The term self-directed learning (SDL) applies to a set of activities in which the learner maintains primary responsibility for planning, carrying out, and evaluating some educational project. Early research and theory building on SDL focused primarily on measuring the extent to which adults conducted significant learning projects independent of formal educational institutions and on describing the process they used to plan and carry out their learning. Academic research on the scope and effectiveness of SDL was advanced in the 1970s through the work of Steven Brookfield, Malcolm Knowles, Roger Hiemstra, Ralph Brockett, and Allen Tough.

These researchers found that adult learners invested significant time in intentional projects to acquire and retain knowledge or skill or to bring about a sustained change in their personal or professional ...

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