The concept of self-regulation “refers to self-generated thoughts, feelings, and actions that are planned and cyclically adapted to the attainment of personal goals,” (Zimmerman 2000, p. 14). Out of self-regulation comes self-regulated learning where learners monitor and manage their work towards learning goals.
In other words, self-regulated learning is the extent to which a person has control over their learning. Self-regulated learning includes choice, goal setting, and the development of strategies to obtain goals. To be a self-regulated learner, a person must use:
- Metacognitive processes where the learner thinks about and evaluates their learning strategies.
- Cognitive processes which are specific learning strategies such as using graphs, memorization, etc.
- Motivational processes where learners develop goals and design strategies to obtain their goals.
Self-regulated learning matters because learners who are self-regulated are active in their own learning. Furthermore, self-regulation has been shown to increase retention in online learning environments (Galla et al., 2019; Peck et al., 2018).
Many adults are already self-regulated learners and do not need support to incorporate self-regulated learning strategies. However, not all adults are self-regulated learners and can benefit from the inclusion of instructional strategies that support their ability to be self-regulated.
For special librarians who teach skills that many adults need for their employment responsibilities and lifelong learning, it can behoove them to include self-regulated learning strategies into their instruction. Specific ideas are below:
- Provide learners with time to reflect on their learning goals. Ask them what they need to learn for their job. Ask what they want to learn.
- Encourage learners to identify how required training aligns with their learning goals.
- Ask learners to brainstorm additional training that would be useful to them in helping them meet their goals.
- Give learners choice in how they complete any required training.
- Help learners make their learning visible. Give them opportunities to demonstrate their learning.
In virtual settings, you can incorporate the following strategies for self-regulated learning:
- Teach in a cohort model so learners are motivated and encouraged by others.
- Use a progress bar so learners know where they are in their training path.
- Provide a space for learners to display their learning goals online. Then, when training is completed that aligns with their goals they can show progress in something that matters to them.
Self-regulated learning is important for adults who want to grow in their knowledge and skills. Special librarians who provide instruction can use strategies to encourage adults to become more self-regulated in their learning.
Burns, M. (2020). Turning on, tuning in, and dropping out. eLearningIndustry. https://elearningindustry.com/self-regulation-in-online-learning
Teaching excellence in adult literacy. (2010). Self-regulated learning. https://lincs.ed.gov/sites/default/files/3_TEAL_Self%20Reg%20Learning.pdf
Galla, B. M., Shulman, E. P., Plummer, B. D., Gardner, M., Hutt, S. J., Goyer, J. P., … & Duckworth, A. L. (2019). Why high school grades are better predictors of on-time college graduation than are admissions test scores: The roles of self-regulation and cognitive ability. American Educational Research Journal, 56(6). https://doi.org/10.3102/0002831219843292
Peck, L., Stefaniak, J. E., & Shah, S. J. (2018). The correlation of self-regulation and motivation with retention and attrition in distance education. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 19(3), 1-80.
Zimmerman, B. J. (2000). Attaining self-regulation: A social cognitive perspective. In Handbook of self-regulation (pp. 13-39). Academic Press
Lauren Hays, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology at the University of Central Missouri. Please read her other posts about skills for special librarians. And take a look at Lucidea’s powerful integrated library systems, SydneyEnterprise, and GeniePlus, used daily by innovative special librarians in libraries of all sizes and budgets.
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