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Topics: Management, Learning / Pages: 7 (1660 words) / Published: Aug 30th, 2014
Self Managed Learning: Theory and Practice - Mike Peckham
The Definition

Cunningham (1) has defined self-managed learning as “…idealised adult action learning”, which to most of us may be meaningless. Few writers have managed to produce an understandable explanation of the term and yet, paradoxically, it is based on common sense.

PSA’s own definition is based on work by Cunningham (1), Rogers (2), Rowlands (3) and others. Self-managed learning is a developmental process in which adults take on full responsibility for their own learning. This sounds incredibly simple, and you may even be thinking, “so what does the tutor do?”

Unfortunately learners in our care rarely take on this responsibility and, therefore, it is the role of the tutor to make a subtle change happen. Donaldson (4) has suggested that knowledge becomes understanding when things matter; so in terms of learning it is the role of the tutor to enable learners to understand that it does matter and that therefore they need to take on that responsibility. Sometimes this task is earlier said than done!

The learning style which PSA uses is based on the following simple principles:

People learn best from experience; their own or sometimes other people 's.

People learn things differently.

People need to learn different things.

The best learning happens when we feel in charge of it, when we have responsibility.

People cannot be forced to learn.

How can people become self-managed learners?

While it is wrong to generalise, it is true to say that most people regard development as something done to them rather than something they do for themselves – so how do people become responsible for their own learning? There is much in Donaldons’ statement about making things matter – so how does this happen? Unfortunately, to misquote a well known proverb, “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it gather moss”! The difficulty has been that developers have tended to assume that it

References: Cunningham, I., "Self managed learning", The Journal of Management Education and Learning, Sage, London, 1992. Rogers, C., On Becoming a Person, Constable, London, 1967. Rowlands, S., The Enquiring Tutor, Falmer Press, London, 1993. Donaldson, M., The Human Mind, Penguin, London, 1993. Revans, R., Action Learning, Chartwell Bratt, London, 1982. Telephone: +44 (0)1291 627120 Email:

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