Where We Are and Where We Might Go – Part 2

Where We Are and Where We Might Go – Part 2

Self-Regulated Learning of Related Academic Skills

A second direction is to examine self-regulated learning of related academic skills. Most self-regulated learning research has used academic content such as mathematics, science, reading, and writing. Although research has investigated self-regulated learning with motor skills (e.g., Zimmerman & Kitsantas, 1997) and health behaviors (Brownlee, Leventhal, & Leventhal, 2000), there is a small amount of research using non-core subjects. McPherson’s work (McPherson, Nielsen, & Renwick, 2013; McPherson & Renwick, 2011) on self-regulation during musical skill learning, and research on physical education (Goudas, Kolovelonis, & Dermitzaki, 2013) and on managing chronic disease (Clark, 2013) are examples of research in related academic domains.

A key aspect of the related academic domain is life skills and especially interpersonal skills. These are important for academic learning. Good interpersonal skills are needed for collaborations and teamwork as students must be able to work productively with others. Researchers may need to move away from instructional contexts and explore settings involving parents, friends, mentors, and coaches. The development of interpersonal skills requires that participants build relationships with one another, a hallmark of theories of mentoring (Johnson, 2007). Positive results of peer coaching on relationship building have been reported (Parker, Hall, & Kram, 2008).

One question is how well our theories of self-regulated learning can explain learning of related academic skills. Existing theories may apply well to learning in academic content areas, but adaptations may be needed to place greater emphasis on the motivational and affective variables that surely are important in self-regulated learning of life skills and other related academic skills.

Self-Regulated Learning in Groups

A third recommendation is to move beyond individual learning and examine self-regulated learning in groups. Most self-regulated learning research has focused on learning by individuals, even when the learners were part of a group setting. Group learning is common in education, as witnessed by the current emphasis on collaborative and peer learning (Rohrbeck, Ginsburg-Block, Fantuzzo, & Miller, 2003).

Self-regulation in groups can take different forms. Hadwin, Järvelä, and others have distinguished co-regulation from socially shared regulation (Hadwin, Järvelä, & Miller, 2011; Järvelä & Hadwin, 2013). Co-regulation refers to the coordination of self-regulation competencies among people in social contexts. Learners jointly use their skills and strategies to influence one another’s self-regulated learning and develop new or expanded self-regulatory capabilities that are useful in group or individual contexts. Although the context is social, the result is individual learning. In contrast, socially shared regulation refers to interdependent regulatory processes aimed at attaining a mutual outcome. The idea is for the self-regulating participants to synthesize their learning to attain the group’s outcome. Learners contribute their skills toward the goal of developing a self-regulated learning group.

As examples of types of research I am recommending, Järvelä and Hadwin (2013) summarize research on the use of technology to promote interactions and collective actions among students, and Mullen (2011) describes projects involving students in doctoral cohorts learning self-regulatory skills for proposal and dissertation writing.

There are many issues to explore. Do our theories of self-regulated learning, which were developed against a backdrop of learning by individuals, also work well for groups or do they need adaptations? How do the social interactions that occur in groups affect individuals’ learning? How do learners coordinate their skills and strategies to produce better self-regulated learning by the group? These and other questions will do much to advance the theoretical and research bases in our field.


I appreciate the opportunity to share these ideas with you today. I also commend the SSRL SIG for its fine work to increase interest among educators in self-regulated learning. We have come far in less than 30 years, and I look forward to a future with advances in theory, research, and practice.

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