Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Resource Education and Workforce Development

Document Type



Andragogy and self-directed learning (SDL) have long been touted as pillars of adult learning theory, but much of the existing SDL research has been predicated on adult learner assumptions that have gone largely untested. This dissertation developed a model based on adult learning and training literatures to assess the antecedents and outcomes of adults’ preference for SDL. The model was tested on a sample of 277 adults participating in job-related training through a continuing education program at a university in the southern United States. Based on social learning theory, locus of control (LOC) was proposed as a predictor of motivation to improve work through learning (MTIWL) and self-directed learning preference (SDLP). Further, it was hypothesized that SDLP would positively influence MTIWL and training utility (UT) based on the expectancy theory premise that more learner control would be beneficial for learner motivation and perceived training utility. Finally, the extent to which andragogical principles were present in course designs was proposed to moderate the relationship between SDLP and MTIWL, and SDLP and TU. Person-environment fit theory suggested that persons would be more motivated to use their training at work and perceive it as more useful if there were congruence between their SDLP and the andragogical design (AD) of a course (i.e., low SDLP and low AD versus high SDLP and high AD. The study model was tested using structural equation modeling and partially supported the hypothesized relationships. LOC weakly predicted MTIWL, such that persons with an internal LOC reported higher MTIWL, but failed to influence SDLP. SDLP was shown to be a weak predictor of MTIWL but was not shown to be a predictor of TU. AD exhibited weak to moderate main effects on TU and MTIWL and significantly moderated the relationship between SDLP and TU but not SDLP and MTIWL. Implication of the study and avenues for future research are discussed.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Bates, Reid