Self-Regulated Learning

by megantaylor05

Self-regulated learning (SRL)  involves metacognition, strategic action, and motivation. It requires the learner to take control and responsibility of his or her own learning as well as behaviors. Barry Zimmerman, who authored Becoming a Self-regulated Learner: An Overview, further states that self-regulated learning is not just “detailed knowledge of a skill”, but takes “self-awareness, self-motivation, and [the] behavioral skill[s] to implement knowledge appropriately” (as cited in Weimer, 2010). Successful self-regulated learning demands the learner “manage [his or her] learning at every stage”. It is not a process that all learners are good at and the student must be responsible, confident, motivated, organized, self-reflective, able to restructure learning if necessary (Weimer, 2010).

There are strategies and skills that can help a student be a self-regulated learner. These are research-based and the acquisition of the skills will improve independent learning. One of the most significant skills, according to researchers, is “goal setting.” There are two distinct goals: a process goal, which is attaining a specific skill (i.e. “what you are going to do”), and an outcome goal, which is the intended performance or outcome (i.e. “what you want to achieve”). The student benefits from focusing on the process goal first, and then shifting to the outcome goal. This seems “backwards” from how people normally approach goals since more focus on the outcome, but the process goal is key to achieving the outcome goal.

For example, if the outcome goal is to pass  a class, what skills and strategies and behaviors will contribute to achieving that goal? These could be attending every class meeting, keeping all assignments organized, submitting all work punctually, and developing good study skills. As the semester progresses the student should monitor his or her achievement of those process goals, find strategies to maintain performance, and readjust or add  goals if necessary. For example, if the student begins to fall behind or doesn’t understand a concept, which then causes him or her to fail a test, the student may have to set a new process goal of attending after-school tutorials 3 days a week to get back on track to passing the semester.

As the teacher there are ways to help students become self-regulated learner: through our own behaviors, feedback we provide, and strategies we can teach. Instructors can teach students to manage their “thoughts, behaviors, and emotions” in relation to the learning process. Zumbrunn, Tadlock, & Roberts (2011) present a model of SRL with three phases that might provide students a clear, cyclical  process to follow. The phases include (1) forethought and planning, (2) performance monitoring, and (3) reflections on performance. During the first phase students set goals, both process and outcome and then make a plan to meet those expectations. Teacher assistance might be crucial in this stage if students are unfamiliar with the content or have little experience setting good goals. The second phase consists of using proven strategies that can lead to successful knowledge construction and skill acquisition.  Once again, teacher assistance (through monitoring and feedback)  can help a student to evaluate a strategy’s effectiveness and relativity to the goal. The final phase asks the student to reflect on learning, strategies, and goals. Teacher modeling can help students to see the right questions to ask themselves. After reflecting students should use that information to make adjustments, new plans, and begin the cycle again (p. 4-5).


Schunk, D. (2009, December 23). Self-regulated learning. Retrieved from

Weimer, M. (2010, July 30). What it means to be a self-regulated learner. Retrieved from

Zumbrunn, S., Tadlock, J., & Roberts, E.D. (2011). Encouraging self-regulated learning in the classroom: A review of the literature. Metropolitan Educational Research Consortium. Retrieved from