Doctoral Dissertations

Orcid ID

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Psychology and Research

Major Professor

Ralph G. Brockett

Committee Members

M. Cathy Hammon, Mitsunori Misawa, Mandyam Srinivasan


There is a lack of understanding of the difference between self-directed learning and self-regulated learning. Though both theories have been found to be important learning processes for achieving learning goals, there is little evidence to identify how the two directly compare. Self-directed learning and self-regulated learning can both be defined as learning processes as well as a collection of characteristics of an individual (Brockett & Hiemstra, 1991; Efklides, 2011). There are metacognitive components to these learning processes (Saks & Leijen, 2014; Zimmerman & Moylan, 2009). It can benefit scholars to know how these two concepts within a structured, complex, high-demand, educational environment relate.

The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between SDL and SRL among adult learners in master’s education. Participants (N = 105) were current master’s students enrolled in the colleges of Business, Social Work, and Education, Health, and Human Sciences. The students were asked to complete the PRO-SDLS (Stockdale, 2003) and the MSLQ (Pintrich, Smith, Garcia, & McKeachie, 1993), in addition to two demographic questions regarding age and gender.

Four research questions were analyzed using correlational tests, independent samples t-tests, and MANOVA. For this study, there was a significant positive correlation between the composite scores of the PRO-SDLS and the MSLQ (r = .55, p < .05). The coefficient of determination (r2 = .31) indicated that 31% of the variance in participants’ SDL could be attributed to SRL. Nine factors on the MSLQ scale, more than half, showed some level of significant relationship with multiple factors of the PRO-SDLS. There were significant differences between genders in the PRO-SDLS factors of initiative t(103) = 2.07, p t(103) = -2.23, p < .05, and self-efficacy t(103) = 2.37, p t(103) = -1.84, p < .05, metacognitive self-regulation t(103) = -2.59, p < .05, and effort regulation t(103) = -3.49, p < .05.

Implications for practice were suggested, such as development of master’s programs that encourage the opportunity to exercise SDL and SRL. Recommendations for further research are also discussed.

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