Douglass, C. & Morris, S.R. (2014). Student perspectives on self-directed learning. Journal of the scholarship of teaching and learning, 14(1), 13-25.
Douglass and Morris (2014) collected data from undergraduate, upperclassmen control groups. They sought to answer the following questions: “How do you direct your own learning and how can we best help in that effort?” The information gathered during this exploration helped me better understand a constructivist approach to educational theory. “According to the constructivist theory of learning, students build their own understanding of a subject through engaged activities, rather than passively accepting information presented to them” (Douglass & Morris, 2014). Intrinsic motivation to learn is more powerful than extrinsic motivators like grades. Intrinsic motivation is about satisfying personal goals. When the locus of control is far removed from the student, the student begins to lose intrinsic motivation. The authors identified strict assessment practices as one factor that reduces a student’s perception of autonomy in his or her learning goals. A constructivist approach is ideal for keeping students engaged in their own learning, however several barriers exist. Administration is forced to comply with certain performance measurable outcomes, which can minimize a student’s intrinsic motivation. Additionally, the way faculty designs curriculum and structures classes has a huge impact on a student’s motivation to learn.
After reading this article, I felt I had a better grasp on constructivist educational theory. This was important for me because we discussed this theory so much in class and I wanted to fully understand the meaning of this approach. Self-directed learning was a buzzword I picked up during our workshops and though it seems fairly self-explanatory, there are many nuances that were necessary to realize before I could claim sufficient comprehension.