IACE Hall of Fame Repository

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Creative Written Work

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Induction Class Year



The combination of 21st century technological advancements and globalization has dramatically increased the rate at which information is available to the individual adult learner. Furthermore, the “knowledge society” in which we currently live demands that adults participate in lifelong learning in order to survive professionally, personally, and socially. Recent research has identified self-directed learning as a feasible vehicle for navigating 21st century complexities; however, there is limited data on the specific population that includes the post-four-year undergraduate student. The purpose of this study is to determine if young professionals are taking a self-directed approach towards identifying their learning needs, planning learning goals, and following through with learning initiatives to enhance their personal and/or professional development. The qualitative study surveys a group of 11 post-four-year undergraduate students who have obtained bachelor degrees. The study was conducted using Allen Tough’s (1971) Learning Project Interview Protocol which includes probing questions that help the participant think across the span of a 12 month period about a variety of projects that could be deemed as learning projects. Accompanying the protocol is a survey that further assesses the attitudes that young professionals have toward the value of self-directed learning in the 21st century. The culminating study provides implications for encouraging and improving self-directed learning among the researched population in undergraduate programs and organizational environments.


This is an excellent Masters' thesis by Meredith Charles for which Professor Roger Hiemstra served as the major adviser. It is posted with the author's permission.

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