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J Allied Health. 2010 Summer;39(2):e37-41.

Self-direction in learning: does it change over time?

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Utica College, 1600 Burrstone Road, Utica, NY 13502-4892, USA.


The purpose of this study was to examine the change in students' self-direction in learning over time. The students were enrolled in two health professional graduate programs at one institution of higher education, occupational therapy (day and weekend formats) and physical therapy. The occupational therapy program uses a cased-based learning (CBL) approach, while the physical therapy program uses a problem-based learning (PBL) approach. From 2003 through 2007, the Self-Directed Learning Readiness Scale (SDLRS) was administered to three cohorts of occupational therapy and physical therapy students upon entrance into the professional phase of their respective programs, and again at the conclusion of their academic coursework. The CBL and PBL approaches incorporate the concept of self-direction in learning. Participants included one hundred and six Utica College students. Eighty-six students met inclusion criteria and were included in the results. The mean score for the pre-test SDLRS for occupational therapy (day) students was 219.10. For occupational therapy (weekend) students, the mean score for the pre- test SDLRS was 223.58. The mean score for the pre-test SDLRS for physical therapy students was 227.77. Mean scores for the post- test SDLRS students were: occupational therapy (day) students: 230.90, occupational therapy (weekend) students: 230.75, and physical therapy students: 242.25. The results of this study revealed that there was a significant difference between SDLRS scores from the first semester of the academic program, the pre-test scores, and those from the last semester of the program, the post-test scores (P > .001). For the pre-test, students scored an average of (standard deviation) of 225.1 (20.5) compared to 237.9 (22.8) for the post-test. These results indicate that self-direction in learning did change over time from the first semester to the final academic semester for a group of 86 occupational therapy and physical therapy students. The results of this study will add to the body of knowledge regarding the education of students in health related programs.

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