The Benefits of Being a Self-Directed Adult Learner

by Chris Latham | in January 3, 2022

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Is Self-Directed Learning Effective For Adults?

For 80% of my adult life, I would identify myself as a self-directed learner. From personal training, nutrition, digital marketing and now coding. Self-directed learning is a type of education that has been rising in recent years. Instead of being taught by someone else, you are responsible for your own learning in self-directed learning. You decide what to learn and how to learn it, all without any guidance from a teacher. 

Some people see this as a positive way for adults to get an education. In contrast, others worry about the lack of structure and supervision in self-directed settings. This article will explore the benefits and drawbacks of self-directed learning for adults.

What is self directed learning Chris Latham

What is self-directed learning?

Self-directed learning, also known as autodidacticism, is basically an education that involves little or no physical instruction from other people. In this model of education, instead of going to class, you learn through books, podcasts, YouTube videos, or any other media. In self-directed learning, you choose what, when and how long your education should be.

It’s important to note that self-directed learning does not mean self-teaching. Self-teaching is when you teach yourself a subject about which you don’t know anything and then use your newly found knowledge to teach others. With self-directed learning, people are just educating themselves on what they want to learn without paying for it.

Being a self-directed learner as an adult has many benefits over those who do not educate themselves outside of school or work hours because it allows them to pursue personal interests at their own pace without feeling pressured by deadlines or grades like in traditional education systems. There are also some drawbacks to self-directed learning. One of the most significant drawbacks is that self-directed learners are usually dealing with more work, especially if they are also working a full-time job in addition to trying to do self-directed learning.

Benefits of self directed learning for adults Chris Latham

The benefits of self-directed learning for adults

The top benefits of self-directed learning for adults are that they can take control over their own education, learn at their own pace, and have the flexibility to take courses in any subject of their choosing.

Adults who learn independently often adapt the learning methods to fit their busy schedules. 

Self-directed learning allows you to determine what works for you and choose appropriate learning strategies that correspond to your learning interests. You can tailor the learning process to fit your schedule and your interests, and you can even change your goals along the way. This is an essential aspect of self-directed learning. You can choose to learn about topics you’re interested in or explore new ones that interest you.

Self-directed learners also enjoy increased productivity due to decreased procrastination. The downside is that you need a lot of discipline because no one else tells you what to do or when to do it. But with enough self-motivation and support, it’s possible for anyone to achieve.

For example, a self-directed learner may require accountability from others, while another may need competition or assistance. To find like-minded people who want to share their knowledge, check out online groups, hackerspaces, or find a mentor. Regardless of your motivations, make sure that you have a positive attitude and the right resources. 

Another way self-directed learning is beneficial for adults is that it saves them a lot of money.

Be successful with your own learning Chris Latham

How to be successful with your own learning?

Self-directed learning is a style of education that has been growing in popularity over the last few decades. It emphasizes self-motivated study and independent problem solving without relying on teachers or textbooks. 

The most successful self-learners take advantage of all their resources to learn what they want when they want it.

There are four key points to remember if you’re going self-directed: make an outline, choose your own topics, use outside sources for information and get help from friends when needed.

When you go with this type of learning plan, you will be able to teach yourself anything that interests you in a way that suits your needs best. You can also spend more time exploring ideas before deciding which ones have the most relevance for you.

The drawbacks of self-directed learning

The main disadvantage of self-directed learning is the lack of feedback. I’ve found that when people are not getting the results they want, it is challenging for them to figure out what may be wrong with their approach. 

This can lead to frustration and discouragement as one tries, again and again, to do things differently but still does not see any progress.

Another drawback is that there are no experts guiding you through the learning process, so you will have difficulty figuring out how to tackle problems or make decisions. 

Because self-directed learners don’t have anyone else to turn to for help, they often feel isolated and alone in their work, leading them to feel discouraged or even depressed because they don’t see any progress.

The third drawback is the lack of structure and clear directions. As a self-directed learner, you have to find your own way through a maze of information that is out there in the world, just waiting for you to pick up and absorb. 

You have no one telling you what is important or how to get from point A to point B. This can take a lot of time and still not provide the desired results.

Successful strategies for being self taught Chris Latham

Successful strategies for being self-taught

Educating yourself can be a daunting task. One helpful strategy is to focus on the question “What do I want to learn?” and break it down into more minor, more manageable questions.

Once you answer these questions, you’ll find many ways to learn what you need to know to get where you want to go. Another strategy is to educate oneself using different resources such as books, videos or even podcasts that cover topics of interest. 

These resources will not only teach about one subject but also give links and references, which can lead the learner further into their desired topic area. It all comes down to being able to connect the dots when learning.

The learning process when self-taught

When it comes to your own learning process, it is crucial that you are persistent! Persistence builds skills and provides motivation which are necessary components of self-directed learning. The self-directed learning process can be broken down into three parts.

  1. Goal-setting is the activity of determining where you are in reference to your goal and planning ways to reach it.
  2. Feedback, or monitoring progress, is one of the most important components because it helps determine whether or not a learner is on track or not. This feedback helps adjust the plan, identify problems and obstacles that prevent the learning goal from being reached and provide motivation to increase effort when needed.
  3. Reflection helps self-directed learners turn to action by clarifying what has been learned and identifying changes that might need to be made in their goals or strategies.

As you can see, self-directed learning is an active learning process where learners themselves take responsibility for their education. Learners should be able to drive what they need when they need it, which will result in more efficient learning than if they were following someone else’s plan.

The effectiveness of a self-directed education

The research on self-directed learning is limited. However, the positive effects are more significant in those who learn independently. Self-directed learning is effective for those who have the self-discipline and motivation and the time and place to do it.

Your success relies on you. It is up to you how much effort you put in and what goals you set for yourself. If you stick with it, your efforts will pay off.

There are no grades to live up to, and nothing compares to the self-satisfaction of succeeding in a self-directed learning experience and mastering a new area or subject.

Another critical factor in improving success is to be a lifelong learner. Adult learners need to assume personal responsibility for their desired outcome. As the saying goes learning is a lifelong process. Knowing this, we should educate ourselves throughout our lives and not just in school.

My Final Thoughts on Being Self Taught Chris Latham

Final Thoughts on Self-Directed Learning for Adults

Self-directed learning can be an empowering way to learn on your own terms, and it is a great way to keep your mind sharp and learn new skills.

The benefits of self-directed learning are varied, but they include the ability to create a personalized curriculum and use what you’ve learned for personal or professional purposes. Although there are some drawbacks to self-directed learning, these are primarily rooted in not having access to tutors or mentors when you need them most. 

If this sounds like something that could work well with your goals, it may be worth exploring informal learning tactics to help you achieve success!

About the author 

Chris Latham

RELENTLESSLY CURIOUS are the two words that describe me best. I enjoy finding solutions for seemingly big problems. I live my life constantly seeking new experiences. This is all driven by a child-like curiosity for people, places, and things.

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