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Psychology’s attention to mental events took root in the middle of the 19th century and grew through studies of learning, forgetting, and problem solving. Following several decades during which behaviorism dominated the field, cognitive studies of learning rapidly expanded after the mid-1960s. Foci for research concerned how learners acquire different kinds information, particularly declarative knowledge, procedural knowledge, and schemas, and identifying cognitive operations learners can apply to transform experience into knowledge. What learners know significantly shapes what they learn. Prior knowledge often benefits learning, but inaccurate knowledge, called misconceptions, and skills applied indiscriminately can impede it. Effort to learn, called cognitive load, is not a unary concept. Designing learning tasks to focus cognition in ways germane to content is one key to effective instruction. Learners can think about their cognition and its properties. This is metacognition. Examples include judgments of whether and what is learned, planning shaped by the relative success in tasks and affective experiences, and decisions to abandon risky or unproductive tasks. Measures of metacognition, predominantly learners’ reports as opposed to direct indicators, correlate modestly with achievement, but this may reflect that students are not often educated in study tactics and learning strategies. Metacognition is a key factor in learners’ decisions about which study tactics and learning strategies they use, and a challenge learners face is overcoming overconfidence about what they know. The metacognitive decision-making event is modeled as an If–Then production. Metacognitive control of how learners choose to go about learning is conditional on metacognitive monitoring of conditions the learner believes will influence learning processes and outcomes. When learners experiment with approaches to learning, they engage in self-regulated learning (SRL). SRL is a very energetic area of research that spans investigations into learners’ metacognition about conditions for learning, operations on information, products resulting from those operations, and evaluations of products in terms of standards the learner holds; the COPES model. Like its foundation in metacognition, SRL also correlates modestly with achievement and is similarly challenged by relying on learners’ self-reports about SRL. However, learners can be taught how to better apply SRL which may realize benefits to achievement.


Anastasia Efklides and Panayiota Metallidou

Self-regulated learning (SRL) refers to students being responsible for their learning. It involves goal setting as well as regulation of cognition, emotions (affect), motivation, and behavior (e.g., through management of the learning environment). A critical component of SRL is metacognition, whose function is to monitor and control cognitive processing. Metacognition has three facets, namely metacognitive experiences, metacognitive knowledge, and metacognitive control. Each of them contributes in different ways to the regulation of learning. Specifically, metacognitive experiences and metacognitive knowledge serve the monitoring of cognition and provide information necessary for control decisions such as allocation of study time or strategy use. Metacognitive control comprises metacognitive strategies (or skills) such as orientation, planning, checking, and evaluation. It is worth noting, however, that there are interactions between metacognition and affect, so that metacognitive control decisions are based not only on task demands and features of cognitive processing but also on students’ affective experiences and motivation during task processing. Interventions using metacognitive constructs show how metacognition can be applied in the classroom to increase the efficiency of learning. However, it is possible to develop alternative interventions that take advantage of the interactions between metacognition and affect. This gives new directions in the way SRL is promoted in the classroom. Research on metacognition and SRL provides a rich theoretical ground upon which to build classroom interventions. Meta-analytic evidence suggests that SRL can be cultivated in educational contexts already from preschool and primary education. Most of interventions aimed at fostering metacognitive knowledge, strategies, and skills in school settings resulted in significant overall effects on academic performance. The magnitude, though, of the effect sizes in these interventions is moderated by various student, training, and context-related factors. A new direction in the way SRL is promoted in the classroom is to develop interventions that take advantage of the interactions between metacognition and affect. Specifically, applying metacognitive skills on learning-related subjective experiences and emotions to increase self-awareness can facilitate learning. Given that students substantially benefit from direct instruction of SRL skills, future studies should focus on training teachers how to teach them.


John R. Kirby and Stefan Merchant

Self-regulated learning (SRL) refers to how learners adapt their learning processes to achieve academic goals. SRL is a complex construct that includes cognitive, metacognitive, and affective components. Research has consistently demonstrated a positive association between SRL and academic achievement. Current models of SRL show the cognitive and motivational processes required for effective SRL: how SRL develops, how SRL has been measured, and how assessment for learning can improve students’ SRL. This research has implications for teaching and assessment, in K–12 school and higher education contexts, including potential barriers for teachers and learners. Further research is required to develop and validate measures of SRL, establish that the effects of SRL are independent of other factors, examine longitudinal relationships, and test the long-term effects and generalizability of instruction in SRL. Just as learners need to change their thinking about learning to become effective SRL students, educators need to change their thinking and practices to become more effective teachers and assessors of SRL.