Researchers have developed numerous theories and developmental models to describe self directed learning, lifelong learning, and self-regulated learning. The literature includes a large body of research that illustrates the cognitive, metacognitive, motivational, affective, and behavioral attributes of self-directed learners; the influences of social and physical environment on self-directed learning development; and the roles of self-perceptions, causal orientations,learning conceptions, and demographics in determining certain self-directed learning responses. But how do undergraduate engineering students characterize and critique self-directed learning? This paper evaluates the responses of engineering students to questions regarding the definition of self-direction and the primary positive or negative factors contributing to their self-directed learning experiences. We find that undergraduate students at all levels are able to identify positive and challenging aspects of self-directed environments, and the emergent themes from the qualitative student responses map well onto theoretical frameworks for self-direction and self-regulation. Results are discussed in terms of pedagogical issues to consider when designing curricular experiences aimed at development of self-directed learning competency.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/mark_somerville/2/