Presentation Details

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Eleventh International Literacy and Education Research Network Conference on Learning

Self-Directed Learning of Academic Writing amongst Graduate Students

Dr Valia Spiliotopoulos.

Research has shown that about half of all doctoral students never complete their dissertations (Lovitts, 1996; Ogeden, 1993; Berkowitz, 2003). Despite increasing access to a variety of learning technologies and on-campus writing resources designed to help graduate students meet their academic goals, it appears that these students may not be motivated to utilize available resources optimally. Writing courses, workshops, and one-on-one writing consultations, which are intended to serve as springboards for student self-directed, autonomous learning, may unintentionally encourage learner-dependence, rather than independence. It is not clearly understood why these resources, and other electronic resources, such as on-line forums and corpora, are regularly used by some students, but rarely utilized by others.
This presentation will discuss the preliminary findings of an action research project which attempts to determine the factors that influence self-directed, autonomous learning in graduate students (both native and non-native speakers of English) who are aiming to improve their academic writing skills. More specifically, the primary objectives of this research project are 1) to explore the beliefs and assumptions that students and teachers hold regarding self-directed learning; 2) to investigate the factors that encourage and discourage students from using learning technologies and other available writing resources (courses, workshops, writing consultations); and 3) to investigate the impact that integration of a self-directed approach has on academic writing improvement and the achievement of academic goals. The findings of this research can help writing instructors and programs adapt their curricula and approaches so that students with different learning styles can successfully meet their academic goals, and complete their degree requirements in a timely fashion.


Dr Valia Spiliotopoulos  (Canada)
School of Graduate Studies English Language and Writing Support
University of Toronto

Dr. Valia Spiliotopoulos is currently a Lecturer for the Office of English Language and Writing Support at the School of Graduate Studies at the University of Toronto. She recently completed her Ph.D. in Language and Literacy Education at the University of British Columbia, and has taught English and French as a second language at the post-secondary level at Laval University and at U.B.C. for the last 10 years.

  • Academic writing
  • Self-directed learning
  • Autonomous learning
  • Higher education

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)