learning itself comparable to the learning undertaken in everyday settings. (1991, p. 144) This analysis of the interaction of elements promoting self-direction may provide some tools to help create a more natural learning environment, thus narrowing the gap referred to by Resnick (1989) which still seems to exist. People learn for a variety of reasons. Many choose to continue their learning through the formal system, and it is not suggested that this should be dismantled and informalized. However, self-directed learning as a teaching technique, and as a tool in guided or facilitated self-learning, is very different from both the individual and group autodidaxy discussed throughout this thesis, and it may be possible to successfully blend the best of both. Church (2000) suggests that the comprehensive N A L L study recently completed researching informal adult learning is "identifying ways in which formal learning structures and informal learning experiences can be coupled so that they are mutually reinforcing under the control of the learners to the greatest extent possible" (p. 19 of downloaded document), although no concrete examples are identified. 182 It is significant that those interviewed maintained that learning both in their workplace and in voluntary groups of all sorts should remain outside any formalized system unless intervention is specifically requested by participants. Larger firms have budgets for training expenses, yet in the workplaces that were part of this study participants reported that most learning was self-initiated, self-directed and not a product of the formal sector, as such knowledge has not yet become part of any educational curriculum. The small firms researched often used their training budget for conference expenses, participating in trade shows, or other ways in which situated learning could be encouraged through networking, informally and incidentally, rather than for organized educational activities either in-house or off site. Comparison of elements in individual and group learning. Many of the elements in group autodidaxy must be viewed differently from the way they are depicted in the literature referring to individual autodidacts. For example, Chene (1983) defined autonomy as individual control in setting rules and choosing what knowledge has personal value. In a group context, autonomy is tempered by rules often set as a result of circumstances beyond the group's control, but the group nevertheless still remains both self-organized and self-directed within those parameters. Networks are more extensive in group settings, as there are more people participating, each with their individual networks as well as networks in which the group as a whole is involved. Similarly with stock of knowledge, which is as varied as the participants of the group themselves, thus providing broader and deeper resources for access by all than is available to the individual autodidact. In each context researched in this study, learning was both planned and unplanned. The individual autodidact can afford to be guided by organizing circumstances in a somewhat serendipitous way, but both community action and workplace learning call for clear goals decided at the outset, and learning processes that are carefully planned. However, in each case there must be enough organizational flexibility to incorporate whatever advantages incidental and unplanned 183 events may bring, and groups must also be able to learn their way out of whatever crises may occur to disrupt their plans. The environment in which learning takes place differs greatly from individual to group learning, and may have a profound effect on both the course that learning takes, and the eventual outcome. Individuals can often control their learning environment to a much greater degree than those in group settings. Activists find themselves in groups, learning experientially, because of environmental problems, whatever aspect of environment that may involve. Those at the grassroots level in a community or workplace context will bring their several skills and abilities to bear in order to right perceived wrongs impinging on their lives individually or as a member of the commons. There has always been activism in the workplace, and in any community individuals see the power of organizing as a way of achieving change in the society in which they live. Every community action group faces different problems and every small innovative workplace has its own characteristics. Combining the extant literature referred to earlier with findings reported here shows that there is much which could be described as generic to all community actions, and likewise, there are many similarities among small workplaces, even though that may not initially appear to be so. It is therefore suggested that many aspects of this thesis are transferable to similar contexts, but it is left to the reader to make such connections with their own experiences. The status of knowledge learned informally. Beliefs held by Verner, Little, and others, referred to in Chapter 3, that knowledge learned beyond the range of professional adult educators, without adequate guidance and support, is of little value to society, and will be inefficient, difficult, or doomed to fail (Brookfield, 1983) are no longer tenable. This has been demonstrated by this analysis of learning both in a community and small innovative workplaces. The community action group research showed that there was a great deal of informal autodidactic learning occurring both within the core group of activists and among local residents, as all became very knowledgeable about the perceived environmental problems around which their action was centered. As has been 184 noted in the literature, such learning is often not recognized even by the learners themselves (Livingstone, 1999) as knowledge is acquired as a by-product of participation in the action. While much of this learning is deliberately pursued and self-directed in order to mount a successful campaign, it often remains unrecognized until there is an opportunity to reflect back on the action. Whereas most learning emanating from an acknowledgedly professional source is usually readily accepted