Original Research

Bridging the gap between self-directed learning of nurse educators and effective student support

Gisela H. Van Rensburg, Yvonne Botma
Curationis | Vol 38, No 2 | a1503 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/curationis.v38i2.1503 | © 2015 Gisela H. Van Rensburg, Yvonne Botma | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 24 March 2015 | Published: 26 November 2015

About the author(s)

Gisela H. Van Rensburg, Department of Health Studies, University of South Africa, South Africa
Yvonne Botma, School of Nursing, University of the Free State, South Africa


Background: Self-directed learning requires the ability to identify one’s own learning needs, develop and implement a plan to gain knowledge and to monitor one’s own progress. A lifelong learning approach cannot be forced, since it is in essence an internally driven process. Nurse educators can, however, act as role models to empower their students to become independent learners by modelling their own self-directed learning and applying a number of techniques in supporting their students in becoming ready for self-directed learning.


Objectives: The aim of the article is to describe the manifestations and implications of the gap between self-directed learning readiness of nurse educators and educational trends in supporting students.


Method: An instrumental case study design was used to gain insight into the manifestations and implications of self-directed learning of nurse educators. Based on the authentic foci of various critical incidents and literature, data were collected and constructed into a fictitious case. The authors then deductively analysed the case by using the literature on self-directed learning readiness as departure point. Four constructs of self-directed learning were identified, namely internal motivation, planning and implementation, self-monitoring and interpersonal communication. Supportive strategies were identified from the available literature.


Results: Nine responses by nurse educators based on the fictitious case were analysed.Analysis showed that readiness for self-directed learning in terms of the identified constructswas interrelated and not mutually exclusive of one other.


Conclusion: The success of lifelong learning is the ability to engage in self-directed learning which requires openness to learning opportunities, good self-concept, taking initiative and illustrating independence in learning. Conscientiousness, an informed acceptance of a responsibility for one’s own learning and creativity, is vital to one’s future orientation towards goal-directed learning. Knowledge and understanding of one’s own and students’ selfdirected learning abilities are critical for nurse educators. In the nursing profession, it has been shown that self-directed learning by the nurse educators has a direct relationship towards the development of a lifelong learning approach by their students. Supporting students towards becoming self-directed learners throughout their professional life, in turn, will impact directly on the quality of nursing and midwifery practice.


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