Open Collections

UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Reframing research into 'self-direction' in adult education : A constructivist perspective Candy, Philip Carne 1987

Your browser doesn't seem to have a PDF viewer, please download the PDF to view this item.

Item Metadata


831-UBC_1987_A2 C36.pdf [ 21.61MB ]
JSON: 831-1.0055826.json
JSON-LD: 831-1.0055826-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): 831-1.0055826-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: 831-1.0055826-rdf.json
Turtle: 831-1.0055826-turtle.txt
N-Triples: 831-1.0055826-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: 831-1.0055826-source.json
Full Text

Full Text

REFRAMING  RESEARCH  EDUCATION:  INTO  'SELF-DIRECTION'  IN ADULT  A CONSTRUCTIV1ST PERSPECTIVE by  PHILIP C. C A N D Y B.Com., The University of Melbourne, 1972 B.A., The University of Melbourne, 1977 Dip.Ed., The University of Adelaide, 1977 M . E d . , The Victoria University of Manchester, 1979 Dip.Cont.Ed., The University of New England, 1981 A  DISSERTATION  SUBMITTED  T H E REQUIREMENTS  IN P A R T I A L F U L F I L M E N T O F FOR T H E DEGREE OF  DOCTOR OF EDUCATION  in T H E F A C U L T Y O F G R A D U A T E STUDIES Administrative,  Adult and Higher Education  We accept this dissertation as to the required  THE  UNIVERSITY  standard  O F BRITISH  September  conforming  COLUMBIA  1987  © Philip C. Candy,  1987  In p r e s e n t i n g  t h i s t h e s i s i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t of  requirements f o r an advanced degree at the  the  University  o f B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree t h a t the L i b r a r y s h a l l make it  f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r reference  and  study.  I  further  agree t h a t p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e copying of t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y purposes may  be granted by the head o f  department or by h i s o r her r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s .  my  It i s  understood t h a t copying or p u b l i c a t i o n of t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l gain  s h a l l not be allowed without my  permission.  Department of A d m i n i s t r a t i v e , Adult and Higher Education The  U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h  1956  Main M a l l  Vancouver, Canada V6T  1Y3  Date  )E-6  n/811  Columbia  written  ABSTRACT Research  into  consistent  theoretical framework,  term  self-direction  'self-direction' to  has  been  hampered  and the  different  by  the  absence  of  a  indiscriminate application of the  phenomena.  The  purposes  of this  study  were: (a) to critically analyse the use of the term 'self-direction' in adult education  and  phenomena  to  ascertain  subsumed  whether  under  that  there label;  are (b)  differences  among  the  critically  survey  the  to  literature, and synthesise research findings; (c) to compare the significance of 'self-direction' in adult education with other sectors of education; (d) to identify  and  evaluate  assumptions  underlying past  and  present  research  traditions in 'self-direction'; and (e) to reconceptualise 'self-direction' from a constructivist perspective was  and to formulate  shown that 'self-direction' has  phenomena:  been  themes for future used  to refer  (i) as a personal quality or attribute  as the independent  research.  to three  It  different  (personal autonomy); (ii)  pursuit of learning outside formal instructional settings  (autodidaxy); and (iii) as a way of organising instruction (learner-control). Two  distinct approaches  were  used  in undertaking  the  study.  The  first  involved a critical analysis and review of literature in each of the three domains, the paradigms  second was based on a form  in educational  research  were  of conceptual analysis. Major  surveyed.  It  was  asserted  that  assumptions  underlying the interpretive paradigm were congruent with  the  phenomenon  of self-direction and  are  advantages Major  despite  its  limitations, there  to adopting a constructivist perspective.  findings  precludes  that,  the  were:  (1) lack  development  of  of a  internal coherent  ii  consistency 'theory  in  the  literature  of self-direction'  from  within  the  literature;  learner-control; personal the  (3)  autonomy,  learning  dimensions;  (2)  autonomy  in  can  learning  be  usefully  does  nor does personal autonomy  situation; (5)  autodidaxy  (4)  autonomy  understanding  the  has  not  necessarily  always  both  perspective  distinguished  manifest  personal of  and  learners  from  lead  to  itself in situational  is  vital  to  understanding strategies used and outcomes attained; (6) personal autonomy in learning comprises both cross-situational and situation-specific (7)  research  quantitative sanctions  into  learning outcomes  dimensions  action-research  of  should  knowledge  and  other  incluuded an agenda for reaseach  stress  acquisition;  naturalistic  qualitative and  inquiry  (8)  dimensions; rather  than  constructivism  modes.  The  study  into autodidaxy and learner-control from  a constructivist perspective.  iii  TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT  »  Table of Contents  v  List of Figures  ix  List of Tables  x  Acknowledgements  x  I. Background to the study A. B. C. D. E. F. G. H.  1  Introduction Statement of the problem Context of the study Nature of the study Purpose of the study Methodology Significance of the study Outline of the dissertation  1 3 5 7 8 9 10 10  II. The place of 'Self-direction' in adult education A. Adult education's search for an identity 1. Definitions of adulthood B. A question of terminology 1. Objections to the term 'self-direction' 2. Suggested alternative terms 3. 'Self-direction' as a personal attribute 4. 'Self-direction' in natural societal settings 5. 'Self-direction' in formal instructional settings C. Summary  13 13 14 17 19 21 22 22 24 31  III. 'Self-direction' as a personal attribute A . Introduction B. The concept of personal autonomy 1. Towards a definition of autonomy 2. Threats to autonomy 3. Personal autonomy as situationally variable C. The. development of autonomy 1. Autononry as an innate disposition 2. Autonomy as an acquired quality 3. Autononry as a learned characteristic D. Summary  33 33 36 41 43 47 48 48 50 52 58  IV.  62 62 65 71 73  Autodidactic activity - a critical analysis A . Introduction B. Descriptive and verification studies C. The autodidactic 'method' 1. The autodidactic process iv  2. Sources of information 3. Assistance with the learning project D. Theoretical, conceptual and policy studies 1. Autodidaxy and lifelong education 2. Implications for policy 3. Reservations concerning the concept of autodidaxy E . Summary  .  