because of its place of origin, that which is learned in the community does not have the same prestige. "Socially-useful knowledge and skills learned through traditional means may be forgotten, undermined or marginalized in the course of individual or community efforts to meet the demands of formal schooling or training programs" (Wotherspoon & Butler, 1999, p. 2). Educational authorities are trying to create a better balance by enabling those with experiential knowledge to put it to the test by way of prior learning assessment procedures, but that is still academizing informal learning rather than giving it greater credence for what it is. This point is emphasized by Billett (2001) in his research into situated learning in the workplace, and echoed by Church (2000) who states that "the dominant paradigm tends to totally discount and dismiss learning and experience which is not formally credentialized" (p. 16 of downloaded document). Billett believes that the workplace is as legitimate a learning site as formal educational institutions, and maintains that the learning taking place in such informal settings is not only appropriate for the context, but must be acknowledged as different from, but as valid within its own environment, as that which is learned in formal settings. Rather than equating workplace learning with credentialled learning through the process of prior learning assessment, each form of knowledge should be accepted as of value in itself in its appropriate environment. This present study adds to Billet's plea for viewing alternative learning sites as valid in their own right and suggests that the enormous amount of knowledge acquired by individuals working together in many different community-based groups has specific experiential depth and richness probably not attainable through more formal means. These groups are, like small informal workplaces, valid sites where learning takes place deliberately, experientially, incidentally and tacitly. However, the political facet of community action adds one further dimension to self-185 directed learning in these contexts in that it could become "one of the most politically charged Trojan Horses in the field of adult education" Brookfield (1993, p. 233). An educated citizenry has always been one objective of education for all, aimed at maintaining the status quo. However, as times change, there is rising social unrest as people become autodidactic learners in order to challenge the status quo and power of authority, for example in exercising their democratic rights to question governments and the trend towards globalization of trade. In this respect, autodidaxy, like many other aspects of education, has become a two-edged sword which must be reckoned with by those against whom the sword is drawn. Answers to Research Questions Having amassed evidence from the self-directed learning literature, and from field studies on community action and learning in small innovative workplaces, the findings can now be marshalled to provide answers to the questions set at the beginning of this study, and some conclusions drawn concerning the re-definition of autodidaxy to include group, as well as individual, learners. Tlie concept of self-directed learning: how it is understood, and how it is evolving. This question has two parts, asking firstly how the concept of self-directed learning is presently understood, and secondly how it is evolving as a result of further research. While the current understanding of the concept is both complex and confusing, it appears that the process of self-directed learning is divided into two main contexts. Much of the literature sees self-directed learning as a matter of taking control, to a greater or lesser extent, of one's learning process within formal educational settings, referred to in this thesis as facilitated self-learning in other-organized contexts. A smaller portion of the literature concentrates on individual learners following their own interests on a somewhat unplanned journey of unending discovery, being led through the maze of potential opportunities by organizing circumstances, where what is learned today may become the trigger for what is learned tomorrow. This is the individual learning referred to in the literature as autodidaxy, and described here as self-directed learning in self-organized contexts. 186 Confusion has arisen because the literature refers to those whose learning may be organized and guided by others as self-directed, while autodidacts are similarly included in the same category. However, as Long (1991, 1994) points out, these two circumstances are entirely different, requiring not only different descriptions of the learning processes involved, but an acknowledgement that the degree of personal control within those learning processes is also different. Consequently there has been a proliferation of definitions as researchers continually try to clarify the concept by fragmenting it into ever smaller sub-concepts. Self-directed learning as it is currently defined can be found anywhere from formal educational institutions to everyday learning in the community as an outcome of what Tough referred to as self-teaching, or what Brookfield called independent learning. It is also variously defined as a learner characteristic, a formal teaching technique designed to encourage self-directedness in learners, and a goal of that technique in achieving greater learner self-directedness. Finding over 250 terms used to describe self-directed learning in the literature, Hiemstra (1996) reached the conclusion that "it present[s] a maze of semantic plenitude ... [and that] anyone reviewing the literature as a foundation for subsequent research has to wonder when it ever stops" (p. 6). The second part of this question asks how the concept of self-directed learning is evolving, and the answer is found in the community action and workplace learning studies (see Table 3, Chapter 6 above), where autodidaxy which has always existed in group settings is now being researched. Furthermore, such contexts are starting to be recognized as sites of legitimate learning, albeit under different parameters from those defined primarily by Candy (1991), who is the major