Constructivist assumptions of self-regulated learning.
· ■ There is an intrinsic motivation to seek information.
· ■ Understanding goes beyond the information given.
· ■ Mental representations change with development.
· ■ There are progressive refinements in levels of understanding.
· ■ There are developmental constraints on learning.
· ■ Reflection and reconstruction stimulate learning.
Vygotsky’s ( 1978 ) constructivist theory of human development lends itself well to self-regulation ( Chapter 8 ). Recall that Vygotsky believed that people and their cultural environments constituted an interacting social system. Through their communications and actions, people in children’s environments taught children the tools (e.g., language, symbols, signs) they needed to acquire competence. Using these tools within the system, learners develop higher-level cognitive functions, such as concept acquisition and problem solving. As Vygotsky used the term higher mental function, he meant a consciously directed thought process. Self-regulated learning is a type of higher mental function (Henderson & Cunningham, 1994 ).
Self-regulated learning includes the coordination of such mental processes as memory, planning, synthesis, and evaluation (Henderson & Cunningham, 1994 ). These coordinated processes do not operate independently of the context in which they are formed. Indeed, the self-regulatory processes of an individual reflect those that are valued and taught within the person’s culture.
Vygotsky believed that people came to control their own deliberate actions (i.e., learned to self-regulate). The primary mechanisms affecting self-regulation are language and the zone of proximal development (ZPD; see Chapter 8 ).
Kopp ( 1982 ) provided a useful framework for understanding the development of the self-regulatory function of speech. In her view, self-regulation involves a transition from responding to the commands of others to the use of speech and other cognitive tools to plan, monitor, and direct one’s activities.
Self-regulation also depends on learners being aware of socially approved behaviors (Henderson & Cunningham, 1994 ). The meaning of actions depends on both the context and the tools (language, signs, and symbols) used to describe the actions. Through interactions with adults in the ZPD, children make the transition from behaviors regulated by others to behaviors regulated by themselves (self-regulation).
Wertsch ( 1979 ) described four stages of intersubjectivity that correspond to the degrees of responsibility held by parties in a social context. Initially the child does not understand the adult’s words or gestures, so there is no intersubjectivity. With maturation of the child and greater sensitivity of the adult to the child’s situation, a shared understanding of the situation develops, although responsibility for regulating behavior still lies with the adult. In the third phase, the child learns the relation between speech and activity and takes responsibility for the task. During the third phase, private speech is commonly used to self-regulate behavior. As this speech is internalized to self-directed thought, intersubjectivity becomes complete and self-regulation occurs independently. Internalization becomes the key to use of self-regulatory processes (Schunk, 1999 ). Some examples of internalization are given in Application 10.5 .
It is noteworthy that even after an adult or teacher is no longer present, the child’s self-regulatory activity still may reflect that person’s influence. Although the action is self-directed, it is the internalized regulation of the other’s influence. Often the child may repeat the same words used by the adult. In time, the child will construct his or her self-regulatory activity and it will become idiosyncratic.