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Running head: EXAMINATION OF THE BIG FIVE 1*This sample paper was adapted by the Writing Center from an original paper by a student. Used bypermission.Format your title page accordingto your university guidelines.EXAMINATION OF THE BIG FIVE 2AbstractSelf-direction in learning is a major topic in the field of adult learning. There has been extensivecoverage of the topic by theorists, researchers, and practitioners. However, there have been fewstudies, which look at learner self-direction specifically as a personality trait. The present studyaddresses the relationship between learner self-direction and other personality traits of collegestudents when the traits represented by the five-factor model of personality are differentiatedfrom narrow personality traits. Analysis of the data revealed five significant part correlationsbetween specific traits and learner self-direction. Results were discussed in terms of thepredictive relationship between personality variables and learner self-direction.This claim establishes theimportant contribution ofthis study.An abstract is a brief summary of your paper with an overview of key points. Your topic andresearch questions should be clear, and you may include the importance of your results incontinuing current academic research.EXAMINATION OF THE BIG FIVE 3Examination of the Big Five and Narrow Traits in Relation to Learner Self-DirectionSelf-direction in learning is a major topic in the field of adult learning. It has been shownthat many psychological variables are directly related to learner self-directedness (Oliveira &Simões, 2006). However, there have been few studies that look at learner self-directionspecifically as a personality trait. If personality traits are relatively consistent for learners acrosssituations and over time, and if learner self-direction changes across situations and over time, themost logical interpretation of why the personality trait—learner self-direction relationship isrelatively consistent within and across such disparate factors as age and returning to college aftera long break is because the personality traits are driving the relationship. This implies that otherpersonality traits are affecting learner self-direction, not that learner self-direction is influencingother personality traits. The goal of the present study is to try to understand the connectionbetween personality and self-direction in learning and ascertain to what extent individualpersonality traits are related to learner self-direction when the traits represented by the five-factormodel of personality (Digman, 1990) are differentiated from narrow personality traits. The studydraws on and extends the work of Lounsbury, Levy, Park, Gibson, and Smith (2009), whoreported on the development of a valid personality measure of learner self-direction.Literature ReviewBrockett and Hiemstra (1991) emphasized the importance of self-directed learners beingable to plan their own learning program and consistently evaluate progress. Hiemstra (1994)noted that self-directed learners should be prepared for the “unexpected” and capable of dealingwith challenges in learning. Ponton and Carr (2000) stated that “The concept of autonomyThis sentence definesthe key term and namesthe overall topic for theentire paper.An introduction clearly states thefocus of the rest of the paper.This is thegoal of theresearch studyand thepurpose of theanalysis.This statement acknowledges the work of others on this same topic, showinghow this paper fits into the ongoing scholarly conversation on this topic.A literature review is a surveyof scholarly sources thatprovides an overview of a topic.EXAMINATION OF THE BIG FIVE 4(Knowles, 1980; Merriam & Caffarella, 1999) exists under the personality characteristic rubricof self-directed learning.” (p. 273). A student showing initiative, resourcefulness, and persistenceis exhibiting manifestations related to personality characteristics as a learner. Confessore (ascited in Ponton & Carr, 2000) suggested that individuals who exhibit these “conative” factors intheir learning activities “possess traits which are essential to successful self-direction in learning”(p. 273). These factors are related to Ponton’s (1999) discussion of autonomous learningconsisting of five behaviors: goal-directedness, action-orientation, active-approach to problemsolving, persistence in overcoming obstacles, and self-startedness which is consistent with theafore-mentioned conceptualizations of work drive (Lounsbury & Gibson, 2010). Again, thisaligns with Lounsbury et al.’s (2004) work drive construct as a predictor of performance andGladwell’s (2008) emphasis on persistence leading to success.MethodsFor this study, the focus is on learner self-direction as an individual differences variablethat can be represented on a continuum from low to high rather than a categorical or nominalvariable. Learner self-direction is conceptualized and