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.
Implicit theories ( Chapters 8 and 9 ) are inherent features of constructivist accounts of learning, cognition, and motivation. Students also construct theories about self-regulated learning. These theories exist along with theories about others and their worlds, so self-regulated learning theories are highly contextualized (Paris, Byrnes, & Paris, 2001 ).
APPLICATION 10.5 Promoting Internalization
Many influences on students’ self-regulated learning originate in their social environments, such as when teachers explain and demonstrate specific strategies for students to use on academic content. But as the theories covered in this chapter make clear, these external inputs are not passively received by students but rather transformed by them into personal self-regulatory influences. As learners develop skills, the unidimensional social-to-self process becomes a bidirectional interactive process as learners modify their environments and enhance their learning. A key process is internalization of information. Self-regulatory processes that are internalized are under the learner’s control, whereas noninternalized processes are under the control of others. Internalized processes are represented mentally as thoughts, beliefs, procedures, strategies, and so forth. Although it is possible to learn without internalization (e.g., when teachers direct students’ actions), internalization is needed for skill improvement over time and beyond the present learning setting. The net result of internalization is a set of self-regulatory influences that learners employ to promote their motivation and learning.
Mr. Cauthen works with his students to help them internalize spelling rules. For example, he teaches them the rhyme, “I before E except after C or when sounded like A as in Neighbor or Weigh.” When he gives spelling words with ie or ei in them, he asks them to verbalize aloud the rhyme. Then once they regularly do this, he advises them to whisper the rhyme, and eventually to say it quietly to themselves (subvocally). He uses this same procedure with other spelling rules, teaching students to internalize rules so that they can generate them in response to various spelling words.
Ms. Deutrony does not want her students to think of history as the memorizing of facts. Instead, she wants them to develop skills of historical analysis. She teaches them questions to ask to analyze historical events, such as: What happened? Who were the influential people? What events led up to this event? How might this event have turned out differently if the events leading up to it had changed? Early in the course she has students write out the answers to these questions as they analyze events. As students develop skills of historical analysis, she asks them to formulate their own strategy that will capture the same type of information. They internalize this strategy as their own as they apply it to historical events, as well as to current events involving elections, the economy, and wars.
As part of her undergraduate educational psychology course, Dr. Mornoveny teaches her students self-regulated learning strategies to use when studying the course content. For example, she teaches them how to effectively underline and highlight information in text, how to summarize chapter content, how to budget their study time, and how to create an effective study environment. Each student formulates a study plan to use for the chapters. She provides feedback on these and asks the students to revise their plans as the semester progresses based on their evaluations of the plan’s effectiveness. By the end of the semester, the goal is for students to be using their study plans routinely and adapting them as needed based on study requirements (e.g., need to consult Internet sources).
A major type of implicit theory involves children’s beliefs about their academic abilities. Children who experience learning problems and who believe that these problems reflect poor ability are apt to demonstrate low motivation to succeed. The beliefs that effort leads to success and that learning produces higher ability are positively related to effective self-regulated learning. An incremental mindset (belief that abilities can be improved) predicts such self-regulatory processes as goal setting (learning goals), mastery-oriented strategies, and positive expectations (Burnette, O’Boyle, VanEpps, Pollack, & Finkel, 2013 ).
Children also develop theories about their competence relative to their peers. Through social comparisons with similar others, they formulate perceptions of ability and of their relative standing within their class. They also begin to differentiate their perceptions by subject area and to ascertain how smart they are in subjects such as reading and mathematics.
In line with these beliefs, children formulate theories about what contributes to success in different domains. Self-regulatory strategies may be general in nature, such as taking notes and rehearsing information to be learned, or they may be idiosyncratic to a particular area. Whether these strategies truly are useful is not the point. Because they are constructed, they may be misleading.
Learners also develop theories about agency and control that they have in academic situations. This power to act to obtain desired outcomes is central to social cognitive theory (Bandura, 1997 ) and to constructivist theories (Martin, 2004 ). Bandura contended that self-efficacy is a key influence on agency, whereas constructivist theories place greater emphasis on learners’ activities in their physical and sociocultural environments (Martin, 2004 ). With respect to learners’ theories, they may feel self-efficacious ( Chapter 4 ) and believe that they are capable of learning what is being taught in school. Conversely, they may entertain serious doubts about their learning capabilities. Again, these beliefs may or may not accurately capture reality. Research has shown, for example, that children often feel highly self-efficacious about successfully solving mathematical problems even after being given feedback showing that they had failed most or all of the problems they attempted to solve (Bandura & Schunk, 1981 ). The correspondence between self-efficacy judgments and actual performance can be affected by many factors (Bandura, 1997 ; Schunk & Pajares, 2009 ).
