Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Middle Years Students' Use of Self-Regulating Strategies in an Online Journaling Environment

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Middle Years Students' Use of Self-Regulating Strategies in an Online Journaling Environment

Article excerpt

Introduction

Self regulation increases student motivation and engagement by enabling students to customize and take control of their own learning through conscious knowledge of effective strategies and choices (Zimmerman, 2002; Zimmerman, Bandura, & Martinez-Pons, 1992). It gives them opportunities to pursue preferences as well as strengths using an appropriate repertoire of tactics. This study attempts to improve student self regulation through the use of an online journaling website where the setting of goals is an important component. Goals can be seen as important factors in motivation and learning (Schunk, 2003), both of which are key components of self regulation.

There is now an extensive longstanding literature on student self regulation of learning, drawing on research from the 1980s and 1990s (Ames & Archer, 1988; Pintrich & De Groot, 1990; Schunk, 1990; Zimmerman & Pons, 1988). Self regulated learning is broadly defined by Boekaerts and Como (2005) as the use of strategies to achieve academic growth and well-being goals. Pintrich and de Groot (1990, p. 38) made the compelling point that "student involvement in self regulated learning is closely tied to students' efficacy beliefs about their capability to perform classroom tasks and to their beliefs that these classroom tasks are interesting and worth learning". Pintrich and de Groot (1990) emphasize that students need to have both the 'will' and the 'skill' for learning gains to occur. Schunk (1990, p. 71) puts forward that "self regulated learning occurs when students activate and sustain cognitions and behaviors systematically oriented toward attainment of learning goals".

More recently, Dweck (2000; 2002) asserted that students may enable or constrain their capacity to self regulate learning because of beliefs they hold about their intelligence and the value of effort. She distinguished between students who view their intelligence as pre-determined, and who therefore view effort as superfluous, with students who believed that effort could lead to success. She considered that appropriate guidance and feedback by the teacher to students on the value of effort could have a positive effect on students' capacity to self regulate learning experiences.

An online recording and online journaling space was developed by the researcher (Campbell & Deed, 2007) and utilized in this study. The website is an Assistive eXtra Learning Environment (AXLE), which is a website that was initially designed to be engaging for boys in Grade 6 as well as functional in order to collect data relating to the study (Campbell & Deed, 2007, 2008; Deed & Campbell, 2007). However, in this context it will be used for Year 8 students. Unique aspects of the design included the use of images rather than text; capacity for each student to individualize their journal using images, colors and clothing for the AXLE avatar; a goal-setting and monitoring cycle; screens to record the boys' affective, behavioral and cognitive engagement with specific tasks; and allowance for the students to upload work samples. Each student's journal was password protected. It was designed to be an interesting space for the young adolescent male students as well as allow the students to set goals and reflect on how they can achieve those goals in an imaginative, non-threatening and jargon-free environment.

Student participants were required to reflect on specific activities conducted in the classroom. Reflection can often be seen by students as an abstract idea that they perceived as irrelevant to their school life. The students were not explicitly told that they were reflecting, rather they were asked to report on their experiences by completing a series of questions. The online journal focused on the students' perceptions of their affective, behavioral, and cognitive engagement of their most recent classroom experience. It also provided an opportunity for the students to set goals and reflect on these goals weekly through the use of a question cycle that went for a period of four weeks prior to being repeated. …

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