Self-Directed Learning And Growth Toward Personal Responsibility: Implications For A Framework For Health Promotion

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Leadership


Roger Hiemstra


Perry Scheme, Adult education, Continuing education

Subject Categories

Health Psychology


This study is a description of individuals who practice a health conducive lifestyle (HCL) on two dimensions of learning, Self-Directed Learning Readiness (SDLR) and the Perry Scheme of Cognitive and Ethical Stage Development. The purpose was to learn if self-determining characteristics and attributes characterize individuals who succeed in positive health behaviors and to use this knowledge in framework design for health promotion practice.

Thirty-five adult subjects (21-55 years) actively involved in health conducive behaviors and scoring above the mean on the Personal Health Inventory (Dull, Hahn, 1981) completed the SDLR scale (Guglielmino, 1977) and responded by written essay to a Perry scheme protocol.

Perry protocols, framed in a health context, discerned stage development and elicited reasoning about knowledge and the role of authority in personal health. Essays were interpreted by the Syracuse Perry Rating Group. The SDLR scale measured self-direction in learning, and its eight factors further described the sample on personal self-directed characteristics.

SDLR characteristics were highly present in the HCL sample. The mean was 237.4. Level of formal education attained correlated significantly with SDLRS scores. SDLS sub-factors most highly present were: View of Learning as a Beneficial Process, Acceptance of Responsibility of Own Learning, Love of Learning and Tolerance of Risk, Complexity and Ambiguity in Learning.

All subjects were rated beyond the stage representing basic dualistic though processes according to the Perry Scheme. Approximately 20 percent were at positions denoting contextual relativism, and 5 percent were at committed levels. Richly descriptive data, gleaned from essay responses is discussed relative to view of self-efficacy in health, health projects, ideal learning situations and preferred client/practitioner relationships. All subjects desired control of personal health decisions and activities. None felt the need to be authority directed. Education level correlated significantly with Perry positions. Advanced Perry positions tended to be found in subjects in the 35-55 year range.

Exploratory measures found no significant overall relationship between stage of development (Perry) and readiness for SDL, however, a SDLR factor, Self-Concept as Effective Learner, correlated significantly with Perry stage.

Recommendations are made for a health enhancement practice framework that encourages a self-determining client orientation.

Study included SDLRS internal consistency testing. Correlation findings of factor scores with total SDLR scores, and of questionnaire items with factors and total SDLR scores are reported.

Utility of the Perry Scheme in a health context is discussed.


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