Document Type



Doctor of Education


Adult & Higher Education

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

E. Paulette Isaac-Savage, EdD


Henschke, John A.


Han, Pi-Chi

Rudeen, P. Kevin


Many studies have investigated relationships between self-directedness and various indicators of success in university coursework but few have explored the evolution of self-directedness that may or may not occur in these settings. This study sought to discover how self-direction in learning of participants in an undergraduate healthcare ethics course evolved. Emphasis of this evolution was placed on the learner’s perspective. The study also examined the relationship between course delivery method and degree of evolution of self-directedness during the studied semester. A traditional section, a blended section, and an online section of the healthcare ethics course were studied. Within three sections of the studied course, 68 undergraduate students participated in the mixed methods study. Data collection included pre-course and post-course completion of the Self-Directed Learning Readiness Scale (SDLRS), demographic information, a pre-course survey, a standardized course evaluation survey and interviews with selected participants. While all three sections of the studied course demonstrated an increase in self-directedness as measured by the SDLRS, none of the changes were statistically significant or different when comparing results from all three sections of the studied course. The blended section of the course produced the highest mean change, followed by the traditional section and, lastly, the online section. In addition, all three sections produced comparable satisfaction scores based on the standardized course evaluation survey. The researcher’s primary discovery is that course delivery method does not impact the learner’s ability to be self-directed in learning. A secondary discovery is that one experience may not be sufficient for the learner’s self-directedness to significantly evolve. The interviews provided an opportunity to explore the experiences from the learners’ perspective. Four themes emerged from the interview sessions: internal and external motivation, outside influences and other academic experiences. Understanding these themes may assist the educator in tailoring learning experiences to guide the learner to various forms of self-directed learning. Future research may enhance the literature base by performing longitudinal studies of groups of learners through varied programs. Data obtained through consecutive semesters of coursework may assist in the development and implementation of strategies to assist and guide learners toward learning self-direction.

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