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Int J Nurs Stud. 2010 Sep;47(9):1152-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2010.02.002. Epub 2010 Mar 11.

Development and preliminary testing of a self-rating instrument to measure self-directed learning ability of nursing students.

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School of Nursing, National Taipei College of Nursing, 365 Ming-Te Road, Peitou District, Taipei, Taiwan, ROC.



With the growing trend of preparing students for lifelong learning, the theory of self-directed learning (SDL) has been increasingly applied in the context of higher education. In order to foster lifelong learning, abilities among nursing students, faculties need to have an appropriate instrument to measure the SDL abilities of nursing students.


The objectives of this study were to develop an instrument to measure the SDL abilities of nursing students and to test the validity and reliability of this instrument.


This study was conducted in 4 phases. In Phase 1, based on a review of the literature, the researchers developed an instrument to measure SDL. In Phase 2, two rounds of the Delphi study were conducted, to determine the content validity of the instrument. In Phase 3, a convenience sample of 1072 nursing students from two representative schools across three different types of nursing programs were recruited to test the construct validity of the Self-Directed Learning Instrument (SDLI). Finally, in Phase 4, the internal consistency and reliability of the instrument were tested.


The resulting SDLI consists of 20 items across the following four domains: learning motivation, planning and implementing, self-monitoring, and interpersonal, communication. The final model in confirmatory factor analysis revealed that this 20-item SDLI indicated a good fit of the model. The value of Cronbach's alpha for the total scale was .916 and for the four domains were .801, .861, .785, and .765, respectively.


The SDLI is a valid and reliable instrument for identifying student SDL abilities. It is available to students in nursing and similar medical programs to evaluate their own SDL. This scale may also enable nursing faculty to assess students' SDL status, design better lesson plans and curricula, and, implement appropriate teaching strategies for nursing students in order to foster the growth of lifelong learning abilities.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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