Self-regulated learning

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Draft 1

Editor: Karl Steffens, University of Cologne, Germany



"Students can be described as self-regulated to the degree that they are metacognitively, motivationally, and behaviorally active participants in their own learning process" (Zimmerman, 1998a, p.4).

Comments on the history

The term self-regulated learning has a long tradition and it is difficult to say when it was first used and by whom. It is often equated with learning to learn and as such has been named as one of the 21st century key competences (e.g. European Council, 2006). Self-regulated learning has also become a key concept in technology enhanced learning (TEL). The development of powerful computer programs and internet applications has made it possible to construct TEL environments which have the potential to support the acquisition, maintenance and improvement of self-regulated leaning skills (Carneiro et al., 2011).

Related terms

Metacognition, self-directed learning, personalized learning, self-regulated personalized learning

Translation issues

German: selbstgesteuertes Lernen
Français : apprentissage auto-régulé
Spanish: la autoregulación de aprendizaje

Disciplinary issues

The term self-regulated learning is mainly used in education and educational psychology. In discussing the concept of self-regulated learning, it is important to distinguish between broad and narrow conceptions. In a broad sense, learning is self-regulated if the learner is free to decide what, when, where and how to learn (Weinert, 1982). Many authors, however, use the term in the narrow sense, i.e. they assume that students in traditional learning settings only have a choice as to how to learn. Zimmerman (1998b, 2000) also suggested a social cognitive model of self-regulated learning according to which self-regulation is achieved in cycles consisting of (1) forethought, (2) performance or volitional control and (3) self-reflection.

Key references

[1] Carneiro, R., Lefrere, P. Steffens, K. & Underwood, J. (Eds.) (2011). Self-regulated learning in technology enhanced learning environments: A European perspective. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

[2] European Council(2006). Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 on key competences for lifelong learning

[3] Weinert, F.E. (1982) Selbstgesteuertes Lernen als Voraussetzung, Methode und Ziel des Unterrichts [Self-regulated learning as prerequisite, method and objective of instruction]. Unterrichtswissenschaft, 10 (2), 99-110.

[4] Zimmerman, B.J. (1989a). Models of self-regulated learning and academic achievement. Pp. 1-25 in B.J. Zimmerman & D.H. Schunk (Eds.). Self-regulated Learning and Academic Achievement. Theory, Research and Practice. New York: Springer.

[5] Zimmerman, B.J. (2000). Attaining self-regulation: a social cognitive perspective. Pp. 13-39 in M. Boekaerts, P. Pintrich, & M. Zeidner (Eds.). Handbook of self-regulation. New York: Academic Press.