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Master’s Thesis: Sources of Self-Regulated Learning

ArticleⅠ: Barry J. Zimmerman (2002). Becoming a Self-Regulated Learner: An Overview

In the article, the author discuss students’ self-regulation as a way to compensate for their individual differences in learning, define the qualities of academic self-regulation, describe the structure and function of self-regulatory processes, and give an overview of methods for guiding students to learn on their own finally.

Changing conceptions of individual differences

Since the beginning of public schooling in the United States, educators have struggled with the existence of differences in individual students’ backgrounds and modes of learning. In the 19th century, learning was viewed as a formal discipline, and a student’s failure to learn was attributed to personal limitations in intelligence or diligence. At the dawn of the 20th century, psychology emerged as a science, and the topic of individual differences in educational functioning attracted widespread interest. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, a new perspective on students’ individual differences began to emerge from research on metacognition and social cognition. These and related results led researchers to attribute individual differences in learning to students’ lack of self-regulation.

Defining self-regulated learning in process terms

Self-regulation is not a mental ability or an academic performance skill, but a self-directive process which learners transform their mental abilities into academic skills. Self-regulation refers to self-generated thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that are oriented to attaining goals. Self-regulation is important because it is the development of life-long learning skills. Every young adults need to learn many significant skills informally after they graduate from high school or university.

The current research tells us that: first, self-regulation of learning involves more than detailed knowledge of a skill, it involves the self-awareness, self-motivation, and behavioral skill to implement the knowledge appropriately. Second, self-regulation of learning is not a single personal trait students possess or lack, it involves the selective use of specific processes that must be adapted to each different task. The component skills include goal setting, strategies adopting, monitoring, restructuring, time using, self-evaluating, attributing, and methods adapting. Third, the research reveals that the self-motivated quality of self-regulated learners depends on underlying beliefs, including perceived efficacy and intrinsic interest, rather from the task itself.

Structure and function of self-regulatory processes

The social learning psychologists view the structure of self-regulatory processes in terms of three cyclical phases: forethought phase, performance phase, and self-reflection phase.

Forethought phase refers to processes and beliefs that occur before efforts to learn. There are two major classes of forethought phase processes. One is task analysis; it involves goal setting and strategic planning. Another one is self-motivation, it stems from students’ beliefs about learning, such as self-efficacy beliefs about having the personal capability to learn and outcome expectations about personal consequences of learning; Intrinsic interest refers to the students’ valuing of the task skill for its own merits, and learning goal orientation refers to valuing the process of learning for its own merits.

Performance phase processes have two major classes: self-control and self-observation. Self-control refers to the deployment of specific methods or strategies which were selected during the forethought phase. It includes the use of imagery, self-instruction, attention focusing, and task strategies. Self-observation refers to self-recording personal events or self-experimentation to find out the cause of these events. In addition, self-monitoring is a covert form of self-observation refers to one’s cognitive tracking of personal functioning.

Self-reflection phase includes two major classes: self-judgment and self-reaction. There are two forms of self-judgment, one is self-evaluation, which refers to comparisons of self-observed performances against some standard; another one is casual attribution, which refers to beliefs about the cause of one’s errors or successes. One form of self-reaction involves feelings of self-satisfaction and positive affect regarding one’s performance. Increases in self-satisfaction enhance motivation, whereas decreases in self-satisfaction undermine further efforts to learn. Another form of self-reaction is adaptive/defensive responses. Defensive reactions refer to efforts to protect one’s self-image by withdrawing or avoiding opportunities to learn and perform; in contrast, adaptive reactions refer to adjustments designs to increase the effectiveness of one’s method of learning.

The view of self-regulation is cyclical in that self-reflections from prior efforts to learn affect subsequent forethought processes. In this cyclical view of self-regulation, high correlations were found among learners’ use of forethought, performance, and self-reflection phase processes.

Teaching students to become self-regulated learners

Recent research shows that self-regulatory processes are teachable and can lead to increases in students’ motivation and achievement. Every self-regulatory process or belief can be learned from instruction and modeling by parents, teachers, coaches, and peers. So teaching self-regulated learning process is relevant and significant.

ArticleⅡ: Paul R. Pintrich(1999). The role of motivation in promoting and sustaining self-regulated learning.

In this chapter, the author describes how different motivational beliefs may help to promote and sustain different aspects of self-regulated learning.

