Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Psychology and Research

Major Professor

John W. Lounsbury

Committee Members

Ralph G. Brockett, Mary F. Ziegler, Schuyler W. Huck, Tricia McClam


Self-direction in learning is a major topic in the field of adult learning. There has been extensive coverage of the topic by theorists, researchers, and practitioners. However, there have been few studies which look at learner self-direction specifically as a personality trait. The present study addresses the relationship between learner self-direction and other personality traits of college students when the traits represented by the five-factor model of personality (Digman, 1990) are differentiated from narrow personality traits. Archival data were used from an undergraduate sample at a large Southeastern U.S. university (sample size = 2102). Correlation and multiple regression analyses were used in examining the unique individual relationship between Big Five and narrow personality traits and learner self-direction. Analysis of the data revealed five significant part correlations between specific traits and learner self-direction. The part correlations for Work Drive (.310) and Openness (.207) were significantly higher than all other part correlations. Neither Conscientiousness nor Agreeableness had significant part correlations despite having significant zero-order correlations with learner self-direction. Extraversion did not have a significant zero-order correlation with learner self-direction but the part correlation was significant. Results were discussed in terms of the predictive relationship between personality variables and learner self-direction. Study implications, some limitations, and possible directions for future research were noted.

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