Date of Award

5-2003

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Education

Major Professor

Ralph G. Brockett

Committee Members

John W. Lounsbury, Robert L. Williams, Loida C. Velazquez

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to develop a reliable and valid instrument to measure self-directedness in learning within the framework of the teaching-learning (TL) and learner characteristics (LC) components of the Personal Responsibility Orientation (PRO) Model of Self-Direction (Brockett & Hiemstra, 1991) among college students. Accomplishing this purpose involved two states: (a) the identification and operationization of reliable scale items that validly reflected the two components of the PRO model, and (b) the validation of the developed scale items with other related measures of self-direction.

The resultant 35-item Personal Responsibility Orientation to Self-Direction in Learning Scale (PRO-SDLS) was a highly reliable (coefficient alpha = .92) instrument in the selected sample (N = 219) of graduate and undergraduate education students. Both TL and LC items were highly correlated with the scale total. The scores from the PRO-SDLS were significantly related to criterion variables thought to demonstrate self-direction. However, PRO-SDLS scores were not significantly related to professor-ratings of students' self-direction. Additionally, scores from the PRO-SDLS were significantly related (r =.76, p <.01) to a known instrument of self-direction (SDLRS) and accounted for additional variance beyond the SDLRS in predicting age, GPA, and class performance. Experts who examined the content of items on the PRO-SDLS rated 31 out of 35 items appearing on the final version of the PRO-SDLS as representative of the PRO model.

Recommendations for further research in the on-going process of scale validation are provided as well as strategies to promote self-direction. These latter strategies include (a) allowing learner control over the TL process, (b) modeling effective learning strategies, and (c) using encouragement to support a student's proximal goals.

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