From the article, "Teaching Learners to be Self-Directed"
available at: http://www.longleaf.net/ggrow
Referencing this publication
As its starting point, the SSDL model borrows several key
concepts from the Situational Leadership Model of Paul Hersey
and Kenneth Blanchard.
There is no one good way to manage everyone, yet everyone can be managed in such a way that they increase in the ability to be more self-managing.
In developing this paper, I have become aware of holding certain assumptions:
A note on style: In order to avoid having to qualify every statement, I have adopted a style which first delivers the theory in vivid terms, then qualifies and discusses it. Each statement contains an invisible "perhaps."
|Here you will find a summary of the complicated discussion of the meanings of "self-directed learning."|
The Heart of the Idea
|Figure 1 introduces the four stages of the SSDL model, which were inspired by the four leadership styles described in Situational Leadership.|
The teacher's purpose is to match the learner's stage of self-direction
and prepare the learner to advance to higher stages.
|Stage 1||Dependent||Authority, Coach||Coaching with immediate feedback. Drill. Informational lecture. Overcoming deficiencies and resistence.|
|Stage 2||Interested||Motivator, guide||Inspiring lecture plus guided discussion. Goal-setting and learning strategies.|
|Stage 3||Involved||Facilitator||Discussion facilitated by teacher who participates as equal. Seminar. Group projects.|
|Stage 4||Self-directed||Consultant, delegator||Internship, dissertation, individual work or self-directed study-group.|
|Contents||Figure 2||Figure 3|
Stage 1: Learners of Low Self-Direction
Learners. Dependent learners need an authority-figure
to give them explicit directions on what to do, how to do it,
and when. For these students, learning is teacher-centered. They
either treat teachers as experts who know what the student needs
to do, or they passively slide through the educational system,
responding mainly to teachers who "make" them learn.
Examples of the insight method: developing critical awareness
of one's life situation; needs analysis; goal-setting. (More
under Stage 3.)
Stage 1 teaching seems to be rejected by many writers on education,
but it has tremendous popular appeal. People who want to go "back
to the basics" usually want to get there in Stage 1 classrooms.
A successful Stage 1 teacher can be seen in the film, Stand
and Deliver. That teacher drives, goads, pushes, and
cajoles a group of disenchanted underachievers until they learn
calculus almost to spite him. Then he lifts their self-esteem
with the realization that they did it, and they can do it again.
He prepares them (as a good Stage 1 teacher must do) for higher
levels of achievement and self-direction.
Learners. Stage 2 learners are "available."
They are interested or interestable. They respond to motivational
techniques. They are willing to do assignments they can see the
purpose of. They are confident but may be largely ignorant of
the subject of instruction. These are what most school teachers
know as "good students."
Models for Stage 2 Teachers.
Stage 2 teaching is what many learners need when first faced
with a difficult subject--such as Shakespeare. The teacher's
enthusiasm carries students until they have learned enough to
become self-motivated. If students remain dependent upon the
teacher for motivation to learn, however, the teacher has failed.
Learners. In this stage, learners have skill and knowledge,
and they see themselves as participants in their own education.
They are ready to explore a subject with a good guide. They will
even explore some of it on their own. But they may need to develop
a deeper self-concept, more confidence, more sense of direction,
and a greater ability to work with (and learn from) others. Stage
3 learners will benefit from learning more about how they learn,
such as making conscious use of learning strategies (Derry, 1988/9).
Models for Stage 3 Teachers.
Carl Rogers (as seen on film) is a good example
of a Stage 3 teacher: listening, drawing out, facilitating, encouraging,
validating feelings, honoring risks, supporting those who venture
beyond what is safe and known for them, cultivating personal
awareness and interpersonal respect.
Learners. Self-directed learners set their own goals
and standards--with or without help from experts. They use experts,
institutions, and other resources to pursue these goals. Being
independent does not mean being a loner; many independent learners
are highly social and belong to clubs or other informal learning
There is clearly more than one way to be a good Stage 4 teacher.
The Situational Leadership model--which assumes an organizational
setting in which the manager is trying to produce self-managing
subordinates--advocates a lessening of interaction between teacher
and student. Due to the psychological maturity of Stage 4 students,
the instructor gradually reduces both two-way communication and
external reinforcement. As enjoyable as it is to interact with
such advanced learners, such a teacher will fade back, so that
the learner's own efforts become the unequivocal focus. The relationship
between teacher and student is collegial and distinctly not intense;
relationship is high between students and world, students and
task, and perhaps among students. The teacher actively monitors
progress to ensure success, but steps in only to assist students
in acquiring the skills to be self-directing and self-monitoring.
The teacher weans the student of being taught.
Models for Stage 4 Teachers.
In Stage 4, the learner may not need a teacher at all. A Stage
4 teacher might set a challenge, then leave the learner largely
alone to carry it out, intervening only when asked to help--and
then not help meet the challenge, but help empower the learner
to meet the challenge.
Many graduate professors are Stage 4 teachers of a more familiar
kind. They supervise the learner in a project or thesis, stay
far enough away for the student to progress alone, but remain
available for consultations. They monitor to assure that students
make progress, rise to the occasion, and use what they know.
They are always ready to step in to offer a change in direction,
to suggest a skill, to help evaluate, to serve as a sounding
board, to empower.
Discussion of how to determine
a student's stage of self-direction.
Discussion of Stage 1 learners.