Sunday, April 8, 2012

"A Social Cognitive View of Self-Regulated Academic Learning"

Zimmerman, Barry J. (1989). A Social Cognitive View of Self-Regulated Academic

Learning. Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol. 81, No. 3, 329-339.


This article is of particular interest to me. This research review focuses on the social cognitive belief of self-regulated learning. According to the social cognitive theorists, self-regulated learning involves three functions: personal (self), behavioral, and environmental. All three function in reciprocality. For example, the self can affect the environment and vice versa. The example given is “assumed to be determined not only by personal (self) perceptions of efficacy but also by such environmental stimuli as encouragement from a teacher and by enactive outcome (i.e. obtaining the correct answer to previous problems.)”(p.330). Zimmerman goes on to discuss the importance of self-efficacy, the sub processes of self-regulation, and the determinants of self-regulated learning.

Social cognitive theorists see self-efficacy as a key variable affecting self-regulated learning. Students with high self-efficacy showed better learning strategies and self-monitoring of their learning. Self-efficacy can in turn affect how one chooses their learning environments. With this understanding, it is important to help children with their perceptions of themselves. Modeling how we deal with problems or work in class is just as important as the project itself. Teachers need to teach students how to cope with difficulties and challenges, so that their ability to self-regulate their learning doesn’t become impeded by how they view themselves as learners.

I felt the sub processes in self-regulation was of importance because it involves self-observation, self-judgment, and self-reaction (Bandura, 1986). As I read this section of the article it made me think about how I can incorporate time for students to observe themselves. Could I use a video recorder in the classroom for projects that students can use to view themselves with their projects? Maybe in my project design I can set aside time during the process of a project to have students self-observe, self-judge, and self-react to their work. Wonder if this process would encourage students to do this naturally when given projects in the future?

I found the section on metacognitive decision-making processes of particular interest. The self-instruction example by Meichenbaum and Goodman tells of a ninth grade boy in band who could not play a certain sound very well. The boy planned to use a mnemonic word to help him remember the musical staff. The boy then adjusted his environment by positioning himself better to see the notes to facilitate recall. This example shows how a student can plan and control their “use of personal, behavioral, and environmental strategies” to learn. This is what we want for students to learn how to self-regulate their learning.

In the article, Zimmerman also refers to long-term goal setting as a determinant of self-regulated learning. This is of particular interest to me as well because goal setting is important for students because it puts the students in the driver seat for what they are learning. I feel when students set long term and short term goals they become intrinsically motivated to learn and there tends to be a stronger engagement in their own learning. Goal setting is a life skill.

In conclusion, the social cognitive approach to self-regulated learning has three important points to consider: how one views themselves as learner, how one interacts with their environment, and how one controls his/her behavior when learning new and old concepts. These ideas are important to keep in mind when trying to create an environment of self-directed learners.


“The effectiveness of each of the 14 self-regulated learning strategies in Table 1 can be explained on the basis of the proposed triadic model. The purpose of each strategy is to improve students’ self-regulation of their (a) personal functioning, (b) academic behavioral performance, and (c) learning environment. For example, the strategies of organizing and transforming, rehearsing, and memorizing, and goal setting and planning focused on optimizing personal regulation. Strategies such as self-evaluation and self-consequences were designed to enhance behavioral functioning. The strategies of environmental structuring, seeking information, reviewing, and seeking assistance were intended to optimize the students’ immediate learning environment.” (p.337)

“There is a rather extensive body of evidence that training students to self-record can produce a variety of positive reactivity effects during student learning and performance.”(p. 334)

“Self-observation refers to students’ responses that involve systematically monitoring their own performance. Self observation is influenced by such personal processes as self-efficacy, goal setting, and metacognitive planning, as well as behavioral influences.”(p. 333)


Much of the article gave me information that I already do in my class, but it was affirming to note that there is a body of research to support my ideas of student learning. I have tried having students keep track of test and quiz scores in their binders, but I think having them record the score and then set a goal for themselves or possibly reflect on their learning may be helpful and may push students toward self-directed learning. Self-observation struck me as well because as teachers I don’t think we give students the opportunity to self-observe. I think this would be great technique to employ in the classroom to help students see how they are progressing or to see how they are doing visually. Like I said above, maybe set up opportunities for students to record themselves practicing performances or speeches or even reading may push them to improve their performance.

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