The following terms are used in adult education:

  • SDL: self-directed learner
  • SRL: self-regulated learner
  • SGL: self-guided learner

SDL was one of my favourite topics in PIDP 3100. A SDL is a person who take initiative in the planning, execution, and evaluation of their learning experiences (Merriam, Caffarella, and Baumgartner, 2007, p. 110). I haven’t heard of the terms SRL and SGL before so I did some research. According to Zimmerman, “[s]elf-regulation is not a mental ability or an academic performance skill; rather it is the selfdirective process by which learners transform their mental abilities into academic skills” (2002, p. 65). Davis (2013, p. 86) generalizes SGLs to be learners who are self-directed, have self-access, and have independent learning possibilities.

The difference between SDL, SRL, and SGL related to the term self-directed. SRLs may not necessarily be SDLs but they have some self-directed skills to succeed academically. SGLs however are SDLs with the additional characteristics of self-access and independent learning possibilties. SGLs may not necessarily be SRLs. I see the “ultimate” learner as one who is self-directed, self-regulated, and self-guided. Do we agree or disagree with this comparison? Could a Venn diagram be constructed?


Davis, M. (2013). Beyond the classroom: The role of self-guided learning in second language listening and speaking practice. Studies in Self-Access Learning Journal, 4(2), 85- 95.

Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., & Baumgartner, L. M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Zimmerman, B. J. (2002). Becoming a Self-Regulated Learner: An Overview. Theory Into Practice41(2), 64.


About simoncrothers

I am an Australian who moved to British Columbia, Canada with my family in 1998. After completing my undergraduate degree in mathematics and computing science at Simon Fraser University, I moved back to Australia for several years. During this time I completed a Masters in Computational Mathematics and began my teaching career in mathematics at the University of New South Wales. In 2010, I moved back to Canada and taught computer science at Douglas College for three years. I am currently regular faculty in the Computer Business Systems department at KPU. I have also taught some courses in the Business and Quantitative Methods department at KPU. In my spare time I like to spend time with my wife Jami, who I met in Australia, our three year old daughter Lillian, and our newly born son Aiden. I also like to indulge in the occasional video game and I am involved in various self-employed web development projects.
This entry was posted in Discussions and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s