Supporting and Promoting Self-Regulated Learning in Blended Learning Environments

The concept of Self-Regulated Learning (SRL) provides a theoretical construct for using technology to create Personalized Learning Environments (PLE). Blended Learning classrooms create an opportunity for more personalized learning and thus may facilitate students developing SRL behavior.

Briefly, SRL describes learners who are proactive, diligent, resourceful and when confronted with obstacles to their learning such as poor study conditions or confusing instruction, they will find ways to succeed (Zimmerman, 1990). PLE is described as bringing together a collection of tools within an open platform to encourage student control of their learning (Siemens 2007). BL classrooms incorporate small group instruction and the use of technology to give every student an opportunity to have more personalized learning (Education Elements, 2013).

Students who are SRL will consistently reflect on their own learning, set goals and determine strategies for the task, and when found wanting will adjust their strategies to meet their goals (e.g. teacher or parents; Zimmerman, 1989). SRL is a process that requires students to take responsibility for their learning, make adjustments based on changes in academic context, determine extent personal efforts to self-regulate, and reflect on outcomes of their performance (Zimmerman, 1989).

SRL and Achievement

Students who engage in SRL related behavior such as, planning and monitoring, have been shown to have greater achievement and/or learning (Baker, Chard, Ketterlin-Geller, Apichatabutra, & Doabler, 2009; Dignath, Buettner, & Langfeldt, 2008). Additionally, Pintrich and Degroot (1990) found that motivational, cognitive, and metacognitive aspects of SRL served as predictors of students’ performance on homework, seatwork, quizzes and overall grades in a group of seventh graders. Indeed, students who are SRL will have greater success in school as studies have continued to show that higher achieving students will deploy a greater range of SRL related skills when compared to lower achieving students (Zimmerman & Martinez-Pons, 1990, Taboada, Tonks, Wigfield, & Guthrie, 2009; Wigfield et al. 2008).

SRL & Motivational Engagement

Motivational engagement describes students’ interest in their work, value of assignments or learning to the student, and self-efficacy or students’ overall belief they can achieve (Linnenbrink & Pintrich, 2003; Paris & Turner, 1994). From the perspective of instruction, teachers usually want their students to be personally interested in the material being learned and to approach it as being worthwhile to learn. While interest and overall engagement are developmentally dependent, tapping into student engagement remains an important factor for learning and achievement (Eccles et al., 1998; Pintrich & Schunk, 1996; Pintrich & Schrauben, 1992).

SRL & Cognitive Engagement

While students may be behaviorally engaged (i.e. awake and attentive to the teacher) they should also be thoughtful of the material being taught. Engagement in this way assumes that students will only be engaged when the context meets their needs and provides opportunity to become immersed in the task. However, doing so requires that a task elicit the intrinsic interest of students, permit a sense of ownership, relate to life outside of school, allow for collaboration, communicate clear expectations, and offer consistent support for students to meet those expecations (Marks, Doane, & Secada, 1996; Newmann et a al., 1992; Wehlage, 1989)

SRL and Technology

Advancements in Educational Technology have made it possible to design environments where technology can be used to enhance learning and promote self-regulated skills otherwise referred to as Technology Enhanced Learning Environments (TELE). Bartolome and Steffents (2008) describe three characteristics that technology must have to support SRL that include, (1) providing students with a way to plan and manage their learning activities, (2) making feedback available about progress so that students can monitor their learning, and (3) presenting students with criteria to evaluate their learning.

Today’s students want an active learning experience that is social, participatory and supported by rich media (Mcloughlin & Lee, 2009). Current research also points to providing digital tools that provide learners control over their learning (Dron, 2007). Therefore, it is becoming increasingly important to provide learning environments, such as Blended Learning, that offer the earlier mentioned learning experience via tools student’s have grown accustomed to using (e.g. smartphones, tablets, computers, and computer software).

While various technological modalities have been proposed to support and promote SRL (e.g. ePortfolios, wikis, blogs, etc), Personal Learning Environments (PLE) through Blended Learning is one of the more promising. The PLE model has been introduced as a way to allow learners to make decisions and choose the tools that best fit their needs for networking, knowledge construction, social interaction, collaboration, and evaluation. By bringing together the tools to encourage student control of their learning with the support of an instructor, the student receives guidance, structure and personal agency.

Next Steps

One of the ways that technology has been used in classroom environments is by incorporating or blending the technology with teacher instruction to foster greater opportunities for personalized learning. However, as stated by Garrison and Kanuka (2004), one of the keys tests for blended learning (BL) is finding the appropriate mix of face-to-face learning and the integration of technology. Thus, one of the most prominent questions as we move BL modalities forward is to determine which combination of face-to-face and TELE will promote sustained self-regulated learning skills for achievement outcomes.

In additon, one of the most important questions when considering technology is how developers and educators can create classrooms that foster the greatest chance for engaging students and creating classrooms that will encourage self-regulated learning. There is also a need to determine the degree to which SRL related skills learned in BL environments promote greater possibilities for learning in and outside of the classroom and throughout students’ lives.

By: Jared Anthony, PhD Candidate (Fordham University) and Advance Classrooms

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