Social Cognitive Theory
and Self-Regulated Learning
Dale H. Schunk
Current theoretical accounts of learning view students as active seekers and processors of information. Learners' cognitions can influence the instigation, direction, and persistence of achievement behaviors (Bandura, 1997; Schunk, 1995; Zimmerman, 1998).
This chapter discusses self-regulated learning from a social cognitive theoretical perspective. Self-regulated learning (SRL) refers to learning that results from students' self-generated thoughts and behaviors that are systematically oriented toward the attainment of their learning goals. SRL involves goal-directed activities that students instigate, modify, and sustain (Zimmerman, 1994,1998); for example, attending to instruction, processing information, rehearsing and relating new learning to prior knowledge, believing that one is capable of learning, and establishing productive social relationships and work environments (Schunk, 1995). SRL fits well with the notion that rather than being passive recipients of information, students contribute actively to their learning goals and exercise control over goal attainment.
In the social cognitive theoretical framework, self-regulation is construed as situationally specific. This means that self-regulation is not a general trait or a particular level of development. Self-regulation is highly context dependent; people are not generally self-regulated or nonself- regulated. Learners are not expected to engage in self-regulation equally in all domains. Although some self-regulatory processes (e.g., goal setting) may generalize across settings, learners must understand how to