“Only be accepting responsibility for one’s own learning is it possible to take an approach to the learning process”


“Only by accepting responsibility for one’s own learning is it possible to take a approach to the learning process” (Merriam et al 2007, p 107-108).

Objective: What have you learned from reflecting on this particular quote? What has caught your attention?

This quote caught my attention, because as nurses we must accept responsibility for our actions, be accountable for those actions and the decisions we make. Nurses make a commitment to engage in lifelong learning. This statement falls into the humanistic philosophy, “which posits personal growth as the goal of adult learning” (Merriam et al 2007, p 107). It also involves “two other tenets of humanistic philosophy; personal autonomy and free will to make individual choices” (Merriam et al 2007, p 108). Researching this quote, validated that adult learners must accept responsibility for their learning and choices. If the learner is not proactive and self-directed they often fall short to keep up with assignments and preparation for class which leads to their learning being compromised. Self-directed learning has evolved over time and is essential in adult learning.

Reflective: What did you realize about teaching as a result of this quote?

Reflecting upon this quote, I learned that the individual has “an unlimited potential for growth” (A conceptual Framework for Understanding Self-Direction in Adult Learning). The learner must be self-directed, autonomous, engage in ongoing evaluation of their learning needs, progress, and take control of their learning to achieve their goals. At the beginning of each module I have my students complete a learning plan. After each evaluation throughout the module I have them revise their learning. This assists them to engage in self reflection and ongoing evaluation of their learning needs and progress. It also allows me as the Instructor to access their needs. Theorists have different views of self-directed learning. Candy offers, “As a personal quality or attribute, independent pursuit of learning outside formal instructional settings, as a way of organizing instruction” (Merriam et al 2007, p 106)  Whereas Knowles offers, “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” (Merriam et al 2007, p 106). All theorist believe that the focus is on the earner to take a proactive approach to their learning and accept responsibility for their learning. As nurses, we constantly plan, implement and evaluate as part of the nursing process. With self-directed learning this must also be completed on an ongoing basis. Therefore this type of learning will assist the student to develop these skills, to achieve the best possible outcomes for their patients when they are out in the field practicing. As an adult educator my role is to mentor the learner to assume accountability for their learning. This can be done by, providing choices, promoting independence, creativity, engaging the learner, sharing of information including experiences and practice stories.

Interpretive: What was your “Aha!” moment when you read this quote? In what way(s) did the quote change your mind about being an adult educator? What was one key insight that you now have as a result of this quote?

For me the “Aha” moment was when I read “accepting responsibility for one’s own learning” (Merriam et al 2007, p 107). This emphasizes that the student is responsible for their success or failure not the Instructor. “Successful students are actively involved in their own learning, monitor their thinking, think about their learning, and assume responsibility for their own learning” (Lambert & McCombs,2000). One key insight I have learned as a result of researching this quote is that the role of the Instructor is a facilitator. And that it is not the Instructor’s responsibility to ensure the student’s success. The Instructor is to provide a positive engaging learning environment, mentor the students to accept responsibility, and encourage self-reflection. There is no one teaching method that should be used in self-directed learning. The self-directed learner has “Personal autonomy and free will to make individual choices” (Merriam et al 2007, p 108).

Decisional: How has this quote and the insight that you have gained from reflecting upon it, influenced your notion of teaching or how you will teach in the future?

The insight I have gained from this quote is that the student must take a proactive approach to their learning and accept responsibility for their choices. As I have witnessed this is not always the case within the adult education. It is often easier for the student to blame others for their failure than accepting responsibility for it. As an Instructor I have found that the adult learner often does not come to class prepared, fails to hand in assigned work that are not for marks, and are not engaged in class discussions. After collaborating with other faculty and my supervisor, I chose to alter the course mark breakdown in response to students not taking a proactive approach to their learning. I have assigned a five percent mark for in class assignments/activities and homework assignments. The students were informed in the first class that each these assignments will be graded out of five marks. Another example is, after collaborating with my students, I have included a five percent bonus mark for pre-lecture questions. There are one to three questions that are based on the previous lecture or the required pre readings. Each question is graded point five.  My rationale for implementing this, it gives the Instructor the opportunity to evaluate which students have developed an understanding of the previous lecture content and come to the class prepared.This bonus mark is added to the students mark after they have met the required sixty five percent to pass to the module. “How you access your students will impact how and what they learn” (Blumberg, P, Learner-Centered Teaching).


Blumberg, Phyllis, Learner-Centered Teaching, Retrieved on January 6, 2012, from the World Wide Web: http://www.usciences.edu/teaching/Learner-Centered/

Brockett and Hiemstra, A Conceptual Framework for Understanding Self-Direction in Adult Learning, Retrieved on January 1, 2013 from the World Wide Web: http://www.infed.org/archives/e-text/hiemstra_self_direction.htm

Lambert, Nadine & McCombs, Babara, .How Students Learn, (2000)

Merriam, S.B., Caffarella, R. S., & Baumgartner, L.M. (2007), Learning in Adulthood a Comprehensive Guide (3rd Edition)



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