authority on autodidaxy. This research is thus helping to reclaim practical knowledge as a worthwhile part of professional knowing (Cervero, 1992). Autodidaxy in group settings is not limited to the two situations described in this thesis. There is some published research investigating learning in voluntary groups (Portelli, 1997), but there appears to be very little on other groups which could provide confirmation, comparison or contrast to the two studies on which this thesis is based. Kasl, Marsick and Dechant (1997) developed a model of group learning dynamics, which is elaborated upon by the work herein, but a 187 detailed discussion throughout this thesis of the differences noted in the elements making up self-directed learning shows the progression as learning moves from individual to group settings. Each of the field studies provide examples of self-directed learning occurring in context, and each study not only informs the other, but adds to the present literature on group and autodidactic learning. Kasl et al's model of group dynamics, discussed and elaborated on in Chapter 4, is further extended by both field studies, which show how communities-of-practice not only form, but become valuable resources and knowledge repositories used by all participants. Self-directed learning in informal groups. The second question asks how self-directed groups differ from the self-directed individual, and how such groups can be described as self-directed. While learners in group settings may not be totally in control of all aspects of their learning, they have willingly accepted pre-existing criteria determined before they joined. They are therefore implicitly agreeing that decisions already made by others are compatible with their own philosophies and beliefs, thus complying with Chene's requirement that autonomy includes choosing what has personal value. In community action, the goal is pre-determined by the problem which provoked the group to form. Accordingly, the group is not completely in control of the situation, but that does not preclude the action itself from being self-organized and self-directed by participants and, therefore, falling within the definition of autodidaxy. A similar situation exists with learning in small innovative enterprises, where most employees have chosen to work in that context. They, like community activists, have at least tacitly agreed with existing parameters, and are equally self-organized as a group, and self-directed as individuals within that group. In order to agree that autodidactic learning exists in group settings it must be acknowledged that these contexts are somewhat different from those associated with autodidaxy as presently defined in the literature. If the learning typology proposed by this thesis in Chapter 6 is accepted, that those self-directed learners referred to here as facilitated self-learners are most likely to be found in other-organized educational environments, while autodidacts, who are equally referred to as self-directed learners in the literature, can by definition only exist in self-organized contexts, 188 then it can be seen that an autodidactic group is clearly as self-directed as its individual members. Groups are capable of organizing themselves by consensus, acting as an entity and agreeing on the general direction in which knowledge gathering will proceed, in the same way that an individual will act in making the same decisions. Having agreed on a common goal, and the ways in which that goal will be reached, each member of the group can then learn as an individual autodidact, and together will share their knowledge as colleagues, creating a core of information accessible to all members. The group then acts as a unit, learning individually and together in a self-directed and self-organized fashion, even though there are extenuating circumstances directing some aspects of their autonomy. Groups can, therefore, be as autodidactic as individuals in organizing and directing their own learning, according to their needs, a point not yet developed in the self-directed learning literature. This is a different aspect of learning in groups from that put forward by Knowles, where individuals learn more as independent people involved in an ephemeral group context for the purposes of sharing ideas, promoting discussion and critical reflectivity, but not necessarily acting as a unit in the longer term. Knowles' learners appear to be individuals gathering on a short-term basis for mutual benefit in reaching individual goals. Community action and workplace groups, on the other hand, deliberately work together towards a common goal, arrived at by consensus, on a long term basis. Not only do individuals learn, but the group itself retains collective knowledge, despite any changes in group membership. Summary Findings suggest that the concept of self-directed learning as a process can be clarified by qualifying by whom that process is organized, and the context in which learning occurs. Facilitated self-learning is organized by someone other than the learners, and is usually provided through an educational institution. Autodidaxy, on the other hand, is organized by learners themselves and learning takes place in an informal everyday setting. The concept of autodidactic learning extends 189 beyond the individual hobby learner or problem solver to include groups, and that learning can be autodidactic despite not having total control of all aspects of the learning process. In order to acknowledge that groups can learn autodidactically, it must be accepted that they exist as entities in their own right, and are able to accumulate knowledge which remains, independently of current membership. It was also found that learning dynamics in groups manifest considerably different levels of complexity, depending on the reasons for the group's existence, as discussed in Chapters 4 and 5. The current understanding of autodidaxy appears to be narrowly defined and restricted to individuals, whereas this research finds that certain groups can also be autodidactic, thereby bringing to the literature a different notion of group learning from that with which Knowles was involved. This study also extends the