Self directed learning is initially developed in adult education, but can it apply to K-12 learners? Beese and Watson (2016) address this question through a descriptive case study
. They investigated two SDL related theoretical constructs: self-regulation and self-determination in their case. Self-regulation explores the subject's cognitive skills and goal-directed behaviors, while self-determination examines the learner's subjective sense of motivation. An ideal self-directed learner should develop both self-regulating skills and behaviors, and have integrated motivations.
This case study reported a homeschooler Miranda’s SDL journey. The researchers conducted semi-structured interviews with Miranda and her home-educating mother Kate, and collected document, picture artifacts, and Miranda's learning journal entries for analysis. They found that Miranda's SDL journey can be broadly divided into three stages:
- Before self-direction stage (from ages 6 to 10):
- Facilitating individual interests and stimulate situational interests toward academic subjects
- Transition to self-direction (roughly from ages 10 to 13):
- Facilitating development of learner's self-regulated time-management in standard academic subjects
- Self-direction (afterwards):
- Supporting independent studies and projects in areas of self-determined motivation
Although it is only one case in the study, as Beese and Watson acknowledged in the limitation, it gives "rich picture" about SDL learning for K-12 learners. While this study focused on SDL as a learning goal and result, findings from this study can provide inspirations to educators who would like to use SDL as a pedagogy in K-12 classrooms.