Becoming an Autonomous Learner: Building the Skills of Self-Directed Learning


  • Caleb Collier Georgia State University


The COVD-19 pandemic caused a shift in education at all levels. As school moved to online and virtual environments, educators across the globe had to assess had to cultivate a sense of autonomy in learners that worked from home. Schools are beginning to re-open for in-person learning, but the conversation about learner agency and autonomy is here to stay. In this article, attention is paid to the characteristics of a self-directed learner as articulated by Guglielmino’s (1978) Self-Directed Learning Readiness Scale (SDLRS) and the Learner Autonomy Profile (LAP) created by Confessore and Confessor (1994), Meyer (2001), Carr (1999), Derrick (2001), and Ponton (1999). The goal of this article is to advance the argument that self-directed learning (SDL) is a learning pathway open to all and that the skills of SDL are learnable and can be developed over time. To this end, this article is a survey in research over the past few decades, particularly of research around creating instrumentation to assess of a learner’s self-directedness. A deeper understanding of the characteristics of SDL will equip educators to better navigate the changing landscape of education — from other-directed school experiences to self-directed (potentially virtual and asynchronous) learning.






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