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University of Wyoming

Self-Directed Learning


"The desire to learn seems, in fact, to pervade their (some men's and women's) existence. They approach life with an air of openness and an inquiring mind."

Cyril O. Houle, 1961

Goal 1 of Self Directed Learning:

1. Educators should help learners plan, carry out and evaluate their own learning

2. Grounded in humanistic philosophy

  • Consider learning from the perspective of the human potential for growth
  • Human nature is basically good and will strive for a better world
  • Unlimited potential for growth and development
  • Free to act and make choices
  • The goal of learning is self-actualization and personal growth

3. Maslow's hierarchy- can't proceed with higher level learning until the lower 4 are satisfied

  • Physiological needs- hunger, thirst, etc
  • Safety needs- security and protection
  • Love and belonging needs
  • Esteem needs
  • Self-actualization needs

4. Roger's principles of significant learning

  • Personal Involvement
  • Self-Initiated
  • Pervasive
  • Evaluated by the learner
  • Essence is meaning

Goal 2 of Self Directed Learning:

Fostering transformational learning as central to self-directed learning is identified with Mezirow and Brookfield. According to Mezirow, self-knowledge--an adult's recognition of the historical, cultural and biographical reasons for his/her needs, wants and interests--combined with critical reflection are necessary for Self-Directed Learning to occur. Brookfield cautions educators to recognize the actual process of Self-Directed Learning as separate from reflection, and posits that the most complete Self-Directed Learning occurs only when both are intertwined.

Goal 3 of Self Directed Learning:

Proponents of Goal Three, Collins and Brookfield, would increase the focus of Self-Directed Learning to include emancipatory learning and social action.