1. A model of self-regulated learning

The model of self-regulated learning described in the chapter includes three categories of strategies: (1) cognitive learning strategies, (2) self-regulatory strategies to control cognition, (3) resource management strategies.

1.1 cognitive learning strategies

Cognitive learning strategies include rehearsal, elaboration, and organizational strategies. These strategies can be applied to simple memory task or to more complex tasks that require comprehension of the information.

Rehearsal strategies involve the recitation of items or the saying of words aloud. It highlights or underlines text in a passive and unreflective manner. The rehearsal strategies help students select and remember important information, but it may not reflect a very deep level of processing. Elaboration strategies include paraphrasing or summarizing the material, creating analogies, note-taking, explaining the ideas, and question asking and answering. Organizational strategies include behavior such as selecting main idea from text, outlining the text or material to be learned, and using various techniques for selecting and organizing ideas. These organizational strategies can result in a deeper understanding of the materials in contrast to rehearsal strategies.

1.2 Metacognitive and self-regulatory strategies

There are two aspects of metacognition, knowledge about cognition and self-regulatory of cognition. Some researchers said that metacognitive knowledge refers to students’ knowledge about person, task, and strategy variables. Self-regulatory refers to students’ monitoring, controlling, and regulating their own cognitive activities and practical behavior.

Most models of metacognitive control or self-regulating strategies include three types of strategies: planning, monitoring, and regulating. Planning activities include setting goals, skimming a text or generating questions before reading, and doing a task analysis. These activities help learners plan the use of cognitive strategies and activate prior knowledge, making organization and comprehension of the materials. Monitoring activities refer to monitor one’s thinking and academic behavior. It includes tracking of attention in reading or listening, self-testing through the use of questions, monitoring comprehension, and using test-taking strategies. Regulation strategies are closely tied to monitoring strategies, as it can bring behavior back in line with the goal or to come closer to the criterion. It includes rereading, slowing the pace when meeting difficulties, review materials, and skipping questions and returning to them later.

1.3  Resource management strategies

Resource management strategies concern strategies students use to manage and control their environment. It includes manage and control time, effort, study environment, and other people through the use of help-seeking strategies. These resource management strategies help students adapt to their environment and change environment to fit their goals and needs.

2. The role of motivational beliefs in self-regulated learning

There are three types of motivational beliefs in the chapter: (a) self-efficacy beliefs, (b) task value beliefs, and (c) goal orientations.

2.1 The role of self-efficacy beliefs

Self-efficacy refers to individuals’ beliefs about their performance capabilities in a particular domain. It includes individuals’ judgments about their ability to accomplish certain goals or tasks by their actions in specific situations. Self-efficacy is related to self-regulatory strategies and academic performance.

2.2 The role of task value beliefs

There are three important components of task value: the individual’s perception of the importance of the task, their personal interest in the task, and their perception of the utility value of the task for future goals. Task value beliefs are correlated positively with cognitive strategy use including rehearsal, elaboration, and organizational strategy use.

2.3 The role of goal orientation

There are three orientations: a mastery goal orientation refers to a concern with learning and mastering the task using self-set standards and self-improvement. An extrinsic orientation includes a focus on getting good grades and pleasing others as the main criterion for judgment success. A relative ability orientation refers to a concern with comparing one’s ability or performance to others and trying to best them, to do better than them on the task.

Mastery goals are positively related to the use of cognitive strategies and self-regulatory strategies, and actual performance. Extrinsic goals show negative relations to self-regulated learning and performance. For the relative ability orientation, a concern with besting others have a negative relation with self-regulation, but concern with being better than others use more cognitive and self-regulatory strategies and performed better; in addition, a concern with social comparison and besting others help students maintain their involvement with overlearned and relatively boring classroom task.

3. Conclusions and future directions for research

There are three generalizations about an adaptive profile of motivational beliefs for promoting and sustaining self-regulated learning in the research: first, self-efficacy is positively related to self-regulated learning; second, task value beliefs are positively related to self-regulated learning; third, adopting a mastery goal orientation is the most adaptive goal orientation for self-regulated learning.

There are some directions for future research: first, there is a need for examine the reciprocal and interactive relation between motivation and self-regulation; second, the future research concerns the cultural and contextual constraints on these generalizations; third, it is important for future research to understand how self-regulated learning develops in contexts, not just in classrooms, but other contexts outside schools, in addition, how classroom practices can be changed to foster adaptive motivation and self-regulation.

