Understanding Self-Regulated Learning and Its Implications for Accounting Educators and Researchers

By Smith, Pamela A. | Issues in Accounting Education, November 2001 | Go to article overview
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Understanding Self-Regulated Learning and Its Implications for Accounting Educators and Researchers

Smith, Pamela A., Issues in Accounting Education

ABSTRACT: Recommendations by the AICPA (1998,2000), AAA (1986), and AECC (1995) have focused on the need for the accounting professional to be a lifelong learner. Attributes and skills connected with lifelong learning may be promoted in accounting classroom instruction by drawing from the work of educational theorists and researchers interested in similar goals. This paper introduces the concept of self-regulated learning and its related attributes and processes that are being studied as a means to promote self-motivated, independent, lifelong learning. Research in education theory and psychology from outside the field of accounting has found that the classroom environment can support the development of self-regulated learning and stimulate active involvement in one's own learning. This paper discusses the major findings of this research and provides guidance to accounting educators for classroom applications, and to accounting education researchers for studying the effectiveness of approaches to promoting se lf-regulated learning environment in the accounting curriculum.


This paper presents an overview of the research published by researchers in education theory and psychology (outside of accounting education) labeled "self-regulated learning" and highlights its relevance to accounting education. The accounting profession has called for the development of lifelong learning skills so that the accounting professional is someone who uses the independent learning skills of decision making, problem solving, and self-management to determine what needs to be learned and how to learn it (e.g., AAA 1986; Perspectives 1989; AICPA 1998, 2000; Albrecht and Sack 2000). Self-regulated learning is fundamental to lifelong learning and is a process in which the learner exercises control over his or her thinking, effect, and behavior as knowledge and skills are acquired (Zimmerman 1986).

In its first position paper, the Accounting Education Change Commission (AECC 1990) stated that because of the rapid pace of change in the profession, it is not possible for educators to fully prepare graduates to be accountants. Rather, the AECC maintained that educators must prepare graduates to become accounting professionals by equipping students with lifelong learning skills. Subsequently, the AECC and AAA (Francis et al. 1995) focused on the theory of lifelong learning and its applications to accounting education. The intent of that monograph was to present the theory, concepts, and processes of intentional learning (1) to help accounting faculty understand student learning, rather than to provide a discussion or review of the literature (Francis et al. 1995, xi). In contrast, this paper is a review of the research on self-regulated learning, including suggestions for further investigation.

The term "lifelong learning" is a general term seldom used in current educational research. (2) Several more precise terms are used to better fit the conceptualization of education theorists and researchers interested in goals similar to those of the accounting profession. Two such terms are "self-directed learning" and "self-regulated learning." The term "self-directed learning" is most often used in the study of adult education outside a formal educational setting. Researchers who are focused on students in formal educational settings most often use the term "self-regulated learning." While the different contexts shape somewhat differing research agendas, the objectives and goals of these researchers are chiefly the same: to learn about the attributes and skills of those who take control of their own learning, and the conditions that promote learning development (Hiemstra 1996).

While some relevant material may be drawn from the self-directed learning research, this paper is focused on the educational research on self-regulated learning because findings here can be more directly adapted to accounting education.

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Understanding Self-Regulated Learning and Its Implications for Accounting Educators and Researchers


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