Self-directed learning: a toolkit for practitioners in a changing higher education context


  • Charlie Smith School of Art and Design, Liverpool John Moores University



Although self-directed learning (SDL) first emerged as a pedagogic model over forty years ago, recently it has been all but mandated as a fundamental principle of higher education.  This paper examines recent literature from the Quality Assurance Agency and Higher Education Academy, published research and research projects by the author.  These sources inform discussion about implications for teachers of SDL in contemporary practice, with particular reference to changes in the student profile in higher education: where might it be most appropriate, how might it be facilitated, and what cautions might need to be exercised?  The paper concludes with a basic toolkit of principles and ideas for practitioners who may be interested in implementing SDL in their own teaching.

The concepts presented in this paper were initially given in presentations delivered at the Liverpool John Moores University 2014 Learning and Teaching Conference (16-17 June), and the Higher Education Academy 10th Annual Conference (2-3 July 2014), Aston University, UK.






Research In Practice