ArticleⅢ: Christopher A. Wolters, Shirley L. Yu, Paul R. Pintrich (1996). The Relation Between Goal Orientation and Students’ Motivational Beliefs and Self-Regulated Learning

1. Introduction

In the article, the relations between three goal orientations and students’ motivational beliefs and self-regulated learning were examined in a correlational study of 434 seventh and eighth grade students. The three goal orientations are a learning orientation is the basis mastery orientation where students is focused on learning and understanding the materials; the relative ability orientation is similar to the approach performance orientation where the student is focused on doing well in order to demonstrate his/her ability and to achieve relative to other students; the extrinsic orientation is focused on obtaining high grades, rewards, or approval from others.

In the article, the authors examine the relations between three different goal orientations and students’ motivational beliefs, self-regulated learning, and academic performance. They consider three measures of students’ motivational beliefs as outcomes of the different goal orientations: task value, self-efficacy, and test anxiety. They have two measures of self-regulated learning, self-reported cognitive strategy use and regulatory strategy use. In addition, students’ course grades and genders are still considered.

2. Method

Participants: there are 434 seventh and eighth grade students from a junior high school, 225 females and 209 males ranging in age from 11 to 15 years. All participants are enrolled in classes for mathematics, English, and social studies.

Procedure: data in the study are collected at the beginning of the school year (October/Time 1) and again at the end of the school year (June/ Time 2).

Measures: (1) Goal orientations. Students’ goal orientation is assessed using three different scales about learning goal orientation, extrinsic goal orientation, and relative ability goal orientation. Students need to complete an adapted version of the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ). (2) Motivational beliefs and self-regulated learning. There are five motivational and learning strategy scales in the MSLQ: task value scale, self-efficacy scale, test anxiety scale, cognitive strategy use scale, and regulatory strategy use scale. (3) Classroom academic performance. Students’ grades within each subject area from the first and second semesters (Time 1 and Time 2) are collected from school records.

3. Results

Descriptive results: results presented in Table 1 shows that students’ goal orientations, motivations, and self-regulation across different subject areas are quite similar to each other. Results presented in Table 2(a, b, c) shows that learning goal orientation is positively related to adaptive motivational beliefs and self-regulated learning, although there is no relation between learning goal orientation and test anxiety and only small relations to performance; relative ability goal orientation is positively related to students’ motivational beliefs (except for test anxiety where there is no relation) and positively with students self-regulated learning and performance; extrinsic goal orientation is negatively related to students’ efficacy and value, self-regulated learning, and performance, but it is positively related to students’ level of test anxiety.

Predicting motivational beliefs and self-regulated learning at Time 1 and Time 2:

Task value: Learning goal orientation is the best predictor of task value. Relative ability goal orientation still has positive effects for students’ task value (greater focus on relative ability goal tends to have higher levels of task value). But extrinsic goal orientation has negative effects for task value (greater focus on extrinsic goal tends to have lower levels of task value).

Self-efficacy: Learning goal orientation is the best predictor of self-efficacy. Relative ability goal orientation is also an important predictor of self-efficacy. But extrinsic goal orientation has negative influence for self-efficacy. There will be a positive multiplicative effect of having both relative ability and learning goal orientations.

Test anxiety: Neither learning goal nor relative ability orientation has relation in test anxiety. Extrinsic goal orientation is an important predictor of test anxiety.

Cognitive strategy use: the strongest predictor of students’ cognitive strategy use is learning goal orientation, and relative ability goal orientation is also a significant portion in cognitive strategy use. From the tables show that the positive relation between relative ability and cognitive strategy use is stronger when extrinsic goal orientation is high.

Regulatory strategy use: The strongest predictor of self-regulatory is learning goal orientation, the nest strongest predictor in each subject is extrinsic goal orientation, and relative ability goal orientation is still a significant predictor of self-regulatory.

Classroom performance: Relative ability goal orientation has positive impact in classroom performance, but extrinsic goal orientation has negative impact in classroom performance.

4. Discussion

Firstly, the results indicate that the goal orientation students endorse in the classroom have important implications for their motivational beliefs, self-regulation and classroom performance. A learning goal orientation, where students focus on mastery of the material to be learned, promotes adaptive motivational beliefs such as higher efficacy and task value as well as adaptive levels of deeper cognitive engagement and higher levels of self-regulation.

Secondly, adopting a relative ability goal orientation results in positive academic outcomes in motivation, cognition, and performance. Relative ability goal orientation positively predicted students’ task value, self-efficacy, and cognitive and self-regulatory strategy use.