Another class of theories involves schooling and academic tasks (Paris et al., 2001 ). These theories contain information about the content and skills taught in school and what is required to learn the content and skills. The goals that students formulate for schooling may not be consistent with those of teachers and parents. For example, teachers and parents may want students to perform well, but students’ goals might be to make friends and stay out of trouble. For a subject area (e.g., reading), students may have a goal of understanding the text or simply verbalizing the words on a page. A goal of writing may be to fill the lines on a page or create a short story.
Self-regulated learning, therefore, involves individuals constructing theories about themselves (e.g., abilities, capabilities, typical effort), others, and their environments. These theories are constructed partly through direct instruction from others (e.g., teachers, peers, and parents), but also largely through their personal reflections on their performances, environmental effects, and responses from others. Theories are constructed using the tools (language, signs, and symbols) and in social contexts, often through instruction in the ZPD.
The goal is for students to construct a self-identity as students. Their beliefs are influenced by parents, teachers, and peers and may include stereotypes associated with gender, culture, and ethnic background. Paris et al. ( 2001 ) contended that the separation of identity development and self-regulated learning is impossible because achievement behaviors are indicators of who students believe they are or who they want to become. Strategies cannot be taught independently of goals, roles, and identities of students. In other words, self-regulated learning is intimately linked with personal development.
Children are intrinsically motivated to construct explanatory frameworks and understand their educational experiences (Paris et al., 2001 ). When they are successful, they construct theories of competence, tasks, and themselves, which aid learning and usage of adaptive learning strategies. But when they are not successful, they may construct inappropriate goals and strategies. In short, self-regulated learning is heavily dependent on how children perceive themselves and achievement tasks (Dweck & Master, 2008 ).
MOTIVATION AND SELF-REGULATED LEARNING
Motivation is intimately linked with self-regulated learning (Pintrich, 2003 ; Wolters, 2003 ). People motivated to attain a goal engage in self-regulatory activities they believe will help them (e.g., organize and rehearse material, monitor learning progress, and adjust strategies). In turn, students self-regulate their motivation to learn, and the perception that one is learning sustains motivation and self-regulation to attain new goals (Schunk & Ertmer, 2000 ). Thus, motivation and self-regulated learning influence each other.
The link between motivation and self-regulation is seen clearly in theoretical models (Pintrich, 2000b ; Vollmeyer & Rheinberg, 2006 ; B. Zimmerman, 2000 ). Pintrich’s model is heavily motivation dependent, since motivation underlies learners’ setting and pursuit of goals and also is a focus of their self-regulation as they engage in tasks. In Zimmerman’s model, motivation enters at all phases: forethought (e.g., self-efficacy, outcome expectations, interest, value, goal orientations), performance control (e.g., attention focusing, self-monitoring), and self-reflection (e.g., self-evaluation of goal progress, causal attributions).
Additional evidence of this link is seen in research by Wolters ( 1998 , 1999 ; Wolters, Yu, & Pintrich, 1996 ). In these studies, the researchers determined how various strategies designed to maintain optimal task motivation (e.g., expend effort, persist, make the task interesting, self-reward) related to self-regulatory strategy use during learning (e.g., rehearsal, elaboration, planning, monitoring, organization). The results showed that the motivation regulation activities that learners used predicted their self-regulation. Adopting a learning-goal orientation was associated with higher self-efficacy, task value, and achievement.
One aspect of self-regulated learning that is drawing increased research attention is volition , which is discussed in the next section. Some researchers define volition as part of a larger self-regulatory system that includes motivation and other cognitive processes (Corno, 1993 , 2001 , 2008 ; Snow, 1989 ). Many other motivational components are receiving research attention for their role in self-regulated learning—for example, goal properties, goal orientations, self-efficacy, interest, attributions, values, self-schemas, and help seeking (Schunk & Zimmerman, 2008 ). We have examined the roles of goal properties (Zimmerman, 2008 ), goal orientations (Fryer & Elliot, 2008 ), self-efficacy (Schunk & Pajares, 2009 ), interest (Hidi & Ainley, 2008 ), and attributions (Schunk, 2008 ) in Chapter 9 . This section discusses volition, values, self-schemas, and help seeking.