Edev_502 response wk4_1

Thanks for the Bouchard article. Self-directed learning (or developing autonomy in learning) is certainly one the ideal goals in higher education (HE). Whether the goal of complete autonomy can be achieved inside HE is an open question. Bouchard (2014) talks mainly of peer-to-peer learning environments and recognises the “‘other’ directed-learning [environments] such as mandatory schooling” (p. 5).

To expect motivation in HE is a category error related to Hume’s is-ought guillotine (Wolf, 2015). Some categories of students may be highly self-directed (e.g. music performance students), but in general, even HE educators cannot assume high degrees of motivation in all students. I teach EFL (English as a foreign language), but it is often referred to as ENOP—English for No Obvious Purpose. My classes are compulsory, students feel little need for English in their daily lives and the primary motivator for the class is the final grade. There has been much research into the need and the methods of motivating HE students of English in Japan (see Falout, 2012). Indeed, the problem of attrition is serious even at the doctoral level where high initial motivation may be assumed (Golde, 2005). Even in self-directed MOOCs, completion rates may be no more than 10% on average (Yuan & Powell, 2013), although Landry (2014) points out that completion rates are not the only way to summarise motivation to do MOOCs.

In summary, including motivation inside habit formation is necessary at the HE level even if inclusion may not be ideal for self-directed environments.


Bouchard, P. (2014). The problem of learner control In Networked Personal Learning Environments. International Journal of Learning and Technology, 15(2), 1–16.

Falout, J. (2012). Coping with demotivation: EFL learners’ remotivation processes. TESL-EJ, 16(3).

Golde, C. M. (2005). The Role of the Department and Discipline in Doctoral Student Attrition: Lessons from Four Departments. The Journal of Higher Education, 76(6), 669–700. doi:10.1353/jhe.2005.0039

Landry, L. (2014). Course completion rates don’t really matter when it comes to Open Online Learning. Bostinno. Retrieved on Aug 3, 2015 from: http://bostinno.streetwise.co/2014/12/09/mooc-course-completion-rates-harvard-study-on-online-learning/

Wolf, A. (2015). Giving up Hume’s Guillotine. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 93(1), 109–125. doi:10.1080/00048402.2014.948894

Yuan, L., & Powell, S. (2013). MOOCs and Open Education: Implications for Higher Education A white paper. doi:http://publications.cetis.ac.uk/2013/667

About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a national university.
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