Thirdly, extrinsic goal orientation is related to more negative and maladaptive patterns of motivation, cognition, and performance. Students’ endorsement of an extrinsic goal orientation is negatively related to task value, self-efficacy, self-regulated learning, and performance in the classroom.

Fourthly, the interaction of three goal orientations: the high level of extrinsic goal orientation will dampen the positive effect of adopting a learning goal orientation for efficacy, cognitive strategy use, self-regulation, and performance. When students adopt multiple goals and show varying levels of endorsement of different goals, the main effects of different goal orientations are much stronger and more consistent.

Fifthly, according to the study, females report higher levels of cognitive strategy use and test anxiety in the three subject areas, and lower levels of efficacy for social studies and math. In terms of grade differences, eighth grades students are more likely to report higher levels of cognitive strategy use and self-regulation than seventh graders in three subject areas.

In conclusion, students’ goal orientations are related to motivational and cognitive process and achievement in classroom settings. A learning goal orientation is most adaptive for motivation and learning, a relative ability goal orientation can also be positive for students. In contrast, an extrinsic goal orientation where students are only focused on grades does not seem to be adaptive for motivation and self-regulated learning.

ArticleⅣ: Sharon Zumbrunn, Joseph Tadlock & Elizabeth Danielle Roberts (2011). Encouraging Self-Regulated Learning in the classroom: A Review of the Literature

1. Defining self-regulation

Self-regulated learning is a process that assists students in managing their thoughts, behaviors, and emotions to successfully navigate their learning experiences. There is a popular cyclical model discusses three distinct phase: forethought and planning, performance monitoring, and reflections on performance.

2. Self-regulated learning and motivation

Self-regulated learning is controlled by an interconnected framework of factors which determine its development and sustainability; motivation is a critical factor in this framework.

During the forethought and planning phase, students’ interests and values about the activity are factors into the decision. In addition, students’ efficacy beliefs also play a role during this phase; meanwhile, self-efficacy and the use of self-regulation strategies have positive impacts with each other. During the performance monitoring phase, intrinsic motivation and volition guide the level of effort and persistence used in completing the task and use of other self-regulation strategies. During the reflection on performance phase, students’ causal attributions play a key role for the task.

In general, self-regulated learning and motivation work altogether to explain students learning and success in the classroom.

3. Self-regulated learning strategies for students

(1) Goal setting: goals can be thought of as the standards that regulate an individual’s activity. Goals can be divided into short-term goal and long-term goal. Encourage students to make short-term goal would be an effective way to help them track their progress.

(2) Planning: planning could help students self-regulate their learning before engaging in learning tasks. Planning occurs in three stages: setting a goal for a learning task, establishing strategies for achieving the goal, and determining how much time and resources will be needed to accomplish the goal.

(3) Self-motivation: self-motivation occurs when students use one or more strategies independently for a goal or in the situation of no external rewards and incentives. Self-motivation is very important to the process of self-regulation because it asks for students to assume control over their learning.

(4) Attention control: attention control is a cognitive process which requires self-management. This process entails clearing the mind of distracting thought, and seeks suitable environments that are conducive to learning.

(5) Flexible use of strategies: the successful learners can implement multiple strategies according to the tasks and adjust those strategies as needed to facilitate their progress towards their goals.

(6) Self-monitoring: self-regulated learners can monitor their progress towards the goals. The process of self-monitoring encompasses all of the aforementioned strategies.

(7) Help-seeking: students do not try to complete every task on their own; they can seek help and advices from others when necessary.

(8) Self-evaluation: students can evaluate their own learning, except for teacher’s assessment. It enables students to evaluate their learning strategies and make adjustment for similar task in the future.

4. Encouraging student self-regulated learning

(1) Direct instruction and modeling: direct instruction includes explaining different strategies to students, as well as how those strategies are used and what skills are involved in using those strategies. Additionally, modeling and demonstration are still a kind of instruction.

(2) Guided and independent practice: guided practice is another way teachers can help students promote SRL and motivation. During guided practice, the responsibility of implementing the learning strategies shifts from teacher to student. Teachers should give guided practice in the independent practice; students have opportunities to practice the strategies on their own in this process.

(3) Social support and feedback: social support from teachers and peers can play an important role in students’ learning period. Social support comes in the form of feedback. One type feedback is progress feedback. It can help students improve their academic achievement and promote their motivation and self-regulation.