V . The autodidact A . Introduction B. Skills and competencies of the autodidact 1. Towards a profile of the autodidact 2. Criticisms of this approach 3. Self-confidence versus learned helplessness 4. Scales purporting to assess 'self-directedness' 5. The development of competence as an autodidact C. The learner's purposes and intentions D. Autonomy with respect to knowledge 1. Autononry and public knowledge 2. Autonomy and private knowledge E . Summary VI. Learner control in adult education A. Autonomy and the adult student B. Learner-control versus teacher-direction 1. Differing levels of learner-control 2. Dimensions of learner-control C. Arguments for increasing learner-control 1. Increased motivation 2. Greater meaningfulness 3. Enhanced learning outcomes 4. Individual differences among learners 5. The moral preferability of learner-control 6. The primacy of learning D. Summary VII. The transition from teacher-direction to learner-control A . Introduction B. Teachers and increased learner-control 1. Goodbye teacher? 2. Towards a new role for the adult educator 3. Difficulties in the transition 4. Teacher beliefs and the promotion of learner-control 5. Capitulating to pressure: Pseudo-autonomy C. Learners and increased learner-control 1. Individual differences in the acceptance of learner-control 258 2. A preference for dependent learning  v  82 84 103 106 110 116 126 130 130 131 132 133 140 143 149 158 163 164 174 176 180 180 185 185 187 193 193 195 202 211 219 228 229 232 232 234 234 239 240 244 252 257  261  3. Learned helplessness and jarring loose the 'passive 262 4. Adapting to the situation: A deliberate strategy D. Summary  set' 265 269  VIII. Approaches to educational research A. Introduction B. Educational research: Three different paradigms 1. Positivism 2. Interpretive approaches 3. Critical approaches 4. Relationships among paradigms C. Self-direction - a psychological or sociological issue? D. Self-direction and the interpretive paradigm E . Summary  273 273 274 277 279 282 286 290 291 295  IX. Constructivism A. Introduction B. A constructivist view of people C. The constructivist epistemology D. Constructivism, learners and learning E . Summary X.  297 297 303 308 317 321  Constructivism and 'self-direction': A review A. Introduction B. The learner's sense of personal control 1. Self-management skills 2. Academic skills C. Comparing constructivism with other paradigms D. Summary  XI. Reframing research into 'self-direction' A. Introduction B. Autonomous learning from the learner's perspective 1. The learner's view of learning in general 2. The learner's view of this specific learning endeavour 3. The learner's view of assistance or direction received 4. The learner's view of autonomous learning and the development of autonomy C. Autonomous learning from the facilitator's perspective D. Summary XII. Conclusions and implications A. Introduction B. Distinguishing autodidaxy from learner-control 1. Implications of the difference for theory building 2. Implications of the difference for the learner C. Main findings of the study D. Conclusion  vi  327 327 329 331 333 334 343  .. ..  345 345 347 348 353 359 363 364 366 369 369 370 374 377 379 385  XIII. Notes  388  Appendix A A profile of the autonomous learner  393  Appendix B A note on research methodologies  399  XIV. References  401  vii  List of Figures Figure 1: A hypothetical learner-control continuum 25 Figure 2: A hypothetical learner-control continuum showing different instructional strategies 26 Figure 3: Developmental model of the mentoring relationship 89 Figure 4: Framework of the development of self-directed learning (mathetics) capacity 150 Figure 5: The development of autonomy in adult second language learning 167 Figure 6: Typology of programs classified by the degree of learner autonomy 191 Figure 7: Image used for test of perception 197 Figure 8: Learning task involving a series of numbers 199 Figure 9: Approaches to inquiry 287 Figure 10: Research into 'self-direction within three paradigms 292 Figure 11: Three-dimensional portrayal of research into 'self-direction 293 Figure 12: A conceptual model of the development and consequences of the student's sense of personal control 331 Figure 13: Changing balance of teacher-direction and learner-control in the instructional domain 371 Figure 14: A hypothetical continuum of autodidaxy and assisted autodidaxy 372 Figure 15: The relationship between autodidaxy and learner-control of instruction 372 Figure 16: Learner-control and autodidaxy as laminated domains 373 Figure 17: Schematic representation of the variables influencing autonomy in learning 383  viii  List of Tables  Table 1: Comparison of assumptions underlying research into 'self-direction' 337  IX  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS In  my  case,  dissertation  and has  I  suspect  been  a  for  many  difficult,  others,  the  demanding  writing of  and,  above  a doctoral  all,  a  lonely  activity. In fact, it is easy to lose sight of the collaborative nature of an enterprise  such as this; to overlook or diminish the critical role played by  many people in getting my  time here  me to this point. However, when I look back over  at U B C , I realise just how  numerous  and diverse  are my  debts to various people. First of all, I must thank my committee has  contributed  Roger  to  Boshier,  kindnesses  my  who  progress  first  enticed  and, in conformity  in  his  me  to  with  his  members, each  unique  way.  U B C , for  a  I  am  of whom  grateful  multitude  nautical leanings,  for  knowledge  his  ceaseless  of constructivism  patient and exhaustive  encouragement in educational  comments  at  the  Faculty  Club  for  his  me  to Gaalen  encyclopaedic  research; to Jean Hills for  his  on successive drafts of each chapter; and  to Dan Pratt for his help during the had  and  small  for steering  through the perilous waters of preparation for the final defence; Erickson  of  to  and  many informal discussions  elsewhere  (as  well  as  for  which we  the  loan of  a  dishwasher and other furniture!). Like many and  all  books, students  students,  articles who  and have  explored.  As  so  often  obligation  is  to  other  academe.  I  am  enormously  research wakened  occurs,  me  to  especially  students,  Countless times have  reports,  in  fellow  they  indebted and the  to  to the  richness  adult  travellers  along  authors  faculty of  education,  pointed out references  x  the  the or  members  ideas the  of  to  be  greatest  avenues  of  perspectives  which  might  otherwise  camaraderie so often  have  escaped  me,  of  Paula  Gibbons,  Nand  especially  value the  have  trudged  Kishor,  and enduring, by Aside practical  Brook, Mikaella  weary  I want  Shauna  support  miles  these  as  spiritual  well.  I have  to  undertake  this  work;  to  Carmel Law  to  the  Fellowship 'make  ends  interlibrary  with  meet' loan  on  this  and often  Centre  for  relatively  financially.  to  my  of  I  the  invidious  Jane  the  Munro.  particular 'Pilgrim's Progess',  of graduate  and  I  the  r  debts,  there  to  in  the  Main  fail  - both to  Library,  much  leave to  Centre for  the  allow  Study  of  duties so that I could  of  with  which  acknowledge who  been  South Australian  (and extending) study  teach  cannot  has  Council of the  colleagues  enjoying  stud3 .  