The readiness of adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder for self-directed learning

Melissa Sue Wright


This study investigated the readiness for self-directed learning of adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), as well as their overall educational experiences. Using Guglielmino's Self-Directed Learning Readiness Scale for Adults (SDLRS-A), the researcher investigated whether the following factors were significantly related to adults with ADHD and their readiness for self-directed learning: gender, age of diagnosis, treatment for a period of at least six months, level of education, and the existence of co-morbid conditions. Fifty-four adults who were at least 18 years old and self-reported a formal diagnosis of ADHD participated in this study. There were 22 (41.5%) males and 31 (58.5%) females, with one person not reporting his or her gender. The results indicated that level of education was significantly related to self-directed learning in adults with ADHD. Those who had completed college with at least a bachelor's degree scored significantly higher than those who had not earned at least a bachelor's degree. The participants' readiness for self-directed learning was not significantly related to gender, age of diagnosis, treatment, or the existence of co-morbid conditions. However, because over 75% of the participants were college graduates, the sample was atypical of the adult ADHD population, and thus more research needs to be conducted in order to support the findings. Interviews were conducted with 10 of the participants (six females and four males) in order to determine how they described their educational experiences and what facets of these experiences were common to participants. The participants described the educational experiences in primarily negative terms such as constant feelings of stress and failure and depression. The results also revealed the following six themes: creativity, a lack of organizational skills, a need for feedback when completing learning projects, the tendency to procrastinate, and the preference for hands-on activities and/or concrete examples in the learning environment. Implications for adult educators included re-examining the roles of the instructor in creating self-directed learners and using various theories of self-directed learning to assess and plan learning activities for adult learners with ADHD.