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Supporting Self-Directed Learning: A National Needs Analysis

Abstract

Introduction

It is broadly agreed that physicians must be self-directed learners, and many studies measuring medical student readiness and capacity for self-directed learning (SDL) have been reported. However, less attention has been paid to faculty tasked with guiding students to develop SDL skills. In an effort to determine whether faculty feel equipped to foster SDL, a needs assessment was developed.

Methods

The faculty needs assessment for fostering SDL (FNA-fSDL) was constructed and distributed nationally to medical educators. Faculty perceptions of the value of SDL, administration support, and faculty development were queried. Items also measured faculty recognition of cognitive, affective, and metacognitive strategies shown to cultivate SDL. Descriptive statistical analysis and frequency comparison tests to identify potential group differences related to work responsibility, classroom/clinical setting, and level of learner served were performed.

Results

Among the 359 respondents representing diverse areas of medical education, there was overwhelming agreement that physicians in training should be self-directed learners and that faculty require training in educational approaches promoting SDL. Faculty were more likely to recognize strategies supporting development of metacognitive skills and least likely to identify those related to cognitive aspects of learning. Fewer than half of faculty had received training in fostering SDL at their home institutions or at conferences.

Discussion

While there is strong support for the development of SDL among learners, these results suggest most faculty do not feel sufficiently trained to accomplish this goal. The FNA-fSDL can be used by institutions to assess their own faculty.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Lynn Foster-Johnson, Ph.D., for critically reading the manuscript and providing valuable insight, Saori Herman, MLIS, AHIP, for her assistance with references, and David Orner, MPH, for help with survey distribution.

Funding

This study was supported by an Educational Scholarship grant from the International Association of Medical Science Educators.

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Correspondence to Joanne M. Willey.

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This study was deemed exempt by the Hofstra University Internal Review Board.

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Lim, Y.S., Lyons, V.T. & Willey, J.M. Supporting Self-Directed Learning: A National Needs Analysis. Med.Sci.Educ. 31, 1091–1099 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40670-021-01278-y

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Keywords

  • Self-directed learning
  • Faculty development
  • Learning-oriented teaching