The measurement of self-directed learning among postsecondary disability services administrators

LaKeshia Marche Alexander, University of Southern Mississippi


With increasing budget cuts, decreasing funds for training opportunities, and increasing demands for services for students with disabilities, there is a need for researchers to identify how DSAs prepare for and operate in their positions in disability services (Madaus, 1998). The researcher proposes that like many adults, DSAs may be engaging in self-directed study to gain the necessary knowledge and skills needed in order to perform their jobs effectively. The purpose of this study was to examine whether a relationship existed between self-directed learner readiness and the number of learning projects completed by disability services administrators (DSAs) in the postsecondary setting. The researcher examined the types of learning project planners, as defined by Tough (1979), that disability services administrators used. A self-created instrument based on Tough's Interview Schedule for Studying Some Basic Characteristics of Learning Projects (1979) was used to measure the number of learning projects and the types of planners used. Guglielmino's (1977) Self-Directed Learning Readiness Scale (SDLRS) was utilized to measure the DSAs' readiness for self-direction in learning. A short demographic questionnaire was created in order to gather descriptive data about the participants. A total of 51 DSAs from 15 states across the United States and Hawaii participated in the study. Results indicated that no significant relationship existed between the number of learning projects completed and the eight factors of the SDLRS. The average SDLRS score for DSAs in the sample was 240.49 which is considered above average , and higher than the adult population norm which is 214.00. The DSAs engaged in a total of 391 learning projects of which 269 were reported to be related to the DSA's career or position as a disability services provider. There was no significant relationship between a DSA's institution type, or age, and the number of learning projects he or she conducted in the twelve-month period prior to the interview. There was no significant relationship between a DSA's level of self-directedness and his or her race/ethnicity, gender, number of years as a DSA, or educational background. Finally, there was no significant difference between DSAs who are below average , average , and above average self-directed learners and the type of planner used for learning. Overall, the results of this study indicated that the DSAs sampled were highly self-directed adult learners who engaged in the average number of learning projects (five to seven projects per year), which is comparable to other adult learners (Tough, 1979).