There are nearly 1,000 self-hyphenated words in the English language (English & English, 1958) that describe how individuals react to and seek to control their own physical, behavioral, and psychological qualities. People are clearly fascinated with understanding and regulating themselves—a characteristic that many philosophers, theologians, and psychologists believe most distinguishes humans as a species. Recently, the search for self-understanding and self-regulation has turned to learning and academic achievement processes. As an organizing concept, self-regulated learning describes how learners control their thoughts, feelings, and actions in order to achieve academically.
The label self-regulated learning (SRL) may strike some readers as an oxymoron. By definition, doesn't the word regulation refer to keeping something regular in the face of changing conditions and doesn't the term learning refer to relatively stable changes in performance produced by experience? In fact, SRL seeks to explain how people improve their performance using a systematic or regular method of learning. Instead of focusing on sustaining the status quo, self-regulated learning researchers seek to understand how learners adapt to dynamic contexts by constantly enhancing their skill. We live in societies where changes in human contexts are occurring at the fastest rate in history. Individuals as well as communities must change quickly in the face of rapid technological advances. The viability of even long-standing professions can change dramatically, such as when computers and voice mail began to replace secretaries during the last decade. The half-life of a particular computer program and the skill to use it is now discussed in months rather than years. To avoid obsolescence and unemployment, workers at all levels of society must become effective life-long learners. This volume presents a comprehensive description of the major theoretical perspectives that are guiding research on how students become self-regulated learners. Because of the importance of this topic, researchers from widely divergent theoretical perspectives have been drawn to the issue of how