measured as a personality trait reflectingindividuals’: preference to be in charge of his or her learning process; ability to conceptualize,plan, implement, and evaluate one’s academic experience; and disposition to be goal-orientedand to work independently or in group settings with little guidance.Population and SampleUndergraduate students enrolled in an introductory psychology course (n = 1484) andundergraduate student mentors in a peer-mentoring program (n = 618) at a large southeasternstate university participated in this study. Of the 2102 participants in this study, 40% were maleand 60% were female. Fifty-seven percent of the participants were Freshmen; 26%, Sophomores;In the Methods section, your reader shouldbe able to reproduce the methods you usedto conduct your research study.This first paragraph should give your reader a generalidea about what you measured in your research study.EXAMINATION OF THE BIG FIVE 514%, Juniors; and 5%, Seniors. Eighty-four percent of the participants identified themselves asCaucasian, 9%–African-American, 2 %–Hispanic, 2%–Asian, and 3%–other. The median ageof participants was 18-19 years old.InstrumentationThe personality measure used in this study was the Resource Associates’ Transition toCollege inventory (RATTC; Lounsbury & Gibson, 2010). The RATTC is a normal personalityinventory contextualized for late adolescents (Jaffe, 1998) and adults through high school andcollege. It measures the Big Five Traits of openness, conscientiousness, extraversion,agreeableness, and neuroticism. The RATTC also measures the narrow traits of aggression,career-decidedness, optimism, self-directed learning, sense of identity, tough-mindedness, andwork drive.ResultsPearson correlation coefficients were calculated between learner self-direction and theBig Five traits as well as narrow traits of work drive and optimism. Descriptive statistics andintercorrelations among the study variables are displayed in Table 1. As can be seen in Table 1,all of the Big Five personality traits were correlated significantly and positively with learner selfdirection, except for extraversion. Specifically, in descending order of magnitude, thecorrelations with self-directed learning were: openness (r = .43, p < .01), agreeableness (r = .21,p < .01), emotional stability (r = .20, p < .01), conscientiousness (r = .20, p < .01), andextraversion (r = .01, ns). The narrow personality traits also correlated significantly with learnerself-direction, with the largest magnitude correlation observed for work drive (r = .49, p < .01),followed by optimism (r = .31, p <.01).Include whether you used questionnaires, did a case study, created anexperiment, etc. Explain these instruments or methods to your readerto provide a clear awareness of what this method is or involves.In the Results section, report yourfindings. Be sure to avoid commentaryor analysis in this section.Explain whatreaders can findwithin anytables, graphs,or images thatyou include.EXAMINATION OF THE BIG FIVE 6The next step of the analysis involved examining the part correlations of learner selfdirection with openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, emotional stability,optimism, and work drive. A multiple regression analysis was conducted with learner selfdirection as the dependent variable, and the remaining variables as predictors enteredsimultaneously. The part correlations represent the correlations of learner self-direction witheach of the predictor variables, independent of the other predictors. Thus, the squared partcorrelations give an indication of the unique contribution of each variable to learner selfdirection. An examination of the squared part correlations of the five significant variablesindicates that work drive accounted for 9.6% of the variance, openness accounted forapproximately 4.3% of the variance, optimism accounted for almost 1% of the variance, andextraversion and agreeableness each accounted for less than 1% of the variance in learner selfdirection.All variables were entered simultaneously into a multiple regression model to estimatethe degree of learner self-direction prediction. The overall regression was significant, F (7, 2094)= 15.19, p < .01, and these variables accounted for over 52% of the variance in learner selfdirection. As can be seen in Table 1, five of the variables explained significant variance in themodel: work drive, openness, optimism, emotional stability, and extraversion. The strongestcorrelate of learner self-direction was work drive (β = .37, p < .01), followed by openness (β =.23, p < .01), optimism (β = .12, p < .01), emotional stability (β = .07, p < .01), extraversion (β =-.05, p < .05), conscientiousness (β = .03, ns), and agreeableness (β = .02, ns).Explaining your findings one stepat a time can be a useful way toorganize your results.EXAMINATION OF THE BIG FIVE 7Table 1Simultaneous Regression
UnstandardizedCoefficients
Standardized Coefficients
Correlations
β
SE
β
t
Sig.
