Self-Regulated Learning

Theory and research on self regulated academic learning emerged in the mid-1980s, aiming to give an answer to the question how students become masters of their own learning processes.

Self-regulation refers to the self-directive process used by learners. By using this approach students can hope to transform their mental abilities into task-related academic skills. This process describes learning as an activity that students do and initiate on their own and not as something that happens to them reactively as a result of teaching experiences.

Dale Schunk and Barry Zimmerman (2001) define self-regulation as "controlling one's own behavior in order to achieve a certain goal." According to Schunk and Zimmerman, students who use self-regulation will be able to set better learning goals, to implement more successful learning strategies and exert more effort and persistence. They suggest that motivation can be a precursor to self-regulated learning but it can also be the result of it.

Self-regulated learning describes the processes used by individual learners for organizing, monitoring and controlling their own learning. Students are self-regulated to the degree that they are metacognitively, motivationally and behaviorally active participants in their own learning process. These students are able to generate thoughts, feelings and actions on their own in order to achieve the goals that they have set in the learning process.

There are four major processes for self-regulation in learning. These include:

- Self monitoring – this is the process of self-regulation which includes narrations, frequency counts, duration measures, time-sampling procedures, behavior ratings, behavioral traces and archival records;

- Self-instruction - teaching self-instructions and accompanying non-verbal actions is considered an effective way of improving functioning in a wide variety of academic areas. This method may be implemented in the form of written stimuli for learners to follow;

- Self evaluation - during the process of self evaluation individuals compare some dimension of their behavior to that of a standard, which could refer to both accuracy and improvement of performance;

- Self-reinforcement - this is described by the need for external reward for self-reinforcing responses, such as social surveillance or increased status.

Self-regulated learning could also be defined as an active, constructive process during which learners set goals for their learning and then try to monitor, regulate and control their cognition, motivation and behavior. Their goals and the contextual features in the environment guide them. Studies into models of self-regulated learning have defined four general domains that learners can use. These include cognition, motivation, behavior and the environment.

Students at almost any age are capable of self-regulated learning but this does not mean that all students take effective charge of their own learning. When having to deal with a learning task, self-regulated students begin the process by analyzing the task and interpreting it on the basis of their own knowledge and beliefs. They set certain goals that play a major role in the process of selecting strategies. After the implementation of the strategy the students monitor their progress toward their goals. If needed, they adjust their strategies and efforts. Self-regulated students often use motivational strategies when they are discouraged or face difficulties.

The description of the process leads to the conclusion that academic self-regulation includes skills such as valuing learning and its anticipated outcomes, setting performance goals, planning and managing time, holding positive beliefs about one's abilities, attending to and concentrating on instruction, effectively organizing, rehearsing and encoding information. It also involves setting up a productive work environment, using social resources effectively, focusing on positive effects and making useful attributions for success and failure.

Individuals are not able to monitor and control their cognition, motivation, or behavior at all times. However, according to the theory of self-regulation, some monitoring, control and regulation is possible. All of the models describing this kind of learning define biological, developmental, contextual and individual difference constraints that can affect individual efforts at regulation.

Students who have mastered the process of self-regulation are much more likely to be successful in school, to learn more and to achieve at higher levels. There has been a significant increase in the number of information sources and the creation of more ways of learning. This means that improvements in the ability of knowing how to self-regulate the learning process will become an even more important goal for all educational systems.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Self-Regulation of Learning and Performance: Issues and Educational Applications
Dale H. Schunk; Barry J. Zimmerman.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1994
Self-Regulated Learning and Academic Achievement: Theoretical Perspectives
Barry J. Zimmerman; Dale H. Schunk.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2001 (2nd edition)
Feeling-of-Knowing Judgment and Self-Regulation of Learning
Bembenutty, Hefer.
Education, Vol. 129, No. 4, Summer 2009
Exploring the Source of Self-Regulated Learning: The Influence of Internal and External Comparisons
Miller, Janice Williams.
Journal of Instructional Psychology, Vol. 27, No. 1, March 2000
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Metacognition in Educational Theory and Practice
Douglas J. Hacker; John Dunlosky; Arthur C. Graesser.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1998
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 12 "Studying as Self-Regulated Learning"
The Theory & Practice of Learning
Peter Jarvis; John Holford; Colin Griffin.
Kogan Page, 2003 (2nd edition)
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 9 "Self-Directed Learning"
Motivation: Theory and Research
Harold F. O'Neil Jr.; Michael Drillings.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1994
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "Strategies for Assessing and Enhancing Motivation: Keys to Promoting Self-Regulated Learning and Performance"
Motivation for Achievement: Possibilities for Teaching and Learning
M. Kay Alderman.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004 (2nd edition)
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "Developing Student Self-Regulatory Capabilities"
The Pursuit of Excellence through Education
Michel Ferrari.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2002
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "Achieving Academic Excellence: A Self-Regulatory Perspective"
Student Perceptions in the Classroom
Dale H. Schunk; Judith L. Meece.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1992
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 8 "Perceptions of Efficacy and Strategy Use in the Self-Regulation of Learning"
The Relationship of Family Closeness with College Students' Self-Regulated Learning and School Adjustment
Lee, Pai-Lin; Hamman, Douglas; Lee, Chaolin Charles.
College Student Journal, Vol. 41, No. 4, December 2007
Thinking and Learning Skills: Research and Open Questions
Susan F. Chipman; Judith W. Segal; Robert Glaser.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, vol.2, 1985
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 25 "Fostering the Development of Self-Regulation in Children's Knowledge Processing"
Instructional-Design Theories and Models: A New Paradigm of Instructional Theory
Charles M. Reigeluth.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, vol.2, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 13 "A Design Theory for Classroom Instruction in Self-Regulated Learning?"
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