Does the learning experience for students at the Australian Science and Mathematics School promote the development of self-directed learners?

Year: 2013

Author: Nicholls, Bronte, Curtis, David

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


This paper reports ongoing research which began in 2011 at the Australian Science and Mathematics School (ASMS) in partnership with the School of Education at Flinders University.   There are three main purposes to the research.  Firstly to identify features of student's behaviour that suggest they are operating as a self-directed learner, secondly, to measure the change in a student's capacity as a self-directed learner over their time at the ASMS, and thirdly to identify, develop and document the pedagogies teachers at the ASMS use to support the develop self-directed learners.  Early in 2011, an inventory consisting of a set of statements consistent with 4 aspects or constructs of self-directedness, namely motivation, efficacy, effort and reflection was developed.  This provided the basis of a survey tool, the SDL survey, where students self-report their level of agreement with 20 statements.  This was distributed to all students at the ASMS during May and October 2011 and July 2012.  It is planned to administer the survey in May and October 2013.  Students about to commence at the school in 2012 and 2013 also responded to the survey during Transition Day activities.  Analyses of data suggests that there is a change in the student's perception of their ability to operate as a self-directed learner over their time at the ASMS, with the pre-commencement scores being highest followed by a drop in Year 10 then an increase in Year 12.  When data is disaggregated into the 4 constructs of self-directedness, differences between year levels can be observed, particularly for effort and reflection.  This finding has prompted the development of pedagogical interventions to support students in their transition into the ASMS and to have students use their SDL survey results to track their learning behaviour over time.