ZeroOrder
Partial
Part
Work Drive
.39
.03
.37
15.90
.00
.49
.33
.31
Openness
.24
.02
.23
10.08
.00
.43
.23
.21
Optimism
.18
.03
.12
5.85
.00
.13
.13
.09
Emotional
.11
.02
.07
4.69
.00
.10
.10
.05
Extraversion
-.07
.02
-.05
-3.40
.01
-.08
-.08
-.04
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DiscussionThe present study was generally successful in terms of providing validation of the mainresearch propositions. Six of the eight hypotheses were supported, which is both consistent withand extends prior studies (Kirwan, et al., 2010; Lounsbury, et al., 2009) in that learner selfdirection was uniquely related to four of the Big Five traits studied as well as and both of thenarrow traits examined here. The present findings reinforce and support Lounsbury et al.’s(2009) findings that demonstrated “…the importance and richness of the self-directed learningconstruct and … its role as a personality trait” (p. 417). Considering first the Big Five traits, thesignificant, positive relationships between them and learner self-direction are consistent withLounsbury et al.’s (2009) findings. Regarding the narrow traits, significant, positive relationshipsbetween learner self-direction and work drive as well as optimism were also supported.Brockett and Hiemstra (1991) emphasized the importance of self-directed learners beingable to plan their own learning program and consistently evaluate progress. Hiemstra (1994)noted that self-directed learners should be prepared for the “unexpected” and capable of dealingwith challenges in learning. Ponton and Carr (2000) stated that “the concept of autonomy(Knowles, 1980; Merriam & Caffarella, 1999) exists under the personality characteristic rubricYou can make a table, figure, or image to help present your findings.In the Discussion section, analyze and interpret your findings. What do theresults mean? Explain if you found what you expected to find. In other words:Which of your hypotheses were supported by the findings? Which were not?Explain how your findings support or refute the research of others on the topic.EXAMINATION OF THE BIG FIVE 8of self-directed learning.” (p. 273). A student showing initiative, resourcefulness, and persistenceis exhibiting manifestations related to personality characteristics as a learner. Confessore (1991)suggested that individuals who exhibit these “conative” factors in their learning activities“possess traits which are essential to successful self-direction in learning” (p. 273). These factorsare related to Ponton’s (1999) discussion of autonomous learning consisting of five behaviors:goal-directedness, action-orientation, active-approach to problem solving, persistence inovercoming obstacles, and self-startedness which is consistent with the afore-mentionedconceptualizations of work drive (Lounsbury & Gibson, 2010). Again, this aligns withLounsbury et al.’s (2004) work drive construct as a predictor of performance and Gladwell’s(2008) emphasis on persistence leading to success.There are two primary limitations of the current study that should be acknowledged.First, this study was limited to a four-month interval in time in a single geographic area at alarge, public university, leaving open the question of generalizability to other time periods,geographic areas, and types of universities. Second, most of the study participants were lowerlevel students; thus, it is not possible to know if the results would generalize to samples ofprimarily upper-level or graduate students.There are a number of other interesting areas for future research that could clarify andextend the present findings. In addition to the need for replication on different samples, researchcould be conducted on how the Big Five and narrow personality traits relate to sense of identityand learner self-direction. Another topic for investigation is the relationship between age ofstudents and learner self-directedness. As mentioned earlier, perhaps the most important need forfuture research is to utilize longitudinal research designs to help clarify the direction of causalityComment on anylimitations of yourstudy. How might yourstudy have beenlacking? What mightyou have overlooked?In the Discussion section, you can also suggest additionalresearch your findings could/should lead to in the future.EXAMINATION OF THE BIG FIVE 9for personality traits vis-à-vis self-directed learning and to try to determine how these linkagesare established.ConclusionThe results of the present study indicate that the Big Five traits as well as the two narrowtraits measured in this study were each related to learner self-direction, with work drive andopenness accounting for most of the variance in learner self-direction on their own. Taken as awhole, the present findings were interpreted as, in part, confirming and extending the results ofLounsbury et al. (2009) and Kirwan et al. (2010) regarding the Big Five, narrow traits, andlearner self-direction, demonstrating the generalizability of personality trait—learner selfdirection relationships across a variety of different demographic and personal subgroups ofstudents, and