Updated 2020-02-13

Self-Directed Learning and Student Attitudes

This study examines the experiences of twenty three students, in two different Sudbury model schools, and the correlation between freedom and student attitudes about school.
Jennifer Schwartz author
Schwartz, J. (2007). Self-Directed Learning and Student Attitudes. Journal of Unschooling and Alternative Learning, 1(2), 23-52. Retrieved from https://jual.nipissingu.ca/wp-content/uploads/sites/25/2014/06/v1223.pdf


It is a commonly held belief that students who enjoy their experience of school perform better academically. Thus, educators often struggle with the questions of how best to motivate students and how to make learning fun. Some parents and educators, however, have simply moved away from traditional educational practices and are choosing to let students take charge of their own learning. The intent of this study is to evaluate the attitudes of students in two Sudbury model schools and to show the positive correlation between freedom and choice in the learning environment and positive student attitudes.

This study involves the opinions of 23 students from two Sudbury model schools. The schools both volunteered for the study, and students were asked if they would like to participate. The students who participated ranged in age from 4-16. Each completed a questionnaire that included both scaled questions and open-ended questions. Overall, students reported having a very positive experience of school as assessed by the questionnaire. There were also recognizable trends in their narrative answers that pointed towards an overall appreciation for the level of freedom in their schools. In general, the study proved that in the group surveyed, there is a positive correlation between freedom in the educational environment and the students’ attitudes about school.

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