Students can be taught to become more self-regulated learners by acquiring specific strategies that are both successful for them and that enable them to increase their control over their own behavior and environment. Most researchers agree that the best learning occurs when someone carefully observes and considers his own behaviors and acts upon what he has learned. This means that students learn to decrease negative behaviors and increase positive behaviors. Therefore, students who are self-regulated must learn to continually ask themselves “Does this strategy work for me in this situation?” In order to self-regulate, students must shift their focus from comparing their performance to peers to self-comparisons, and from being reactive to being proactive learners. Goals direct activities, and students must learn that there are different ways to attain goals, and how to select the best way to complete a specific task. In many classrooms, teachers assume most of the responsibility for the learning process and students may begin to depend on this model of learning.
This portrait of Maria will be used to illustrate strategies throughout this module.
Maria is an eighth grade student who was identified as gifted in first grade. She read at the seventh grade level by the time she finished second grade and has always scored at the 99% on all areas on standardized achievement tests. She excels in language arts, but has extremely high scores across all areas. Maria does not like math and had coasted through the math curriculum from first through seventh grade, doing minimal homework and getting top grades. Because of her scores on achievement tests and previous grades, she is recommended for an advanced algebra class in eighth grade and encounters, for her first time in school, some challenge in mathematics. She struggles with a few concepts and begins to tell her parents that she is really not smart. She quits whenever she finds a homework problem she can not solve while doing homework and tells her parents she will ask the teacher the next day for help. She continues to do her homework each time it is assigned, but completes only the problems that she can easily do and gets help from her friends and teacher the next day if she can not quickly and correctly solve a problem. The answers to problems are in the back of the book so that after a few minutes of work, if she has not solved the problem, she looks it up in the back of the book but fails to learn how to solve the problem. She fails two tests, becomes convinced she is terrible at math and considers dropping out of the algebra class. How can she gain the self-regulation skills she needs to succeed in a more challenging class?
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