existing model of group learning dynamics beyond research done to date in that area, and clearly illustrates those dynamics in group settings by examining the interplay of elements subsumed within the concept of self-directed learning. In this way, this research contributes to clarifying understanding of the self-directed learning process in general, and autodidaxy in particular, and offers an insight into the way in which this learning takes place in everyday community and workplace settings. From this, those elements favouring the creation of stimulating learning environments, or conversely creating barriers to learning, can be clearly identified and may form a useful tool particularly for those involved in small innovative workplaces. Many such businesses are managed by default, by those who are acting administrators while also participating in the production process. Consequently they are often unaware of the way in which learning flows, or is inhibited, by many aspects of the workplace environment which are sometimes not obvious either to the casual observer or the involved participant. It is acknowledged that self-directed learning is found everywhere, and perhaps it is so common that it goes unnoticed. Consequently it tends to be overlooked and under-researched in the context of daily life. Learning in everyday life is also messy and difficult to observe or research 190 except perhaps tangentially, as in these studies. It is felt that this unplanned, serendipitous, averted vision of self-directed learning captured information that may not have been obtained through direct reference to self-directed learning during data collection. Direct research often results in bias by deliberately searching for something which is difficult to express in direct terms. Autodidaxy is particularly difficult to research, since learners are often totally unaware of the fact that they are learning, and do not regard informal learning in the same light as knowledge they have explicitly chosen to acquire formally. To surface tacit knowledge through direct interviewing, as Tough and others have done, often elicits the answers which respondents feel are expected, rather than creating a more complete picture, as this research did, by gratuitous reference to events which may not be thought of as learning, but in fact reveal a great deal about the way in which autodidactic learning happens in everyday life. It is suggested by the literature review that the formal educational aspect of self-directed learning and the informal everyday self-directed learning which happens continually in the community have gone in two separate directions. One has become an intervention, a teaching technique to encourage individuals to become self-directed, which some see as unnecessarily restoring a characteristic existing naturally in youngsters but subjugated by ensuing years of formal education. The other, self-directed learning in the community at large, which includes any situation not encompassed by formal, organized education, is vibrant, exciting, ongoing, extremely common, and often overlooked. Without this enormous resource, progress would have to rely on ideas generated mainly by professional educators. This research shows that Tough's adult learning iceberg has not changed much over the last three decades. It is still the same in that institutionalized education makes up most of the visible portion, while informal learning of all kinds remains largely hidden below the surface. However, this exploration of everyday learning in commonplace contexts shows how these variations on Tough's adult learning projects are, like icebergs, continually metamorphosing to adapt to constantly changing environments. Icebergs, however, are very appropriate educational metaphors in many ways. Nine-tenths are submerged, and while there is a great deal of research investigating 191 the less visible aspects of education and learning, there is still much to be discovered. Icebergs also change the micro-climate around them, and are in turn changed by that micro-climate. Similarly education and learning can both affect and transform the individual and society involved, and are in turn shaped by the community and culture in which they occur, as has been shown by the two field studies on which this thesis is based. CHAPTER SEVEN 192 SUMMARY, IMPLICATIONS, AND SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH Like Tough's work on adult learning projects, this thesis investigates some of the adult education iceberg below the water line. Not only that, but the areas of learning with which this research is concerned are at the boundary where the iceberg melts into the water around it, and becomes almost indistinguishable from its surroundings. Ordinary everyday learning in the community and informal learning in the workplace are as commonplace as the air we breathe, and seemingly almost as invisible except to the astute observer. This research not only investigates learning as it occurs in a natural setting, but uses self-directed learning as a framework for analyzing the dynamics of that action. This particular study is significant in that it outlines many of the elements which together make up the concept of self-directed learning and shows how they interact in a holistic way. Other research, reviewed in Chapter 3, has focused on one or other of these elements, but generally has not discussed them as being interdependent. Thus, the way in which any learning is shaped is very much dependent on which of these elements are present, how they are combined, and how those involved in the learning process create fresh knowledge from previously known information. Even with careful planning and strategising, no learning project can discount either serendipity or chaos theory's butterfly effect, both of which can lead to surprising outcomes which had neither been intended, nor foreseen. Summary of this Study The purpose of this study was to answer questions arising from two field studies by analyzing data from a fresh perspective, and combining the results with knowledge gained from a critical review of the literature on self-directed learning, leading to the findings elaborated in Chapters 4, 5 and 