General Aspects of Academic Learning

As noted earlier, 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. Learners with high levels of self-regulation have good control over the attainment of their goals. Conscious self-regulation requires a student to focus on the process of how to acquire these skills.

According to Barry Zimmerman (1989), self-regulated learning involves the regulation of three general aspects of academic learning.

First, self-regulation of behavior involves the active control of the various resources students have available to them, such as their time, their study environment (e.g., the place in which they study), and their use of others such as peers and faculty members to help them (Garcia & Pintrich, 1994; Pintrich, Smith, Garcia, & McKeachie, 1993).
Second, self-regulation of motivation and affect involves controlling and changing motivational beliefs such as self-efficacy and goal orientation, so that students can adapt to the demands of a course. In addition, students can learn how to control their emotions and affect (such as anxiety) in ways that improve their learning.
Third and finally, self-regulation of cognition involves the control of various cognitive strategies for learning, such as the use of deep processing strategies that result in better learning and performance than students showed previously (Garcia & Pintrich, 1994; Pintrich, Smith, Garcia, & McKeachie, 1993).

Many researchers have agreed with the importance of self-regulated learning for students at all academic levels, and remember, self-regulation can be taught, learned and controlled. In fact, Zimmerman (1989, 1990), an expert in this area, has found evidence of many different types of self-regulation that are explained later in this module. In Zimmerman’s studies, successful students report that the use of self-regulated learning strategies accounted for most of their success in school!

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