intellectual  thank  opportunity  section  obscure  the  the  of  Chambers, Maurice  University of British Columbia for providing me  and  sort  with thanks,  and  Adult and Further Education for taking over my teaching come;  the  Although it is  to acknowledge,  Michael  College of Advanced Education for granting me  providing  and friendship of Joyce Costin, with whom I  turns, the vicissitudes  from  as  Butterwick,  Latieff,  support, advice  many  well  associated with desperate situations.  to single out some for special mention, encouragement  as  enabled  the  patiently  a Graduate  staff  me  to  of  procured  the  many  esoteric items from libraries in various parts of the world; the Study  luxurious  of  office  Teacher  space;  and  Education also  the  for  kindly  mainly  providing  unseen  people  me who  with run  what must be one of the finest academic computing centres in North America. However  all  this  made to accommodate of people  to live  quarrelsome  me.  pales  beside  adjustments  A doctoral student must  with: constantly  and obsessive.  the  be  which  my  among the  family  most difficult  pre-occupied, wracked by self-doubt,  Somehow,  my  xi  family  have  survived me.  have  inattentive, M y children  have  continued  to  grow, in spite  of my  neglect,  and  have  certainly  benefited  from the experience of living in Canada. M y wife, Mary-Anne, instructed me not to  mention  her  of all  the  people to whom I am indebted for their patience, support and forebearance,  she  is certainly the  in the  foremost,  acknowledgements.  and  But I  simply  accordingly it is to her  lovingly dedicated.  xii  must,  for  that this dissertation is  I. B A C K G R O U N D  A.  TO T H E STUDY  INTRODUCTION In  the  call  over  recent for  the  wrote  years,  adult  situation.  need  for  were to be treated many  respects.  adult  education,  literature  educators  teaching  of the  the  a  but  is  has  adult  surrender  to  This demand is specialized  as the  Neither  to  of  "sincere  education  learners  for  call  been  a  for  a  measure  adults  with  of control  as  1816,  Pole  in  which  they  and equals of the teacher in  democratisation  recurring  reverberated  As early  teaching  friends" (p. 35)  the  some  not recent.  method  has  of teaching  preoccupation  in  the  limited  to  literature .of  education at all levels from kindergarten to university. In  adult education, the term which embraces  andragogy. greater  In other  or lesser  education,  sectors of education,  extent,  in a variety  a  be  found,  to a  of guises including, amongst  others,  open  individualised instruction, discovery  independent At  this form of 'self-direction' is  similar concern can  learning,  student-centred  instruction,  study, and collaborative learning. first  sight,  perhaps,  which, to use  Griffin's  a  Some  'movement.'  there  seems  little  to  unify  such  diverse  themes  (1977) phrase, tend to look more like a 'mish-mash' than  advocates  of open education,  for instance,  would shudder to  be mistaken for supporters of individualised instruction, which they might view extremely  narrow  antithesis  of  'open'  and,  in  its  education.  competency-based Similarly,  learning might regard independent what  they  learners.  see  To  as  some  essential extent,  those  study  as  interpersonal such  mutual  1  form  with  altogether  an  at  least,  interest  the in  as  complete  collaborative  too solitary and lacking in  contacts,  either  suspicions  are  with  teachers  well-founded,  or other and  these  2 various  terms  constitute  a  by  no  constellation  which many expected  are  .  .  of  rapid  social  learning;  and technological  the  psychology  concept  of  and in the  and  many  means body things  the  passed  to of  term  they  over  to  they  represent the  self-directed  Its  proponents  change,  do  an  [learners],  seem  ideology who  or, in a word,  democracy,  view  of  be  adult  literature  for  in  invoke  how  with  to "in  are  now  autonomous"  its  this  in  It  fact  outside  by  such varied considerations  as:  vision  learning,  is  also  that  formal  although  of  for constant  equality;  education,  in  new  changes  ideals  such  certain ideas  based  adults  on  can,  institutional  teaching themselves represents  'self-directed'  need  learn; cherished  adult  culture. the  is buttressed  consequent  individuals  concerning  themselves  for adult learners  and the  individualism; and, especially  phenomenon of people of  have  toward increasing autonomy  supporting arguments.  growing  collectively  However,  449).  many  it  ideas:  . initiatives  p.  The move  what  synonymous.  to be much more independent,  (Dearden, 1972,  liberty  means  a  large  and  do,  in as  about and learn  structures.  This  the second of several usages this  dissertation,  it  will  be  referred to as 'autodidaxy.' The  interest  in  both  larger preoccupation with phenomenon,  and many  specific manifestation  learner-control  'autonomy,' both as people  refer  can be  different  seen that  phenomena:  autonomy);  to  this  within education, as  The focus of the dissertation it  and  the  term  'self-direction'  as  social  is  part  of  a  much  ideal, and an educational  broader goal,  as  well  as  its  more  'self-direction.'  is 'self-direction' in adult education. However,  'self-direction'  'self-direction'  a  autodidaxy  as the  a  is  used  generalised  independent  to  refer  to  at least  personal  attribute  pursuit  of  three  (personal  learning  in  3  non-institutionalised organising  settings  instruction  (autodidaxy);  (learner-control).  and  This  'self-direction' has  analysis of several distinct bodies of literature.  as  accordingly  a  way  of  necessitated  an  It would have been possible to  limit the study to any one of the three components which appear  here, but  as  it is part of the present purpose to establish that these domains are separate, a study of each was called for.  B. S T A T E M E N T OF T H E P R O B L E M In  the  past  two  decades,  swollen into a veritable torrent reports  and  problem,  conference  threatening,  a  thin  of interest  in  the  area  of books, journal articles, dissertations,  presentations.  as  trickle  it does,  This  abundance  of  material  to engulf and overwhelm the  the lack of precision and clarity has even more undesirable  has  research  presents  researcher.  a But  consequences.  Although it is rarely made explicit, it is commonly assumed that there is some sort of connection between autonomy in learning, and personal autonomy in a  wider sense.  of  Some theorists, particularly in adult education, link the incidence  'self-directed  learning'  personal autonomy. an  outcome  instructional  of  outside  formal  instructional settings—'autodidaxy'—with  Others claim that the enhancement increasing  setting.  