Self-regulated learning used as a predictor of student behaviour

A Comparison of Self-Regulated Learning to Math Achievement

Jun 26 2022

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The purpose of the current study was to identify self-regulated learning profiles among middle school students and to investigate whether these profiles related to multiple indicators of academic success and regulatory engagement in mathematics.

What is Self-Regulated Learning?

“Self-regulated learning (SRL) refers to a process of managing one’s thoughts, actions, and environment during learning or pursuit of goals.” SRL processes include goal-setting, planning, monitoring, and reflecting on one’s learning. Substantial research supports a positive relationship between these SRL processes, student achievement, and academic skills. Furthermore, SRL theorists have also posited that SRL is a context- and task-specific phenomenon. In other words, SRL can be influenced by contextual factors (e.g., quality of instruction and teacher support) and students’ perceptions of those contexts.

Measuring Levels of Self-Regulated Learning  

Three hundred and sixty-three middle school students participated in this study. Students completed self-report inventories and scales to measure perceived use of regulatory strategies, self-efficacy beliefs to engage in SRL, perception of teacher support, and feelings of connection with the school. Based on the results, researchers identified five cluster groups/profiles varying across two dimensions (i.e., SRL and perceived contextual supports) in the math classroom. Researchers then examined whether these profiles (i.e., High SRL- High Support, Solid SRL- Low Support, Low SRL- Supported, Very Low SRL- Low Support) differentially predict class engagement (i.e., measured by teacher rating scales) and math achievement (i.e., measured by report cards and standardized test scores). Students who do not feel supported or connected to school contexts and who demonstrate weak SRL skills (i.e., strategic & motivational) exhibited low levels of SRL in the classroom and were more likely to exhibit poor academic performance as reflected on standardized tests. On the other hand, students who reported frequent use of SRL skills, regardless of their level of perceived teacher support, exhibited stronger mathematics grades than those who did not frequently use SRL strategies.

Regardless of the level of support or connections that students felt in school, the groups who reported engaging more frequently in strategic and motivated behaviors for work outside of school were more likely to display adaptive SRL within the classroom, based on teacher reports.

Predictors of Student Behaviour and Academic Performance  

Research on the whole suggests that perceptions of the learning environment affect learners’ school-based functioning, but identifies SRL skills and motivational beliefs as stronger predictors of student behavior and academic performance.To best support learners who struggle in school, practitioners must understand the factors that most directly influence achievement while also recognizing that many of these factors concurrently operate and intersect within individuals in particular contexts. 

Given that SRL is a malleable, context-specific phenomena, efforts should be made to identify students exhibiting less adaptive function across both SRL skills and perceived contextual support and then provide relevant support targeting both dimensions  for these students. This is particularly important in an online learning environment, which necessitates a higher level of student responsibility and may increase the likelihood that students feel socially isolated and disconnected from teachers and others.

Notable Quote: 

“When viewed collectively, research suggests that students’ perceptions of learning contexts and teacher support are important when assessing students’ school‐based functioning, but that SRL and specific motivational beliefs may play a larger role in student behavior and academic performance.”

Personal Takeaway

Self-directed learning involves motivational, strategic, and contextual factors which uniquely and interactively influence learner achievement and engagement. An understanding of these dynamic influences and student profiles will help practitioners recognize the most at-risk students and, in turn, provide relevant supports targeting SRL skills and perceived contextual support to enhance engagement and achievement.


Ashley Parnell

Summarized Article:

Cleary, T. J., Slemp, J., & Pawlo, E. R. (2021). Linking student self‐regulated learning profiles to achievement and engagement in mathematics. Psychology in the Schools, 58(3), 443-457.

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