providing some clues that the direction of the causal arrow may be from personalitytraits to learner self-direction.In conclusion, it is clear that learner self-direction has multiple connections to personalitytraits and is not clearly associated with just one of the Big Five traits. In a sense, this pattern ofmultiple connections to personality is consistent with the diverse factors learner self-directionhas been linked to in the theoretical literature, as, for example, the six vectors of college studentdevelopment that Chickering and Reisser (1993) posit as leading to identity establishment forcollege students. Hopefully, further research will extend and clarify the nomological network ofpersonality traits and self-direction in learning across a broad range of settings.The conclusion should be a shortsection without any new research orfindings.A good technique is to state the relevance of your research in the final paragraph. Consider whatthe reader has learned from this research, how your work can expand on the existing research, orwhat future research could gain from your study.EXAMINATION OF THE BIG FIVE 10ReferencesBrockett, R. (1983). Self-directed learning and the hard-to-reach adult. Lifelong Learning: TheAdult Years, 6(8), 16–18.Brockett, R., & Hiemstra, R. (1991). Self-direction in adult learning: Perspectives on theory,research, and practice. Retrieved from http://home.twcny.rr.com/hiemstra/sdlindex.htmlChickering, A., & Reisser, L. (1993). Education and identity. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Confessore, G. J. (1991). Human behavior as a construct for assessing Guglielmino’s Selfdirected learning readiness scale: Pragmatism revisited. In H. B. Long & Associates(Eds.), Self-directed learning: Consensus and conflict (pp. 123–146). Norman, OK:Oklahoma Center for Continuing Professional and Higher Education, University ofOklahoma.Costa, P., & Kalick, B. (2003). Assessment strategies for self-directed learning (Experts inAssessment Series). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.Costa, P., & McCrae, R. (1992). Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R) and NEO FiveFactor Inventory (NEO-FFI) professional manual. Odessa, FL: PsychologicalAssessment Services.Digman, J. (1990). Personality structure: Emergence of the five-factor model. Annual Review ofPsychology, 41, 417–440. doi:10.1146/annurev.ps.41.020190.002221Gladwell, M. (2008). Outliers: The story of success. New York, NY: Little, Brown andCompany.Hiemstra, R. (1994). Self-directed learning. Retrieved fromhhttp://home.twcny.rr.com/hiemstra/sdlhdbk.htmlA references list must be included. Allsources cited within your paper must belisted here.EXAMINATION OF THE BIG FIVE 11Jaffe, M. L. (1998). Adolescence. New York, NY: Wiley.Kirwan, J. R., Lounsbury, J., & Gibson, L. (2010). Self-directed learning and personality: Thebig five and narrow personality traits in relation to learner self-direction. InternationalJournal of Self-Directed Learning, 7(2), 21–34.Knowles, M. S. (1980). The modern practice of adult education. New York, NY: CambridgeBooks.Lounsbury, J., & Gibson, L. (2010). Technical manual for the resource associates personal styleinventory and adolescent personal style inventory. Knoxville, TN: Resource Associates.Lounsbury, J., Gibson, L., & Hamrick, F. (2004). The development of a personological measureof work drive. Journal of Business Psychology, 18, 347–371.Lounsbury, J., Gibson, L., Sundstrom, E., Wilburn, D., & Loveland, J. (2003). An empiricalinvestigation of the proposition that “school is work”: A comparison of personalityperformance correlations in school and work settings. Journal of Education and Work,17, 119–131.Lounsbury, J., Levy, J., Park, S., Gibson, L., & Smith, R. (2009). An investigation of theconstruct validity of the personality trait of self-directed learning Learning and IndividualDifferences, 19, 411–18. doi:10.1016/j.lindif.2009.03.001Lounsbury, J., Loveland, J., Sundstrom, E., Gibson, L., Drost, A. W., & Hamrick, F. (2003). Aninvestigation of personality traits in relation to career satisfaction. Journal of CareerAssessment, 11, 287–307.Merriam, S. B., & Caffarella, R. S. (1999). Learning in adulthood. San Francisco, CA: JosseyBass.EXAMINATION OF THE BIG FIVE 12Moon, H., Hollenbeck, J. R., Humphrey, S. E., & Maue, B. (2003). The tripartite model ofneuroticism and the suppression of depression and anxiety within an escalation ofcommitment dilemma. Journal of Personality, 71(3), 347–368. doi:10.1111/1467-6494.7103004Oliveira, A. L., & Simões, A. (2006). Impact of socio-demographic and psychological variableson the self-directedness of higher education students. International Journal of SelfDirected Learning, 3(1), 1–12.Ponton, M. K. (1999). The measurement of an adult’s intention to exhibit personal initiative inautonomous learning. Dissertation Abstracts International, 60, 3933.Ponton, M. K., & Carr, P. B. (2000). Understanding and promoting autonomy in self-directedlearning. Current Research in Social Psychology, 5(19), 271–284.

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