The Underlying Knowledge Base

Since the early 1970s, few if any topics have been the focus of more study in adult education than self-direction in learning. In looking at the knowledge base of self-direction, this part is divided into three chapters, each of which examines a different stream of research. In Chapter Three, studies growing out of Allen Tough's seminal work on adult's learning projects are presented. Through this research, it became clear that self-planning is the most frequent approach adults take in their learning efforts.

As researchers became more enthusiastic about the potential of studying self-direction, efforts were undertaken to find ways to measure levels of self-directedness among learners. To date, two instruments have been the primary vehicles for such studies. These are reviewed in Chapter Four.

The next chapter, five, considers studies on self-direction based on naturalistic research and qualitative data. These studies have added considerably to how the process of self-directed learning is undertaken and to the social context in which such learning takes place.

Together, the studies presented in the three chapters of Part Two fill in many pieces of the puzzle that is self-direction in adult learning. But, more important, they help to provide an understanding of where holes still exist in the knowledge base.


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