Motivational Interviewing and the Goals of the Self-directed Art Student

Through MI the goals of self-directed learning should nurture an artist’s capacity to be self-directed. Trainers and coaches will foster, nurture and develop a Personal Responsibility Orientation

If Visual Arts education is to be truly liberational, the goals of self-directed learning should be to nurture an artist’s capacity to be self-directed.    To achieve this trainers and coaches will foster, nurture and develop a Personal Responsibility Orientation.

Fostering Transformational Learning through the Creative Arts

The goal of Visual Arts education is to foster transformational learning.   It is presumed that it is the aim of the creative arts to transcend the commonplace.  Transformational learning posits critical reflection by the learner as central to the process. Transformational learning is defined as “learning that induces more far-reaching change in the learner than other kinds of learning, especially learning experiences which shape the learner and produce a significant impact, or paradigm shift, which affects the learner’s subsequent experiences” (Clark, 1993).

Within the arts critical reflection is an attempt to understand the historical, cultural, and biographical reasons for one own need’s, wants, and interests with an aim to developing compassion and empathy through self-knowledge.

The Place of the Motivational Interview in a Visual Arts Course

There is not much point to doing art that is not self-directed because art itself is about authentic personal investigation.  Self-knowledge is a prerequisite for autonomy in self-directed learning.  The Motivational Interview seems to have originated within the field of addiction studies.   This table 8 Stages Motivational Interview(.org) is an example of this approach and it is not hard to see how this type of interview can be adapted as a useful tool for trainers who want students to locate themselves on a personal responsibility scale.

Learning How to be Responsible is Liberating

When we as educators endeavour to work with students to increase their sense of personal responsibility and their capability to function as self-directed learners, we are in effect promoting emancipatory learning and social action.  Andruske (2000) investigated the self-directed learning projects of women on welfare and found that the women became “political change agents as they attempt[ed] to control and to initiate change in their everyday worlds in response to oppressive external structures” (p. I1). For a full discussion see Applying Adult Learning Theory. (2005)

The Stages of Interviewing in an Arts Based Blended Mode Course

There should be three stages of interviewing in a course for the creative arts, especially if the course is online and self-directed.   Like any good story there should be a beginning, middle and an end. Or, as depicted in the picture below, in any serious drag car race.  The driver should check the engine before the race, there should be an (organisational) pit stop part way through and of course a re-examination after the race is over to ensure that the vehicle is fine-tuned, undamaged and able to run again.  Some call this kind of relational companioning of a student in their creative journey :  “where we are froStory Tellingm, where we are going and where to next.

Mapping as a Companion to Motivational Interviewing

Danis’s (1992) model of learning strategies and phases of the learning process; show that the context must take into account the content, the learner, and the environmental factors in mapping the process of SDL. Grow’s (1991, 1994) Staged Self-Directed Learning (SSDL) model presents us with a matrix whereby learners can locate themselves in terms of their readiness for and comfort with being self-directed, and instructors can match the learner’s stage with appropriate instructional strategies.

Don’t confuse this strategy with a typical assessment matrix used in tertiary education to map for the student what aspects of the assessment are being assessed with an assessment tool.

readiness for self direction matrix would assist learners to assess their own dependency needs.  Usually a student will admit the need if they require more introductory material and would appreciate lecture, drill, and immediate correction.  Such a student for example would take a pre-requisite class before attempting a more self-directed Painting class online.

Benefits of Assisting Students to Become Self Directed and Self Responsible

If students can become more self-directed as learners who engage in independent projects, student-directed discussions and discovery; authentic learning begins.    In addition to goals and process, students can locate themselves to the extent to which self-directedness is an a priori personal characteristic and associated with other variables such as educational level, creativity, learning style, and so on.

Art students might not be equally autonomous in a variety of situations. Feelings of self-confidence and self – efficacy may be completely different from situation to situation.  No one should assume that because a person has been self-directed in one situation, he or she will be able to succeed in another different area of expertise.

Orientation, support and guidance may all be required in the first stages of all learning projects, for the simple reason that many students have painted and drawn and feel comfortable with these skills and yet may not even have good literacy skills.  A student who struggles with literacy or language will be much more dependent on the help of others or on online translating technology.  The message here is that it pays never to presume! (anything)

CLIP’s and Personal Responsibility for Learning

The very idea of connecting online and mutual support through creative community portals takes self-direction and personal responsibility for staying on course to a new level.  This form of adult education is further made challenging by becoming distance education through blended mode.  The need for responsibility for one’s own learning has been intensified.

Within the context of a creative Community of Learning, Inquiry and Practice, Motivational Interviewing can assist instructors and coaches to encourage adult learners to become more and more self-directed in their learning as they establish work patterns over long periods of time.   Use the insights from Coyle’s The Talent Code (2010) to track the process as learners move from novice to expert in creative arts subject matter and learning strategies.

Within the realm of social networking there must be constant attention to ensure issues of power and control do not counteract strategies for authentically self-directed community learning environments.

Manage and Track Development  with the help of a Visual Journal

It is advised that artists keep extensive journals and Blog about their experiences of self-directed learning.  As educators becomes more in tune with the aims and objectives of motivational interviewing synergy should emerge.  The process will have an effect on instructional and planning activities.  It will be fascinating to watch and learn from experience as Creative Arts CLIPs evolve to become emergent examples of critical practice of Self Directed Learning. Global Citizens Art


  • Andruske, C. L. “Self-Directed Learning as a Political Act: Learning Projects of Women on Welfare.” Proceedings of the 41st Annual Adult Education Research Conference, Vancouver, British Columbia, 2000.
  • Brockett, R. B., et a]. “Two Decades of Literature on SDL: A Content Analysis.” Paper presented at the 14th International SDL Symposium, Boynton Beach, Florida, 2000.
  • Coyle,D. (2010)The Talent Code. Kindle edition.
  • Danis, C. (1992) “A Unifying Framework for Data-Based Research into Adult Self-DirectedLearning.” In H. B. Long and others (eds.), Self-Directed Learning: Application andResearch. Norman: Oklahoma Research Center for Continuing Professional and Higher Education, University of Oklahoma,
  • Grow, G. “In Defense of the Staged Self-Directed Learning Model.” Adult Education Quarterly, 1994, 44(2), 109–114.
  • Knowles, M. S. (1986). Using Learning Contracts Using learning contracts. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass
  • Miller, W.R. & Moyers, T.B. (2007). Eight stages in learning Motivational Interviewing. Journal of Teaching in the Addictions, (5), 3-17. Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers, Training for New Trainers (TNT), Resources for Trainers, 2008.
  • Merriam. S. B. Andragogy and Self-Directed Learning: Pillars of Adult Learning Theory
  • Merriam,S.B. (2006) Learning in Adulthood Joss Basey.

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