6. An extensive review and critical analysis of the self-directed learning literature shows that the term self-directed learning is confusing and often misunderstood in that it covers many different 193 forms of learning, with so many gradations as one form blends into the next that individuals discussing the concept can be, and often are, talking at cross purposes. The purpose of the literature review is therefore to establish a base line on which the many forms of self-directed learning can be placed in order to show their relationship to each other. This not only indicates what is there, but makes it easier to see what is not included that calls for further research. It is proposed that the current conceptual confusion be reduced by introducing a simplified typology of terms describing the various aspects of self-directed learning. The two field studies not only fill a gap on this baseline by introducing and illustrating group collective self-directed learning, but the workplace study complements and adds to the findings of the community action study, and both add other facets of self-directed learning to those already considered in some detail by the literature and research published to date. Analysis and findings from each of these three data bases are considered in the appropriate chapters of this thesis. Analysis of the process and dynamics of group learning evident in the field studies shows that existing literature does not appear to differentiate between individuals taking advantage of a group context to achieve their own goals in the Knowlesian sense, and group learning where members learn both individually and collectively while working towards a common goal. In the former context the group may form a close network for sharing information, but does not learn as a group per se, and may not create a core data base from which others learn. Knowledge here belongs more to the individual than to the group. In the latter instance, a group will convene to achieve a common purpose as a cohesive entity, where individuals contribute to a central data base shared by all, and work to achieve group, rather than individual, goals. The two different contexts researched illustrate dynamics of individual and group autodidactic learning that suggest how the various elements of self-directed learning inter-relate, how the resulting knowledge depends on which elements are present, and the way in which they interact. These findings also point to the fact that until now, self-directed and autodidactic learning 194 has been portrayed as an individual activity, occurring in somewhat narrow and specific contexts. However, this study shows that this perception needs to be broadened to include autodidactic learning by groups, which can be as self-directed and self-organized as individuals in working towards a common goal. Subsidiary findings emerging from this research reiterate ongoing concerns which have not yet been satisfactorily resolved. The first is the discontinuity still evident in the transfer of knowledge from site of learning to site of application. The second concern is that informal, experiential learning is not given the recognition and value it deserves in a knowledge society, although efforts are being made to equalize that imbalance in some cases. Implications of Research Findings While formal education programmes at all levels are incorporating many opportunities for students to be self-directed within the constraints of obtaining standard credentials, findings from this research suggest how learner self-directedness can be further supported in many ways. McMaster University, among others, has been using problem-based learning in its medical school for quite some time. This research shows there is a call from a variety of workplaces for more co-operative programmes in universities so that prospective employees are both good theoreticians and have practical knowledge not only of how to learn in non-academic surroundings, but how to be an architect, engineer, doctor, or whatever their chosen career involves (see Grosjean, 2000). Many of the so-called soft skills are not taught in regular classes, and students have little opportunity to acquire them through situated learning if they do not have an opportunity to access prospective workplaces during their student life. The literature has suggested that self-directedness may be perceived as an adult characteristic partly as a result of the way in which schooling has until recently discouraged students from developing their own initiative, but government policies are now supporting self-directed and lifelong learning in many ways. Although different learning styles require different learning opportunities to be made available, this study shows that individual and group self-195 directed learning in the informal sector is very important, is self-initiated, and carried out by learners themselves. While there is a place for formalizing some aspects of lifelong and self-directed learning, policy makers and professionals must also acknowledge that informal, self-organized learning is still the major, and often invisible, part of the learning iceberg that should be encouraged to continue in its present form. Times have changed since Lawson, Little and Verner denounced learning not involving professional help as worthless. This research has analyzed two aspects of informal self-directed learning organized by those involved, resulting in the acquisition of a great deal of knowledge. While acknowledging growing reliance on formal training and credentialling in large corporate workplaces where standardized procedures are often essential, this study suggests that at the other end of the scale, informal self-organized learning is equally important in those contexts where it is most appropriate. Such knowledge is usually experiential and uncredentialled, but is no less valuable than that which is codified and officially sanctioned. Prior learning assessment can sometimes address the question of equivalency, but informal learning makes a large contribution in its own right to a society which does not accord that learning the recognition it deserves. This is evident not only from the literature, as discussed