Learning Preference Assessmentby Dr. Lucy M. Guglielmino and Dr. Paul J. Guglielmino
Certain learning situations tend to promote self-direction in learning more than others, but it is the personal characteristics of the learner - including his or her attitudes, values, and abilities - that ultimately determine whether self-directed learning will take place in a given situation. The Learning Preference Assessment (LPA) is designed to gather data on an employee's preferences and attitudes towards learning.
Self-direction in learning can occur in a wide variety of situations. Malcolm Knowles defines self-directed learning as a process in which individuals take the initiative, with or without the help of others, in diagnosing their learning needs, formulating learning goals, identifying human and material resources for learning, choosing and implementing appropriate learning strategies, and evaluating learning outcomes.
Self-directed learning is rarely a neat, orderly, continuous, sequential process. In any self-directed learning project, problems may arise, such as lack of resources or lack of time. Interruptions in the learning may occur as other areas of life intervene. Then a chance incident may provide renewed motivation or interest, restarting the process. Outside forces may cause re-evaluation and redirection. Finally, learning projects may not always be consciously planned and therefore not consciously carried through. More focused planning and reflection on the entire process, however, are likely to enhance significantly the value and effectiveness of any self-directed learning project.
There are many benefits to be gained from expanding your employees' readiness for self-direction in learning. Training that is accomplished through self-directed learning has several benefits. It is likely to:
- Have greater relevance to the needs of the learner
- Offer more flexibility in the scheduling of learning
- Encourage the development of patterns for approaching and solving problems
- Provide for more cost-effective use of training resources
- Make possible more frequent updating of skills and information
- Develop skills and attitudes that can be applied to personal learning needs as well as work-related needs