learners'  Others  control  again  seem  over  to  of personal autonomy is certain  assume  that  features an  of  the  increase  in  learner-control will lead to an increase in autodidactic activity which, in turn, will result in enhanced that  many  necessary personal  personal autonomy.  theorists  also  prerequisite  to  autonomy  is  hold the  the  The situation is complicated by the  existence  exercise  of  viewed simultaneously  of  personal  autonomy as  a  in  autonomy learning.  means and  as  to  fact be  a  Accordingly, an  end of  4 education. This state of confusion is a stumbling block for practitioners and theorists alike. While professional differences to  take  seriously  writers  to  a  mean  problems ensue  concept  so  from  such  many this  of opinion are only to be expected, as  'self-direction'  different  tendency  things.  of authors  to lump together phenomena as diverse particular,  it  is  not  unusual  to  which  Many  is  practical  to confuse  authors  who  by  and  different theoretical  ends and means,  as independent study  find  used  it is hard  and  and autodidaxy. In  begin  by  writing  about  autodidaxy, and end up making recommendations for the conduct of instruction in adult  education,  autodidaxy as  or  second  stale-mated  will  be  argued  that  this  tendency  to  simply one end of a continuum of instructional techniques  its unique features A  vice versa. It  view  ignores  and has stifled research and thinking.  problem is  for several  that  years.  research  Despite  one  into  autodidaxy  or two  interesting  has  effectively  findings,  been  there  has  not been any major breakthrough or dramatic new line of inquiry opened up by researchers. up,'  and  A potentially fertile area of educational inquiry seems to have  it  investigators  will  be  have  not  argued had  in a  this  dissertation  sturdy  and  that  defensible  this  is  largely  theoretical  'dried  because  framework  in  which to ground research. A  third  problem area concerns  yielded confusing there  have  learner-control which, like  and contradictory research findings  been  no  significant  new  insights  and where, into  the  autodidaxy, in recent  dynamics  has  years, of  the  phenomenon. It will be argued in this dissertation that, for the most part, adult educators  have  not  familiarised  themselves  with  earlier  research  learner-control, nor with related phenomena in other domains of education.  into  5 In  summary, while the  field  of  adult  education,  lack  of progress  it  area of 'self-direction' is held to be central to  is  in research  plagued  by  and, in the  terminological case  imprecision,  the  and by  of learner-control, in practice  a as  well.  C. C O N T E X T O F T H E S T U D Y It is widely formulated (Cohen  acknowledged  or 'framed' (Schon,  &  Manion,  Popkewitz,  1984;  Garfinkel, 1977).  choice of perspective  is a matter  approach  directs  qualities  of  suppressing  necessarily  the  learning  others.  is  of  and  one  question  One  1981;  an  of  or  will influence  whether the  issue  1983)  1985;  Sarbin,  that the way in which any research problem is actual conduct of inquiry  Koetting,  the  most  fundamentally  one  1984;  basic of  Pepper,  distinction  psychology  or  of no small concern, for the  attention  situation,  the  while  to at  certain the  aspects,  same  time  Accordingly, it is important to ascertain whether  At been  1981, one  justified  preference  p.  13).  level,  it  in  is  considering  or personal  clearly  a  psychological  'self-direction'  inclination. Within  as an  entity,  essentially  and a  environment  not  ways  in  learning occurs  surprising to which  people's  situation. in complete  find  that  much research  individuality  Alternatively, isolation,  it  is  and that  may  be  also people  has  been  are  that  adoption  processes  or  obscuring  or  phenomenon  matter  have  of individual  in which individualism  recognised  clear  sociology,  researchers  is widely, albeit tacitly, approved as a societal ideal (Lukes, 1973; it is  concerns  the issue of  individualism in learning is basically a sociological or a psychological (Garfinkel,  1942;  Spence,  directed and  enhanced  relatively  significantly  at  little  influenced  1985),  exploring in  the  learning by  the  6 expectations and perspectives  of others - notably those who have had, or continue  to  on  have,  a  major  impact  their  attitudes,  habits,  values  and  beliefs.  As  Sullivan (1984) expresses it: The embedded in real historical relations. She or he comes into a world that is already a momentum and where there is a solid, weighty and dense social structure in which the person is influenced and which he or she operates on. The personal embedded in larger structured totalities that are impersonal in nature but nevertheless affect the viability of the personal world, (p. 53)  Acknowledging the  importance of social  and historical influences  society,  strong  examining  there  are  grounds  for  sociological phenomenon, and some authors have Brookfield  (1984a), for instance,  is  excessively  individualism in learning actually adopted this  concerned  with  (1980) claims  individualism,  society's "organic solidarity," Borgstrom (1985) points learning'  in  reproducing, and  even  exacerbating,  and to the  social  that  the  that  this  (1984) argues that individualisation of instruction is part of the and sustaining however,  aspects of education generally.  by far the majority of researchers  self-direction from a psychological Like psychological it is some  many  questions.  hoped that, previous  adoption  of  considerations  others,  as  However, a result,  research  this of  the  in  threatens  'self-directed and Shapiro  hegemony-creating  and theorists  have chosen to consider  point-of-view. present  study  is  a more interpretive  domain.  approach will  still  a  nature,  sociological  learners  These writers are in the minority,  these questions  this  a  educational  role of  inequalities;  as  perspective.  argues for a consideration of independent  within their socio-cultural milieux; Hargreaves system  on individuals in  leave  approach is  will be  Even  so,  this,  mainly  with  advocated  and  more broadly based it  untouched  and  concerned  is  recognised  important  while  and  constituting  that  than the  provocative a  distinct  7 limitation of the questions  study, might serve  to stimulate  interest in some of the broader  which are only treated superficially here.  D. N A T U R E OF T H E STUDY All many  fields  of study develop  researchers  1977).  and  Individual  knowledge  and progress through the  theorists  (T.  contributions  S.  Kuhn,  sometimes  in a field, sometimes they  1970;  confirm  make  cumulative efforts  Lakatos, and  of  1970;  Laudan,  consolidate  existing  a novel contribution which results in  the pursuit of new directions of inquiry. From time to time, an attempt is made to stop and take in  research.  "systematic  stock of the existing  Such study  stock-taking of the  is  state of knowledge,  called  'stale-mated', revised  research  and  little  epistemological  and accepted.  in  a  progress  which  made or  the new  but it may  is  defined  as  which characterize a  p. 1).  particular  is  formulation  Very often,  other field of inquiry,  meta-research,  processes and products of inquiry  discipline or field of study" (Sork, 1982, Sometimes,  and current directions  a  domain  until new  some  gets new  research  'bogged  down'  perspective—often  methodology—is  or a  proposed  approach is imported or borrowed from some have  the  effect  of restarting research, which  subsequently makes quite rapid progress in new directions. In emergent  adult  education,  tradition  of  traditions (for example  there  is,  as  meta-research.  Sork There  (1982) are  also  The present  which,  it  is  argued,  others instances  that concerning motivational orientations  which undergo something resembling a paradigm shift, vigour.  and  study  concerns  seems  to  the  have  field made  point of  out,  an  research  of adult learners)  and proceed with renewed  of 'self-direction' in adult education relatively  little  progress  in  recent  8 years.  The  study  is  in the  work of other theorists (iii)  to  compare  the  nature  significance  in other  sectors  have  attempted  to review  1973;  Jankovic  et  meta-research,  al.,  of  'self-direction'  of education;  Coolican, 1979;  1976;  Cross,  1981;  Brookfield,  respects.  and  attempt  has  distinct  areas  three  adult  several  Geis,  major  in  follows  in  1974;  Caffarella & O'Donnell, 1985,  themes  it  draws  education  previous  domains.  possibility  of  Thus,  contains  it  interpretive  the  with  its  studies  Tough,  1978;  1982;  Mocker  made  of  research  reframing research  review  only  1979;  &  Spear,  1986), but it differs from these in two  been  The second  not  which  Skager,  to  review (personal  and  synthesise  autonomy,  major difference from  what  a  is  that  differences  it considers  particular epistemological  Sork  (1982)  of research on specific  has  major  autodidaxy  learner control), and to search for underlying similarities and  between the  on  and summarise parts of the same literature base  1982;  First, .an  in that  and writers. It  place  (Moore,  of  called  a  the  position.  "critical or  topics," but also a "taxonomy  of  needed research" from a particular perspective.  E.  PURPOSE The  (i)  to and  OF T H E STUDY  study was conceptual in nature, and had the following purposes:  critically analyse to  ascertain  the  use  whether  of the  term  there  are  'self-direction' differences  in adult  among  the  education various  phenomena presently subsumed under that label; (ii)  to  critically  'self-direction';  review  the  literature,  and  to  synthesise  research  findings  on  9 (iii)  to  compare  the  significance  of  'self-direction'  in  adult  education  with  its  place in other sectors of education; (iv)  to  identify  and  evaluate  major  assumptions  underlying  past  and  present  research traditions in 'self-direction'; and (v)  to  reconceptualise  'self-direction'  from  a  constructivist  perspective,  with  a  view to formulating themes for future research.  F. METHODOLOGY Two comprised  distinct a  approaches  critical  personal autonomy,  analysis autodidaxy  were and  used  review  in of  undertaking this the  literature  in  study. three  The  First  domains  and learner-control. In the case of autodidaxy,  -  the  bulk of the literature is in adult education, but in the case of personal autonomy and learner-control, material from  elementary,  secondary  and higher  education  is  also included. As paradoxes  a  result  of  or impasses  this  survey  of  in research were  the  literature,  identified.  a  number  These became  for a second stage, based on a form of conceptual analysis. a  particular  world  examined.  It  literature  could  perspective  is  view  argued be  that  resolved,  were adopted.  or many or  metaphysical of the would  the  dilemmas, centrepiece  In this second stage,  commitment—constructivism—was  difficulties not  of  have  presently arisen,  if  manifest a  in  the  constructivist  10  G. SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY As long  will be discussed in the  sought  a  star  practice, it has other  sectors  seems  to  which  to  has  hitch  and  its  wagon.  As  a  looked for a unique theoretical framework  of the  have  conflicting  to  body of the dissertation, adult education  educational  chosen  claims  and,  a in  domain. In  'falling the  star';  case  of  field  of  study  to distinguish it from  choosing 'self-direction,' however, a  field  characterised  learner-control,  a  by  it  confusion,  disappointing  lack of  success in enhancing learning outcomes. This subject,  dissertation  and  will  clarify  provide researchers  some  of the  and practitioners  imprecise with  thinking about  a way of framing  thinking and practice that, it is hoped, will generate new insights and for  the their  hypotheses  study.  H. OUTLINE OF THE DISSERTATION Chapter Chapter  two  one  comprises  begins  explicate why it has  with  an  an  become  introduction,  overview  of  and  background  'self-direction,'  and  to an  the  study.  attempt  such a central theme in the discourse and  to  recent  practice of adult education. It is shown that the term 'self-direction' is used in the literature to refer to at least three different phenomena, various objections to this  situation  are  noted,  and  it is  argued  that,  to  avoid confusion,  the  term  'self-direction' should be abandoned and replaced in each of the three usages. Chapter three analyses  literature  pertaining to personal autonomy,  derives  a working definition of personal autonomy, and examines the extent to which its attainment interventions.  is  influenced  by  educational  (particularly  adult  educational)  11 Chapter  four  presents  'self-directed  learning'  settings,'  autodidaxy.  skills  or  and  competence  competencies in  six  and dimensions,  raised  analysis  what  Jensen  Chapter  five  of  autodidact,  the  (1960) presents  and review  of the  referred  to  as  'natural  societal  analysis  of  research  on  an  and  on  the  literature on  development  of  the such  self-teaching.  Chapter  and higher,  in  a critical  contains  an  derived from  as  well  as  overview  a study  of  of the  adult, education.  