Defining Self-regulated Learning

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Self-regulation is an integrated learning process, consisting of the development of a set of constructive behaviors that affect one's learning. These processes are planned and adapted to support the pursuit of personal goals in changing learning environments.

Sean is a fifth grader who seems bored and disinterested in all academics most of the time in school. He fidgets constantly, is in trouble often for being "off-task" and has been referred for assessment as having attention deficit/hyperactivity order (ADHD) for the last three years. His teacher reports that he rarely finishes his school work, daydreams, and is rarely on task. He is in danger of not learning basic information required by the district and state curriculum standards. Sean's mother, a pediatrician, does not believe that he has ADHD, but rather, that he is not challenged and is not provided enough opportunities for movement in his traditional school environment. Sean and his father, who also has an extremely high energy level, frequently build intricate rockets together, and Sean can sit quietly for hours when he is engaged in challenging work of his own selection. Sean tested at the 99th percentile in general aptitude but his work in school is often below average. His lack of completion of schoolwork is becoming increasingly problematic, particularly when it appears that he does have the self-regulation to finish work he wants to pursue at home. Sean is being labeled an underachiever and his teacher believes he needs to gain self-regulation strategies. How does his teacher help him in this process?

As you consider the concept of self-regulation, keep these three key points in mind:

  • Self-regulated learning is a fairly new construct in research on student performance and achievement in classroom settings.

  • A common set of self-regulation strategies exists, as well as an individual set of skills that each student must develop personally to be successful in school and life.

  • These self-regulation skills can be taught, learned, and controlled.