A Self Directed Approach

Self direction in learning has been the hallmark of this master's program since its inception. We believe that all adults should be provided with the opportunity to learn and grow in a supportive, academic environment that respects the individual and his or her learning needs. This graduate program enables students to identify and meet these needs. Students who enroll in the St. Francis Xavier's Master of Adult Education program are typically highly motivated, strong academic students with busy personal and professional lives. Many of them come to this program with particular learning needs and specific goals in mind, and with the expectation that this graduate program will help them integrate their professional experiences with current research and literature in the field of adult education. Our master's program is particularly suited to this type of student because it is learner-centered, life-centered, and self-directed.

Self-direction can mean many different things to many different people. In this program, self-direction means that the faculty encourage students to study and explore their own areas of interest in adult education (e.g., community health education, literacy, nursing education, workplace learning). We also encourage students to plan projects that relate to their interests and work responsibilities. We believe that students learn most when they have control over their learning and when they have the opportunity to study issues that have relevance to their own life situations.

Faculty realize that a self-directed program requires a willingness on our part to share knowledge and power with students. We also respect student's readiness to take ownership of their learning. For some students the self-directed nature of the program is challenging. For others, it is a natural extension of their workplace activities nor previous learning experiences. This recognition of differences among students is one way that we respect the uniqueness of individuals. At the end of a 3-week Foundations Institute students are encouraged to assume increasing responsibility for designing, implementing, and evaluating their learning experiences.

As with any academic program,there are certain requirements that must be fulfilled in order to obtain a Master of Adult Education degree. The Department sets forth the following criteria for an appropriate learning program:

1. The learning goals should be refined and translated into appropriate action based upon reasonable criteria;
2. The learning program should display a clear intention to pursue the breadth of an area within the practice and principles of adult education;
3. The learning program should display a clear intention to study indepth one major aspects of a selected area in adult education;
4. The learning program should include strategies to acquire comprehensive knowledge of the area of study and planned opportunities to acquire a competency in a specified method of adult education and its techniques.

Thus, there are some constraints when it comes to learner self-direction. Faculty are responsible for ensuring that institutional requirement, professional standards and the needs of the students are held in balance.