learner-control,  its  various  literature in elementary,  A number of the  secondary  arguments  in favour of increasing learner-control within adult education  degrees  commonly  are critically  analysed. Chapter  seven  deals  with  the  transition,  for both  teachers  and learners,  Chapter nine acts as a bridge between the literature surveys which constitute first  part  of  the  study,  and  the  from a constructivist perspective. personal  control,  much  previous  from  situations  and  then  research  subsequent  and  self-direction  of teacher-direction  the  context  of  adult  contrasts with  the  self-direction  those  assumptions underlying  education,  a  implicit in  constructivism,  to those of learner-control. It is  that frequently programs which ostensibly in  of  It introduces the notion of the learner's sense of  compares  into  reconceptualisation  the  demonstrated  lead to increased It demonstrates constructivist  perspective  might  how,  lead  to  productive new directions in research, theory-building and practice in 'self-direction' (autodidaxy  and  inconsequential practical  learner-control).  ways,  difficulties  and in  that  trying  to  learner-control there  are  promote  do  so  significant autonomy  in  fairly  conceptual  within  formal  as  minor  or  well  as  instructional  settings. Chapter eight acts as a bridge between the  first  and second parts of the  12  dissertation.  It  reviews  the  assumptions  underlying  varying  paradigms  in  educational research, and demonstrates the inadequacy of the positivistic approach. It argues that the interpretive paradigm  (in the form of constructivism) is more  congruent  the  with,  and  appropriate  to  study  of,  the  phenomenon  of  'self-direction.' Chapter viewing  nine  educational  nature,  contains  an  phenomena.  It  explication  of  constructivism  as  considers  the  constructivist  view  the constructivist understanding  and  then  compares  and  way of  of  human  of knowledge, and the constructivist view  of learning. Chapter ten introduces the notion of the learner's control,  a  contrasts  the  assumptions  sense of personal implicit  in  much  previous research into self-direction with those underlying constructivism. Chapter  eleven  attempts to  reframe  research  into  'self-direction' using  a  constructivist perspective. It demonstrates how, in the context of adult education, a  constructivist perspective  might lead to productive new  directions in  research,  theorj'-building and practice in 'self-direction' (autodidaxy and learner-control). It is shown that constructivism allows for a new way of looking at enduring problems. However,  because  it is  a  different  paradigm  from  that  which  underpins  most  research in this field, it actually calls for a whole new approach to research in this domain. The twelfth explains  the  and  final  distinction  chapter  between  is a  synthesis  learner-control  of the and  preceding  autodidaxy  constructivist perspective, and summarises the main findings of the study.  ones.  It  from  a  II. THE PLACE OF 'SELF-DIRECTION' IN ADULT EDUCATION  A. ADULT EDUCATION'S SEARCH FOR AN IDENTITY Although  the  primary  focus  of  this  dissertation  is  'self-direction  learning,' it seems appropriate to begin by exploring why self-direction  in  should be  a valued feature of adult education at all. Throughout  its  attempts  have  redefine,  map or otherwise  the  field  been  history,  of  made  adult  but  by  scholars  delineate  education  Liveright & Hallenbeck, 1964; Little,  1979;  Sinnett, adult  Boyd,  1985).  A  education,  territories,  Apps number  nervously  both  within  more  particularly in  and theorists  the  (e.g.,  essential  1970;  &  Associates,  of  these  trying to  educational  stake  studies  and humanities in general" (Welton, 1986, Several  features  are  commonly  Bryson,  Champion,  1975;  in  Rubenson,  are  out  decade  identify,  1926;  1980;  attempts  to  past  analyse,  a  the  1936;  mandate;  teachers  and learners  ritual');  it claims  than other what  1982;  result  is  distinguished  of  particular, and the  (including what  to place  Bernstein  claims  has  an  which  ethos  Ranger (1985)  a higher emphasis  1983; are  called  weak  classification  Stalker-Costin, 1986). ideological,  rather  than  13  1977; 1983;  "professors from  social  of  other  sciences  p. 8).  mentioned  by  Jensen,  Tight,  territory separable  of  ostensibly  differentiate  voluntarism  describes  on meeting  sectors of education do; and much of its  Papagiannis, these  it  so,  define,  Campbell,  adult education from other sectors of education: it has an extremely nebulous  or  characteristics or boundaries of  Lindeman,  Schroeder,  the  and  the  as  diffuse among  and both  its 'nocturnal  needs of learners  activity is characterised by weak  framing  As Keddie (1980) points empirical, deriving from  (Bernard out,  &  many of  what  Welton  14 (1986)  has  characterised  as  the  within itself its epistemological According  to  Welton  attempt  by  adult  education  to  develop  from  foundations.  (1986),  attempts  to  provide  a  theoretical  framework  for  adult education have been based on a "shaky and porous foundation," namely  an  'adult  characteristics  'modalities'  within  this  episteme.'  He  goes  episteme:  firstly,  on the  needs (the  of  their  'needs,  special  modality);  clients  access  and  secondly,  because  through flexible  and  unique  teaching  critically  that  adult  and responsive and  methods  the  three  education  is  which are distinctively adult (the  adult educators  provision' modality);  about  examine  claim  distinctive because there are forms of knowledge 'adult knowledge'  to  to  meet  provision and open  thirdly  because  employed  1  seek  of  with  the  access  something  adults  (the  'methodological' modality). This last has, in turn, been dominated by two concepts and  their  Whilst these  attendant  recognising two  notions,  bodies  the it  of  close is  the  literature:  andragogy  relationship,  and  latter  claims  which  and  strong the  self-directed  learning.  interconnections,  between  attention  of  this  present  work.  1. Definitions of adulthood Central characteristics the  years,  1964,  the  to  each  episteme' construct  of  these  itself,  is  three the  modalities,  notion  of adulthood has  of  and  adulthood,  received  a good  indeed and  to  the  'adult  accordingly,  deal of  attention.  in a paper on "The Definition of Terms," Verner wrote: . . . the precise meaning of the term adult is actually quite vague particularly when it is used to identify the clientele of adult education. The notions of who is an adult vary from "those past school age" through "grownups" to "mature individuals" - perceptions so indefinite as to be all but meaningless. Attempts to arrive at a  over In  15 precise identification of an adult tend to fall into age, psychological maturity and social role. (p. 28)  Subsequent categories; nearly there  research age,  two are  adulthood.  has  tended  psychological  decades still  few,  further  if  any, is  emphasise  maturity  of  Perhaps this  to  or  research  because  social and  satisfactory  one  Despite  variously  other  of  However,  enquiry  (Bova  and comprehensive  adulthood is  categories  &  Paterson's  (1979)  a  poor  three  notwithstanding Phillips,  a residual concept,  assertion  that;  (Jordan,  1985),  what  is  16,  18  determining the  or 21  as  the  of  adult  status:  the  eldest  in the  age,'  adulthood.  