Staged Self Directed Learning Model (SSDM)

The staged self-directed learning model (SSDM) was developed in 1991 by Gerald Grow. This model has four stages which the student advances through to become self-directed. “Students have varying abilities to respond to teaching that requires them to be self-directed” (Grow). The “teachers purpose is to match the learner’s stage of self-direction and prepare the learner to advance to higher stages” (Grow). Teachers can equip or impede the learner at any stage of the process.

This model “borrows several key concepts from the Situational Leadership Model of Paul Hersey and Kenneth Blanchard” (Grow). Where the learner moves from being a dependent learner to a self-directed learner.

Grows’ model has four stages that the learner progresses through, “stage one,dependent; stage two, interested; stage three, involved; stage four, self-directed” (Grow). The teacher’s role in “stage one is authority/coach, in stage two is to motivator/guide, in stage three a facilitator, and in stage four a consultant/delegate” (Grow).

Self-directed learning is a process that includes planning, doing, and evaluating (Merriam). Within the learning process there are “three types of models; linear, interactive and instructional” (Merriam pg.110).

With the staged self-directed learning model the instructor must be conscious of the stages that the learner is in and adapt their teaching style to each stage “while empowering them to advance to the next level” (Marin). As an instructor you must be cognizant that the learners may be at various stages to becoming self-directed. You must recognize what stage the learners are at as your role will vary between the stages.

“Good teaching matches the learner’s stage of self-direction and helps the leaner advance toward greater self-direction”. According to Grow the instructor must use specific methods of instruction at each stage. As an instructor you must be aware of the student’s learning styles and the stages of self-directed learning and adapt your teaching methods to the majority of the learners to coach and motivate them towards self-directed learning. “Every stage requires balancing the teacher’s power with the student’s emerging self-direction” (Grow).

Instructional methods for stage one learners are “formal lectures, specific assignments, exercises and intensive individual tutoring” (Grow). At stage two the methods used are “goal setting, teacher led discussions, demonstrations, guided practice” (Grow). For stage three the learners learn by participating in “group projects progressing from structured assignments with criteria checklists, to open-ended, student-developed group projects performed without close supervision” (Grow). At stage four the learners are “independent” (Grow), and the role of the teacher is to “cultivate the student’s ability to learn and monitor progress to ensure success” (Grow).

The role of the instructor in the staged self-directed learning model is to motivate, build confidence, and facilitate the learner in advancing through the stages to become a self-directed learner.

Research has shown that self-directed learning can be learned and taught. In using Grows’ model the instructor must empower the learner to become a self-directed learner. Good teaching, “matches the student’s stage of self-direction, and it empowers the student to progress toward greater self-direction” (Grow).

In researching for this journal entry it has increased my knowledge base on self-directed learning. I have and will continue to use self-directed learning in my classes. I was unaware of the stages the learners go through, the impact of mismatching learners, and the instructional methods that best suit each stage of the model. By completing this journal entry will have a positive impact in the learning environment for both myself and the learners.

As I make a paradigm shift to implement this model of self-directed learning in my courses I will continue to engage in informal learning on this subject to enhance my knowledge base.

Grow, G., O., (1991) Teaching Learners to b Self-Directed, Adult Education Quarterly, 42, 125-149, Retrieved from the World Wide Web on October 3, 2013,

Marin, Shirley, Maria, Empowering Students to be Self-Directed Learners, Retrieved from the World Wide Web on October 31, 2013,

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

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