Skip to main content

Self-Directed vs. Self-Determined Learning; What's the Difference?

"We need to move beyond the idea that an education is something that is provided for us, and toward the idea that an education is something that we create for ourselves." - Stephen Downes

In this age of abundance of information, shifting classroom pedagogy isn't nearly enough to make learning in school more relevant and authentic for the learner. Self-directed learning (andragogy), and self-determined learning (heutagogy) are the ideals necessary in making students "future ready" to live and learn in a web-connected world. While original research applied these concepts to mature learners, it has become apparent that even young children have an abundant capacity for recognizing and directing their learning. Anyone who has observed toddlers learning how to walk and talk understand the motivation and skill development that quickly develops during these processes. Considered by some to be on a learning continuum, self-directed learning, and self-determined learning has at least one distinct difference. What is this difference, and why should educators care?


"Self-determined learning, also called heutagogy, is an educational phenomenon that is sweeping the world. From Brazil to Germany, England to Australia, the US to the Czech Republic, traditional teaching-centered approaches are being replaced by an approach that focuses on learning: What do you want to learn? How will you learn it? Who are your learning guides? How will your learning success be measured?" - "Experiences in Self-Determined Learning"


Self-Directed Learning - is a process in which learners take responsibility, typically under the guidance of an instructor, for diagnosing learning needs, articulating learning goals, identifying materials and resources for learning, choosing and implementing appropriate learning strategies, and evaluating learning outcomes. (Knowles, 1975)

Self-Determined Learning - is a process in which learners take initiative for identifying learning needs, formulating learning goals, identifying learning resources, implementing problem-solving strategies, and reflecting upon the learning processes to challenge existing assumptions and increase learning capabilities. (Blaschke, 2012)

Obvious similarities indeed, but the key difference between self-directed learning and self-determined learning is the "double-loop" capability. Beyond problem-solving, double-loop learning involves scrutinizing variables and questioning original concepts, and learning processes. Reflection is a key aspect of increasing learning capabilities promised through double-loop learning. (Argyris, 1974)




This distinction between self-directed learning and self-determined learning is important for educators wanting to impact organizational change, as well as, help students become "future ready". In this age of rapid change, organizations need leaders willing to question belief systems and thought processes. For example, the concept of "teacher cognition" suggests changes in education struggle to keep pace with economic, societal changes because of teachers' long-standing thoughts and beliefs about learning and school. These views don't carry the same weight or relevance in our current information abundant, web-connected world. 

Self-determined learning centers on "learning how to learn". Students who can reflect and make decisions about their learning will be empowered through motivation, flexibility, and self-awareness. Schools are attempting to prepare students for careers that generally do not yet exist. The best way to help students become future ready is to guide them towards becoming self-determined in their learning. Upwards of ninety percent of our learning will occur outside formal educational settings. (Jennings, 2010) With this in mind, it's easy to understand the value of learning how to learn.

Proponents of "growth mindset", "lifelong learning", and "connected learning" will recognize the value of increasing learning capabilities through reflection and learning relationships. Teachers who adopt a learner-first mentality will understand the motivational power of autonomy, purpose, and mastery as these characteristics apply to learning and education. Self-determined learning is not a quick fix. Reflecting upon and challenging one's learning system takes time, practice, and understanding. When solutions aren't readily available, it's easier to find fault in the problem than to self-evaluate. However, real and lasting progress is made when shortcomings are identified, and new processes increase learning capabilities. These improvements in learning skills make self-determined learning a relevant topic worthy of our attention and understanding.

What steps are you taking towards becoming a self-determined learner?


How does your learning impact the learning of your students?


For Greater Depth & Understanding


Self-directed Learning and Self-determined Learning; An Exploration - Stewart Hase

Digital Age Learning - Learning With E's, Steven Wheeler

Experiences in Self-Determined Learning - L. M. Blaschke, C. Kenyon, & S. Hase


Is Learning Increasingly Self-Directed In The Digital Era? - Huffington Post


Where is Reflection In The Learning Process - Dr. Jackie Gerstein


Education and the Pedagogy of Mobile Learning - Dr. Jackie Gerstein




photo credit: sciencesque via photopin cc

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

"Five Reasons Why Schoology Rocks!"

Networking at IETC last week provided me validation in my choice for best learning management system, Schoology. Having used Moodle, Edmodo, Canvas, and Blackboard, I can tell you that these are all terrific products for digital instruction. However, for the past several months, I felt that Schoology was a better choice than these previously mentioned products. Many times, asking the right questions is a precursor to making sound decisions. Here's an article that serves as a guide to asking the right questions when choosing a learning management system:


10 Questions Everyone Should Ask When Choosing an LMS
Here are five reasons why Schoology remains my #1 choice for a classroom LMS: Full-featured classroom organization tools, a collaborative learning place for teachers and students, device-independent applications, Schoology API allows the program to play nicely with others, and the basic level instructional components are, and will always be, FREE.

1.  Schoology's classroom mana…

Good People; The Product of Good Schools

The nightly business reports frequently mention inputs and outputs. Gross National Product (GNP) is a widely recognized leading economic indicator. Widgets aside, what is the product of schools? Some of you want to jump on a table and scream, "children are not products!" Let this breathe a bit as you trudge forward.



In his recent post, Mark Heintz eloquently shares his ruminations to a question being kicked around in our Modern Learners community, "What do we want our children to be?" Credit Pam Moran, Ira Socol, and Chad Ratliff, co-authors of "Timeless Learning; How Imagination, Observation, and Zero-based Thinking Change Schools," for sparking this conversation theme. Timeless Learning provides interesting provocations, inspiring experiences, and compelling rationale for school change.

Like others, my school's leadership team is engaging in discussions about reimagining school to meet the needs of our modern learners. These conversations are seldom e…

My One Word for 2018 is Wisdom

Wisdom, according to Dictionary.com, is "the quality or state of being wise;
knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action;
sagacity, discernment, or insight."


"Any fool can know. The point is to understand."
This quote, often incorrectly attributed to Albert Einstein, provides an illustration of the value of understanding over knowledge. A simple search reveals this quote can be linked to the writing of mathematician, George Finlay Simmons


Narrowing my thinking to one word is an interesting challenge. I have gained a greater appreciation for words and how the combination of words can convey meaning beyond definitions, beyond knowledge.

Where are the resources for knowledge in a modern world? We purchased an Amazon Echo as a gift for my parents. "It's such a smart and funny device," says my mom. Alexa has a seemingly unlimited access to information, music, and jokes, but does she understand? Can robots and computers obtain wis…