based  Yet, it is not difficult to think of instances  indicator  the  left  25  year  old  student  who,  last  10), age has proven to be an  threshold of  'magic  adults,  child  who,  Studies  on laws  still living at  have  which permit  (Bova & Phillips,  in which age alone orphaned  at  age  becomes responsible for her or his younger brothers and sisters or, at the extreme,  of  1978). Perhaps it is  "Adults are  they are older than children" (p.  criterion for  cited  p. 38).  these  conceptualisations  one to vote, drink, drive or be drafted into the armed services 1985,  of  adulthood is such a broad, amorphous and diffuse phenomenon.  analysis, because unsatisfactory  or  role.  after defining other stages in the human life cycle simply because  the  home,  is  protected  is 15  other from  life's vicissitudes by his or her doting parents. According  to  H.  M.  Kallen  (1962),  "adulthood,  even  if  biologically, is culturally a variable . . . Images of it are collective the  societies committed to  those ideals  strive  to have  common name for those strivings is education" (p. 38). that our ability to recognise  ourselves  part, on developing independence,  and others  as  determinate ideals which  their young embody. The In our society,  it is true  adult is based, at least in  along with the adoption of responsibilities  (such  16 as  worker, spouse,  parent,  citizen  etc.).  However,  on social roles have  a disconcerting tendency  can be distinguished  from a child or adolescent  social p.  roles  and functions  that  define  definitions  of  adulthood  based  towards circularity: "The adult . . . by his or her acceptance  of the  adulthood." (Darkenwald & Merriam,  1982,  77)  a. The place of autonomy in defining adulthood The maturity, these  third are  autonomy  definitions, the  portray  set or  of  potentially  definitions  interrelated  those  class  of  psychological  freedom  from  as  the  the  influence  and  Whether  as  viewed  the achievement This Merriam  self-fulfilment." a process or  a  the  others.  idea that  fact  has  profound  for  or  Some  including independence  or  Other  acquisition  definitions,  such  Merriam, the  as  a process rather  continually strive  &  of an  condition, however,  significance  purpose.  adulthood is  (Darkenwald  psychological  of  and women  of autonomy (Birren & Hedlund,  with  present  usually  of  in which men  concerned  development  characteristics,  of Maslow or Rogers, "stress the  self-actualization  those  promising for  adulthood  than a condition, a process  1982,  common  toward p.  40)  element  is  1984). adult  education.  Darkenwald and  (1982) claim that the mission of adult education "is not preparatory, so  much as it is one good  most  namely  decisions  inherent  in  primary  tasks  of assistance - helping adults to realize their potential,  and  the  in  adult of  adult  individuality (Hostler,  general, role."  better  (p.  education  1981,  77) is  carry Thus, to  out it  develop  the  would and  duties appear to  and  responsibilities  that  permit  make  the  one  of  exercise  p. 37) and autonomy;  . . . while the fostering of mental autonomy is an important objective in the education of children, it is of special importance in the  the of  17 education of adults. In deeming someone to be an 'adult,' we are ascribing to him various rights and responsibilities in virtue of certain distinctive moral and personal qualities which we presume him to have . . . the qualities of impartiality, objectivity and balance, at least in some minimum degree, and the ability to draw on his experience with some measure of sense and skill . . . The project of fostering mental autonomy is the project helping adults to be adult . . . (Paterson, 1979, pp. 120-1)  The  argument  sought  a  which  are  and  thus  unique  and  alleged  unique,  is  far  to  might  be  distinctive  summarised foundation  provide such  probably the  a  as  for  distinctive  nature of the  follows:  their  adult educators  work.  foundation,  client  of  Of all the the  group itself  most (i.e.,  criteria  compelling  adults),  central to this construct of adulthood is the notion of autonomy. This then the question: What is meant by the term autonom3' in this  B. A QUESTION In  adult  to  and raises  context?  OF TERMINOLOGY education,  the  term  most  commonly  used  autonomy is 'self-direction.' However, it is not necessary literature  have  discover  that  'self-directed'  and  as  a  synonym  for  far into  the  to venture  'self-direction'  have  a  number  of  meanings. For  many authors, self-direction is seen simply as  instruction.  Thus,  in  instructional methods later,  in  1970,  1967,  MacNeil  undertook  "A  a method of organising  comparative  . . . Lecture-discussion and self-directed  Himmel  presented  a dissertation  entitled;  study  of  two  study". Three years  "A critical review  and  analysis of self-directed learning methods utilized in the teaching of undergraduate psychology  courses".  quasi-experimental  Redditt's  comparison  of  (1973) a  doctoral  group  lecture  dissertation method  and  comprised; a  "A  self-directed  18 method wrote  in teaching an  learning  article  basic  which  electricity counselled  the  on  college level,"  "How  to  design  so  much  and in  and  1978  conduct  others,  self-direction  characteristic of learners. greater  is  not  a  Cheren (1983) for instance  self-direction,"  Kasworm (1983b)  method writes  presents  a  of  self-directed  teaching  model  of  in her article on "Self-directed learning and lifespan  and,  appearance  of Guglielmino's Self-directed  has  a  since  (1977),  the  there  self-direction (Bayha,  is a measurable  1983;  Sabbaghian,  been  Box,  1979;  Moreover,  succession  Brockett,  1979;  lurking beneath  educators,  the  the  extent of 'self-directed twenty years, growing  self-planned institutional literature  of  and  about  this  or  on  the  Curry,  1983;  interpretations  most,  term  and  is  Mourad,  is  phenomenon  that  1979;  1978).  an even more  due  the to  energies, research  of  perhaps  support. which  all,  projects It has  is  adults largely the  thrust  many  findings  formal instructional settings.  learning  formal  notion  Scale  adult population  original work of Tough (1966), there  self-executed  affiliation  consumed  learning' outside  that  development"  learning' inside formal instructional settings  and  the  dating from the  awareness  based  1981; Torrance & Mourad,  these different  imagination,  popularity  1983b;  Skaggs,  basic distinction. Although 'self-directed captured  studies  a  increasing  Learning Readiness  attribute, distributed throughout the  1982;  Savoie,  of  as  of; "Helping learners  self-directedness  has  Harrison  experiences"!  