Learners_Self-Regulated Learning

Self-Regulated Learning

In the following scenario, how would you describe and compare Joseph’s and Patcy’s behavior in preparing their examination?

Setting: Two Form 4 students, Joseph and Patcy, just knew the coverage of the coming history examination. They decided to go to the library to start their revision today. The following are their think-aloud monologues when they started their revision in the library.

Joseph (talked to himself while reading the history textbook and the coverage of examination): Let me see…there are six days before history exam…and in total we have 14 chapters to study…6 had been covered in mid-term…8 chapters…new…and I have already read through the notes for 5 of these new chapters…so I would spend 2 days on the 3 new chapters…then revise the other 5 new chapters in the next two days…then the old stuff…let’s try this…or I can change this if I am progressing faster or slower than I expect…

(started revision and murmur to himself while he gets a little bit stuck)…it has been 4 hours since I started revision, how do I progress? I felt a bit slow…how come..it seems that I have spent too much time on those details in the treaties…may be I can skip that for now…and come back if time allows…Let me ask myself some questions to see if I really know the stuff I have revised this afternoon…then I can move on to other chapters…hm…

Patcy: (talked to herself while reading the history textbook and the coverage of examination): There are six days before history exam…plenty of time…may be…I start with chapter 1…no…may be start the chapter I like most…which chapter I like…(flipping the textbook)…okay…WWII…

(started revision and murmur to herself while she gets a little bit stuck)…I didn’t like WWII, all the dates and events drive me crazy…but I think I finished WWII…no matter how I don’t like it…May be I should start with Vienna Treatise…I will finish this no matter what…at six today…I am hungry and I have to leave…


Q: What is self-regulated learning?

Self-regulated learning, as the name implies, is one’s ability to regulate him/herself in the process of learning without the assistance of external source or authority. It is almost analogous to the autopilot system in a plane. According to Pintrich and DeGroot (1990), self-regulated learning includes three key components: 1) metacognitive strategies, 2) management and control of effort, and 3) mobilizing cognitive strategies.

1. Metacognitive strategies

Metacognition is one’s ability to think of one’s own thinking. It involves the ability to plan, monitor and modify one’s process of thinking and learning. A students demonstrating the use of metacognitive strategies may ask him/herself the following questions when working on a academic task (can you identify these components from Joseph’s monologue?):

  • How should I go about to start this task? What steps I need to take to complete the task (planning)
  • How am I progressing? Am I being too sketchy on this section? Or did I spend too much time on that part? (monitoring)
  • Is this product up to standard? Is it good? Some sections seem to be not explicit enough in answering the task requirement, maybe I should change it… (modifying)
2. Management and control of effort

This involves one’s executive control of where, when and how much effort should be exerted to handle a given learning situation. For example, students who have the ability to control effort will be more persistent in solving difficult problems, and be more concentrated when in distracting circumstances.

3. Use of cognitive strategies

This involves one’s deliberate effort to use external aids to support learning. These aids include rehearsal, elaboration, and organizational strategies.

Q: Why does self-regulated learning matter?

Psychologists have found that whether a learner can self-regulate themselves during the process of learning is one of the key correlates of academic success (Pintrich & DeGroot, 1990). It And also has been found to correlate with other key learning cognitions we have introduced, such as approaches to learning, epistemic beliefs, and motivation, all of which influence learning outcomes.


Further Reading

  • Pintrich, P. R. & DeGroot, E.V. (1990). Motivational and self-regulated learning components of classroom academic performance. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82, 33-40.