South African Journal of Education

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A focus on self-directed learning: The role that educators’ expectations play in the enhancement of students’ self-directedness

Charlene du Toit-Brits


Research in self-directed learning (SDL) has become imperative for education and training in the international arena, and in South Africa. This is a result of the changing education landscape all over the world, initiated by the demands of the 21st century and the changes in knowledge and information production. Teacher-centred methods are still the standard in most schools and higher-education institutions in South African and therefore they do not sufficiently prepare students to become lifelong learners in the 21st century. This study was guided by the following research question: How do educators’ expectations influence students’ self-directed learning willingness? A constructivist paradigm is evident in my epistemological position, as the idea of SDL is based on the answers of the 12 research participants rather than on my own conceptualisation, as I choose a more personal manner of data collection and data analysis. It is recommended that educators transform their learning environments into supportive SDL environments by practising good teaching by a) motivating students not only to learn, but teaching students how to learn in a manner that is relevant and meaningful, b) having a longing to share their love of the subject with students, c) encouraging independence in learning, d) implementing teaching approaches that necessitate students to learn actively by taking responsibility for their own and co-operatively learning, and e) demonstrating positive expectations from students’ learning and encouraging students to engage in SDL.

Keywords: educators’ expectations; self-directed learning; self-directedness; students’ motivation; willingness
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