I’ve recently been asked to design a workshop on lifelong learning (LL). Easy peasy, I thought. We’ll define LL, find a little survey to explore the dimensions of LL and we’re off to a running start. Well, I was wrong on both counts.
First, I found that there was no readily available survey measuring LL that would also be suitable for my workshop participants. Even worse, I found very diverse views on what LL is. Duh, you would say, and I agree. I should have known this from the start!
So, what did I do? To those who know me, it should come as no surprise that I decided to create my own assessment. And so I started an interesting trip down the rabbit hole of exploration. I did not set out to create the most valid and reliable assessment, but as psychometric geek and psychologist I wanted my survey to be as accurate and scientific as it could be and to provide some real value to those attending the workshop. This made me run even deeper into the rabbit hole. In the time consuming-messy-fun process that followed, I was able to extract a few core dimensions of LL, enabling me to design a preliminary survey for my workshop. What I found so far were the following dimensions:
Ownership. Lifelong learners take ownership of their learning and development and they actively seek out opportunities to learn and grow
Motivation. Lifelong learners possess a strong drive to learn, a sense of curiosity, and they find joy in learning for its own sake.
Relationality and interdependence. Learning does not take place in isolation. Lifelong learners leverage their social relationships and networks to support and enhance their learning.
Reflective thinking. Lifelong learners don’t just engage in learning experiences. They reflect on their learning, trying to make sense of experience after the fact and they reflect-in-learning, to make sense of the experience while it is occurring.
Goal setting. Lifelong learners set clear short and long term goals for their learning. They have an overall vision of where they’re going to and their goals are stepping stones towards that desired end state.
Persistence and focus. Lifelong learners are determined, focussed and likely to invest time and energy to achieve their learning goals.
Evaluation. Feedback is the breakfast of champions…and lifelong learners. They actively seek feedback and are willing to act on the feedback they receive.
Adaptable strategies & solution focus. Related to persistence and focus, lifelong learners clearly focus on creating solutions to challenges they occur. They approach obstacles with an open mind and a flexible approach.
Application of learning. Learning is not only for the sake of learning (although that’s a core part of the enjoyment of lifelong learners. They seek to relate new knowledge to their existing knowledge and they actively strive to apply new knowledge to practical situations in their lives.
Sense of agency. Although this may sound like ownership and solution focussed approach, there seems to be an agreement amongst the experts that lifelong learners have a deep inner belief that they have the power to learn. They can learn new things, they can change their behaviour and they can create the learning they desire.
So, what you’d ask? Why waste time on developing this survey? What value will it add? I cannot answer you whether it was worth my time yet, but I know that I’ve enjoyed the process and I learnt a lot about lifelong learning! I now also know that enjoying learning for its own sake is a definite indicator of being a lifelong learner.
If I get enough data, I will run some stats to check for validity and reliability. I’m also curious to see if there are any higher order themes emerging from the dimensions mentioned above. There is clearly something around “mindset”, something about “goal orientation” and something around “reflection or evaluation” and it would be interesting to see if those are supported by data.
I have two requests: Will you help me explore the concept of LL by completing the short questionnaire here (https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/lllindex)? At this moment your only reward will be to receive a percentage score indicating your general level of lifelong learning. If, however, you provide me your name and email address, I’ll send you a detailed, normed profile once we have collected enough data. Secondly, will you share your thoughts on LL and my story above? And if you don’t mind, share the survey with your friends and colleagues.