Assessing and Teaching Primary Students About Self-Directed Learning

Assessing and Teaching Primary Students About Self-Directed Learning

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2613-1.ch004
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Chapter 4 describes the development of the second part of the assessment that assesses primary students' SDL. Following this there is an outline of the way the assessment was administered in six schools before and after 150 students participated in an intervention study in which the author taught Year 5 classes about SDL in four lessons based on the framework for classroom development of SDL. The chapter ends with a summary of the analysis of the aggregated scores of 150 students across four assessments of their SDL knowledge.
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Assessing Learning Processes In Primary Schools

There has been little attention to discussions of teaching or evaluating primary students’ SDL, although Treffinger’s (1975) descriptions of ways to assist gifted elementary (primary) students to become self-directing (Treffinger, 1975) provides an outline of SDL processes. However, it has been noted previously that he did not discuss knowledge of SDL as the basis for students’ SDL behavior.

Students’ dispositional beliefs influence their orientation to learning and the learning behaviors they choose. These beliefs are the tendency students have to act and think in positive ways, and are evident in the ways they approach tasks and reflect on their own thinking (Tittle, 1994). Importantly, dispositional beliefs influence self-regulation strategies chosen by students to set goals as they work on inquiry tasks, and the effort they make to use their skills as they direct their learning activities. Students’ dispositional beliefs can be positive or negative and are directly related to motivation. This is particularly relevant for effective SDL because these beliefs influence strategies students choose as they learn, attributions they make for success and failure on tasks, as well as whether they feel competent to learn. This is important in SDL because when students become more confident, they are more likely to be cognitively engaged in learning and thinking (Pintrich, 2003). They will be motivated if they are interested in activities being carried out, and perceive that they are making progress toward their goals (Pintrich, 2003).

Motivation also contributes to students’ feelings of confidence because if they believe they can do well, they are more likely to make an effort, persist with difficulties and concentrate on tasks. As discussed earlier, it is well understood that motivational beliefs influence tasks students choose to do, the level of engagement they have in these tasks, and their willingness to persist when they strike difficulties (Pintrich, Marx & Boyle 1993).

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