Apr 16, 2018

By Joanne Edey-Nicoll, Instructor


Self-directed learners are individuals who take responsibility for their own learning. Students who are completing their Bachelor of Recreation Management (BRM) at Langara College, experience self-directed learning (SDL) in the final course; Applied Major Project.

It’s not like any other course in BRM. In this course, the students decide what they want to learn, who they want to learn it with and how they want to learn about their chosen topic. It’s a researched-base course with a framework that leads the students through a series of assignments and discussions to complete their Final Major Research Project paper.

It can be a meaningful process, a frustrating process, a challenging process and a rewarding process.

One of the benefits of this final course being designed in this way is that the students recognize how to become life-long learners, to continue their self-directed learning skills. As they progress in their careers, they understand the importance of keeping abreast of key issues and trends in their communities, making them better prepared to pursue their professional goals.

A self-directed life-long learner is someone who:

  • Takes initiative  
  • Look at problems as opportunities
  • Is able to manage their time
  • Is tenacious
  • Takes risks
  • Challenges themselves
  • Is self-assured
  • Is organized and has skills to develop and follow a plan
  • Is curious
  • Is accountable to themselves, their sponsoring agency and their instructors
  • Appreciates the benefits of learning
  • Is courageous

Near the end of the course, we ask students to reflect on their research project and on their experience as self-directed learners. One of the students found the following quote that reflected her experience.

“It is courage that allows one to take the next step as a learner. It takes courage to be transparent about our limited knowledge and skill, to build new learning connections with others, to fuel our learning goals with action. As such, courage and calculated risk-taking is among the more fundamental skills of the self-directed learner” (Bull, 2014).



Bull, B. (2014, April 25). Risk-Taking as a 21st Century Skill. Retrieved from


Cobb, J. (n.d.). 15 Ways of the Successful Self-Directed Learner. Retrieved from


Image retrieved from