Academic journal article Journal of College Reading and Learning

Effects of a Self-Regulated Learning Course on the Academic Performance and Graduation Rate of College Students in an Academic Support Program

Academic journal article Journal of College Reading and Learning

Effects of a Self-Regulated Learning Course on the Academic Performance and Graduation Rate of College Students in an Academic Support Program

Article excerpt

Systematic attempts to help college students complete academic tasks more effectively have existed for decades; Walter Pauk's (1962) landmark book, How to Study in College, was in its eighth edition in 2006. By the 1980s research in cognitive psychology had shaped a clear theoretical basis for teaching cognitive and affective learning strategies at the college level (Weinstein & Mayer, 1986). Such assistance has been provided in a variety of formats, including learning-to-learn courses, Supplemental Instruction for a single targeted course, and programs for underprepared students (Simpson, Hynd, Nist, & Burrell, 1997).

McKeachie and his colleagues (McKeachie, Pintrich, & Lin, 1985) were among the first to create an entire undergraduate psychology course devoted to teaching learning strategies. The development of their course was also noteworthy for assessing students' self-reported changes in learning strategies and for expanding conceptions of self-regulated learning by including metacognitive and motivational components. There are now undergraduate learning-to-learn or self-regulated learning (SRL) courses, as they will be called here, at many major universities and colleges. Pintrich (1995, 2004) has done an excellent job of articulating the manner in which cognitive, motivational, behavioral, and contextual features of SRL can be integrated and why such courses can be important for many college students. Pintrich's model views learners as active participants in the monitoring, control, and regulation of their behavior, affect, and cognition. These self-regulatory behaviors act as mediators between both personal and contextual characteristics and actual achievement or performance. Students can learn to regulate their resources, beliefs, and strategies in the service of any particular academic goal. Though there is a great deal of variability among these courses, Pintrich's unified view of the self-regulated learner is widely shared (e.g., Dembo & Seli, 2004; DuBois & Staley, 1997; Hofer, Yu, & Pintrich, 1998; Weinstein, 1994).

As greater agreement developed concerning the function and design of SRL courses, more attention was paid to assessing the degree to which students reported using various SRL behaviors. The two most popular self-report measures were developed specifically to assess strategic thoughts and behaviors that affect cognition and motivation and that are amenable to change. The Learning and Study Strategies Inventory ([LASSI], Weinstein, Palmer, & Schulte, 1987) was developed as a measure for students and their instructors to diagnose learning strengths and weaknesses. The Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire ([MSLO], Pintrich, Smith, Garcia, & McKeachie, 1991) is similar except that it uses a single concurrent course as its referent and addresses motivational components more extensively.

Long-term effects of SRL courses can be understood in the wider context of how frequently various groups of college students report using learning strategies and the relationship of such use to various indices of academic performance. Studies have indicated widespread spontaneous use of certain types of learning strategies across different courses (Vermetten, Lodewijks, & Vermunt, 1999) and interactions among use of learning strategies, motivational beliefs, and domain-specific knowledge (VanderStoep, Pintrich, & Fagerlin, 1996).

VanderStoep et al. (1996) found that interaction among these three components discriminated high from low achievers in social and natural sciences courses, though not in humanities courses. Students with low grade point averages (GPAs) and students with learning disabilities scored significantly lower on the LASSI than their respective comparison groups (Proctor, Prevatt, Adams, Hurst, & Petscher, 2006). Similarly, high achieving Hong Kong students scored significantly higher on a Chinese version of the LASSI than did low achieving students (Yip, 2007). …

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