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Healthcare professionals' self-directed learning at the workplace

Aagten, D. (2016) Healthcare professionals' self-directed learning at the workplace.

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Abstract:Self-directed learning is a well-known concept that is widely accepted as a pre-requisite for the life-long learning skills employees’ need nowadays. The same applies for healthcare professionals, since the healthcare sector is a constantly changing environment. Self-directed learning skills enhance motivation and autonomy, which subsequently improve employees’ professional performance at the workplace. Research revealed that workplace learning experiences mostly consists of multiple learning strategies, where employees direct their learning process in advance, during, or after their learning experience. Although workplace learning is often unintentional, it seems that people can still direct their learning process in a retrospective way. In this study the actual self-directed learning (SDL) behaviour of healthcare employees is examined, in which a distinction is made between fully and no SDL behaviour. To explore specific SDL behaviour of healthcare employees, two different measurement instruments are used. First, employees’ SDL attitude in relation to some demographic factors are measured, which in earlier research revealed to be an influencing factor on employees’ SDL behaviour at the workplace. Second, a structured learning log, which is a multiple-event measurement tool, measured the concrete SDL behaviour of healthcare employees. Results showed a significant relation between employees’ employment, occupational category and someone’s SDL attitude. Healthcare professionals who worked more hours, and were in the occupational category of nurses possessed a more positive attitude towards SDL than employees’ working less hours and in other occupational categories. Overall, employees had an above average positive attitude regarding SDL. For that reason, it was expected that employees would show a high degree of SDL behaviour at the workplace. However, no significant relation is found between employees’ SDL attitude and their actual SDL behaviour. Meaning that there is no evidence to assume that someone’s attitude regarding SDL predicts the extent to which employees direct their learning at the workplace. Nevertheless, in this study employees showed above average monitoring and future planning behaviour. As a result, outcomes revealed that people who learn in a reactive and non-deliberative way, can still direct their learning process, which is in line with previous research. In addition, results showed significant relations between certain SDL behaviour and specific learning strategies and learning outcomes. For example, in planned learning experiences, strategies like experimenting and information searching were deployed significantly more often than other strategies. These results gave more empirical grounding for specific workplace-related SDL behaviour, and underlying patterns in learning processes. Further research is recommended to get more insight into the relation between people’s SDL attitude and their actual SDL behaviour at the workplace. In depth interviews and observations might add value to the underlying processes and relationships in SDL in the work context.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:81 education, teaching
Programme:Educational Science and Technology MSc (60023)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/69535
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