Identification of important behaviors which indicate a readiness for self-directed learning in sales training settings

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Teaching and Leadership


Roger Hiemstra


Learning readiness

Subject Categories



The purpose of this study was to investigate self-directed learning in sales training settings. The research objectives were to: (a) discover the most useful and differentiating characteristics which, in the opinion of trainers, enable salespeople to assume responsibility for their own learning; (b) to uncover significant relationships between various background variables and trainer perceptions of the importance of various characteristics of self-directed learning; and (c) to suggest appropriate items and structure for the future development of an instrument to help trainers and managers assess an individual's capacity for self-directed learning.

Literature reviews and interviews with sales, sales management, and sales training personnel in several major corporations were undertaken. In order to assess the helpfulness of items identified in the review and interview phase, a questionnaire was designed, validated, and administered to 198 sales training managers and/or trainers representing over 150 in U.S. and Canadian corporations.

Data received from the survey was factor analyzed to identify the underlying dimensions. A six factor orthogonal rotation offered the conceptually most meaningful solution. The resulting factors were named: Factor One, Charismatic Organizational Player; Factor Two, Responsible Consumption; Factor Three, Feedback and Reflection; Factor Four, Seeking and Applying; Factor Five, Assertive Learning Behavior; and Factor Six, Information Gathering. On a seven point scale, the means of five of the six factor scale scores clustered around the sixth point. The mean of Factor Scale Score Five, Assertive Learning Behavior was comparatively lower.

Factor scale scores were compared to demographic variables of age, experience, number of employees trained, number of salespeople trained, number of employees supervised, gender, education, job, and organization. Essentially, there was a general lack of relationships between the six factor scale scores and the nine demographic variables studied.

The results of this study will make an important contribution to the understanding of self-directed learning in sales training settings. In addition, these research results will be helpful in the future development of an assessment instrument.


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