Aim: To explore teachers' and students' understanding of the term 'self-directed learning', and elicit their views of its value in paediatric intensive care nurse education.
Method: A qualitative case study, including a field diary, document examination, interviews with teachers and students, observation, and a student learning diary, was used to collect data.
Results: The study showed that teachers and students experienced some difficulty in articulating an exact definition of self-directed learning. They considered it to be of some value, but only when used in conjunction with teacher-led methods of learning.
Conclusion: Attempts to implement self-directed learning in an observable form have led to confusion about its nature. It is also important to consider how far an educational philosophy or approach is congruent with the reality of any given course of study, as opposed to focusing on observable teaching and learning tools or methods.