Monday, October 21, 2013

Be Careful... Self-Regulation of Learning? Behavior?

I've been hearing a lot about self-regulation lately but the conversation seems to have taken a turn. I'm used to reading research focused on self-regulation of learning. Assessment - particularly assessment for learning - is an integral part of self-regulation.

But the conversation and the strategies I've been hearing about don't seem to be comprehensive enough. So today I went looking to find out what was going on. It was interesting to see that the self-regulation that is being talked about in some circles arises out of the world of teaching self-management of behavior. This is certainly important and I know there are vulnerable learners who benefit an immense amount from this work.

On the other hand, I think we need to be careful not to assume that self-managing behavior is enough for all our learners. We need to go further - we need to teach students, in a very deliberate fashion, how to self-monitor their way to success. That is what we do when we show students samples, engage in conversation about quality, and co-construct criteria for important products or processes - evidence of learning. When we mindfully build the language of assessment in this way, we teach students the language they need to self-monitor their learning. We also teach students what quality looks like so they can aspire and achieve success! This is self-regulation of learning and assessment for learning is the pathway that will get us there.

If self-regulation is of interest to you, you might want to read this seminal article by Pintrich and DeGroot (1990). If you are interested in the shift from focusing on behavior to focusing on learning strategies, you might want to read this classic piece by Lorrie Shepard. It is titled, The role of assessment in a learning culture.

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