Original Research

The Adult Learner Self-Directedness Scale: Validity and reliability assessment

Jo-Anne Botha, Andries Masenge
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 48 | a1926 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v48i0.1926 | © 2022 Jo-Anne Botha, Andries Masenge | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 July 2021 | Published: 23 November 2022

About the author(s)

Jo-Anne Botha, Department of Human Resource Management, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
Andries Masenge, Department of Statistics, Faculty of Natural and Agriculture Science, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


Orientation: The absence of a scale to assess the academic self-directedness of adult learners in South African open, distance and e-learning milieus.

Research purpose: This article describes the further validity and reliability assessment of the Adult Learner Self-Directedness Scale (ALSDS), which assesses adult learners’ academic self-directedness in an open, distance and e-learning (ODeL) university in South Africa. An initial validity and reliability study yielded a four-factor scale with 35 items loading onto it, while this study reports on a three-factor scale with 15 items loading onto it.

Motivation for the study: Factors such as socio-economic conditions and past education practices make South African open, distance and e-learning higher education (ODeLHE) challenging for socio-economically disadvantaged students. The growing trend of online tuition and assessment in South African universities requires research into strategies that may improve a student’s success and throughput. In ODeLHE, student self-directedness may contribute to academic success, and thus a reliable scale is needed to assess it. Currently, there is no such South African scale.

Research approach/design and method: A quantitative, cross-sectional research design was implemented, using self-report data from the students of the College of Economic and Management Sciences at a South African ODeL university. The ALSDS comprises three factors: success orientation for ODeLHE (self-efficacy beliefs), active academic behaviour (learner agency) and use of strategic resources (learning context management).

Main findings: The findings indicate that the ALSDS appears to be a valid, internally consistent and reliable scale suitable for assessing ODeLHE adult learners’ academic self-directedness. Further research is, however, required to establish metric and scalar invariance.

Practical/managerial implications: The scale may provide a reliable starting point for developing a scale for assessing ODeLHE students’ existing academic self-directedness. Knowledge of existing self-directedness capacity may be useful in designing and implementing holistic learner support programmes.

Contribution/value-add: The ALSDS may provide a reliable Afrocentric starting point for developing a measure for assessing the academic self-directedness of South African ODeLHE students.


adult learner; self-directedness; open distance and e-learning; higher education; scale validation; Afrocentric


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