in Chapter 3, but from comments made by those participating in the workplace learning study. Often credentials are highly valued despite the fact that those holding them may have little applicable knowledge for the job, while those without credentials often find it hard to compete, despite a wealth of experience which may make them experts in their field. S u g g e s t i o n s f o r F u r t h e r R e s e a r c h This thesis is based on the comparison of two field studies conducted for purposes other than enquiring into self-directed learning in their particular contexts, and therefore the evidence put forth was obtained tangentially and noticed incidentally during data analysis. There have been many studies deliberately investigating self-directed learning, referred to in the literature review, some of which have been criticized for asking leading questions and eliciting the answers researchers needed to confirm their hypotheses. Nevertheless, these raised awareness of a 196 previously invisible form of learning, which is ubiquitous in all age ranges and in widely differing communities and cultures. Since "rambling conversations" (Tough, 1978, p. 252) seem to be more appropriate for this type of research than structured interview schedules or questionnaires, further investigation into self-directed learning might successfully take this methodological approach. As neither of the two empirical studies considered the role of gender or ethnicity in the learning process, there are opportunities for further research in these areas. While the workplace learning study included four different sectors, two high-tech, one professional, and one vocational, no comparisons were made between them with regard to the way in which learning occurred, and therefore further cross-sector research might add to what is already known. Much attention is paid to formal contexts in which self-directed learning occurs, but there is still a need for more knowledge about the remaining 90% of the learning iceberg which metaphorically still remains below water. However, findings from any future studies in this area may result in a temptation to formalize such learning by creating what may be deemed appropriate learning environments, but a valuable aspect of self-directed learning in informal settings is that it is to a large extent self-organized and self-regulated within parameters discussed earlier in this thesis. Therefore such learning should be encouraged, even facilitated, but not appropriated or formalized. Further research into learning dynamics found in informal self-directed learning may show how that encouragement or facilitation may take place without destroying either the spontaneity or informality which are characteristics of learning in everyday settings. Studies researching learning in other informal settings could also add clarification to the educational mosaic, where many pieces are still to be found before a clear picture of the interconnection between informal learning and formal education can be seen. A point made by many employers in the different sectors participating in the workplace learning study emphasized the need for both high school and university students who were more prepared for life in the workplace, "We stipulate that you must be here on time. If we get a new employee and he's late three days in the week, he's probably not going to have a job on Friday" 197 (W2 2/12). Employers noted the lack of appropriate training for workplace practices, confirming the findings of Rose (1997b). In one high-end wood products firm a person may do a certified cabinet training programme and they're taught that the only way to manufacture a drawer is by dovetailing it. But with today's technology there are many ways of achieving the same strength and quality by other metlwds that take a fraction of the time. ...It's very nice, but there's no time for it. So the training hasn 't necessarily caught up with the real world. A lot of those cabinet making skills are redundant here. If I get somebody from a cabinet making programme they are going to want to do things the way they were taught. And we are going to be saying, no, forget that. (W2 2/5) Many employees, particularly those in computer consulting and high tech firms, remarked on the steep learning curve in making the transition from learning to earning, particularly in the soft skill areas of learning how to learn, and in the practical application of their theoretical knowledge. This suggests that further research is required to ascertain what knowledge is required by graduates at all levels from high school, technical school or university, to make a more seamless transition to the workplace, and the findings used to determine what new or different courses could be included in current school and university curricula. While universities in particular do not see themselves as providers of learning for career preparation, the degrees they grant not only credential a good liberal education, they also indicate to future employers a level of knowledge on which their hiring procedures are based. As has been emphasized throughout this thesis, the need for self-directed learning is increasing just to keep up with the pace of change, and there will be many areas in the future which make themselves available for further research. The workplace learning study, on which part of this thesis is based, could not have taken place ten years ago when high-tech workplaces were relatively rare, computers were only just beginning to appear on every desktop, and much of today's workplace technology was unheard of. We quickly take these developments for granted as they become part of our everyday lives, but there will always be opportunities for further studies relating to self-directed learning both in the culture and community in which we are all immersed, and in the ever-changing ways in which the learning process is taking place as new developments become commonplace. 198 Perhaps one major reason why such research may be overlooked is the inability to see that which is ubiquitous, but one acknowledged trait of self-directed learners is their constantly inquiring minds. 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