For  achieve  at  engage  in  about In the has  independent  term  the past  been  a  self-initiated,  rapidly burgeoning the  adult  of body  'self-directed'  any of into  such prominence, and in many respects transformed 'self-direction' into a rallying point for adult educators.  19  1. Objections to the term 'self-direction' These  are  all  synonymous,  and  it  important is  concepts.  confusing  However,  when  one  they  are  by  no  term—self-direction—is  means  applied  to  describe such varied phenomena. Accordingly, and although it might be considered somewhat  quixotic  to  attempt  to  dislodge  a  term  which  embedded in the discourse of adult education, there advocating  the  abandonment  of  the  terms  has  become  so  firmly  are many sound reasons  'self-direction'  and  'self-directed'  for in  favour of something else. The through  first  objection  overuse.  between  the  In  sort  is  that  particular, of  'self-directed  learning' has  indiscriminate  'self-directed  use  learning'  has  which  been  blurred  is  contaminated the  possible  distinction  in  formally  constituted adult education programs, and that which takes place in situations formally designated  as 'educational' or 'natural societal settings' (Jensen,  will  this  be  these  argued  activities,  in  dissertation  differences  which  that  there  should  be  are  material differences  reflected  in  the  adult  not  1960). It between education  lexicon. Secondly, there  is  confusion  as  to  whether  it is  a process  or a product:  'self-directed  learning' can be an activity in which people engage, or the  of  activity.  such  an  Brookfield  (1984a)  This points  derives out,  from  "a  the  gerund;  colloquially as both a noun and a verb" (p. A  further disadvantage  of the  fact that  that is  the a  outcome  word learning is, word  which  as  functions  61).  term 'self-directed  learning' is that in may  respects the notion of self-direction is redundant. Since it is impossible for anyone to  learn on  self-directed.  behalf  of  Sometimes,  another,  one  self-directed  could  argue  learning  is  that  all  contrasted  learning is with  in  effect  other-directed  20 learning, but this usually refers to control of the external conditions,  rather than  control of the act of learning itself. This leads to the final point. The the  final  above  charge  criticisms—it  against  'self-directed  learning' is  is  narrow.  does  too  It  not  that—even  adequately  disregarding  represent  phenomenon of managing one's own education, which is usually implied. In at  the  Annual  Boshier  argued  process  of  change  [i.e.,  in  that  the  managing  of  the  term  external  learning].  learning goals, made  Conference  Hence  American  'education'  "should  conditions an  adult  which .  .  those  goals  would  be  out,  it  even the may  education about the  anj'  one  of  onward,  have  written  at  length  of  reserved  to  facilitate assigned  . his  and who evaluated in  Association, describe .  .  or  the  internal her  the  own  progress  self-education, rather  is unacceptable.  several  self, or education by the  third which is of interest for the present  who  Research  1983,  than  61).  term 'self-education'  imply  be  would  engaged  self-directed learning" (Brookfield, 1984a, p.  points  .  who located appropriate resources,  attaining  However,  Education  the  things:  As Hamm  education  of  (1982)  the  self. Of these three, it is only  self, the  purpose, and many authors, from Plato  the  inconceivability  of  anyone  actually  educating himself or herself in the fullest sense of the term. As Hamm states: Proponents of self-education make much of the notion of self-teaching. But is this logically possible? One cannot teach if one is not able in some way to display the subject matter to be learnt. If one does not know that subject matter, then it is not only pointless to teach oneself, but it becomes impossible to do so, because one cannot learn what one already knows. If one does not know the subject matter, it is still possible to learn it, say from experience or trial and error, but that is not teaching unless one mistakenly equates teaching with learning, (p. 95)  All  in all, despite its  widespread use  in the  adult education  literature, and even  its  adoption  Brookfield, Penland,  by  1980a, 1977,  be too vague of  authors 1980b,  1979,  to  earlier  1982a,  the  present  cover  had  1981a,  1981),  for the  alternatives  who  term  advocated  1982b,  1984a,  'self-directed  various  phenomena  1984b,  it was  presently  terms  1985c,  learning' has  purpose. Accordingly,  the  alternative  been  (e.g. 1985d;  found to  decided to make subsumed  use  by the  one  term 'self-directed learning.'  2. Suggested alternative terms One process  which  capitalism' terms,  or  (p.  This  either other  solution  Glaser 11).  considered  meaning. are  potential  and  would Strauss  The alternative to  be  more  procedure yielded  partially or wholly of  suffer  from  they,  too,  its  meanings.  some of the have  have  been  been  (1967) was  to  invent  refer  derisively  as  literature  for  scan  the  precise,  or  at  least  no  than  interchangeable  Unfortunately,  many  of  these  a  'Intellectual a  term, or ranges  and phrases  of  which  2  learning' in one  alternative  expressed  rather indiscriminately. Nonetheless,  their use in this present context  words—  discrete  'self-directed  logical or linguistic deficiencies  used  with  thirty words with  new  to  to  less  some  it  terms  also  above, or else is  hoped  that  will avert some of the ambiguity which attends  their appearance in the wider literature. Basically,  there  are three  uses for which alternative  These are: 'self-direction' as a personal attribute in learning); 'self-direction' opportunities  in  the  as  the  individual,  'natural societal  setting';  organizing instruction in formal settings.  terms  (which embraces  were  selected.  self-directedness  non-institutional pursuit of learning and  'self-direction'  as  a  mode  of  22  3. 'Self-direction' as a personal attribute When  adult  'self-directed' to life  to  a general  education  people,  disposition  or else they  mean  These are assumed  In the  control  over  It  towards capable  of two  taking control of,  'self-direction'  things.  Either  or  they  refer  and giving direction to,  one's  may  refer  direction or self-directedness either  to  valued instructional functions  affiliation.  one  term  of undertaking learning without  case, self  the ability and willingness or  the  outside  direction.  'personal autonomy.' This is dealt with in chapter three.  second  meanings.  usually mean  apply  to be linked. It has been decided to refer to 'self-direction' in  the former sense as  two  they  authors  The term  the  propensity  within  in learning also  to  accept  has  and  exercise  an instructional setting,  or else  to learn things for oneself, without institutional support 'independent  study'  or  'learner  control, wi