(4) Reflective practice: it is an important and effective tool for a teacher to use. Teachers can investigate the possible reasons about explaining the effectiveness of a given instructional strategy used in the classroom in reflective practice.

5. Challenges to promoting self-regulated learning in the classroom

Firstly, it needs time for teachers to teach students how to use specific strategies. Secondly, there need some changes about allocating time and resource at the school level. Thirdly, classroom curriculum and accompanying assessment systems should be organized to support autonomous inquiry and strategic problem-solving. Lastly, the factors outside of the teacher’s control still have a major impact for promoting students’ self-regulation.

ArticleⅤ: Ng Lee Yen, Kamariah Abu Bakar, Samsilah Roslan, Wong Suluan, &Petri Zabariah Megat Abdul Rahman(2005). Self-Regulated Learning and Its Relationship with Student-Teacher Interaction

1. Introduction

Some researches reveal that student-centered learning and strategy instruction are positively and significantly related to self-regulated learning. In addition, feedback given by teachers also impact students’ self-regulated learning. So this article propose that student-teacher interactions in relation to self-regulated learning can be divided into three components, student-centered learning, feedback provided by teachers, and strategy-instruction.

2. Method

Sample: the sample for this study includes 322 Form-Four students from two secondary schools.

Instruments: (1) The Learning Strategies Scale was developed by Pintrich et al. is used to measure students’ self-regulated learning. The scale comprises two sections: a motivational section, and a learning strategies section. Some modifications are made according to the context. (2) The Student-Teacher Interactions Scale is a self-report instrument which developed by researchers to gauge interactions between students and teacher during teaching and learning processes.

3. Results and discussion

The research shows that there is a positive and significant correlation between self-regulated learning, and student-teacher interaction, indicating that self-regulated learning increases as student-teacher interaction increases.

The positive relationship between student-teacher interactions and self-regulated learning implies that teachers play an important role in promoting students’ self-regulated learning. Teachers can encourage self-awareness and self-assessment during the learning processes, nurture students’ interests and motivation in learning, and conduct more lessons on learning strategies in the classroom.

The study also finds that self-regulated learning is positively and significantly related to students-centered learning and strategy-instructions. Students-centered learning is a teaching approach which allows students to self-direct, self-access, and self-pace in learning. This approach makes students to determine the content, pacing, and instructional sequence according to their learning needs and abilities. Students will be inclined to self-regulate if they can have a say in the learning processes. The teaching of strategy-instruction can affect self-regulated learning positively. When students receive training in self-regulated learning enable to manage their studies more efficiently. There are two categories of strategy-instruction: detached strategies instruction and embedded strategy instruction. The former means strategies are taught directly without utilizing the school curriculum, and the latter means strategies are taught indirectly during formal lessons. The latter is thought to be more effective.

There are two categories of teachers’ feedback: general feedback and special feedback. General feedback includes general praise in reacting to students’ performance, it also happened after a test, and general written comments on assignments or test that are returned. But specific feedback includes specific information about correct academic performance, additional information about incomplete or incorrect performance, and class discussion on students’ responses to specific part of tests. In relation to self-regulated learning, specific feedback is deemed more important. Through the specific feedback, students can self-monitor, self-evaluate and self-regulate their own performance and progress without relying on teacher’s feedback.


1.  Barry J. Zimmerman (2002). Becoming a Self-Regulated Learner: An Overview. Theory into Practice, Volume 41, Number 2, Spring 2002.

2. Paul R. Pintrich(1999). The role of motivation in promoting and sustaining self-regulated learning. International Journal of Educational Research 31 (1999) pp459-470.

3. Christopher A. Wolters, Shirley L. Yu, Paul R. Pintrich (1996). The Relation Between Goal Orientation and Students’ Motivational Beliefs and Self-Regulated Learning. Learning and Individual Differences, Volume 8, Number 3, 1996, pp211-238.

4. Sharon Zumbrunn, Joseph Tadlock & Elizabeth Danielle Roberts (2011). Encouraging Self-Regulated Learning in the classroom: A Review of the Literature. Metropolitan Educational Research Consortium (MERC), Virginia Commonwealth University (October 2011).

5. Ng Lee Yen, Kamariah Abu Bakar, Samsilah Roslan, Wong Suluan, &Petri Zabariah Megat Abdul Rahman(2005). Self-Regulated Learning and Its Relationship with Student-Teacher Interaction. Pakistan Journal of Psychological Research; Summer 2005; 20, 1/2; pp41-63

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