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The Development of Adult Learner Autonomy and Self-Directedness in Distance Education



Distance education's use of the instructional systems design model has been challenged by critics who suggest that the learner is passive and learning is superficial. A suggestion is that distance education should be structured so that learners assume a more active role in the development and use of autonomous and self-directed learning strategies. The learner would be active making decisions about the learning process. This interactive learning process reflects a unique developmental journey; adult learners develop skills, knowledge, and attitudes as they engage in increasingly advanced forms of self-direction. To create learner autonomy and self-direction, a design model of teaching/learning in distance education is proposed that suggests a continuum of three stages, moving from low autonomy and self-directedness in learners in Stage 1 to stimulating varied design models of actions and thinking through moderate instructor dominance and selected student autonomy and self-directed actions in stage 2. This stage would provide moderated group discussions and projects through the tutelage of the instructor. In Stage 3 of high student autonomy and low instructor dominance, the learner would actively design the learning experience. Courses and learning experiences that maximize learner dominance would be offered. (YLB)


Kasworm, C.E. & Yao, B. The Development of Adult Learner Autonomy and Self-Directedness in Distance Education. Retrieved January 19, 2020 from .

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