Academic journal article
By Barnett, Jerrold E.
Journal of College Reading and Learning , Vol. 31, No. 1
Models of self-regulated learning (Pressley, Van Etten, Yokoi, Freebern, & Van Meter, 1998; Winne & Hadwin, 1998) assume that students actively control their own cognitive processes and adapt their strategies and tactics to meet task demands. Self-regulated learners employ a range of study techniques, are mindful and metacognitive, use strategies such as planning and monitoring, and focus upon the task at hand, controlling emotional difficulties such as boredom or frustration. Much of the recent research on studying has focused upon metacognition, or students' awareness of their own cognitive processes (Nist & Holschuh, 2000). The term self-regulation is used here because it is broader, including the behavioral and affective components of studying.
While students may be capable of self-regulation, they do not always appear so reflective. Low motivation (Rothkopf, 1988), lack of prior knowledge (Alexander, Murphy, Woods, Duhon, & Parker, 1997), competing demands on students' time and energy (e.g., other courses, work, families, social events, personal problems), and goals chosen to minimize effort (such as just trying to pass a course, without bothering to read the text) (Nolen, 1996) may cause students to engage in less-than-optimal studying.
The issue of self-regulation is important not only for practical reasons, but also reflects an important theoretical issue. Winne (1995) argued that self-regulation is "inherent" in all goal-directed activity. Winne used the hypothetical case of a second-grader doing a math worksheet to illustrate some of the details in his model of self-regulation. On the other extreme, Pressley (1995) argued that self-regulation occurs only with the development of expertise within a domain. Illustrative of this position is a study by Wyatt, Pressley, El-Dinary, Stein, Evans and Brown (1993), describing the reading strategies of college professors as they read articles in their area of professional specialization. So how common is self-regulation of studying? Does it occur in every act of studying or is it found only among our most sophisticated students? Are college students reading and preparing for examinations engaging in self-regulation, or are they studying in relatively mindless, rote ways?
The primary goal of this research was to explore the level of self-regulation of learning as college students read texts in preparation for quizzes and tests. The two studies reported in this paper address three specific questions. First, what strategies and tactics do students use as they read in preparation for tests and quizzes? Second, do students change strategies and tactics across the course of the semester? Finally, are these changes in strategies reflected in improved academic performance?
The first study investigated strategies as students read four articles assigned to supplement the textbook. Students completed 10-point quizzes and study surveys at the beginning of class sessions, prior to class discussion of the articles.
Participants. Seventy-two students (74% were females, 97% were white) from two sections of an Educational Psychology course at a small Midwestern university participated in this study. This course is taken by sophomores and juniors as part of their education major and is often their first course in Psychology.
Procedures. Assigned readings and quiz dates were announced in class and listed in the course syllabus. Students were given copies of each article. Ten-point quizzes were administered at the beginning of class on the assigned dates. Immediately after the quiz, students completed the study survey.
The quizzes were constructed, administered, and graded by the course instructor. The surveys were administered by a research assistant. Four of these quizzes were administered across the semester. Together, they accounted for 40 points, which was about 15% of the final grade for the class. …