Date of Award:

2014

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

School of Teacher Education and Leadership

Advisor/Chair:

Michael K. Freeman

Abstract

In 2012, Seminaries and Institutes of Religion (S&I), a division of The Church Educational System of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, introduced a self-directed professional development program that allowed educators to obtain two certification credentials by completing 12 certification projects per credential. This qualitative study used phenomenology to examine the following question: “What are S&I educators’ experiences with self-directed learning in doing certification projects?” Data were obtained through one-on-one, semistructured interviews with seven professionalS&I educators who described their lived experiences with this phenomenon. Self-directed learning theory, as influenced by andragogy, provided the theoretical and conceptual framework for this study and contributed to the analysis and interpretation of the data and findings. Findings indicate that personal and contextual factors influence how self-directed learning for purposes of professional development is experienced; understanding program requirements, expectations, and processes, and possessing sufficient motivation and justification, facilitate involvement in this form of self-directed learning; collaborative learning can be used in self-directed learning and can lead to improved learning and practice-related outcomes; and self-directed learning for purposes of professional development can result in meaningful learning experiences, changes in instructional practice, and perceived professional growth, especially when aligned with compelling professional learning needs and interests. This study concluded by offering recommendations for potentially facilitating S&I educators’ involvement in self-directed learning in doing certification projects and for increasing the impact of such projects on educators’ professional growth.

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